Come Sail Away!

Sailboat Under Red Sun
Sailboat Under Red Sun

A few weeks ago I achieved something I’ve been wanting to do for many years. On May 8, I gained an American Sailing Association (ASA) certification on basic Keel Boat 101. Thereby announcing to the world that I in fact know jibing and tacking and boom vrangs and lots of other fancy-sounding nautical kind of words.

Part of our plan (Winnie and I) when we decided to sell “Sea Dreams” was that I would learn to sail this summer, gain some experience in sailing, and next year buy a small sailboat. Not actually having a boat (step one of the game plan) was a big incentive towards taking step two, learning to sail. Last year I discovered that the local marina I normally launch out of at Leesylvania State Park had started a sailing school and club. So in early April, once I was officially boatless, I contacted the school about lessons.

Dan, the school’s owner, got back to me a couple of days after I called and hooked me up, offering a good deal on an ASA certification course. The following Saturday I had my introductory lesson from Ryan, sailing a Catalina 22. It was an exciting day for sailing with gusts of wind up to 15 miles an hour and lots of currents and other stuff. I was hooked.

The following Saturday started my actual ASA coursework with my new instructor Tom. I received my package of coursework, went through some introductory classroom instruction, and watched part of an ASA training video. The we went down to the docks for the real part of the lesson. Winnie happened to be with me that afternoon, and Tom willingly let Winnie ride with us on the boat as potential crew.

We took out the same Catalina 22 I sailed the week prior. Tom called this particular afternoon a “normal”day for sailing in this section of the Potomac River. It was a bit chilly with mild wind, and Winnie demonstrated her good sense by hanging out in the cabin most of the time and enjoying the ride.

Over the next few weeks I went through all my practicals and coursework. I actually read the ASA lesson book and study guide, having been warned that I would need to take a written exam and a practical to finish my classes. The weather was largely uncooperative these next few weeks, and I was facing a limit of extended business travel that would start May 9 and keep me out of Virginia most of May and June. Tom worked with me to schedule our classes and give me the sailing time I needed to practice.

By the end of April Tom announced I was ready for my exams. I took a day off work the Friday before I left on my business trip and took my written exam which consisted of 100 multiple guess and matching questions. I had studied pretty hard, and ended up “acing” the written exam.

American Sailing Association Keelboat 101 Certification Card
The ASA Keelboat 101 Certification Card

The next day was my final sailing practical. The day was windy – real windy. There were white caps on the river, and very few boats out. We had an exciting time sailing around, at one point heeling over so far that the bottom of the stanchions on the leeward side were in the water. Yes indeed, good times, and I was a bit nervous. Apparently I didn’t do too badly. Once we got back in and cleaned up the boat Tom signed off my ASA Official International Log Book for Keel Boat 101.

It’s a nice feeling. Next step is gaining some experience in sailing solo.

Related Posts

Rescue on the Potomac : One of the more memorable adventures with my powerboat Sea Dreams.
Boatless! : On selling my first powerboat Sea Dreams.
A Different Kind of Boating : On getting hooked onto a different type of water sport.

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