Monthly Archives: August 2010

103 Textbook in the Works

We are currently in the throes of designing the next new ASA textbook–an accompaniment to the ASA 103 Basic Coastal Cruising course. Last week, the team flew out to Bristol, Rhode Island, for a photo shoot with world-renowned sailing photographer Billy Black. Prolific cruising writer Jeremy McGeary took care to coordinate the shoot to match the book’s text. During the first couple days scheduled, the weather refused to cooperate: constant rain and winds whipping at 30 knots does not make a great setting for a photo shoot. But just when they had been almost washed out by the rain, ASA Instructor Dave Lumian relates “Then the glorious New England sunshine brightened up for a terrific day of sailing and clicking!” Pictured here left to right: Billy Black, Gretchen Thor (assistant photographer), Randy Ealy, Jr., Norman Schmittkind, Wendy Mackie, Jeremy McGeary and ASA instructor Regina Krieger. Dave also says, “Many thanks to Rob Lawnsby (not pictured) at Narragansett Sailing for pulling together the nice Hunter 33s and the excellent crew!”

We’re working to complete book as soon as possible, since many of you have eagerly asked when it will be ready. We’re not making hard promises at this moment, because you can’t rush a standard of high quality! But it’s right around the corner, and when it does release, 103’s Cruising Made Easy will be the perfect companion to 101’s Sailing Made Easy.

Photo credit: Dave Lumian

September’s Photo of the Month

This month’s theme was “Lessons in Action.” We received all sorts of photos, from textbook man overboard drills to non-textbook lessons “from the school of hard knocks.” Greg Rogers of Leo Robbins Sailing Center in Ventura, CA, submitted one of the most important lessons of all in this great sequence–and the Facebook fans “liked” it best!

“Level 2 Small Boat sailing “capsize and recovery” lesson at Leo Robbins Community Sailing Center in Ventura, CA. Photo by Satish Putta.”

These two shots were the tied runners-up:

Left: New Yorkers in the Caribbean preparing for a night sail as part of their ASA qualification–Caribbean Sailing School & Club” submitted by Eva De Lourdes Edwards. Right: “The Small Boat Sailing Level 1 class sailing offshore at the Leo Robbins Community Sailing Center in Ventura, CA.” Submitted by John Morris.

Loved seeing those ASA lessons in action! To browse the rest of the September competition’s photos, check out the Facebook album. Then “like” ASA, and start gathering your best shots for next month’s competition!

Sailing Made Easy, Even Easier!

Many of you have now gotten your paws on our hot new edition of the 101 textbook, Sailing Made Easy. To supplement the text, ASA has produced a series of video shorts that clearly demonstrate key concepts from the book. New and seasoned sailors alike can learn a thing or two from these Sailing Made Easy video tips. From the proper way to raise the main to powering up with the slot effect advantage, even salty dogs will find some new nuggets of information in these succinct videos.

Below are the first handful of lessons–and more to come soon. You can catch them as they’re released on the Lats & Atts TV channel (on the Versus network) Wednesdays at 9:30am EST/6:30am PST, through Sept 22. They will live permanently on ASA’s YouTube Channel too.

Cleat Hitch:

Spring Lines:



Raising the Main:

Roller Furling:

Wind Direction:

Slot Effect:

Driving on your cell phone

Cell phones and driving don’t mix–and that goes for driving a boat too. Recently USCG crew members were involved in two boating accidents due to the skipper’s use of a cell phone while operating the boat. And I’m not talking about kissing fenders; there were several serious injuries and one death as a result of these two accidents. If the vigilant Coast Guard is having these kind of problems texting while driving, I’m sure the rest of us are just as much at risk.

The USCG has already issued guidelines about cell phone usage, but the National Transportation Safety Board urges them to take it a step further. The NTSB issued two recommendations this week regarding the use of cell phones and other wireless devices aboard boats:
1. That the USCG should “develop and implement national and local policies that address the use of cellular telephones and other wireless devices aboard U.S. Coast Guard vessels,” and
2. That the USCG should “issue a safety advisory to the maritime industry that (1) promotes awareness of the risk posed by the use of cellular telephones and other wireless devices while operating vessels and (2) encourages the voluntary development of operational policies to address the risk.”

The problem is that cellular communications, especially in coastal boating areas, can function an excellent and readily available backup tool in the event of loss of radio communications. I don’t know many people who wouldn’t want to bring their cell phone sailing–especially considering all the navigation and weather apps available now. But if you get a phone call while sailing, do you have the discipline not to answer it? According to their release, “the NTSB believes that to reduce distraction and improve the operational safety of vessels, the use of cellular telephones and other wireless devices by individuals in safety-related positions should be strictly limited during vessel operations.”

“The use of wireless communications devices while operating vehicles in any mode of transportation poses an unacceptable distraction,” NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman said. “State governments and federal regulators have been acting to combat these safety hazards and we urge the Coast Guard to do the same.”

