Category Archives: Standards

News - ASA Credentials

What you can do with your ASA sailing credentials

Many prospective students ask us why getting certified is so important. Couldn’t they pick up the same valuable sailing skills without passing a course and receiving a certificate? Sure, you can learn plenty from programs that don’t offer certification. For most people, however, learning how to sail isn’t the end game. By getting certified, you maximize the impact your new sailing skills can have on your life. Instead of being limited to sailing at home, you can explore the United States and even the world by sea! An ASA sailing certification is all you need to do what you love when and where you desire. Continue reading

News - ASA Credentials

Take a Coastal Navigation Sailing Course and Build Confidence

sailing croatiaLong gone are the days when a sailor cruising alongside an unfamiliar coast had nothing but their compass and the principles of dead reckoning to go by. The age of GPS and electronic chartplotters is here, and with NOAA’s recent announcement that it would be discontinuing paper charts, it is clear that navigation has undergone a titanic shift.

Far from making the fundamental principles of navigation obsolete, however, these changes reinforce just how important they are. GPS and other revolutionary electronic aids have greatly enhanced the sailor’s ability to get their position and travel safely, but they are of no use unless that sailor understands how to navigate. Here’s an example: On a recent ASA flotilla in Croatia, stormy weather had caused the marinas to fill up with boats looking to escape the rain, meaning that the ASA boats had to find somewhere else to anchor. By consulting the charts and cruising guide, they identified a protected bay a few miles off.

plottingUsing a combination of GPS data and pencil-on-paper chartplotting, they figured out the best route and the obstacles they would need to avoid. They also considered the direction and force of the wind in order to avoid a lee shore. Armed with this information, and keeping a sharp lookout, they navigated safely into the idyllic bay, where they found mooring balls and spent a peaceful night far from the overcrowded marina.

The lesson? Understanding coastal navigation counts. So where can you learn these skills? So glad you asked! The answer is at your local ASA affiliated sailing school. ASA 105 is the Coastal Navigation standard. In this course you learn the theory of navigation, including:

  • Reading charts
  • Using the instruments on board
  • Understanding tide and current tables
  • Converting courses and bearings for true, magnetic, and compass directions
  • Dead reckoning
  • Plotting a course

Not only are these essential skills for any serious mariner, they also come with a genuine sense of achievement. For hundreds of years the world’s great explorers, admirals, pirates, and singlehanders have practiced them. So can you. The feeling of fulfillment that comes from plotting a course and sailing it is second-to-none.

ASA 105 is taught at sailing schools around the country, and is often paired with ASA 106 (Advanced Coastal Cruising), which allows you to put the theory into practice. For more details on what you will learn, click here.

To sign up, find your local ASA school and ask when their next Coastal Navigation course is. Click here to find sailing schools in your area.

News - ASA Credentials

ASA partners with NASA: “We will sail the Sea of Tranquility by 2020″

For Immediate Release – April 1, 2014

Following the recent announcement of worldwide partnerships with leading boat manufacturer Beneteau and peer-to-peer marketplace Boatbound, the American Sailing Association (ASA) is proud to embark on its latest alliance.

In a press conference at Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA, the ASA and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) launched a new strategic partnership to increase awareness of sailing opportunities on the moon, vowing to establish a thriving lunar sailing community by 2020.

An artist’s rendering of the scintillating scenery that awaits sailors on the moon.

“For too long, recreational sailing on the moon has been all but impossible for the average American,” said NASA director Charles Bolden. “Fears regarding high cost, out-of-the-way location, or lack of breathable air may have made consumers reluctant, but we want to remind them that this is still their closest orbital body! Our multi-stage collaboration will change the perception of moonsailing as an elitist sport available only to those with advanced astrophysics degrees.”

The initial phase of the project will see Titan rockets transport ASA-certified sailing instructors to the lunar surface, where they will establish sailing schools in the Sea of Serenity and Bay of Rainbows, with further expansion planned for the Lake of Time and the Sea of Fecundity. Offshore Passagemaking courses will be held in the Ocean of Storms, weather permitting.

“The sailing conditions will be different from what we’re used to here on Earth,” said ASA Online Communications Director Ben Miller. “For instance, instead of flotation devices, sailors will wear weighted vests. And with no atmosphere, wind, or water, the moon presents an intriguing navigational challenge to mariners.”

Our team works around the clock to find the algorithm for maximum fun!

