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ASA members unite for a special week in the BVIsASA members unite for a special week in the BVIs Lots of people sail the British Virgin Islands every year, but not many get to do it in quite the same style as the 2014 ASA Member's Event, which took place March 1-8. For...

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Four Ways to Get Sailing ExperienceFour Ways to Get Sailing Experience “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” ― Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You'll Go! What the wise...

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Getting your Sailing Education is Easier Than Ever!Getting your Sailing Education is Easier Than Ever! A good education combines practical experience with study - and nowhere is that more true than in the world of sailing. As important as it is to understand how a boat works,...

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Take a Coastal Navigation Sailing Course and Build ConfidenceTake a Coastal Navigation Sailing Course and Build... Long gone are the days when a sailor cruising alongside an unfamiliar coast had nothing but their compass and the principles of dead reckoning to go by. The age of GPS and...

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Five Essential Bareboat Charter SkillsFive Essential Bareboat Charter Skills Modernist author and noted sea enthusiast, Ernest Hemingway, once said, "The sea is the same as it has been before men ever went on it in boats." While that may be true, a...

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Your Photo Could Be On the Cover of Our New Book!Your Photo Could Be On the Cover of Our New Book! In 2014, ASA will release Bareboat Cruising Made Easy, the latest in our line of cutting-edge sailing books. But before the book can be published, we need to find the perfect...

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VIDEO: Trailer for Maidentrip, documentary about Laura DekkerVIDEO: Trailer for Maidentrip, documentary about Laura... For years here on the ASA blog we followed Laura Dekker's amazing round-the-world sailing adventures. The Dutch teenager battled the legal system, contended with public opinion,...

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ASA's 30th Anniversary Caribbean Getaway Sweepstakes!ASA's 30th Anniversary Caribbean Getaway Sweepstakes! Join us to help improve the lives of children in the Caribbean, and you could win a 6-night stay at Conde Nast award-winning Rosalie Bay Resort in beautiful Dominica, complete...

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Alternative Energy in the Sailing WorldAlternative Energy in the Sailing World Guest post from Sailors for the Sea. By:Hilary Wiech, Communications Manager and Annie Brett, Program Director Renewable energy is a hot and sometimes controversial topic...

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Upcoming ASA events at the America's CupUpcoming ASA events at the America's Cup The America's Cup, one of the world's greatest sporting spectacles, and the biggest event in competitive sailing, is underway right now in San Francisco! Check the schedule...

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Why Be an ASA Member?

Category : American Sailing Association, Members, Social Media

ASA bahamas flotilla groupWhen you learn to sail with one of our over 300 sailing schools in the United States and around the world, you automatically get a 1 year membership with our Association. Great! But when that year is over, what comes next? Even if you don’t have another sailing course planned for the immediate future, why continue to be an ASA member? The answer comes in three parts:

1. Benefits
At just $39/year (or $69 for two years), an ASA membership often pays for itself the first time you sail with it. Members can get discounts on travel costs, chartering, sailing gear, not to mention a free subscription to SAILING Magazine. For the complete list of member benefits, click here.

2. Community
We’re not just a training program for sailors, we’re a huge network of people who share a passion for the sport and lifestyle. As an ASA member, you’ll have a ton of opportunities to stay connected with the sailing world through our flotillas, events, publications, social media, and more. Our mission is not just to provide the highest quality standard in sailing education, but also to help the sailing community grow and thrive.

3. ASA Is There For You
Your affiliation with ASA and your local sailing school form the backbone of your sailing resume whenever you want to charter a boat, join a racing team, or just borrow somebody’s day-sailer. We’re available to answer your questions, and we have a dedicated Government Liaison who stands up for your rights & interests.

ASA has certified over 835,000 sailors, but we couldn’t exist without our members. So join today and become a part of the most exciting seafaring community in the world!

Cruising Croatia: Lightning Strikes Twice

Category : American Sailing Association, Flotillas

steve and nancy on arianaThis is a special guest blog by Captain Jean de Keyser, who led ASA’s 2011 Croatia flotillas and operates Gulfcoast Sailing School, an ASA affiliate in Punta Gorda, FL. You can read Part One here.

PART TWO

As the first ASA flotilla came to an end on September 3, the participants for the next week’s event had already started checking in at the Trogir Palace Hotel. Mila was on hand to welcome them and to help them get settled. Everybody was in great spirits and looking forward to the upcoming trip.

