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Sailing Fun for KidsSailing Fun for Kids Sailing is more fun with family and friends, so why not get your kids on the water on your next Caribbean vacation? The American Sailing Association is excited to debut the...

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What you can do with your ASA sailing credentialsWhat you can do with your ASA sailing credentials Many prospective students ask us why getting certified is so important. Couldn't they pick up the same valuable sailing skills without passing a course and receiving a certificate?...

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Dinghy Sailing vs. Yacht SailingDinghy Sailing vs. Yacht Sailing The kind of boat you choose to sail will define your relationship with the sport as a whole. Like wind and weather conditions, the boat is one part of the entire sailing experience....

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Combine Sailing Lessons With an International VacationCombine Sailing Lessons With an International Vacation Vacations are for rejuvenation and exploration, right? So why not one-up all the normal resort-goers and take sailing lessons at your vacation destination this summer! Sailing...

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Sailing is a Great Way to Spend Quality Time with your FamilySailing is a Great Way to Spend Quality Time with your... Whether you have a six-year-old son or a sixteen-year-old daughter, sailing is a wonderful bonding experience that everyone in the family will enjoy. Next time you suggest...

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When it Comes to Your Sailing Education, You're the Boss!When it Comes to Your Sailing Education, You're the... One of the most important parts of beginning your sailing education is finding the right sailing school. Every individual has different strengths, weaknesses, needs, and ideal...

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ASA in Croatia: Medieval Mysteries This is a story about ASA's 2012 Croatia Flotilla. For more info on upcoming ASA sailing flotillas, click here. Sailors (and tourists of all kinds) have beaten a well-worn...

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Guanabara Bay: A Reminder to Preserve our SeasGuanabara Bay: A Reminder to Preserve our Seas “We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch - we are going back from whence we came.” –John F. Kennedy As sailors,...

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Docking: Or, How You Can Learn to Stop Worrying and Love the MarinaDocking: Or, How You Can Learn to Stop Worrying and... Once, while sailing in the San Juan Islands, I saw something I'll never forget. A powerboater cruised into the dock at high speed with his wife on the stern, line in hand,...

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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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Do I Really Need Sailing Lessons?

Category : Schools

plotting courseThey say there is more than one way to skin a cat, and though they’re not referring to catamarans, the phrase still applies to sailing. There is more than one way to learn to do anything–so why do you need to take ASA sailing lessons? The answer is: You’ve got to learn somehow, so you may as well learn from the best.

Some people are lucky enough to be raised on the water, and for them sailing comes as naturally as breathing. (Many of those people grow up to become ASA instructors, by the way.) For the rest of us, who weren’t so fortunate, a helping hand is needed and professional sailing lessons make the difference.

We don’t believe that sailing has to be hard–that’s why our books are called Sailing Made Easy and Coastal Cruising Made Easy. But it is an artform, and to be a good sailor you need good training, just as writers, painters, and athletes require instruction and practice to reach their potential.
trimming sail
ASA sailing lessons are designed to establish confidence through a strong understanding of the fundamentals of sailing, starting with the basics: Understanding how the parts of the boat work, how to use the wind, how to steer, tie knots, and deal comfortably with problems that arise. From that strong platform of skills, you can go anywhere: For example, bareboat chartering in the tropics (ASA 104), or sailing out of sight of land with Offshore Passagemaking (ASA 108).

There are other ways to learn these skills. You could happen to have a friend who is a great sailor, and has the spare time to teach you the ropes. You could teach yourself through trial and error (we strongly do not recommend this method), and some local clubs give lessons, although these certifications are unlikely to be recognized by charter companies or boat rentals.

We simply feel that none of these options offers what ASA does: expert instruction, a feeling of confidence, and membership in an association that supports you in the sailing lifestyle through benefits, events, flotillas, camaraderie, and more.

To see ASA lessons in action, watch this video of Bareboat Charter students sailing on our recent St. Martin flotilla. You’ll notice the instructor calmly coaching his students through the maneuvers–that comes from years of experience teaching the ASA curriculum. No panic, drama, or stress! Instead, the learning environment, even on the windy Caribbean Sea, is conducive to skillbuilding and retention.
(If you can’t see the video, click this link.)

