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ASA’s First Regional Meeting Held in Shenzhen, ChinaASA’s First Regional Meeting Held in Shenzhen, China Last week ASA held its first ever regional Asian Affiliate & Instructors meeting in Shenzhen, China.  Over two dozen ASA Instructors and Affiliate representatives...

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Hands Across the Sea Caribbean Getaway SweepstakesHands Across the Sea Caribbean Getaway Sweepstakes Win a caribbean bareboat charter or tropical vacation... and help improve the lives of children in the Caribbean! Join the ASA/Hands Across the Sea Caribbean Getaway...

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ASA Unveils Innovative TextbookASA Unveils Innovative Textbook ASA's brand new textbook, Bareboat Cruising Made Easy, has just been released to national acclaim. The updated manual of ASA’s bareboat cruising standard is designed to...

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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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New discussion forum for ASA instructors on Facebook

Category : American Sailing Association, Instructors, Social Media

asa instructors and membersThe sport and lifestyle of sailing are ever-changing, and ASA instructors, some of the finest sailing teachers in the world, are a great resource to the community and to each other. Now there’s a place online for instructors to quickly and easily talk to each other about strategies, techniques, and the issues of the day.

The brand new ASA Sailing Instructors group on Facebook is the official online meeting place for our qualified instructors. Here you can share documents, including text, articles, photos, and videos. You can also comment on and discuss any topic related to the work or lifestyle of being a sailing instructor.

For example, the first topic of discussion has been Tom Tursi’s article on Overboard Rescue procedures. Click here to contribute your voice to this topic, and to stay abreast of the latest instructor news and chit-chat!

Seminar for Cruising Couples in Miami

Category : American Sailing Association, Instructors, Schools

sideways sailingSingle-handers and other brave (but lonely) seafarers tend to get most of the press, but let’s face it, it’s a lot more fun to sail the seas with somebody. Maybe this is something you and your partner have always wanted to do, but the idea of learning everything you need to know leaves you feeling a little bit…sideways.

That’s why ASA is sponsoring the “Cruising Couples” seminar series, presented by Jeff Grossman & Jean Levine of Two Can Sail. They will be holding this immersive, day-long seminar on February 19 at the Miami Boat Show, and it’s a can’t-miss for the couple who has always wanted to charter or cruise together, but needs a bit of advice and encouragement.

Jeff & Jean, along with their crack team of captains, authors, meteorologists, marine surveyors, and ASA instructors, can help you “take the drama out the dream.” The seminar focuses on such varied topics as planning, teamwork, facing your fears, and dealing with nasty weather. The Two Can Sail team has collaborated on a Seminar Companion Guide which each participating couple will receive, in addition to a free pair of tickets to Sunday at the Miami Boat Show. And, equally important, there will be plenty of time for socializing, asking questions, and discussing the topic with the experts and your fellow cruising couples.
green water
These seminars have limited space, and at the time of writing there are ONLY 10 spots for couples remaining! (It is highly recommended that both people attend.) The cost is $275 per couple, but if you’re an ASA member make sure to ask for your $15 discount. If only one person is able to attend, the cost is $150. To register, visit their website here, email them, or call 727-644-7496.

Jeff & Jean will have you “right side up” and fulfilling your sailing dreams!

Can You Design a Better Life Jacket?

Category : American Sailing Association, Equipment, Instructors, Members, Safety


Ever find yourself fiddling interminably with straps and velcro, or tottering around feeling like the Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters 2? These may be signs that your life jacket is bulky, uncomfortable, inefficient, and irritating. The Boat U.S. Foundation is offering a $5,000 prize to the person who can make a significant improvement in life jacket design – and we think it would be cool if an ASA member or instructor was the winner.

According to BoatUS, “drownings account for 70% or more of all boating fatalities. Of the people who drown, over 80% were not wearing a life jacket.” They’re interested in changing this statistic by making a life jacket that people actually want to wear, and they’ve identified 4 areas in which they hope to see improvement: Wearability, Reliability, Cost, and Innovation.

