Our ASA 101 Experience: Day 1

August 30, 2016

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Brian and I had so much fun at our sailing lessons this summer!  We took ASA 101 at the American Sailing Academy and seriously can’t wait to continue this journey.  We thought people who were interested in starting to sail might be curious about our experience; ASA offers some great courses to get you feeling confident on the water!


When we got to the marina, we met our instructor Dave.  Dave was a great guy, with lots of experience & many stories to tell!  The first thing we did was sign some paperwork, and then go through a packet of all the information we would be tested on to pass the course.  Since we’d studied, we were very prepared for this part of the class, and it went quickly.  Again, I can’t emphasize enough taking the time to review ahead of time.  There is a lot of information, and it would be very challenging to learn it all in two days.

After we had finished all the “boring” stuff, it was time to sail!!  We pulled out of the slip and motored until we had gone past the swinging bridge.  Then it was time to hoist the sails and get to work!!  A lot of what we did on the first day was a review of what we’d done in the class we took last summer; just in a bigger boat!  …  Bigger boats are a lot more fun!!




You know when you’re learning to drive, and your parents make you go in circles in a parking lot?  That’s exactly what we did sailing; big circles in Long Island Sound!  One person would be the helmsman behind the wheel, and call out different maneuvers.  To pass this portion of the class, you needed to use the proper terms to describe what you were doing, and give appropriate commands to the rest of the “crew.”  I felt super cool saying things like “I’m going to head up into a close-haul on port tack,” and legit knew what I was saying.

Then when it was Brian’s turn to be the helmsman, I was the crew, and when he would give commands, I had adjusted the sail’s trim to match what point of sail he wanted to achieve.

Brian is a super-good sailor.  So much so that our instructor wanted to challenge him a little bit, and asked if he wanted to try some solo-sailing.  Dave and I were still on the boat, but he challenged Brian to tack the boat on his own; acting as both helmsman & crew while the two of us just sat back & watched.  Of course, Brian did an excellent job- someday, when it’s just the two of us, I will have no worries going on adventures with him!



… Well… No one really went overboard, but practicing this skill is super important.  So, to be sure we could handle a man-overboard situation, we practiced with some drills.  Since we didn’t want anyone to actually go overboard, we pretended that some crab pots were people who had taken the plunge.  We learned the proper way to turn the boat around and safely slow down to a halt (heaving-to) to haul the “person” back into the boat.  This was a new skill for me (Brian had done a similar maneuver when we would moor the little sailboat on base… I was always the one to grab the mooring, so I never did it).

This was the most challenging skill for me; I find it a little counter-intuitive.  But in the end, I was able to successfully perform it.


At the end of the first day, we had effectively demonstrated all the skills we needed to pass the class.  Our instructor gave us the option of sticking around after the sail was over, to take our written exam.  He said that getting both exams out of the way would mean that we could spend our second day in the class having fun & doing some fun sailing.  That sounded like a great idea to us; no more drills, just having an adventure!  So, we went ahead and took the test; we both felt very, but we had to wait until the next day to find out our scores!

Sailing is so super fun, and the ASA makes it possible for anyone to learn.  They have sailing schools all over the country; if you’re interested, check them out & see if there is one near you!

I am a member of the American Sailing Association, but these opinions are solely my own.  I am in no way compensated for my review of ASA 101 through the American Sailing Academy.

  • Sailing Lessons
  • Vacation Day 1
  • Vacation Day 4- Zion National Park
  • The Dahls Do Disney: Part I
  • Our ASA 101 Experience: Day 1
  • Learning to Sail: ASA 101 Basic Keel Boat
Brian & Katie Larger

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.



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  1. Marlynn @ UrbanBlissLife on Tuesday- August 30, 2016 at 10:20 PM

    Wow – what a cool experience! Thank you for taking us through it. I have friends who sail and have been curious about learning, so this is great inspiration!

    • Katie on Thursday- September 1, 2016 at 2:16 PM

      It is so much fun!!! Thanks for reading!

  2. Brianna on Wednesday- August 31, 2016 at 12:45 PM

    This is so cool!!! I’d love to go sailing like that!

  3. Erika on Wednesday- August 31, 2016 at 7:56 PM

    This is so cool, Katie! How awesome that you can sail?!

  4. Idriss on Friday- September 2, 2016 at 12:48 PM

    This a fantastic post ! Thank you

  5. Taylor Mobley on Friday- September 2, 2016 at 2:48 PM

    I love sailing! How fun!

  6. James Smith on Friday- September 2, 2016 at 5:44 PM

    Having some experience with the ASA, I can report a much different experience. The person I dealt with (it was a rental, bu he was an instructor) was arrogant and condescending. He tended to dismiss my qualifications and certifications from other organizations. He mentioned that the ASA was lobbying to make a certification (license) required for operating any sailboat longer than 4.5 meters. He also was of the opinion that the ASA intended to be the only source for this “certification.”

    As they were the only rental company in San Diego Bay (Shelter Island) that rented the particular boat we wanted, I tried to stick it out. Finally, decided he was being so full of himself and the ASA that I couldn’t bear his attitude and left. Luckily, we found another marina in Mission Bay where a charter office allowed me to rent one of their own personal boats after they checked my certification.

    As with many things, the quality of anything depends more upon the actual people running it than the organization itself. I’m happy you had a much better experience. I never went to another ASA facility after that.

    • Katie on Friday- November 18, 2016 at 6:43 PM

      Wow, I don’t blame you- I would have been turned off from ASA too!! Our instructor definitely didn’t have the same attitude, and we’re planning on using him again when we want to do the next course. Hadn’t heard that ASA was trying to make their certification standard; not a huge fan of that- I think experience is the best qualifier for a sailor, not a 2-day lesson and a piece of paper.

      • James Smith on Friday- November 18, 2016 at 6:58 PM

        My experience with the ASA is the same as yours. They were arrogant, dismissive and told me up front that the ASA will be the only ones to issue sailing licenses. This experience was repeated at several places in southern California and Florida, too. At one place, they accused my of running aground in a spot not 100 yards from the dock where the water was 30 feet deep. I told him to check the chart and informed him either was either not qualified for his job or was trying to find an excuse to charge me more. I asked to see the manager and he said he was the manager. That only made it worse, of course.

        I am fortunate to have had my own boats most of the time. At this time, I had crewed on several long-distance deliveries and told them in detail where I had been, on what, and when. “The manager only snorted and said, “riiigghhht”. I told him that, if he were calling me a liar, he would soon be swimming back to the dock. He told me to leave, forgetting that I had not paid yet So, I left. 🙂