Tag Archives: ASA 101

ASA 101 Basic Keelboat Sailing – What You’ll Learn

I sat on the deck of a sailboat and I listened to a teenager explain the basics of sailing. I was impressed. The cloak of mystery behind something as simple as sailing is lifted when it is brought down to the simplest and truest form. “You need wind in your sail and the boat will move forward.”

The lesson continued with very little discussion about how things worked and more about why things worked.  The teens laughed a lot. They pointed out things on the water. At one point one teenager closed her eyes and let the wind hit her face. The teen instructor asked simply, “can you feel it?”

She smiled and kept her eyes closed a bit longer and then said, “I love it.”

In a nutshell, that is sailing. Yes, it is more involved than all of that and learning to sail is more than just having wind in your sail but at the root of the sailing lifestyle is the ability to close your eyes and appreciate the wind in your hair, the sun in your face and the feeling of the bow gliding across the water as the wind takes control of your day.

What you’ll learn in ASA 101 – Basic Keelboat Sailing:

You’ll expand on your Basic Sailing Terminology by getting a good understanding of sailboat parts and functions:

  • Hull
  •  Deck 
  • Transom 
  • Keel 
  • Mast 
  • Boom 
  • Gooseneck 
  • Bow 
  • Stern 
  • Helm / Tiller /Wheel 
  • Rudder 
  • Cockpit 
  • Cabin 
  • Standing Rigging 
  • Shroud 
  • Spreader 
  • Chainplate 
  • Headstay / Forestay 
  • Backstay 
  • Stanchion 
  • Lifeline 
  • Pulpit 
  • Winch 
  • Cleat 
  • Block 
  • Fairlead 
  • Fender 
  • Docklines

After taking ASA 101 you will be able to explain and identify, sails, sail parts and sail controls. You’ll understand and be able to identify the parts of a boat as well as the language used when discussing sailing, sailing terms and sailing instruction.

Points of Sail Diagram
Learning the points of sail, and how the sails look and the boat feels on each one, is fundamental to becoming a competent sailor.

ASA 101 will help you become familiar with as well as explain Maneuvers & Points of Sail

You will understand terms such as Close Hauled and Close Reach when referring to points of sail and be able to describe and perform maneuvers such as jibing and tacking. 

ASA 101 will also teach you how to effectively and correctly use an respond to helm commands:

  • “Heading Up”
  • “Bearing Away”
  • “Ready About” —– “Ready” —– “Helms a-Lee” (or “Coming About” or “Tacking”)
  • “Prepare to Jibe” —– “Ready” —– “Jibe-Ho” (or “Jibing”)

Navigation Rules are covered and utilized while taking ASA 101 and your certification in Basic Keelboat Sailing will make you familiar with the USCG Navigation Rules and Regulations Handbook and help you understand basic right of way procedures on the water. 

In ASA 101, you will familiarize yourself with safety equipment and procedures.

Among other things, you will be able to:

  • List the federally required equipment for a recreational sailboat of 25-feet in length.
  • Identify the location and color of navigation lights used by a recreational vessel of 25-feet in length.
  • Describe the purpose of a Float Plan, give examples of information contained therein and to whom it should be submitted.

ASA 101 will teach you to sail. A certified sailor will demonstrate his or her ability to rig/hoist/set sails correctly.

An ASA 101 certified sailor will be 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. The sailor will be able to demonstrate competence in these maneuvers:

  • Depart dock or mooring fully ready to get underway safely
  • Select and maintain a given tack and course
  • Demonstrate how to get out of “irons”
  • Head Up
  • Bear Away
  • Sail Close Hauled
  • Sail on a Close Reach
  • Sail on a Beam Reach
  • Sail on a Broad Reach
  • Sail on a Run
  • Tack
  • Jibe
  • As crew, give appropriate verbal responses and perform correct actions during the maneuvers listed above.
ASA 101, Basic Keelboat Sailing

ASA 101, Basic Keelboat Sailing covers 52 skills that must be completed to earn certification. 

Take a look at all of the skills that you will master on the ASA Certification page: https://asa.com/certifications/asa-101-basic-keelboat-sailing/

Find a school to earn your ASA 101, Basic Keelboat Sailing:


5 Spots To Use Your ASA 101 Certification

Not long ago I watched as a pair of newlyweds hired my 12-year-old to teach them how to sail. We were on vacation and my two boys had been zipping across the horizon for over an hour and as they sailed the Hobie Cat back onto the sand the newly married couple negotiated a chartered cruise right on the spot. My son, ever the opportunist, jumped aboard, handed them life vests and explained where the couple would sit. He then had his younger brother give them a gentle push off the shore. Just like that, the couple was on a cruise of the warm waters of the Caribbean with their own private skipper.

I don’t recommend getting on a boat with a 12-year-old that you don’t know.

What you should do is get your own sailing certification. ASA 101 gives you the basic knowledge so that when you are sipping mai tais on a secluded beach and you see a boat for rent you will have the confidence to sail it all on your own.

These are five spots where you will encounter the right amount of wind, the right size boat and the perfect place for you to test out the sailing skills that you gained in ASA 101.

Charles River – Boston
Sit alongside the Charles River in the middle of summer and you’ll see the sailboats darting across from the Longfellow bridge up to the Massachusetts Ave bridge. Community Boating located on the south shore just a few steps from the Hatch Memorial Shell rents boats daily. You can choose from 4-person Cape Cod Keel Mercury and 5-person Rhodes 19 sailboats. Rentals are on a first come first served basis and are available to anyone over the age of 18 with prior sailing experience. Candidates are interviewed by the dock master on duty.

