What Is Your Role on a Boat?

By: Charter, Learn To Sail

Your ASA sailing education will prepare you to be a skipper on a sailing vessel and with that comes the responsibility of keeping your crew safe and ensuring the safety of the vessel you are sailing.  You will also have a crew and responsibilities are spread among those on the boat with you.

What type of sailor are you and what role do you take on the boat?

The Roles on a Boat

When on a charter sailing vacation your group will share responsibilities. While the skipper and mate will take the lead on running the boat, many important tasks are available for the crew to handle. These roles can be rotated and the entire crew can become familiar with the complete operation of the vessel.


Assure the safety of the crew and the safety of the boat and to ensure that the way the boat is handled complies with all relevant rules and regulations.


Performs engine checks and routine inspections of systems.


Checks weather forecasts, plan sailing routes and courses, and monitors the boat’s position under way.


Steers the boat to the courses supplied by the navigator.


Supervises sail trim to suit the course being steered.

Dinghy Captain

Ensure the dinghy is clean, dry, inflated, fueled, and equipped with safety gear and that it’s properly secured at all times.

The Crew Responsibilities

The crew’s primary responsibility is to follow the skipper’s orders for the safe operation of the boat. Even if a crew is made up of family members, including children, the skipper needs to establish order for the sake of safety.

These Three Asa Certification Courses Will Prepare You to Take on Any Role on a Sailboat:

ASA 101 – Basic Keelboat Sailing will prepare you 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.

ASA 103, Basic Coastal Cruising will prepare you to skipper a sloop-rigged auxiliary powered (inboard or outboard engine) keelboat of approximately 25 to 35 feet 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.

ASA 104, Bareboat Cruising covers 55 skills that must be completed to earn certification. In addition to being 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 you will have 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 & safety, emergency operations, weather interpretation, and dinghy/tender operation. 

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