ASA will develop a lunar curriculum to supplement its existing courses, bringing the same Earthly standard of excellence to the field of extraterrestrial voyaging. A new textbook, Moonsailing Made Easy, will be accompanied by pamphlets such as “Understanding Solar Flares” and “I’m Afraid I Can’t Do That, Dave: Using Your Onboard Systems.”

Certifications offered will include “Anchoring in Zero G,” “Basic Thruster Repair,” and “Introduction to Flag-Planting.”, the official charter partner of ASA, will offer a variety of attractive vacation packages, including a 7-day crewed charter on the Sea of Vapors, shore excursions to the towering Mons Hadley, and day sails in the Lake of Sorrow. All charters are available in Premium (Sunlight) or Budget (Darkness).

“Forget the crowded anchorages of Earth, and let the warm, radioactive solar breeze wash over you,” says Miller. “There truly is nothing like a sailing charter vacation. Relax with that special someone and enjoy a vacuum-sealed refreshment, or bring the whole family on an adventure of exploration. What better place for your next getaway than a cold, distant rock, utterly devoid of life?”

A kickoff event featuring Jimmy Buffett is planned for Cape Canaveral on April 1, 2020.

News - ASA Credentials

Your Photo Could Be On the Cover of Our New Book!

bcme photoIn 2014, ASA will release Bareboat Cruising Made Easy, the latest in our line of cutting-edge sailing books. But before the book can be published, we need to find the perfect cover photo.

We’re leaving no stone unturned in the search for the best photos depicting the bareboat cruising lifestyle, and we want our members & fans to be in on the fun! We have room for one outstanding photo on the front cover and several photos on the back cover. Do you have a fantastic charter photo that you’d like to see grace BCME? Then send it our way, and you never know what could happen!

Should your photo be chosen for the front or back cover, you’ll receive photo credit, a free copy of the book, and your work will be immortalized on a book that thousands and thousands of sailors will use!

Some guidelines to keep in mind:

  • Vertical shots preferred (horizontal may work, though)
  • Should depict the fun lifestyle of bareboat chartering
  • Should feature a sailboat
  • People having fun in the shot strongly preferred
  • You must own the photo or have the right to give it to us (See official rules below for details)
  • High resolution, preferably portrait size (Minimum 2 MB file size)

If you have a great chartering photo that fits this description, it could be the one we’re looking for.

Two ways to submit:

Email your photo to bmiller AT asa DOT com.

Post your photo on our Facebook page.

About the books:

ASA’s series of instructional sailing books set the industry standard. The series begins with Sailing Made Easy, the accompanying text to our ASA 101 Basic Sailing course, and continues with Coastal Cruising Made Easy, which addresses more advanced navigation and sailing skills from ASA 103. These books were called “best in class” by Sailing Magazine and are some of the most popular sailing guides on the market.

Bareboat Cruising Made Easy will accompany ASA 104, one of our most in-demand courses. ASA 104 is the Bareboat Cruising certification level, a credential that is recognized around the world and allows you to skipper your own charter boat. For many sailors, a bareboat charter in the Caribbean or Mediterranean is the ultimate sailing goal, and ASA 104 is a big step toward making it happen.


How to enter: Post a photo on the American Sailing Association’s Facebook timeline with a brief description. Or, email your photo to

Multiple submissions are allowed.

By submitting a photograph to ASA for the purpose of the cover photo search for Bareboat Cruising Made Easy, you agree to the following:

In consideration of my engagement as a model and/or photographer I do hereby voluntarily authorize and give permission to THE AMERICAN SAILING ASSOCIATION to the exclusive use of: photographs, video and digital reproductions in any form of my person or personal property. In submitting my photography, I certify that I have the right to grant, and do grant, THE AMERICAN SAILING ASSOCIATION permission to reproduce and use it in perpetuity.

They will be used for the promotion of THE AMERICAN SAILING ASSOCIATION and FINDMYCHARTER.COM. Uses include, but are not limited to: books, ads, brochures, publications, media broadcasts, the ASA website, and educational materials.

Through entering the ASA 30th Anniversary Photo Contest, I hereby grant, release and assign to THE AMERICAN SAILING ASSOCIATION any and all claims of right whatsoever in and to all photographs or printed materials of the undersigned.