Now, ASA members and instructors are people who know a thing or two about safety. A very large part of the sailing lifestyle we all enjoy is avoiding accidents. That’s why we learn the rules of the road, practice man-overboard drills, and wear our life jackets when appropriate (even if we don’t like it). So if this is the kind of project you’d like to sink your teeth into, visit the official competition page to find out more.

You can also check out this SailWorld article on the competition.

If you’re interested, make sure to let us know so that we can keep up to date with your efforts!

Lessons from American Sailing Week

Category : American Sailing Association, Instructors, Members, Sailboats

American Sailing Week, ASA’s annual members’ event, took place on the beaches of Clearwater Beach, Florida, September 10-17. Captain Jean K Levine and Captain Jeff Grossman were the event’s gracious hosts. A week-long party of ASA educators and members with all skill levels, the event is always an excellent and fun place to learn. Member Kerrie Lynn Hartt from Montreal collects some of her favorite lessons taken away the week:

I can’t believe it’s been 1 week since the ASA Sailing Week, and yes its cold here, some 54’F, and I am wearing a winter hat as my body adjusts itself back to the northern climate. So much for getting out my Hobie 14 and sailing, yikes….

I wanted to send my thanks again for a wonderfully interactive, educational and fun sail week. I can honestly say of all the vacations I have taken so far that have had the “all inclusive component,” the ASA sailing week sure beats them all hands down. Also as I reflect on my week’s experiences I wanted to share some “lessons learned” that I retained. I am constantly reminded of the fact that we don’t always know everything and there are ALWAYS new things to learn about sailing, while sailing, and being around like-minded sailors.

Here are some of the key “lessons learned” during my ASA sail week. My thanks to the Captains, instructors and everyone for making my week a memorable one!

1. Captain Bob Morse: For teaching us about rigging and sailing the “Big Fish”, it really was a fun experience. During his “naughty knots” seminar, I learned how to finally remember how to tie a bowline, and, yes, his technique works every time. Thanks also for the reading tip, I will definitely read the book you recommended called “Financial Freedom”…to help me get where I want to be.

2. Captain Dennis Harms: For teaching us about how to stay on course and let the crew trim, which makes it a lot easier on the helmsman. Thanks for your advice and letting us know that certain boats should not cross any ocean, and for pointing out to us that not all boats react the same way in the same conditions. And, yes, there is a “right way to jibe” by ASA standards, and I have video to prove it, Todd was our helmsman that day.

3. Captain Jeff Grossman: He gave great advice on sail instruments and how the better ones do make a difference. Calibrating the depth based on feet from the keel, wow, that makes so much “practical sense” it really should be a standard. Having an iPhone to help fix unexpected last minute rope repairs is a must, otherwise, we would have waited longer than 2 hours before sailing that day!

4. Captain Jean Levine: For showing us that there is a right and wrong way to leave and return to the dock – slip. Keeping the center lines until the very last minute is key and having good communication with both the bow and stern crew is a must. Jumping “on” or “off” the dock is a definite “no, no” and very dangerous. Will have to see what my dad thinks about that huh!! IMPORTANT, never, ever put your hands “through” the helm’s wheel, you could lose it or damage it very unexpectedly – now that’s a keeper. Thanks Jean…..

5. Small boat instructor: Brenda Wempner: “Sailing Made Easy” seminar, thanks for getting me back into small boat sailing! I cannot believe how much fun those little boats are, and dunking, yes please, over and over what a blast that was!! I had so much fun!! I would have never even gone out on a small boat if it wasn’t for you. Thank you, thank you… And I did notice, you really do feel the wind on your face a lot more on a small boat.

6. Captain Dave Amann’s shipmate Pat: for showing me the racing roll technique on the “Big Fish” while racing around “one tree island”, it really made those tacks and jibes faster. Until we meet again. And Captain Dave, thanks for letting us use your Hunter 44. Hope to see you at the races in April, I really can’t wait.