Could we be moving towards no cell phones while boating law? SHOULD we be? How would you feel if you were ticketed for taking a call on your cell phone while driving your boat?

Oil be d#$ned, sailors sail on!

Emerald Coast Yachts is located in Pensacola Florida, one of the coastal communities closest to the Gulf oil spill. But what started out as a horrible summer turned out to be . . . not so bad. Emerald Coast Yachts’ Peggy Van Sleen wrote to ASA to share the pictures from their recent children’s sailing camp hosted by the Pensacola Beach Yacht Club. She says, “Everyone was thrilled to be on the water again–these kids are used to swimming every day, either in the pool or in the Gulf. But because of the oil, this was the first time most of them had been back in the water since May.”

The kids had access to a potpourri of sailboats to try–from Hobies and Sunfish to a Beneteau 331, 30′ Catalina, and a sweet racer named “Coyote.” The weather was perfectly summertime-hot and the wind gentle and just the right strength for learning. The kids even got to drag behind the big boats under sail, holding on to long lines attached to the stern (which brings back great memories for me!). What a beautiful turn of events for Pensacola–with water clean enough now for kids to swim in!

In the evenings, the kids all enjoyed learning from the colorful instruction in ASA’s new textbook, Sailing Made Easy, as the lead instructor showed them how to tie knots and even do a bit of simple navigation. Some of them went from never having sailed before to skippering their own Sunny by the end of the week; the youngest to qualify to sail solo had just turned 7 years old!

We were so pleased to hear about Pensacola’s upward trend, and wanted to share the darling pictures with you all! There’s still time to head down to Florida this fall for ASA’s Member’s Event in Clearwater Beach too–you could be sailing down there with us in less than three weeks!

“I can remain on shore, paralyzed with fear, or I can raise my sails and dip and soar with the breeze.”
–from First You Have to Row a Little Boat


Last Minute Deals for Member’s Event!

ASA Members in the Florida Area, this one’s for you! Just released: Last minute deals during the Members’ Event in Clearwater Beach, Florida. It’s only 3 weeks away (Sept 10-17)! Here are the details and itinerary:

Weekend ONLY Special: $595 per person includes
• Accommodations: 2 nights (Fri. & Sat.) in standard room, double occupancy
• King or 2 Doubles. All Suite Accommodations: with private balconies and water views of Clearwater Bay. Suites include a separate living area with a sofa bed, a wet bar, mini-fridge & microwave. Each suite features 2 LCD HDTV’s, a 37″ in the bedroom and a 42″ in the living room
• Special ASA Event Goodie Bags
• Flights and airport transfers not included – Airport Code: TPA
• All room taxes included
• Free Wi-Fi access in room and in all common areas
• Semi inclusive meal plan: All breakfasts and all lunches (while sailing)
• Exclusive group use of Local ASA School Charter Yachts
• Informal Keelboat sailing instruction with ASA Certified Instructors
• Use of Small boats such as Sunfish and Hobie Wave’s
• Special land-based educational clinics
• Special ASA Welcome Party

Whole week’s activities without hotel accommodations for $799 per person. Includes: 6 days of sailing various sizes of sailboats, lunches, informative clinics, and Pirate Party BBQ, and cocktail party!

Midweek Sampler: Join us for Tuesday and Wednesday’s itinerary (No Hotel) $199 per person *you must pre-register.

Weekend Sampler: Join us for Saturday and Sunday’s itinerary (No Hotel) –plus you’re invited to the Pirate Party BBQ at CYC on Wednesday. $299 per person *you must pre-register.

For more details on any one of these packages, please contact Jean at or visit ASA’s information page.

Sailing Selflessly

I met Lee Winters through Twitter (@SOSChildrenUSA). He is circumnavigating solo (the old-fashioned, sane, take-your-time way)–and he’s doing it to raise awareness for the nonprofit SOS Children’s Villages.

Lee got his start sailing with ASA a mere eight years ago, earning his 101 Certificate at North Texas Sailing School. Then he moved on to San Diego for 103 and 104 with San Diego Sailing Academy, where he recalls having an excellent experience. One thing led to another, and by fall of 2008, he had left his lucrative career in software sales and was readying his boat, the S/V Jargo, to cruise the world. Lee’s drive was spurred by compassion–or as Lee puts it, of desperation. In his own words:

Sailing For SOS was born of desperation. The desperation came from knowing that I was living the life of the status quo with a nice house and a good job, but wanting nothing that I would find at the end of that path. Wealth, corporate success, and all the trappings that come with it became just that in my mind, trappings. Sailing For SOS is the result of choosing to break free from all expectations, including those I held for myself, and living the extraordinary life of my dreams.