I hereby give all clearances, copyright and otherwise, for use of my likeness and the likeness of any person depicted in the photograph submitted, in ASA promotional materials. I expressly release and indemnify AMERICAN SAILING ASSOCIATION and its officers, employees, agents and designees from any and all claims known and unknown arising out of or in any way connected with the above granted uses and representations.

News - ASA Credentials

Want to get your USCG Captain’s License? Here’s how.

uscg licenseSo you want to be called Captain?

There are many reasons, professional and personal, to get a United States Coast Guard Captain’s License. In many cases the recreational mariner doesn’t need a USCG license, but would like to have one to improve their sailing resume, cement their knowledge of maritime rules and regulations, and pave the way toward sailing professionally.

For sailing instructors, the USCG license can often be essential. While your ASA training and certification are what prepare you to be an excellent teacher of sailing, most instructors are also legally required to have USCG captain’s license. This is due to strict rules related to carrying passengers, skippering for hire, and the type of boat involved. We created a handy chart to help determine which instructors are required to have a USCG license. In short, if you receive any compensation, if the boat has auxiliary power, and if you’re operating in USCG waters, you MUST have a captain’s license.

Whatever the reason, if you’re interested in getting a license, how do you go about it?

The most common type of license is called the Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vessel (OUPV). This allows you to operate a vessel of 100 tons or less with as many as 6 paying passengers on board. For that reasons, it’s often referred to as the “6-pack license.”

To get your license, you need two things: time and knowledge.
“Time” means logging experience on the water. This means you need to have a record of your time spent on the water in the type of vessel that fits the license you’re applying for. If you want to be a charter sailboat captain, log your time in a comparably sized sailboat! For the 6-pack license, you need 360 days since your 16th birthday, with a day constituting at least 4 hours on the water. 12 hours or more can be logged as 1.5 days. Time spent on the water with ASA courses or flotillas counts, naturally, and if it’s a liveaboard trip, so much the better!

“Knowledge” refers to the test you must take in order to get your license. Be warned: this test is no walk in the park. Serious study and preparation is needed to pass it, as it will test your knowledge of seamanship, rules and regulations, navigation, and more. Taking a course is highly recommended. Select ASA schools offer USCG classes in addition to ASA curriculum. Check with the schools in your area to see if they do – if not they may be able to make a recommendation, as their instructors probably have USCG licenses!

Getting your USCG captain’s license is not easy, but if you achieve it, along with ASA certification, you will be part of an elite group of sailors with the experience and training to get the most out of the sailing lifestyle. Best of all, everyone will have to call you captain!

News - ASA Credentials

Back to Basics

green water and teak railGet these sailing basics under your belt with ASA 101, and you’ll be a qualified small boat skipper!

The most popular sailing course available, ASA 101: Basic Keelboating is an introduction to the essential skills every sailor needs. By the time your course is over, you’ll be able to take command of your own vessel in the 20-27 foot range.

1. Sailing Lingo
Learn what to call the parts of the boat (and what they do), the points of sail, how to give commands to the crew, and all the key terms used to describe the wind and sea conditions. Not only will you understand what your fellow sailors are talking about, you can also impress your friends with your salty ways!

2. Navigation
You’ll get a grip on the “rules of the road”: When to change course, who has the right-of-way when approaching another ship, and what all the markers and buoys on the water mean. You’ll learn to set a course, steer the boat, and get where you’re trying to go by tacking and gybing.

3. Safety
Perhaps the most important sailing basic of all. What safety equipment is on board? How do you use a lifejacket or PFD? What do you do if someone falls overboard? These questions will be answered by your ASA certified instructor, and you’ll get the practice and familiarity needed to feel confident and safe when you’re sailing.
sail and sun ASA
4. Leaving and Returning to the Dock
Maneuvering a boat in close quarters (such as a marina) can seem intimidating. After all, there are no brakes! But a big part of ASA 101 is learning how to depart the dock and return to it. After all, as great as it is to sail, you can’t do it all the time!

5. Knots
Every sailor worth his or her salt knows the basic knots that are commonly used on a boat. Why is it important to know your knots? You don’t have to be a walking knot encyclopedia, but some get used all the time onboard, for everything from securing the boat on the dock to flying your ASA flag! For more info, see our blog on essential knots.

These are just a few of the sailing basics you’ll get when you take ASA 101 from your local sailing school. So check the list for your area, and your sailing life can begin now!

