Join Lauren as she continues on her 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 103, Part 1 – Shopping for a Sailing School
I passed the ASA 101 course in the spring. I went home, bought a copy of Treasure Island and a pair of dock shoes, and suddenly the summer months had passed with only a handful of days on the water. I got so wrapped up in the idea of becoming a sailor I forgot to get back to the marina! Continue reading →
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.
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.
Sailing season is almost upon us, and that means a lot of people will get their first chance to go out on the water. Here are some beginner sailing tips for making sure you have a safe, fun, and successful voyage.
1. Pick a day with favorable conditions and dress appropriately. Depending on your area, good conditions come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Generally, you want fairly calm seas and lighter rather than stronger winds. Sunshine and 0% chance of precipitation is a plus! Remember that it is often windier and cooler out on the water than it is on shore, so dress appropriately.
2. Have the right boat. When you’re learning, a smaller, more responsive boat makes it easier to understand the dynamics of sailing. ASA 101 courses are taught on 22′ keelboats, which are bigger and sturdier than a dinghy, but small enough that you can really feel the forces of wind and water acting on the boat.
3. Be aware of the boom. The boom is the big, heavy bar at the foot of the mainsail. It swings across the boat whenever you tack or gybe, and you really don’t want it to hit you. It can injure you and even knock you overboard, but it’s easy to avoid as long as you’re paying attention. Whenever you hear talk of tacking or jibing, make sure you’re down in the cockpit, well out of the way. Experienced sailors also know how to control the movement of the boom, mainly by “sheeting in” when preparing for a tack or gybe, as allowing it to move freely causes unnecessary wear on the boat. By a combination of common sense safety and good sail-handling, you can ensure that there’s no danger or unpleasantness.
4. Go with someone who knows what they’re doing. We recommend an ASA instructor. An experienced, trained teacher of sailing will make a world of difference–the difference between a frustrating, unfulfilling experience, and a safe, fun, highly educational experience.
5. Know some basic sailing terms before you go. (We’ve previously covered important sailing terms here.) Learning basic terms such as “tack” and “gybe,” the difference between port and starboard, and the points of sail, is recommended. This will make it easier for you to contribute to sailing the vessel. Once you’re safely back at the dock you can expand your nautical vocabulary to include key phrases such as “beer,” “rum,” and “more beer and rum, please.”
If you do these five things, you’re setting yourself up to have a great time sailing, whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned plougher of the high seas. The best way to combine them all into one experience is to sign up for an ASA sailing course at one of our 300 schools nationwide. Find a sailing school near you here.
Your votes on Facebook and Twitter decided our Sailing Photo of the Month contest yet again. The theme was “First Time Sailors & Skippers,” and we got some great shots of folks learning to sail or taking charge of a vessel for the first time. We were especially happy to see how many of these pictures featured people who appeared to be having a great time during an ASA course from one of our many sailing schools. Here’s how it shook out in the end:
Tamara Weaver Knowles posted the winning entry, with the caption, “First Time Skipper is hard work :).” Looks like a hard life, indeed. Congratulations, Tamara, your photo will be published in the American Sailing Association’s “Sailing With Style” Newsletter.
Coming in with a strong second place finish was this dynamic image submitted by Janet Gunn, with the photo by (and of) her brother Wayne Gunn. Here’s Janet’s description: “My brother & I bought a sailboat together in 2006. We took a class on Lake Michigan that spring. Here he’s first time at the helm & captured the scene! Very proud that day, he was.”
EDITOR’S CHOICE AWARD:
Finally, a nod to this beautiful wooden boat and the good safety techniques practiced by man and canine alike. Jamie Holloway, who sent us this photo, gave this description: “First time sailor Roma, 3 1/2 year old Weimaraner, and newby skipper Jamie, sailing Seattle’s favorite wooden boat (Blanchard knockabout), on South Lake Union (Center of Wooden Boats), April 24th 2011. Roma loved it and she is whispering that she wants back out on the water.”