We decided to change the itinerary and, instead of heading for Primosten for our first night, we headed for the familiar village of Milna. We could have chosen another port but, from experience, we know that everybody loves Milna! Like the previous week, we docked at the ACI marina and all four yachts tied up, side by side.

On Sunday morning, we took some of the participants to Josip’s wine cellar where they could buy some of his family’s local production. Steve, Gwen, Gary, Charlotte, Mila and Dirk, crew members on Ana B, sampled Josip’s wares and before we knew it our boat had some extra cargo hidden in the bilges.

Around 10:00AM, we sailed out of Milna harbor and headed for the Splitska Vrata pass between Brac and Solta islands and started sailing westward along the south coast of Solta. We stayed close to the rocky shore to enjoy the beauty of the cliffs. The nice thing about sailing in Croatia is that, even when you get close to shore, you are still in deep waters with very little risk of running aground.

The anchor was dropped for lunch in a cove on Drvenik Mala island at around 2:00PM and, a refreshing dip in the Adriatic later, we sailed on to our next stop in Primosten.

That night in the bay of Primosten, we cooked on board and Ana B got transformed into a night club and disco with some wild music and even dancing. Thanks to Dirk, we even had psychedelic lighting on board. Quite a few of the wine and grappa bottles were sacrificed to Bacchus that night. I am quite sure that this was the first time ever that the sounds of Zydeco music reverberated over Primosten…..
fire plane croatia
While checking the anchor during the night, we could see lightning in the distance and, by the time we got up, lightning flashes followed by loud thunder claps were hitting the mountain sides of the bay.
Sara, the Beneteau 37, crewed by Brook and Ella from Alaska and Scott and Lori from Montana, had dragged her anchor and was now quite a distance away from Ariana and Ana B.

Suddenly, two lightning bolts struck on land, almost at the same time, and started two different forest fires. Fanned by the strong wind these fires were soon threatening houses and, from our vantage point in the bay, we had an excellent view of what was going on. We saw fire trucks racing up the slopes and soon ashes started falling on our boats. A small skiff made the tour of the anchored yachts and recommended that we leave immediately as firefighting planes would be using the bay to take on water to douse the flames
Before long a modified crop duster on floats flew low over the water, landed, filled up and started a slow take- off to drop its load on the fire. It flew right over our mast and too close for comfort. We saw it making its aerial ballet approaching the fire and saw the water being sprayed over the forest. There was no way this small plane could handle this by itself but soon two larger Russian-made Antonov seaplanes joined the dance and, with all these planes buzzing close overhead, we decided that it was definitely time to leave!

On the way to Sibenik, we reached the narrow channel between Zlarin and Drvenik islands and Ana B crew member, Gary Lee, smoothly steered our yacht through the gap. Once out of the wind shadow of Drvenik, we reached the entrance of the Sveti Ante pass that leads to the river and Sibenik.

This pass must have been a death trap for any invading naval force as it is narrow and protected by a fortress and high cliffs on either side. The late communist leader of Yugoslavia, Marshall Tito, had tunnels carved out inside the cliffs from where fast torpedo boats could intercept and destroy any invader.

On the other side of the pass Sibenik appeared with its old fortresses and cathedral. We by-passed the city and went upriver towards Prokljansko Jezero, a large lake located between Sibenik and Skradin.
Along the way, we saw several mussel farms. One of them is owned by a man named Zoran, whom I had met on a previous trip and I called him with the request that he have 20 kilos of his mussels ready on our way back from Skradin. More on that later…..
krka waterfalls
Wednesday morning we headed to the absolutely gorgeous waterfalls which are located in the Krka National Park. We had to take the park ferry to bring us there and, a short trip up the river later, we docked at the entrance of the park, paid our entrance fee and started our walking tour around and above the falls. Hundreds of small falls, ponds and creeks feed water from higher up to the majestic falls and, in all these ponds and creeks you see thousands of fishes. The water was unbelievably clear.

Only two days left and we still needed to get to the Kornati Archipelago. To the blaring sound of the Ride of the Valkyries (Apocalypse Now), we left our dock and steamed downriver back to Sibenik and the Adriatic. Along the way, we stopped by Zoran the Mussel-man and picked up our twenty kilos of freshly harvested shiny black bivalves.

zoran

Zoran and his Mussels


That evening we brought five kilos of mussels to each yacht and organized a mussel cooking contest. Each boat had to come up with its best recipe. Soon all crew members were cleaning mussels, removing the beards, scrubbing them and getting them ready for their last hot bath.

