Monthly Archives: August 2011

ASA launches learn to sail online system with “Your First Sail” course

your first sailStepping aboard a sailboat for the first time takes courage. The new sailor is entering a floating world where there are new rules, and even, in some cases, a new language. What happens when someone asks you to ease the main sheet, or calls out “helms-a-lee?” Well, you don’t have to be unprepared when that moment comes! Before you hit the water, you can begin to learn to sail online.

The American Sailing Association is taking its dedication to quality sailing education to a new level, launching its eLearning system and the brand new course, Your First Sail.

Who is this course for?

If any one of the following describes you, this course is for you!

  • I have never been sailing.
  • I’ve been sailing a couple of times as someone’s guest, but I couldn’t tell you the difference between a close tack and a broad reach.
  • I’m not interested in taking a sailing class at this time, but I would like to know enough to be helpful on a sailboat.
  • I’ve enrolled in a basic sailing class, but I’d like to get a solid head start before my first on-the-water lesson.

After completing this course, you’ll understand how a sailboat works, the common commands used to steer one and some basic sailing terminology. You’ll not only get the most out of your time on the water, but also be able to actively participate in the magic of sailing!

The course is a primer for ASA 101 (Basic Keelboat Sailing), covering topics such as the parts of a boat, wind direction, points of sail, and more. It even addresses what to wear and how to board the boat! Despite its thoroughness, this self-paced course only takes around 30-45 minutes to complete, and is full of interactive diagrams, videos, and pictures to keep the learning fun.
your first sail boat diagram
The course has only been live for a couple of days, but rave reviews are already coming in:

“It was extremely informative and I really enjoyed it. I was very impressed with the eCourse; every detail flowed together smoothly. I now feel that the next time I go out with friends sailing I can participate and help now that I know the basics. I learned a great deal in a relatively short time, for a basic course I feel it was GREAT!! Thank you for the opportunity to further my boating education and I look forward to sailing with my friends!” -T.W.

So don’t let yourself or anyone you know miss out on a lifetime of enjoyment in the sport of sailing. Check out Your First Sail, and when you take that first courageous step onto a boat, you’ll be doing it with confidence. Click here to get started!

Rambler capsizes in Fastnet Race with ASA co-founder Peter Isler onboard

rambler capsizedDuring last week’s Fastnet Race in the Irish Sea, the yacht Rambler, which Sailing World called “the most advanced, powerful monohull race boat in the world,” capsized after its keel broke off. On board was ASA co-founder Peter Isler, Rambler’s navigator. In our latest e-newsletter, we reported on Rambler’s record-breaking performance in the Transatlantic Race. Now, Peter Isler describes a very different experience in detail.

According to his account, it was “a nice, nasty day on the Irish Sea,” with low visibility and the sea stacking up. He went on to describe how, though no one is quite sure why the boat failed to hold together, Rambler “pushes the limits.”

“There was an earth-shattering bang…and the keel broke off. The heel of the boat changed immediately.” Rambler went over on its side. Isler said it was lucky that only a few crew members were in their bunks, with the rest on deck in their life jackets and foul weather gear. Isler attempted to make a mayday call from the ship’s main radio, and received no response. As he was making another mayday call with a handheld VHF radio belowdecks, the boat turtled entirely. “I thought it was going to stay on its side,” he said.

Now Isler was faced with a harrowing swim, in frigid waters and wearing full foul weather gear and sea boots, from the hatch of the boat, under the lifelines and back to the surface. “I didn’t think I was going to make it, honestly. I didn’t pop up like you do in your skivvies…I was coming up like a sea-anchor.”

The crew huddled together for 3 hours before they were rescued, some of them fully clothed and others in nothing but long underwear. At least one member of the crew was hospitalized for hypothermia afterwards. The wait for rescue was agonizing: “Leopard went by maddeningly close, but of course, no one knew. The Volvo 70s went by…” The 21-person crew of Rambler was finally rescued by a volunteer Irish lifeboat service after dark when the lifeboat crew spotted their flashlights.

When asked how this compared to winning a race (Isler is a two-time America’s Cup champion, among many other victories), he said, “This is way better, having everyone together and everyone survive.”

On whether this experience would have a long term effect on the experienced open-ocean racers of Rambler’s crew: “Oh, yeah. It was eye opening. The lessons are: A. Wear your lifejacket. B. Stay with the boat. C. If you can’t stay with the boat, stay together.”

After several attempts, Rambler was finally righted and towed back to port without her mast or rigging. Isler said there was damage from an electrical fire, and obviously the keel was missing. What’s next for this cutting edge boat? That is yet to be decided.

You can listen to Peter Isler’s full, candid, and engrossing interview here.

Zen 24 electric sailboat demonstrations with Yoh Aoki

zen 24 port tackThe Zen 24, a new electric auxiliary inboard sailboat designed in Japan by legendary circumnavigator Yoh Aoki, will be on display and available for demonstration cruises in California this September, and then will participate in the ASA Southern California Flotilla to Catalina, Dana Point, Newport Beach, and Long Beach.

Come check out this beautiful, environmentally-friendly new boat!

Here are the dates and locations for the demonstrations:

September 8-9: Marina del Rey, CA (Los Angeles)
September 17-19: Marina del Rey, CA (Los Angeles)
September 23-25: Redwood City, CA (Bay Area)

For more information on the boat and the demonstrations, visit the Zen 24 website.

yoh aoki
Yoh Aoki during his circumnavigation.