News - ASA Credentials

What is a sailing education?

asa burgees flyingYou may have heard the term, but what does it actually mean? What is involved in a sailing education, and what are the benefits?

Some people are lucky enough to grow up on the water, with a parent, sibling, or friend who is an expert sailor to teach them the ropes. But most of us weren’t that fortunate, so we have to look for a different way to learn to sail. When you make the choice to get a sailing education, you are in effect saying, “I want to do it the right way.” This means learning the fundamentals, which will give you a strong base, and empower you to learn more advanced sailing techniques. Continue reading

News - ASA Credentials

Fit to be tied – essential sailing knots!

bowlineSince time immemorial, sailors looking to crew were asked two simple questions: “Can you tie a bowline, and where’s your knife?” Today perhaps we’re a bit more exacting when it comes to choosing who we’ll sail with, but some things never change. A few basic sailing knots are essential for every trip, whether it’s just a jaunt around the lake or an ocean passage.

What sailing knots will you learn in ASA 101, Basic Keelboating?

1. Bowline. (pronounced bo-lin)

This is the granddaddy of them all–a workhorse that never slips or jams, and has been used since ancient times. Your ASA instructor will make sure you have this one down pat, because it’s critical in all sorts of ways on a boat, inlcuding attaching the halyards and sheets to the sails. With a little practice, this knot becomes very easy and quick to tie. Continue reading

News - ASA Credentials

Get Your Catamaran Sailing Certification

stern catamaranThe catamaran is rapidly becoming one of the world’s most popular types of cruising sailboats. For the uninitiated, a catamaran is a boat balanced on two hulls, as opposed to the traditional monohull, and its sleek design

Why the rise in popularity of catamaran sailing? There are a number of reasons. They can feel more spacious, and they don’t heel over with the wind as a monohull does. There’s usually a nice netted area between the hulls to relax and sunbathe in. And on certain points of sail they are much faster than a monohull. (The proof of this is taken to its logical extreme in the AC45 racing catamarans of the America’s Cup series.)
catamaran tahiti
They make great boats for chartering and vacationing because of the ample deck space and stability. On any trip down to the Florida Keys, British Virgin Islands, and throughout the Caribbean, you’ll encounter sun-seekers catamaran sailing in just about every marina and bay…and you’ll probably feel a strong temptation to join them!

However, sailing a catamaran is different from a monohull, and requires its own set of skills and knowledge. They handle differently under power and sail–so it’s crucial to be prepared with catamaran sailing lessons.

Enter the ASA 114 Cruising Catamaran Certification.

What prerequisites do I need? Before completing your Cruising Catamaran cert, you’ll need Basic Keelboat (101), Basic Coastal Cruising (103), and Bareboat Cruising (104). This isn’t a beginning course–this is for people with cruising experience looking to take on the challenge of catamaran sailing.

What will I learn? Everything you need to act as skipper and crew of a 30-50 foot multihull sailboat by day in coastal waters. What does that mean? Well, you’ll learn all the parts of the boat and how to use them, you’ll learn the skills to handle the boat at sea, in heavy weather, and under power. You’ll practice docking the cat, recovering crew overboard, anchoring, and more.

Where can I get the certification?
All over the place! More than 20 of our accredited sailing schools offer the ASA 114 cert, and they are spread out across the country and even abroad. Click here and scroll down to the bottom of the page for the complete list!

The wide world of catamaran sailing is waiting for you, and with the ASA cat certification, you’ll be cruising with confidence and in style! So give one of our schools a call, and when you’re anchored and relaxing on deck watching a tropical sunset, you’ll be glad you did.

News - ASA Credentials

How Not to Dock Your Boat

If only these people had taken the American Sailing Association’s Docking Endorsement. We’ll teach you everything from the physics of docking to how to step on and off the boat without falling in the water. (Hint #1: Don’t try to jump over the lifelines.)

Most of all, we’ll give you a lot of practice and make sure you feel SAFE and CONFIDENT when leaving the dock and coming back.

Ask your local sailing school about the ASA Docking Endorsement (118). It sure beats the alternative. A few years ago I was on a boat setting sail on a major ocean passage. Our journey had an inauspicious start, however, because as we left the dock we pulled a huge chunk of it off with us! Of course, that was partly the dock’s fault, being old and crumbly, but still… (Oh, and this was way before I ever worked for ASA!)

broken dock
This is a different broken concrete dock, but it gives you the idea.