7. “Docking the ins and outs” by Gardner Lloyd at the ASA farewell awards dinner – there are lots of things that can cause us problems when docking, but I like the fact that you recommended that we just wait until the weather is right before making a move. Why struggle when you could just wait. Good common sense to me…thanks for the practical advice.

8. Captain Ken Gibson: Your jolly laughter, enthusiasm, and generosity was greatly appreciated. Hope to sail with you and Cindy again soon.

Thanks to all the wonderful people I met, for sharing your stories, hopes, and sailing dreams with me. Thanks to all the ASA organizers, it was truly the best member’s vacation I have ever attended. Hope to see you all at next year’s event!

For more colorful pictures from American Sailing Week 2010, check out our Flickr stream.

103 Textbook in the Works

Category : American Sailing Association, Instructors, Safety, Schools, Store

We are currently in the throes of designing the next new ASA textbook–an accompaniment to the ASA 103 Basic Coastal Cruising course. Last week, the team flew out to Bristol, Rhode Island, for a photo shoot with world-renowned sailing photographer Billy Black. Prolific cruising writer Jeremy McGeary took care to coordinate the shoot to match the book’s text. During the first couple days scheduled, the weather refused to cooperate: constant rain and winds whipping at 30 knots does not make a great setting for a photo shoot. But just when they had been almost washed out by the rain, ASA Instructor Dave Lumian relates “Then the glorious New England sunshine brightened up for a terrific day of sailing and clicking!” Pictured here left to right: Billy Black, Gretchen Thor (assistant photographer), Randy Ealy, Jr., Norman Schmittkind, Wendy Mackie, Jeremy McGeary and ASA instructor Regina Krieger. Dave also says, “Many thanks to Rob Lawnsby (not pictured) at Narragansett Sailing for pulling together the nice Hunter 33s and the excellent crew!”

We’re working to complete book as soon as possible, since many of you have eagerly asked when it will be ready. We’re not making hard promises at this moment, because you can’t rush a standard of high quality! But it’s right around the corner, and when it does release, 103′s Cruising Made Easy will be the perfect companion to 101′s Sailing Made Easy.

Photo credit: Dave Lumian

Oil be d#$ned, sailors sail on!

Category : American Sailing Association, Instructors, Members, Sailboats, Schools

Emerald Coast Yachts is located in Pensacola Florida, one of the coastal communities closest to the Gulf oil spill. But what started out as a horrible summer turned out to be . . . not so bad. Emerald Coast Yachts’ Peggy Van Sleen wrote to ASA to share the pictures from their recent children’s sailing camp hosted by the Pensacola Beach Yacht Club. She says, “Everyone was thrilled to be on the water again–these kids are used to swimming every day, either in the pool or in the Gulf. But because of the oil, this was the first time most of them had been back in the water since May.”

The kids had access to a potpourri of sailboats to try–from Hobies and Sunfish to a Beneteau 331, 30′ Catalina, and a sweet racer named “Coyote.” The weather was perfectly summertime-hot and the wind gentle and just the right strength for learning. The kids even got to drag behind the big boats under sail, holding on to long lines attached to the stern (which brings back great memories for me!). What a beautiful turn of events for Pensacola–with water clean enough now for kids to swim in!

In the evenings, the kids all enjoyed learning from the colorful instruction in ASA’s new textbook, Sailing Made Easy, as the lead instructor showed them how to tie knots and even do a bit of simple navigation. Some of them went from never having sailed before to skippering their own Sunny by the end of the week; the youngest to qualify to sail solo had just turned 7 years old!

We were so pleased to hear about Pensacola’s upward trend, and wanted to share the darling pictures with you all! There’s still time to head down to Florida this fall for ASA’s Member’s Event in Clearwater Beach too–you could be sailing down there with us in less than three weeks!