Through this portal I hope to accomplish many things. Firstly, I hope to show that anyone, no matter what your current path may be, can break free to follow your own dreams. The Ships Log holds my daily updates bringing you all of the good, the bad, and the ugly I encounter as I attempt to circumnavigate the globe, sailing solo, in a 39 foot sailboat named Jargo.

Secondly, this voyage is about more than my own selfish endeavor. SOS Children’s Villages builds homes and families for displaced, abandoned, and orphaned children the world round. These kids are given a home with a mother who will be their mother until they are old enough to move into society on their own. It is an organization like no other I’ve ever encountered.

As I circumnavigate the world I’ll be stopping at SOS Children’s Villages to spend time with the directors, mothers, staff, and children. The stories that come from the village visits will be presented both in the blog and on the village specific pages found to the left. It is my hope that through my interaction with these kids you will be moved to spread the word about SOS Children’s Villages and, if possible, help financially to enable them to do even more.

We all have the power to make our dreams reality. Sailing For SOS is my attempt at doing so. Thanks for joining me.

Lee is currently in Bora Bora, and maintains his blog regularly with fabulous stories and photographs. Check out his site, and let his story encourage you not to dismiss your own sailing dreams!

Ocean Vs. Plastic

Whereas the Great Ocean can lick three layers of antifouling paint right of the bottom of your boat and deteriorate your huge zinc plates within a matter of months, her mighty forces are nothing against the permanent, inflexible strength of plastic. As much as I would like to see the ocean batter away at plastic like she does at everything else, it takes hundreds of years for her to get a winning edge of the stubborn stuff. In the meantime, plastics take their nasty toll, weakening the ocean and her inhabitants. The ocean’s taken several knockouts–images of the Pacific Garbage Patch, for example, are like a boxer bleeding profusely in the corner of a ring. BUT, the ocean’s a helluva fighter, and she can still resurrect.

The saddest thing is, the ocean shouldn’t have to be fighting plastics at all.

We, as boaters, are a far cry from being a passive audience in this fight: we are the ONLY ones in the position to start picking off plastics from the ocean’s back. ASA’s President, Cindy Shabes, was disgusted this morning that she gathered three plastic bags, a bucket, and some styrofoam on a brief afternoon sail this weekend–why is there that much garbage floating in the water? Sailors, use your boats to help win the ocean’s fight against plastics.

Here are a some excellent links about sailors doing just that. I hope they will inspire you to take your boxing gloves along next time you go sailing.

Sailors for the Sea: “What Any Sailor Can Do”
Plastiki: David Rothschild’s awareness-raising voyage in a plastic sailboat
The Rozalia Project: A “trash-hunting mothership”
Save Our Seas: “The Plastic Bag Man”

Thousands of Words of Wilderness

Courtesy of Brenda WempnerTrying to capture July’s Gulf Islands flotilla with one-dimensional words would be futile. The wild beauty and solitude of the Canadian cruising ground is best represented by this stunning collection of photographs, which were taken by the many talented flotilla participants. While you can’t hear the forceful puff of an Orca whale spouting in the silent morning, or smell the heady flowers in Buchart Gardens, or taste the sticky-sweet rum-pecan rolls from the floating bakery barge in Montague Harbor, you can feast your imagination on these shots, each worth well over a thousand words.

Next year, consider heading north for vacation instead of south. The Gulf Islands flotilla is unique in that you get to clear in and out of customs by boat at the Canadian border, and anchoring among the many varied gunkholes with large tides and currents is an excellent learning experience. The Gulf Islands provide an incredible playground for exploring, so bring a favorite book, a pair of binoculars, and breathe in the clean fresh air of the Northwest under sail.

Courtesy of Susan Hoehn

Courtesy of Frank Agovino

Courtesy of Frank Agovino

Courtesy of Brenda Wempner

Courtesy of Frank Agovino

Courtesy of Frank Agovino

Courtesy of Frank Agovino

Courtesy of Frank Agovino

Courtesy of Frank Agovino

Courtesy of Susan Hoehn

Courtesy of Susan Hoehn

Courtesy of Susan Hoehn

Courtesy of Don Haisley

Flotilla Fever

Three weeks from today I’ll be touching my toes in the Adriatic, commencing ASA’s first-ever Croatia flotilla!

Jimmy Tanaka, an ASA Instructor, just returned from his own sailing trip in Croatia, and shared this video with me of his HD photos from the trip. Talk about heart-racing anticipation!

I also wanted to announce that ASA’s 2011 flotillas are now officially posted. In addition to the perennially popular San Juan and Gulf Islands flotillas, we’ll be repeating this year’s new Exuma Islands flotilla, as well as adding a new destination–Tahiti! (Which, by the way, is a KILLER deal.) I know you’re not all going to sign up just yet, but keep these dates in mind as you’re thinking about next year’s vacation plans. Meanwhile, enjoy the rest of the summer sailing season!