Ana B being at a mooring ball, we had decided to clean the mussels on board and prepare the ingredients for the recipe but to do the cooking on one of the boats at the quay. Dirk and I concocted our “top secret” preparation and, once on board of Sara, we cooked our mussels while listening to the Bolero of Ravel. As if by miracle the mussels opened right as the music reached its climax and we knew that we would serve the best mussels of the contest.

Judging and consumption of the mussels was done in a local restaurant on the waterfront. Ella Goss and Gwen Risner had made a deal with the owner that we could serve our culinary wonders but that we would drink his wine and beer and buy his bread to dip in the sauces. He also sold a few pizzas and ice creams.

After much tasting and re-tasting, the verdict was that there was a tie between Ana B and Sara but, as Ana B was the lead flotilla boat, the corrupt judges decided that we could not get any of the prizes, such as a subscription to Latitudes and Attitudes magazine, sailing DVDs, sailing gadgets, etc.

We sailed on to Rogoznica is a cute little town on a peninsula inside the bay that bears the same name. Marina Frappa is located across from it and is one of the best equipped marinas in the Adriatic. Our 49’ yacht was dwarfed by huge mega-yachts with ports of call like Gibraltar, St. Petersburg (Russia, not Florida), Georgetown, Panama and so on. The facilities in this marina are absolutely superb and they have a choice of several restaurants, bars, a swimming pool and much more.
croatia flotilla group
Friday has arrived! This means the end of our second week flotilla is in sight. It sneaked up on us way too soon, but we had to return to Marina Kastela. Good bye, Marina Frappa and see you again, hopefully next year. Dirk who, with Mila, had gone on a discovery mission of Ciovo Island near Trogir on the day before the start of the charter, suggested that we anchor near a small resort in Uvala Duga, a cove on the south side of Ciovo. It was a beautiful anchorage, ideal for lunch and a swim after which we hoisted the sails for the final leg to Split and Marina Kastela.

Saturday morning meant check-out time and return to the Trogir Palace Hotel and before you knew it, all our crew members and new friends left for home or for their next destination.

We have lost our sailing hearts to Croatia and are already planning our next flotilla for 2012. See you there?

Halloween costumes for the sailor, beyond Jack Sparrow

Category : American Sailing Association

jack sparrowIf you’re anything like me, every year you have a great Halloween costume idea in mid-July, which you then forget about, and on October 30th, or sometimes the morning of the 31st, you think, “Wait a second, everyone else is dressing up, I should be too.” On the other hand, maybe your costume is ready way in advance, but it’s a little too expected…do you really want to be Jack Sparrow #4 at the party?

Your local costume store will be well stocked with generic seagoing outfits, but what if you want something with a little personality? Here are some ideas for nautically themed costumes, ranked from Easy to Nearly Impossible:

EASY
blackbeard
Pirate: A classic. All you need is an eyepatch from the local drugstore, a black paper hat with a skull and crossbones (a bandanna will do in a pinch), and white shirt (preferably with ruffles). Bonus points for a parrot on the shoulder. Extra bonus points for dressing up as a SPECIFIC pirate, especially if it’s Blackbeard and you put firecrackers in your hair. (Note: We don’t recommend that! It would definitely launch this costume into the Nearly Impossible category!)

Swabbie: Wear all white and carry a mop. Do whatever your superior officer tells you.

Richard Branson: Business mogul and lover of sailing. You’ll need a blond wig and a goatee, and a nice suit (but no tie!). Try to act like you have a lot of money and know exactly what to do with it.

A BIT MORE WORK

Davy Jones/Neptune: It’s not easy being an undersea deity. For Neptune you’ll need his trademark trident and white, flowing beard. Also, he never seems to wear a shirt. (If I had that physique I wouldn’t either.) If you want to try Davy Jones (and not the one from the Monkees), you have some room to be creative. The name Davy Jones has been attributed to an English pub owner who kidnapped sailors, a ghost captain, and even the devil himself. No one really knows, so do what you like best. Just be sure to make frequent references to your “locker.”
jfk sailing
Royal Navy Admiral: An admiral needs to look SNAPPY. Everyone else at the party will be looking to you for guidance when the chips are down and the guacamole has run out. Project confidence and leadership with a bicorn hat and gold epaulets. Bonus points for sewing the correct rank insignia onto your sleeves. The best thing about this costume is that the swabbie has to follow your every order.

