What Sailing Course Do You Need?

By: Cruising Tips, Learn To Sail

Once you decide that you want to learn to sail you might be trying to navigate the sailing certifications available to you.  This should help clear up the sailing education process.  If you have some sailing experience you can always ask your sailing school about “challenging” a course. If they offer the challenge option you can sit for the test without taking the course and then demonstrate your abilities in a much more streamlined fashion.  

The sailing courses available to you:

If you are a beginner and have little to no experience you’ll want to start with ASA 101.  This is the basic sailing course. When you are done you will know how to sail a small sailboat.

ASA 101 Basic Keelboat Sailing

PREREQUISITES: None

DESCRIPTION: Able to skipper a sloop-rigged keelboat of approximately 20 to 27 feet in length by day in light to moderate winds (up to 15 knots) and sea conditions. Knowledge of basic sailing terminology, parts and functions, helm commands, basic sail trim, points of sail, buoyage, seamanship and safety including basic navigation rules to avoid collisions and hazards. Auxiliary power operation is not required.  Get more details here

What you’ll learn in ASA 101

Once you finish ASA 101 you’ll want to improve on your skills. Basic Coastal Cruising helps you build upon the knowledge you already have obtained. This course gets you out on a larger vessel and in more advanced conditions.


Reefing
A typical sequence of sail combinations for increasing wind strength

ASA 103 Basic Coastal Cruising

PREREQUISITES: Basic Keelboat Sailing (ASA 101) Certification, and the ability to demonstrate competencies in all knowledge and skills elements of that Standard. ASA recommends a minimum of 24 on-water sailing hours before undertaking ASA 103. 

DESCRIPTION: Able to skipper a sloop-rigged auxiliary powered (inboard or outboard engine) keelboat of approximately 25 to 35 feet in length by day in moderate winds (up to 20 knots) and sea conditions. Knowledge of cruising sailboat terminology, basic boat systems, auxiliary engine operation, docking procedures, intermediate sail trim, navigation rules, basic coastal navigation, anchoring, weather interpretation, safety and seamanship.  Get more details here

What you’ll learn in ASA 103

At this point in your sailing education, you are working on building upon what you have already learned about sailing inorder to skipper your own boat on a sailing vacation. ASA 104 will give you that next level of instruction that will begin to prepare you for your own bareboat charter.


ASA 104 Bareboat Cruising

PREREQUISITES: Basic Coastal Cruising (ASA 103) Certification, and the ability to demonstrate competencies in all knowledge and skills elements of those Standards. ASA recommends a minimum of 80 on-water sailing hours before undertaking ASA 104.

DESCRIPTION: Able to skipper a sloop-rigged, auxiliary powered keelboat of approximately 30 to 45 feet in length during a multi-day cruise upon inland or coastal waters in moderate to heavy  winds (up to 30 knots) and sea conditions. Knowledge of provisioning, galley operations, boat systems, auxiliary engine operation, routine maintenance procedures, advanced sail trim, coastal navigation including basic chart plotting and GPS operation, multiple-anchor mooring, docking, health and safety, emergency operations, weather interpretation, and dinghy/tender operation. Get more details here

What you’ll learn in ASA 104

If you are interested in navigation this course does not require an on the water component. Get out a map and start plotting your dream trip with Coastal Navigation.


ASA 105 Coastal Navigation  (available online)

PREREQUISITES: None

DESCRIPTION: Able to apply the navigational theory and practices for safe navigation of a sailing vessel in coastal and inland waters. On-water coastal navigation skills elements are contained in the Basic Coastal Cruising, Bareboat Cruising, and Advanced Coastal Cruising Standards, in progressively increasing levels of Detail. Get more details here

When you get to the point where you want to sail on multi-day passages and in all conditions ASA 106 will help prepare you for your journey. This is an advanced class and you will work on your seamanship at a much higher level than you have up to this point. 


ASA 106 Advanced Coastal Cruising

PREREQUISITES: Bareboat Cruising (ASA 104) and Coastal Navigation (ASA 105) Certifications, and the ability to demonstrate all knowledge and skills elements of those Standards.

DESCRIPTION: Able to skipper and navigate a sailing vessel of approximately 30 to 50 feet in length in coastal and inland waters, in any conditions, day or night. Knowledge of sail theory and steering forces, advanced sail control, weather prediction using clouds and instruments, boat systems maintenance, heavy weather precautions, safety and Seamanship.  Get more details here

What you’ll learn in ASA 106

Once you are ready to navigate by the stars you will want to enroll in Celestial Navigation. This course will give the confidence to apply celestial navigation to aid you in route planning and sailing offshore.