When your sailing day is done make sure to take a walk around the Boston Commons, follow the Freedom Trail or just pop into the Cheers Bar for a selfie at the bar, all are within walking distance to the dock.

Southern California

If you like the ease of setting off within the protected waters of a harbor or marina these spots in Southern California make for an easy day of getting on the water and working your ASA 101 skills. Both offer rentals by the hour and they each are located in protected waters that help you stay focused on keeping your sails full. In San Diego, they also offer larger boats for multi-day cruising for the more experienced sailor who has moved into ASA 103 or ASA 104.

Marina Del Rey

When your sailing day is done in Marina Del Rey venture to the nearby Abbot Kinney neighborhood for posh lunch spots and eclectic shopping options. You can’t miss a stroll through the canals of Venice or a walk along the infamous Venice boardwalk.

San Diego

In San Diego, the Gaslamp quarter is home to a bevy of options that range from romantic dinner spots to high energy gastropubs that feature the regions popular craft beer scene. Also within walking distance from the water is San Diego’s Little Italy that boasts patios alive with diners, plenty of pedestrian-friendly piazzas and Waterfront Park where the view of the bay is almost as good as being on the water.

Turks and Caicos

Push off the sand in Grace Bay and you’ll be hard pressed to keep your eye on the horizon as the clarity of the water creates an optical illusion and you’ll feel like you are sailing along in shallow depths. The shades of blue mixed in with the white sand below make for a feast for the eyes. The wind is dependable and with very little current or swells, the Hobie cats in this area can get moving at an exhilarating speed. All along this tourist corridor, you will find small activities shacks that offer up sailboat rentals by the hour. A few hotels on Grace Bay have their own fleet that are free to use for guests of the hotel. This is not uncommon in the Caribbean from the Bahamas to Barbados.

Lake Champlain Vermont

Your visit to Burlington, Vermont will be enhanced with a few hours on the lake sailing a 23’ Sonar across Burlington Bay. Community Sailing Center rents an assortment of boats from entry level dinghies for one to two people up to 23-foot keelboats for up to six sailors. Summer rentals are popular and they take reservations for their keelboats in 2-hour time slots.

When your sailing day is done you’ll have to visit Church Street Marketplace in downtown Burlington. With what seems like an endless supply of food, shopping and entertainment options the marketplace is great for a full day of window shopping and snacking. Craft beer is popular in these parts and of course Ben & Jerry ‘s got their start nearby.

Florida Keys

Sail the calm waters of the Florida Keys and utilize your ASA 101 talents as you embark on an adventure near Key Largo. They even offer a cottage and sail package where you fill your day with unlimited daysailing and end the night in a beachfront cottage. If you wanted to work on your sailing education they are an ASA school as well.

When your sailing day is done explore the Florida Everglades by kayak or by airboat. You can indulge in conch at one of the many restaurants along the overseas highway or watch the sunset from a beach bar with a view of Pelican Key.

8 Things I Learned in ASA 101

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.

Continue reading

Clipper Round The World Race

From ASA 101 to Unforgettable Adventures Crossing Oceans

ASA Certified Sailor Scott Elles is Living Life

There are some truly amazing circle-the-globe races out there. There’s the Volvo Ocean Race, the Vendee Globe, the Barcelona (doublehanded) World Race and the upcoming Golden Globe Race that will recreate the first solo unassisted round the world contest that happened in 1968, to name a few. But let’s face it, most of us are not going to be surfing down a building-sized wave doing 29-knots in a Volvo 65 or negotiating icebergs while blasting through the Southern Ocean in an Open 60 any time soon, so we watch and live vicariously through the lives of professional sailors.

Continue reading

ASA 101 Santa Barbara Sailing Center

ASA 101 Exam Day

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

ASA 101, Part 4 – ASA 101 Exam Day

Last night I spent a solid couple of hours with the books and with my own shoelace. It’s relaxing to practice tying knots in front of the TV. I’m not much of a “gamer” but I downloaded the Sailing Challenge app to check it out. You take a virtual boat out on the water and can experiment with different sailing maneuvers. For a beginner like myself it’s a fun way to make mistakes without the pressure of sinking and ruining everyone’s afternoon.

Continue reading

ASA 101 Learning to Sail with Lauren

Sailing in the Clouds with Santa Barbara Sailing

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

ASA 101, Part 3 – Sailing in the Clouds

You’d expect the second day of a three-day sailing course to be the least memorable: you’re not in the excitement of the beginning, nor are you feeling the adrenaline of the solo sail ending. But in a world that relies on something as wavering and powerful as the sea and wind, you never know what kind of day you are going to have.

Continue reading

First Day of Sailing School

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. The ultimate goal is to complete ASA 104 and go bareboat chartering somewhere exotic.

ASA 101.2 – Day One of Sailing School

Last night I spent perhaps more time than necessary eyeballing a huge pile of clothes and items on my floor, trying to decide what exactly I should bring with me and what I need to bring with me. The email said: “Being a smart sailor means bringing clothing for any type of weather.” Bathing suit, parka, umbrella… check, check, and check! I probably don’t need the flashlight, phone charger, or pocket knife… Okay maybe I am overthinking this a bit.

Continue reading

Learn to sail with Lauren

Getting My Feet Wet

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. The ultimate goal is to complete ASA 104 and go bareboat chartering somewhere exotic.

ASA 101.1 – Getting My Feet Wet

In just fifteen short hours, my days of watching from the shorelines are over. I usually don’t buy into the “New year, new me” attitude that comes along after the holiday season, but this time is different. I’m feeling a strong sense that this year is the year, when I stop making excuses and start making moves toward the life I want. This is the year I trade in my bystander hat for a flashy pair of partaker shades. Step number one: become a legit, ASA-certified, bonafide sailor.

Continue reading