JFK: Our most stylish president was also a decorated naval officer and an avid sailor. Go with shorts, deck shoes, and a rumpled-but-classy oxford shirt, open at the collar. Put in the time to perfect your Massachusetts accent, and be sure to give an inspiring speech before the night is over.

NEARLY IMPOSSIBLE

Jellyfish: It’s tough to get that “gelatinous predator” look just right. For the ladies, maybe try a tu-tu with colored yarn or paper attached. A clear plastic umbrella could also be a good starting point. I actually have no idea how you would make this costume, but I’d LOVE to see somebody pull it off.

Solo Non-Stop Circumnavigator: Let your hair grow for about eight months, shower infrequently, and talk to yourself a lot because there’s no one else around. Some possible models include Joshua Slocum, Reid Stowe, and Jessica Watson (don’t forget the Australian accent!). Oh, and of course, earn the respect and admiration of your fellow sailors for having the guts and skill to do it, even if you’re only pretending.

What are you doing for Halloween? Any other/better costume ideas? Let us know in the comments!

Cruising Croatia: From James Bond to Marco Polo

Category : American Sailing Association, Flotillas, Members

hvar fortressThis is a special guest blog by Captain Jean de Keyser, who led ASA’s 2011 Croatia flotillas and operates Gulfcoast Sailing School, an ASA affiliate in Punta Gorda, FL.

PART ONE

On August 26 crew members from all over the U.S.A. gathered in the Trogir Palace Hotel located just outside of the stunningly beautiful medieval city of Trogir, Croatia.

A spread of Dalmatian specialties consisting of cured ham, local cheeses, salads, wines and delicious bread awaited them during this initial meeting of the first week’s ASA flotilla, the first of many delicious Croatian meals to be had.

ASA members from Florida, California, Connecticut, Oklahoma and Maryland had traveled all the way to this historic part of Europe for some great sailing fun along the Croatian coast on four yachts. Captain Jean De Keyser and First Mate and wife, Mila, gave the sailors their first briefing on what they could expect during this trip and provided lots of interesting information about the itinerary, local islands, marina facilities, docking, administrative procedures in each port and on provisioning during the week.

At around 12:00PM the following day, we made our way to Marina Kastela, a very large and modern charter base where several charter companies operate from. As most charters in Croatia start and end on a Saturday, the base was swarming with people from all over Europe and the U.S. It was like a marine version of the Towers of Babylon where, without a doubt, well over twenty languages could be heard.

The first yachts started leaving the marina at 3:30PM and headed for our first stop, the village of Milna on the island of Brac (pronounced Brasj). Upon our arrival at Milna, our skippers and their crews got their first taste of the Croatian version of Mediterranean mooring. The fact that one of the dockhands of the Milna marina was not very diplomatic made for some tense moments, but Capt. Jean advised the skippers to relax and ignore his yelling, and soon all four yachts were safely ensconced in their berths for the night.

At 6:00 the following morning, we were roused from our deep sleep by the bells of the church across from the basin. After breakfast, a short chart briefing and once we had recovered our boat papers, we set sail for our next destination, the island of Vis.
submarine base
During the Cold War, when Tito was the communist dictator of Yugoslavia, this island was off-limit to foreigners and non-residents of the island. It was a secret military base and its mountains have countless tunnels in which the armed forces could hide in case of an invasion. Sailing along the coastline of Vis, one can still see many bunkers from where Tito’s forces could lob artillery shells on any would-be invader.

After about four hours of sailing we entered Rogacic Bay and anchored in front of the abandoned submarine base which was featured in the James Bond movie, The World Is Not Enough. Everyone went for a swim or motored with the dinghies inside the submarine tunnel. The waters there are so clear you could see an octopus swim at the bottom.

We had lunch on board of our yachts. Our lunch typically consists of bread, cheese, “prosciut” ham, a salad of lettuce, tomatoes (they are super delicious here!), mozzarella and basil with olive oil and vinegar; all this, of course, generously accompanied by the delicious local wines.

After another refreshing swim, we headed for the port of Luka Vis and, another short sail later, docked across the harbor from the ancient little abbey.

