An objective guide to finding a great sailing school  

Typical Content for a US Sailing or ASA Beginner Sailing School Course (2/2)

Other Topics in Basic Keelboat

The final topic of miscellaneous information has required content on knot tying, reading the wind, and understanding tides and currents. This section of the course is both essential to safe sailing and easy to learn with a bit of practice. Knot tying competitions can also fill time when the wind dies down.

This standard curriculum is typically not enough to fill the time allotted to the course, and the extra time gives the instructor a chance to impart his or her particular wisdom and flair. Typically, if a class is able to grasp the standard content with ease, a good instructor will begin to share practical tips, special-case advice, or more advanced material. It will often be up to the students to decide whether they would like to learn about handling large boats on the high seas, which Carribean island has the best beaches, or whether it is a good idea to sell your house and buy a yacht instead. Regardless of the topic, urging the instructor to share his or her personal insight rather than review the covered content can make the lesson a much richer experience.

Structure of the Final Exam

The final day of a keelboat course is test day, which has three components.

  • A written test that covers the knowledge and terminology.
  • A knot tying practical that typically comes with plenty of instructor guidance.
  • An on-boat practical including operating the boat under motor power and wind power.

Most students are well-prepared for the written portion of the test and will get all the help they need on knot tying. However, instructors are wary of passing students who have trouble with the safety maneuvers in the practical section. To make sure that you receive your certification, concentrate on perfecting your boat operation during the course.

Content Overview for Basic Cruising

The Basic Cruising course builds on the content of Basic Keelboat by introducing features of larger boats, but often dedicates a significant amount of time to review of the previous course's content. While this course design allows students to take time off between courses without falling behind, the review can grow tedious for students taking both courses in quick succession.

The new material for Basic Cruising focuses on the following:

  • Boat engine and cabin operation (incl. cooking, sleeping, and sanitary facilities).
  • Understanding navigational buoys as a primer to plotting courses, a major component of the third course in the series.
  • Navigating and operating larger boats and their accompanying equipment
  • Preparing for and understanding special-case situations and more extreme conditions than covered in Basic Keelboat

While the Basic Keelboat course focuses more heavily on the act of sailing, Basic Cruising has a greater focus on the innards of a boat and how they work. The nature of the material means that there is more collaborative time with fellow classmates as the whole group works together to start the engine, check the fuel and electrical systems and prepare for unforeseen events. A more comprehensive description of the content for Basic Cruising can be found in the ASA's course description. By the end of this course, the foundational elements of Basic Keelboat are made second-nature and students have a great deal of knowledge about how to operate a variety of large boats.

Return to site home

<<Previous | 1 | 2

How to Find Sailing Schools to Consider -- Make sure to start yourself with a solid list of schools to compare before making a decision. The right school for you isn't always the easiest to find.

Types of Courses: Sailing Schools Can Take Many Forms -- From small boat lake sailing to coastal yacht navigation, all types of courses exist. Know what you're looking for.

A Sailing School Is Only As Good As Its Instructors -- Know how to determine if a school will provide the right instruction, and if a particular instructor is right for you.

Every Body Counts: Class Size in Sailing Schools -- The facts about how a larger or smaller class is going to affect your experience in sailing school.

How Much Should Sailing School Cost? -- Learn how to compare prices and see some typical course costs.