Learning to Sail: ASA 101 Basic Keel Boat
August 16, 2016
One of the highlights of our summer has been continuing our sailing journey together. We both love the freedom of being out on the water, the challenge of getting from point A to point B using only the wind, and most especially working as a team. Sailing is so rewarding for us, and I am so thankful we’ve found a hobby that makes us both excited!
Someday, we hope to do some serious cruising, but we have a long way to go before that’s a reality for us. We don’t mind the wait (too much) because the process of getting ready for that phase of life is a lot of fun! We love learning more about sailing, getting more experience on the water, and dreaming of what the future may hold! A few weeks ago, we had the opportunity to take the next step in our sailing journey, and we had a blast!
HOW TO BECOME A SAILOR
Sailing is not like driving a car where you need to take a road test and get a license. If you want to buy a sailboat, get on out there and sail with no training whatsoever, no one’s going to stop you. Poof, you’re a sailor! But, I am willing to bet you are not a very good one; in fact, I think going that route is straight up reckless.
As a captain of a sailboat you are responsible for yourself, everyone else on board & in many circumstances people/boats outside your vessel. If you decide to go the no-training route, damaging your boat and hurting yourself or someone else is a very real possibility. Which is why Brian & I both believe you should have some training before you just buy a boat & head out.
If you’ve got a buddy who knows what he’s doing, and they are willing to let a very green sailor practice on their boat, that might be a good way to get the experience you need. Nothing wrong with that approach, although you might find it difficult to charter a sailboat yourself in the future; some companies won’t rent their boats out to people who don’t have official certifications.
We decided that the best way for us to learn to sail was through formal sailing lessons. We knew that a professional instructor would be able to help us become confident sailors.
OUR PREVIOUS TRAINING
Last summer, Brian & I took sailing lessons at the marina on the Navy base in Groton. It was an excellent course, which taught a lot of sailing fundamentals. Passing this course was also your ticket to renting the small 15’ Mercury sailboats owned by the marina. We had a lot of fun in that class and then going on some sailing adventures last summer on the Thames River, but we were ready for a bigger boat, and more significant body of water.
LEARNING TO SAIL WITH THE AMERICAN SAILING ASSOCIATION
Our next step was the first level of the American Sailing Association’s classes. The American Sailing Association is one of the most reputable sailing schools in the world. Taking their classes not only helps you become a competent & confident sailor, but it also opens the door to charter larger sailboats yourself! They have locations all over the U.S., but we did our training at the American Sailing Academy in New London, CT.
ASA 101: BASIC KEELBOAT
The American Sailing Association has a lot of different classes, but this summer we took their intro class; ASA 101: Basic Keel Boat. Here’s how they describe the goals of this course:
[Students 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. 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.
A few weeks before our class began, our instructor mailed us the course materials so we could study up! If you ever plan on taking this class, I HIGHLY recommend that you read through the textbook several times and take all the practice exams! The night before the class started, we were both excited… and I was a little nervous; there was so much to learn!!
Stay tuned; I will be posting about our first day in ASA 101 soon. I have some pictures to share!
MORE ADVENTURES FROM LIFE AT THE DAHL HOUSE
HI. IT'S NICE TO MEET YOU.
Meet Brian & Katie Dahl, a couple living in New England with their dog Molly. Most of the time you can find us working on our home renovation, or cooking up something new in the kitchen, but our favorite thing is having adventures & sailing... read more.