About Yoh Aoki:

At age 22, Yoh Aoki built a plywood ketch in his backyard and sailed it around the world solo. This boat, Ahodori 2, holds the Guinness World Record for smallest boat ever to circumnavigate, and is currently on display at a museum in Japan.

Yoh is now an ASA instructor and the owner/operator of Aoki Yacht, an ASA affiliate located in Osaka, Japan.

zen 24 stern
The Zen 24 viewed from astern.

ASA Launches Fan Appreciation Sweepstakes on Facebook

ipod touchOur fans are the best, and they deserve the best. That’s why ASA is launching our Fan Appreciation Sweepstakes on Facebook, to reward and grow our wonderful and lively community. Whether you’ve been following us for years, or you didn’t even know we had a Facebook page, you can enter for a chance to win our great prizes, including:

-Apple iPod Touch 8G
-$250 toward sailing lessons at an ASA sailing school

-Weems & Plath Nav Kit
-Sailcloth Cooler Bag from Sailor Bags
-ASA t-shirts

How do you enter? It’s easy! Just visit our Facebook page and follow the simple instructions. The Sweepstakes is free to enter and there is absolutely no obligation other than “Liking” us on Facebook.

Welcome aboard!

Voyaging with Velella: Home Is Where the Boat Is

meghan asa burgeeThis is the final installment in the “Voyaging with Velella” series by ASA writer-at-large Meghan Harvey. Meghan, her husband Prescott, and their cat Nessie have been cruising for the last 8 months in Mexico and the Pacific Northwest.

I find it rather fitting that we should “swallow the hook” in a place called Portland. The Land Where Boats Come to Port.

The moment I stepped onto the dock in Portland, Oregon, it hit me that we were finally home. These were the docks I would walk over and over again on my way to work, these were the showers that I would use every day, this
would be my neighborhood.

No sooner had I gotten halfway up the dock towards shore than, BAM, I almost ran into a little wooden sign hanging over an ASA sailing school. If I didn’t feel like I was home before, now I surely did, with ASA right down the dock from us! Passion Yachts ASA Sailing School has a darling on-the-dock classroom, with a wall of windows overlooking their fleet of Hunters and other small sailboats tied up outside. I made a mental note to go introduce myself. . . after showering.

First, we had plans with some people we’d been introduced to through friends of a friend. Upon shaking hands and exchanging names, they informed us that they already knew all about us. They’d been following Velella’s voyage on
this very blog for months! They have a 20-footer tied up just down the island from us, and we made plans to go sailing together soon.

The next day, we were headed out to the library (one of the very first things I like to do in a new city), and we had yet another ASA run-in. This time literally. We brushed shoulders with a very familiar-looking woman, but sometimes it’s hard to place people, having met them over thousands of miles of docks over the last couple years. We spun around when she said “HEY!” and recognized her voice immediately—it was one of the Croatia Flotilla 2010 participants, Diane! We said, “What are you doing here?!” and she told us that Passion Yachts ASA School was where she sailed out of every Wednesday night. Having met this woman on the other side of the planet, I couldn’t believe how small ASA made our world feel!

The cruising sailor’s range is limitless, but at the same time our communities are very small. I can read the Pacific sailing rags now (such as 48 North and Latitude 38) and identify half of the writers by boat name. I used to not believe sailors when, parting ways, they’d say “I’m sure we’ll run into each other again someday, in some remote anchorage in the world!”
But we’ve had way too many of those small-world sailing experiences now to deny that it’s absolutely true.

Flying my ASA burgee all up and down the coasts started conversations that started friendships. We received invitations to stay at ASA sailors’ homes, and we even received wedding gifts from ASA members we’d met only briefly.

Within the sailing world, ASA’s community reaches wider and wider every day. With a network like that, I rather feel like it doesn’t matter where you are at all—home is where the boats are. . . and where the boats are, there is ASA.

Meghan, Prescott, and Nessie are settling in to home in Portland for the time being, but they’re already talking about when they’ll be able to set off cruising again.
meghan and prescott

This Week in Sailing History

moby dickThere’s something about the first week of August. All sorts of notable events in sailing history took place this week, and here’s a list of some of our favorites!

Monday, August 1: American writer Herman Melville was born on this day in 1819. Melville spent his youth traveling the world aboard sailing ships, specifically Nantucket whalers, and these experiences informed all of his writing, from his debut in Typee to his masterpiece, Moby Dick. Melville was not very well appreciated during his lifetime, but Moby Dick is now recognized as one of the greatest books ever written.

Tuesday, August 2: On this day in 1610, Englishman Henry Hudson sailed into a large body of water that he took to be the Pacific Ocean. Hudson wanted to navigate the Northwest Passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and he thought he’d been successful. Unfortunately, he was actually about 2,000 miles short. What he’d found was the huge expanse that is now called Hudson Bay. The bay remains a popular sailing destination.
Wednesday, August 3: On this day in 1492, Christopher Columbus set sail from Spain. In another tale of mistaken continental identity, Columbus thought he would reach India on the other side of the Atlantic. Of course, he actually landed on the Caribbean island of Dominica. Columbus eventually realized tha the had not landed in India, but remained convinced to the end of his life that he had reached some part of Asia.

Thursday, August 4: Coast Guard Day! This holiday commemorates the founding of the Coast Guard in 1790 (back then it was called the Revenue Cutter Service), and it’s a chance for all of us sailors to thank the men and women of the USCG for keeping us safe on the water!

Friday, August 5: This is the day that, in 1620, the Mayflower set sail from Southampton, England on its first attempt to reach the New World. It took a couple of false starts, but the Mayflower finally made a harrowing 66-day passage to Cape Cod, and the rest, as they say, is history.

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