I originally learned how to sail on a small 22 keelboat in my early 20s but ran out of money and had to prioritize my lifestyle. Over twenty-plus years later, getting cooked up indoors during the Covid pandemic changed my lifestyle and watching too many sailing videos on the Youtube channels. So what’s the better way to take advantage of the fresh outdoor activities than to go out and learn how to sail.
So my journey began as I searched around for a sailing school in Los Angeles or to be exact, a school at Marina Del Rey, California. A couple of things came into consideration such as budget is a priority, the reviews of the school, and the scheduling.
So I searched around and found the following schools with ASA, NauticEd, and US Sailing. I wasn’t really sure which ones to choose, so I would sign up for both ASA 101 and NauticEd Skipper Small Boat classes.
What’s my Goal
My goal is bluewater sailing which means sailing offshore like in the Caribbean or crossing the oceans. Bareboat Chartering comes to mind as I would like to have the right certification to charter a boat overseas. So selecting the sailing school might affect the type of sailing you would like to pursue.
Below are some of the options which are available in US
The American Sailing Association (ASA) is very popular on the West Coast due to the fact their headquarter is based out of Los Angeles. This program focused a lot on coastal, ocean sailing, and bareboat chartering.
- US Sailing
The US Sailing program is more popular on the East Coast and especially amongst the private yacht clubs. I wasn’t able to really find any program which fit my schedule. They focused a lot on racing if this is what you want to do.
The NauticEd is sometimes confused with just online courses but they do require hands-on practical training or proof that you are a proficient sailor to get the certification. I have also taken a course through them and you can read more about it on my NauticEd Skipper Small Keel Boat Level I blog.
- Community College
If you live in Orange County, CA, there is the Orange Coast College Sailing program which you may attend.
- Non-Profit Organization
There is the California Sailing Cooperative in Los Angeles but I wasn’t able to get an email response from them.
- Coast Guard Auxiliary, The coast guard provides a number of free training programs which are available on their website.
- BoatUs Online Training, BoatUs provides free boating training specific to your state. Some states will require that you get to participate in the boating education prior to operating a motor or sailboat.
Based on my research, the certifications are great only up to some level and if you want to charter a boat, most charter companies require a Sailing Resume. The sailing resume is similar to a job resume to log the amount of experience you have sailing on the water.
So the question is do you need to get a sailing certification, the answer is depending on what you want to do and if you want to charter? Yes. If you just want to learn how to sail, you could just take the courses without getting the certification.
However, A lot of the certification classes have some sort of prerequisites and you will need certain minimum certification prior to taking the next class.
- American Sailing Association, ASA Certification. This certification might be valid in some chartering company in my case, Naos Yacht, which I took my certification from.
- International Proficiency Certification, IPC
ASA provides the certification for chartering in the Mediterranean. As of 2021, the following countries accept the ASA IPC certificate: Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Turkey.
- International Certificate of Competence, ICC
The ICC is used in Europe to make sure that you have the right level of training. As of 2021, This is a United Nations resolution that the USA and Canada have not accepted and therefore cant issue an ICC certificate. So you will need to get this in participating countries like in Europe or Asia.
- Sailing License and Credentials, SLC
According to NauticEd, this is issued by NauticEd and accepted in the Mediterranean.
Which school did I choose?
I ended up selecting both ASA and NauticEd as I wasn’t really sure which one would give me a better experience. Prior to signing up for the class, I got a digital copy of the ASA 101 book and signed up for 2 free courses on NauticEd.
If you want to learn more about my ASA experience, visit ASA 101 Basic Keelboat Sailing
If you want to learn more about my NauticEd experience, visit NauticEd Small Keelboat Skipper.
I wrote a blog about what I think about the ASA and NauticEd program on the pro and cons. Check out the ASA vs NauticEd Blog.