A few months ago I decided it was time for me to take a sailing course. I did a quick search, knowing I wanted something ASA Certified. The options can be overwhelming! Did I want a package deal in an exotic location? Did I want a bare-bones course close to home? Or maybe something in the enormous in-between?
We have owned and used our boat for 2 years now – why do I even need a course? We have settled nicely into our “roles” on board – a little too nicely. I am at the helm when we are leaving from and returning to the dock. He tends to raise the sails – and even does most of the sail work. We rotate who’s at the helm underway. I do a lot of the navigation. We both track weather. I know basic terminology like port and starboard, tacking, etc. I have a very basic knowledge of points of sail and kind of what to do in each of them. I can get our boat from Point A to Point B. But we both still hesitate. We still discuss if/when we should tack. Or whether it’s time to reef the sail (I know, I know. If we’re asking, it’s already past time!)
I want to know more. I want to know what to do in any given situation – without thinking about it. I want it to be second nature. That will mostly come with time/practice. But I also want to know that I’m starting with the correct building blocks. I don’t want to really get into this and then have to un-learn bad habits. I want a strong, correct knowledge base to build on. A stable foundation for everything that is to come – and there is so much to come!
What was my decision? ASA 101 is the first step. It’s $550 for the course – that’s 2 1/2 full days of sailing, plus the books and certification test. I live within 2 hours of a top ranked school, so I didn’t need to fly anywhere. I did need a hotel for 3 nights. (I use Expedia for most of our travel – and I had points, so the Best Western Plus that is only 20 minutes away only cost $90 for the whole weekend! SCORE!) I pretty much live on a boat – so I still have cold feet about spending the money to learn things I could eventually figure out for free. But the learning curve is steep, and I want it to be a more efficient process. I also want to do it alone. This sailing thing is largely my doing. I’m not “along for the ride.” I want to be able to single-hand our beast.
I’ve done it. After teaching a water aerobics class, a round of last-minute speed packing, and an hour hanging out at the county courthouse with my landlord hat on, I loaded up and headed south! I made it to my hotel in Brunswick, GA yesterday afternoon (much nicer than I expected). The evening was spent catching up with a close friend on St. Simon’s Island. In about an hour, I will head off to Morning Star Marina to get started via the Dunbar Yachts Sailing School. I don’t have any clue how I’m going to feel after taking this 3 day course (that starts in 1.5 hours!). Is it going to be worth the money? I don’t know yet. I feel like I know the basics, but there’s always more to learn. Will I become addicted and knock out the whole series of courses? That’s a real possibility – I do love learning. But the local place only offers the first two certs in the series. It pretty much all hinges on how I feel after this first course. I will let you know how it goes – but first I have to go navigate the free breakfast buffet!
Ready for Part Two? Find it here.