ASA 107 Celestial Navigation  (available online)

PREREQUISITE: None

DESCRIPTION: Able to apply celestial navigation theory and practices for safe navigation of a sailing vessel in offshore waters. On-water celestial navigation skills elements are demonstrated in ASA 108 Offshore Passagemaking. Get more details here

When you embark on a serious offshore passage the skills and knowledge required are tremendous. ASA 108 Offshore Passagemamking is the course that prepares you for the ultimate in sailing voyages.  This is an advanced course.


ASA 108 Offshore Passagemaking

PREREQUISITES: Coastal Navigation (ASA 105), Advanced Coastal Cruising (ASA 106) Certifications, and either the Celestial Navigation (ASA 107) Certification or the Basic Celestial Navigation (ASA 117) Endorsement, and the ability to demonstrate all knowledge and skills elements of those Standards.

DESCRIPTION: Able to skipper a sailing vessel on extended offshore passages requiring celestial navigation. Knowledge of long-term passage planning, offshore vessel selection, sail repair, offshore first aid, watch-keeping, emergency procedures, abandon ship protocols, safety and seamanship. Get more details here

This basic sailing course you might find at a resort or small lake. Your knowledge upon completion will be of basic sailing principles.  


ASA 110 Basic Small Boat Sailing

PREREQUISITES: None

DESCRIPTION: Able to skipper a non-ballasted centerboard/ daggerboard monohull or multihull sailboat of approximately 8 to 20 feet in length by day in light to moderate winds (up to 15 knots) and sea conditions. Knowledge of basic sailing terminology, sail trim, points of sail, crew responsibilities, seamanship and safety including capsize avoidance/recovery and navigation rules to avoid collisions. Get more details here

Did you already take ASA 101 but you feel like you forgot almost everything? This review class is what you are looking for. 


ASA 111 Sailing Review

PREREQUISITES: Basic Keelboat Sailing (ASA 101) Certification

DESCRIPTION: Desire to improve or re-familiarize sailing knowledge and skills imparted during previous on-the-water ASA certification course(s). Student and Instructor jointly decide on goals prior to the start of the review. Instructor provides student with a written, personalized Recommended Plan and Logbook remarks suggesting steps for continued improvement in knowledge and skills proficiencies after the review is completed. This review may be taken multiple times. Get more details here

When you get ready to plan your first bareboat charter aboard a catamaran this is the course you’ll be considering. Learn the aspects of sailing a large catamaran as well as the intricacies of a sailing vacation.


Catamaran Sailing – What’s the Difference?
Catamaran Sailing

ASA 114 Cruising Catamaran

PREREQUISITES: Bareboat Cruising (ASA 104) Certification, and the ability to demonstrate competency in all knowledge and skills elements of those Standards.

DESCRIPTION: Able to skipper an auxiliary-powered sailing cruising catamaran of approximately 30 to 45 feet in length during a multi-day liveaboard cruise upon inland or coastal waters in moderate to heavy winds (up to 30 knots) and sea conditions. Knowledge of catamaran structure, components and features, performance under sail and power, boat systems, seamanship and safety, heavy weather operation, and emergency response. Get more details here


Starting in 2007 ASA added several “Endorsement” courses to our certification program. We refer to these courses as “Endorsements” for two reasons. Unlike most ASA courses that cover a spectrum of subjects necessary to operate a sailboat under various conditions, endorsements provide in-depth study of a single topic such as radar, weather, docking or basic celestial navigation. Second, while these classes complement the keelboat sequence courses such as Basic Keelboat, Basic Coastal Cruising, Bareboat Cruising and the other more advanced levels, they are not requirements for the 101 through 108 sequence. Check with your local school for Endorsement availability.


ASA 117 Basic Celestial Endorsement  (available online)

PREREQUISITES: None

DESCRIPTION: Able to apply basic celestial navigation theory and practice to determine latitude and longitude at sea using a sextant and Nautical Almanac…  Get more details here


ASA 118 Docking Endorsement

PREREQUISITES: None.

DESCRIPTION: Able to safely and efficiently dock an auxiliary powered (single inboard or outboard engine) sailboat. Knowledge of basic auxiliary power theory, engine and steering controls, proper use of dock lines, crew communication and Safety.   Get more details here


ASA 119 Marine Weather Endorsement  (available online)

PREREQUISITES: None

DESCRIPTION: Able to observe and forecast weather conditions using traditional maritime skills and modern technology. Knowledge of weather information for planning and adapting navigation during short duration and extended voyages.  Get more details here


ASA 120 Radar Endorsement  (available online)

PREREQUISITES: Coastal Navigation (ASA 105) Certification.

DESCRIPTION: Able to properly use small-craft radar (or radar simulator) for piloting, navigation, and collision avoidance. Knowledge of radar principles and practical matters of radar operation.   Get more details here


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