If you want to know more about what sailing lessons are like at our over 300 sailing schools around the world, click here.

Sailing St. Martin: Grand Case

Category : Flotillas

at anchor grand caseContinuing the story of the ASA St. Martin Flotilla 2012.

PART THREE: BARBEQUE FOR EVERY MEAL

As a finale, we spent two days in Grand Case, on the French side of St. Martin. Grand Case is a narrow village of colonial facades facing a wide bay packed with sailboats, and bills itself as the dining capital of the Caribbean. Here you can get everything from fresh-caught snapper and lobster, artfully prepared by a master chef, to $2 barbeque. You can also get fine Italian cuisine, and at the Fish Pot, if you want to you can pluck your own lobster out of a pool, hold him up for a picture, and then have him for dinner.

The buildings are painted in bright yellows, red, and blues, just a bit faded from the Caribbean sun. One of the first places you’ll encounter as you stride up the dinghy dock is called Bar 24 — a little juice and cold beverage stand run by a Quebecois named Natalie. This is a great place to cool off and refresh before you hit the main drag.
grand case beach
For lunch, I opted for the barbeque. For dinner, I opted for it again. I’ll admit that I even had steak for breakfast one morning. Sad to say, I can neither approve or deny the claim of Grand Case’s gastronomic supremacy, I can only report that the barbeque is INCREDIBLE. It doesn’t seem to matter which place you go to; just wander and let the smell of sizzling ribs guide you. You will not leave unsatisfied.

A number of other flotilla members did eat at the finer establishments, and reported back favorably. So, it seems, you really can’t go wrong in Grand Case when it comes to eating. At night the town comes alive with music and singing, throngs of people; a very festive and happy atmosphere.

But what about those pesky in-between times when you’re not eating? Well, I clambered out some rocks, past a few local fishermen, to the point of the bay, and took this video:

Not a bad view, eh? Everywhere we went, we seemed to be encountering these spectacular vistas. And after two nights and a farewell beach party, we departed Grand Case and our trip came to a close.

What I’ll remember most, aside from the place itself, is the tight-knit bond that developed among the group, and particularly within the crews of the individual boats. Sailing with people, and living aboard with them, is a share experience that you can’t replicate any other way. For me, that’s the greatest value of an ASA flotilla. I can’t wait to do it again!

To find out more about upcoming ASA flotillas, click here!

st martin shirt

Sailing St. Martin: Anguilla

Category : Flotillas

anguilla road bayContinuing the story of ASA’s 2012 St. Martin flotilla.

PART TWO: THE ROOSTER CROWS FOR DAY

After two nights in Gustavia, St. Barths, it was time to up-anchor and head for the British island of Anguilla. It was a marathon sail, 26 miles with several tacks and gybes onto different points of sail. Great practice for all of us, especially the three people on my boat getting their ASA 104 certifications! We had excellent sailing conditions throughout the trip, with consistent winds of 10-15 knots.

Sailing St. Martin: Arrival and St. Barths

Category : Flotillas

Approaching St. Martin by sailThis is how you arrive in St. Martin: the 737 screams in over tin rooftops and a strip of yellow beach, then desperately brakes on the world’s shortest commercial runway; the taxi rides the perilous curves of the road, cut into the mountainside above sapphire seas and distant islands; and you are thrust, groggy and confused, into the bright mid-day sun at Oyster Pond Marina, where your vessel awaits.

From there, things slow down considerably–to a magical pace known as “island time.”

ASA’s first ever St. Martin flotilla was held from April 20-28, 2012, and I got to go along for the ride. The Caribbean’s Renaissance Islands are separated from one another by only a few sea-miles, but are worlds apart culturally and geographically. Comprised of bustling, half-French/half-Dutch St. Martin, the distinctly European flavor of St. Barths, and rural, English-owned Anguilla, a week of sailing these islands is not just a lesson in the art of relaxation, but also a study in the remarkably varied history of the West Indies.