8 Things I Learned in ASA 101

By: Learn To Sail, women on the water

Join Lauren on her adventure as she embarks on a journey to learn to sail. Follow her as she gets her feet wet as a beginner, gains experience, and earns her ASA certifications with Santa Barbara Sailing Center. The ultimate goal is to complete ASA 104 and go bareboat chartering somewhere exotic.

ASA 101.5 – Eight Things I Learned in ASA 101

I am proud to announce that I am officially ASA certified in Basic Keelboat Sailing! Now that I have completed the 101 course and am a seasoned expert of all things nautical, I wanted to share my biggest takeaways and tips from my first chapter of this journey.

  1. Sailing is more doable than you think.
    The idea of operating a watercraft of any size has always intimidated me. My thought has always been If you mess up, you don’t just get a ticket..you SINK. Each time I sat at the tiller I was surprised how easy the boat was to maneuver. My ASA 101 experience has taught me that sailing is less overwhelming than expected.
  1. Sailing is more inclusive than you think.
    You’ll find all kinds of people in a marina: all ages, shapes, sizes, walks of life, and purpose. Some enjoy the sea for leisure, some go out each morning to put food on the table, some are out there trying to protect it. You’ll naturally connect with the types of people who share your watery interests.
  1. Getting started is the hardest part.
    Santa Barbara Sailing Center

    Not a bad place to learn to sail… Thank you Santa Barbara Sailing Center!

    I have been a sailor wanna-be for a long time, but believed that making it part of my life was unattainable. The process was approachable and the ASA website is chock full of educational resources. The people I have met so far have been incredibly welcoming and excited about what they do. Bottom line: If you want in, jump in. Huge shout out to the wonderful sailing staff at the Santa Barbara Sailing Center for showing me the ropes, literally!

  1. There is no Rosetta Stone for sail jargon (yet?).
    Knowing the language is essential. Grab the book and learn your basics in advance or as you begin you will get lost quickly and struggle to catch back up. Play ASA’s quizzes online and see where the holes in your knowledge are. If this means a lot to you, don’t hesitate to take the time to get nerdy about it.
  1. Starting from scratch is an opportunity to do it right.Be prepared, be prepared, be prepared. This doesn’t just include your outfit. Read your notes from the day before, keep up with your knowledge and practice those knots. Check your boat’s equipment every time you leave the dock. Practice safety and strategy from the getgo to form good sailing habits.
  1. Layer it up.
    Sailing Gear

    Remember the 3 S’s: Sweater, sunblock, snacks.

    At one point during the day, it’s always going to be colder than you expected. You can always take off a layer, but it’s distracting trying to learn and focus while you’re cold.

  1. Sun protection makes all the difference.The sun and wind will wear on you. Even if you aren’t a hat person, an adjustable cap (so it doesn’t blow away!) and a pair of sunglasses made a huge difference for my morale. Opt for strong sunblock on any exposed skin.
    PRO TIP: Buy only ocean-friendly sunblock, just in case you find yourself in the water at any point. Zinc or titanium oxide is the only ingredient you need: avoid parabens, pthalates, oxybenzone, octinoxate, and aerosols.
  1. Keep track of your water time.Take note of everything in your logbook the day of. You don’t want to forget important details later on. Plus, you need a certain number of logged sails to get your USCG captain’s license… you never know!
Meet Lauren Lauren Coiro

Lauren is a marine conservationist, writer, and advocate for ocean-friendly living. She’s spent her entire life in the water, snorkeling, scuba diving, and kayaking, and has traveled to various parts of the world to study the ocean’s biodiversity and explore coastal communities. Lauren realized that the very best way to experience and appreciate the marine world is to get out there and start sailing!

With her ASA certifications Lauren hopes to make sailing a permanent part of her life and to connect with like-minded people who share her love of the sea. She admires the hard work and simplicity that can come with the nautical lifestyle and is eager to share how her ASA experience raises questions, challenges, and new opportunities along the way.