“I can remain on shore, paralyzed with fear, or I can raise my sails and dip and soar with the breeze.”
–from First You Have to Row a Little Boat

 

Sailing Through Cancer

Category : American Sailing Association, Instructors, Members, Safety, Schools

On a beautiful freshwater lake in Maine, James Rey has spent the summer trimming the sails of his new O’Day 25. He spends almost every weekend on Lake Sebago, basking in the pleasure of sailing his new boat. Mr. Rey has good reason to celebrate. His new 25-footer was his incentive for beating the prostate cancer he battled last year.

Maura Seymour, of ASA School Sebago Sailing in Maine, first told me about James when she submitted a photo of him happily sailing his sloop into harbor. James says that Maura and the community of sailors he met helped him find the hope, strength, and incentive to get through surgery this spring: “Maura and her husband, Mike, have been largely instrumental in helping me with both the physical and mental process during pre-op and post-op recovery.” James put “instrumental” in quotes because he and Mike occasionally played trumpets on their sailboats out in the middle of Sebago Lake, serenading waterfront camps and confusing the loons!

James shared his story to me with words I couldn’t possibly improve upon, so I quote:

I actually began sailing at age 12 on Lake Ontario near Niagara Falls, NY. My Dad had an old row boat that he primarily used for ‘drifting & drinking’ out on the lake, praying he would NOT catch a fish. Bored with that, we decided to rig up that boat with a 10-foot length of aluminum conduit as our mast (Dad was an electrician) and use one of Mom’s old bedsheets as our “main”. We didn’t know a batten, or clew, or luff or anything. Just tied a section of Mom’s clothesline to the top of the bed sheet, down the conduit to a re-mounted oar lock, and that boat was ready! Dad and I would use one of the boat’s oars as our tiller / rudder and off we’d go having a blast and a beer.

Fast forward 60 years and here I am in Maine, fully retired, with my wife who is a full time college professor. A man needs a hobby, right? I contacted Mo and Mike with Sebago Sailing to take their ASA 101 sailing course. Best thing I ever did. I first bought an 18-foot centerboard boat, then moved up to a Catalina 22 with a swing keel, and then, just 10 days before my surgery in November 2009, I bought an O’day 25 with a shoal keel, roller-furler, the works! I bought the O’day, in part, as my incentive to get through the surgery in time to launch the O’day in spring 2010, which I did in April, my earliest launch ever.

Mo and Mike, Don, Phil, Dave, Hank, Nick from our Kettle Cove Marina, and others from our sailing community all helped out with sage advice in the fall of 2009 to locate the right sailboat, and with muscle to help me launch in the spring 2010. Their combined efforts were key to my pre-op planning and post-op recovery from both a mental and physical perspective. You could say “sailing helped me cure cancer and I’m a survivor.” The cancer is gone and the sailing will be with me forever.

Good sailors pay attention to early warning signs for bad weather, donning life jackets, reefing sails, battening down hatches. James Rey’s success over the storm of cancer was due in large part to his ability to perceive the problem early on–so let his story be an example both on the water and in life!

~Happy, healthful sailing to James Rey and sailors everywhere.~

Local TV Station’s interview with James Rey

Managing Weather

Category : American Sailing Association, Instructors, Safety, Weather

In this guest post, Captain Tony Wall of Biscayne Bay Sailing Academy recounts delivering a 46′ sloop–while managing the effects of a nearby hurricane.

As a professional sailing instructor and USCG captain, I was contracted to sea trial a 46′ Bruce Roberts sloop named Harmony. Everything went satisfactorily, the deal went through, and the new owner, Veli-Matti Alho, asked me if I would be interested in delivering the yacht from Port Everglades to Galveston, Texas, crossing the Gulf of Mexico. My work schedule did not permit this, but I offered to teach him the ASA certifications Coastal Cruising and Bareboat Chartering, with extensive practical offshore and advanced passage-making, during a trip from Port Everglades down to Key West.