One of the highlights of this itinerary is the dinner in a vineyard, high in the mountains of Vis.
Years ago, we discovered this family owned restaurant where they serve the most unbelievable lamb dish, prepared under the so-called Peka bell. Imagine…. generous portions of lamb, potatoes and tomatoes cooked in a dish covered by a bell on top of which hot ashes are piled. After two hours of slow cooking the food is served, accompanied with lots of bread to soak up the juices and with bottles and bottles of the wines produced in that same vineyard. Bise(Bee-Zay), the owner of this place had us also sample other local delights, like carpaccio of sardines, a variety of cheeses and fried zucchini flowers. Let us not forget the various homemade brandies!
blue cave by tom stout
Monday morning the “blue cave” on the island of Bisevo was waiting for us. We had a few hours of exhilarating sailing ahead of us and, one after the other, all boats anchored in the cove of the blue cave.

Suddenly, this 40’ yacht with a Polish flag entered the cove under full power and looking for a place to drop the hook. He decided to try his anchoring skills quite close to our boat which allowed us to see that the skipper was buck naked………. Not a pretty sight. Fortunately he anchored a bit further away and donned a speedo. Still not a pretty sight…….
Soon the dinghies were dropped in the water and we made our way to the blue cave and, of course, we had to swim in the electric blue waters. A magical experience!

Tuesday morning saw us heading towards the island of Hvar. We had some fairly decent winds when leaving, but soon the water became glassy calm and we had to leave a larger carbon footprint behind us. That afternoon the wind picked up again and we tacked our way up the channel while playing chicken to see how close we could get to the cliffs on either side of the channel before shouting “Hard A-lee!”

That night in the glamorous city of Hvar, which has become one of the places for the glitterati to be seen in Europe, we had an evening happy hour onboard Lejla, the ASA yacht of Dr. Kevin from Oklahoma. While enjoying a good drink and some appetizers, we saw this guy walking the docks looking for a doctor. One of his friends had dislocated his shoulder. Fortunately for this friend, we had Dr. Steve from Orlando in our flotilla. Apart from being an experienced sailor, he is a skilled orthopedic surgeon and in no time he reset the shoulder of this young man. Quite a crowd was swarming all over the place when he performed his healing wonder and he got quite a loud applause when the bone popped back in its joint. If he had been a bullfighter in Spain, they would probably have given him the two ears…..
korcula
The week was now in full swing and on Wednesday morning we motor-sailed to Korcula. Legend has it this adorable city was the birthplace of Marco Polo. You can still visit his house and climb the attached tower from where you have an impressive view of the city and the surrounding area. Of course, the nearby Marco Polo gift shop will gladly sell you souvenirs bearing his name and likeness. Wandering through the narrow streets you realize that you are walking on cobble stones that are centuries old. If only these walls could speak but, fortunately for me, some of them have been remodeled to accommodate ice cream and gelato shops. Civilization and progress are beautiful things indeed.

Sunrise brought us into our last sailing day of Friday and we sailed our way back to Marina Kastela with a stop in Milna where the skippers got to practice the “Diesel Dance” or “Fuel Waltz”. Before heading back to the marina, all yachts must be refueled and, as there are not that many refueling docks available, skippers must get in line and have to keep a watchful eye on the surrounding yachts while maintaining their position. This requires some deft maneuvering and it results in a few tense moments but, in the end, all of our boats got refueled.

Three of the yachts’ crews opted not to return to Marina Kastela that night. Capt. Dr. Kevin and Capt. Dr. Steve decided to spend a last night in Milna. The boat crewed by ASA’s very own Brenda Wempner and her shipmates decided to head for one of the marinas in Trogir but the lead boat, Ana B, needed to be back in Marina Kastela that night. On the way back, we had a nice last and refreshing swim in a cove outside Milna.

All ASA chartered yachts were in Marina Kastela in time for the check-out on Saturday morning and, before we knew it, the first ASA flotilla week of this year was over. Effusive good byes later all crew members prepared to travel back to the U.S. Only the ASA crew on SV Larisa and Capt. Jean with First Mate Mila stayed on for the second week flotilla.

This has been a wonderful week and we got to know some very special sailors whom we now call Friends. We do hope to sail with them again at some point.

Stay tuned for Part 2!
asa flotilla group week 1