Where to take a class
Updated: Oct 25, 2022
There are sailing schools worldwide and luckily the American Sailing Association makes it easy to find which options are near you. Visit their site here, and you can search by city or zip code.
The interesting thing I learned after taking classes at two different sailing schools is that many of the instructors in a region will teach at all of the various schools, so there may not be significant differences in the instruction. Regardless, the ASA certification process is standardized, so everyone takes the same written exam.
However, the prices do vary considerably. I have seen $100+ differences for the same course with no value add. Some schools offer a free skill-building session with an instructor and a free charter after course completion; seek those kinds of deals out!
Facilities, boats, and general vibes also vary significantly from school to school! So do some internet searches, check out their social media pages, and visit in person if able to pick the school that feels most comfortable to you.
From personal experience*, I would suggest noting the condition of the school’s fleet of boats. After completing ASA 101, many schools offer a free day charter of one of their boats, so you will want a clean boat that you are confident in. Also, remember that when you take ASA 103 & 104, you’ll be sleeping a couple of nights on a school boat.
*I took a class on a boat that had no working navigation instruments, not even the compass! It made for an exciting class but not ideal (although I now own a boat with no wind vane and a broken compass, but more on that later). I also slept on a boat that had a bilge filled with stinky brown water. It was an awful night of gasping for fresh air that I wouldn’t wish on anyone.
If you have the means and time, take a sailing course that doubles as a vacation by someone like Sailing Virgins. The Sailing Virgins course is a 7-day sleep aboard vacation in an exotic location that includes your ASA 101 and 103 certifications.
Regardless of which school you choose, be sure to grab the ASA 101 Study Guide to prepare (use promo code SAIL for 50% off!), and you’ll be setting sail in no time!