Beautiful weather accompanied our trip south to Miami, and we sailed into Biscayne Bay for a night of rest on the dock. Engine/charging problems meant we could not re-start the engine, so we were required to sail through the Biscayne Ship Channel in the dark without auxiliary power–a daunting prospect, but successfully accomplished. Several days of repairs followed, during which Veli and I tracked the weather closely.

A late season tropical storm was developing into Hurricane Ida and heading rapidly west of Cuba heading for the Gulf of Mexico. As the storm hurtled up the gulf, Miami experienced gale force winds from the east–a good direction but not for us! Harmony strained the docklines, safely tied up at Dinner Key Marina. The third day brought 20-25 knots from the south, and rather than heading straight into it, we waited for a better window. Day four’s forecast was 20-25 knots north-west–there was our chance!

We left Biscayne Bay around 10:00am with full sail–a conventional mainsail and a 150% genoa. By late afternoon approaching Key Largo, I suggested we put on the heavy-air staysail and put a single reef in the mainsail to reduce the overall sail area in a balanced way.

Since our draft was 6ft 8ins, our strategy was to head south and south west outside the reef, rather than going inside the Hawk Channel, which would require too much concentration (especially considering we were hand steering). Overnight, as expected, the wind accelerated to 20 plus knots with gusts into the upper 20s. We were able to progressively take in the large furling genoa from the cockpit to reduce the force on the rig. Flying the staysail only in a situation like this is a great example of the offshore flexibility of the cutter rig.

We were running on the ocean side of the barrier reef that extends all the way down the keys, from near Key Biscayne to Key West, a total of 150 miles. Dawn came slowly–all night we were sailing at hull speed or above, pushing towards 9 knots of speed. It was an exhilarating sail, but definitely hard work and not conducive to sleep! When dawn finally came, I took this video of the boiling sea to starboard (north and north west) and encouraging light from golden-red sunrise off our port quarter.

As we approached Key West, we realized that we had covered 154 nautical miles in 22 hours–certainly the fastest voyage I had ever made. The moral of the story is to choose your weather window carefully to ensure favorable winds, and to be ready for deteriorating conditions by reefing down early. With a prepared boat and crew, you can manage strong weather and use it to your advantage.

Captain Tony Wall
Lead Instructor, Biscayne Bay Sailing Academy
Tel 954 243 4078

Navigating the Ash Cloud

Category : American Sailing Association, Instructors, Schools, Weather

When the storm hits, commitment to good navigation is key! Which is perhaps the guiding principle ASA instructor Captain Brian A. Earl of Sea Safaris Sailing School operated upon when he refused to let Europe’s ash-related flight cancelations get in the way of his Coastal Navigation class. One prospective student, Jim Sarns, had enrolled in the class but remained stuck in Ireland, where he’d been traveling on business, and his flights were repeatedly canceled right up until the day his Coastal Nav class was to commence in Wisconsin.

With a bit of technological ingenuity and cooperation from Jim’s stateside wife, Mary Ellen, who was also taking the class, Captain Earl connected with Jim via Skype, facilitating his participation in the group session completely. Although Jim was 6 hours ahead of Central Standard Time and thousands of miles away, he was able to keep pace with the class’s charting exercises over the camera and used emailed copies of the other reference materials from Captain Earl. Though Jim is scheduled for a flight home and will be attending the next session of the class in person next week, his classmates suggested that instead he cruise home from Ireland, the perfect opportunity to employ his newfound navigation skills.

The Irish would say, there’s no need to fear the wind if your haystacks are tied down, but Captain Earl could say, there’s no need to fear the wind as long as you have good navigation skills–and a Skype connection!

IQC Are You Ready?

Category : Instructors

ASA Sailing Instructor clinics test existing skills and knowledge while teaching a structured curriculum and proven presentation techniques. ASA certified saling instructors have proven they measure up to a national standard which is used by more than 90% of the commercial sailing schools in the country. Take the challenge and attend an ASA Instructor Qualification Clinic (IQC).

Become a Sailing Instructor