Sunday, November 18, 2012

Why go to sailing school?

I have had several questions concerning why I went to a sailing school last October (ASA 101,103,104,114).  Below are some of my thoughts concerning why I went to class:
  • I have been reading many blogs of cruisers for over a year, and wanted to see how it really was being on a boat.  I know that a week is not enough time, but at least it gave me a taste of the life.
  • I also wanted to get some professional instructions on handling a catamaran.  I owned a mono hull for about 10 years, and really didn't want to live life at a 30 degree angle.  I wanted to experience what it was like to handle and live on a catamaran before I commit more time to this lifestyle.
  • I have also read that if you have the ASA certifications, your boat insurance could be lower.  I do plan on buying a boat at some point in the future, so the cost of the class could be offset by the lower cost of insurance.
  • I would also be able to charter catamarans in the future!  This is a large Pro, as it would give me more experience and be able to independent on my vacations.
  • Cost of the class.  I have detailed my expenses in a section below.
  • Study time.  I spent several months reading the text books to be able to take the classes.  On the first day, you have to take the 100 question ASA101 test, so be prepared.  It is mainly sailing terms and boat parts.  These are things that any sailor should know anyway.
  • One week of vacation spent working hard in class.  Well, this wasn't really a problem for me, but it was not a lazy week in paradise.  I worked hard both physically and mentally, and was exhausted by the end of the week.  I still enjoyed every minute, and not once did I think of my job back home.
  • Even though you get the certifications, you are still NOT an experience sailor.  This is just the first step, and you need to continue to get more sailing experience through charter, sailing clubs, racing, or crewing.  This does give you a great base to start.
  • It was difficult to get to St. Vincent and the Grenadines.  There are other places, but the lower class cost and the beautiful area made it worth it once you arrived.
  • I believe that normally it is not possible to get certified in all 4 areas (ASA101,103,104,114) in one week.  The only reason that I was able to was because I was the only paying student on our boat.  Normally it would be hard to get enough instruction to get all four, unless you had prior experience, which I had on a mono hull.
Costs summary:  Flight from XNA (Northwest Arkansas) - Dallas - Miami - Barbados - St. Vincent
- Flights:                                $1000.00
- Layover hotel                      $ 200.00
- Taxis (6 of them!)               $ 100.00
- BOSS Class                        $1500.00     Catamaran Cruising (ASA101,103,104,114)
- Tip for captain/trainer                            Put your own number depending on your experience.
- Eating out/provisioning       $ 200.00    * see note 1 below.
ASA Membership                  $   39.00
ASA Class certifications        $   80.00     $20 for each passed certification
Misc:                                      $   33.00    Cruising fee($14), park fee($4),airport exit fee ($15)
Total:                                      $3152.00
Special note:  The captain/trainer makes all of the difference in your experience and success in obtaining your certification and learning.  At BOSS, Captains Tony and Nancy Hancock are exceptional.  I highly recommend having them as a trainer for these classes.  Tony was my trainer, and he had patience and was knowledgable in all areas.  They both were very personable and I enjoyed the week with them.  They also made it fun, allowing some snorkeling and sight seeing on each day.  They allowed you to take the helm and get the experience first hand.  I felt like I was taking a chance on this class because there wasn't a lot of information on the internet about BOSS.  I hope to go back and charter this coming year, and may ask for a day checkout with either Tony or Nancy.  They also have their own blog:  They haven't updated it for a while, but you can go back and read their experiances, since they are liveaboards.  You can also read the Facebook page on BOSS and get updates from the different classes.  There are pictures of my adventure on their site.
 Captain Tony and Nancy on right.
 Captain Tony being crazy!
Note 1:  BOSS provides basic provisioning on the boat for the week.  It did not include eating out (which we did twice), or special food like lobster (this was my treat).  It also did not include beer or wine, which can be bought from BOSS at a better price than what many of the local stores were charging. 


  1. What an enjoyable account of your trip and the sights and sounds of the ocean. Knowing you as well as I do, I know you have a super, wonderful time!!
    Love you!

  2. Good summary of a beautiful trip. Next time take SVG air and it will make your life easier especially with customs/immigration. When they say "no problem" it means no problem for them. Been going there for four years and experienced it all!

  3. Thanks Roll The Dice! We may charter there this summer and will be looking for better ways to get there! Actually everyone was very friendly, even with the slight detour! I really enjoyed my time on the islands!

  4. Thanks again for sharing your experience! Enjoyed the pictures too. I have finally found the time to plan my trip. We are spending a couple of days in st lucia before and after to enjoy our layover time and do some extra exploring. Hopefully I can get caught up since I had to book at the last minute and haven't had much study time.


  5. PantherGirl,
    Good luck with your trip! Say hi to Tony and Nancy if your lucky enough to get them as trainers!

  6. We had an awesome time on Inordinate!! They changed around instructors to give Tony a week off, but I did get a chance to meet him and Nancy briefly. We are so happy we had Bob who was a wealth of knowledge with a laid back attitude. Our whole group had such a great time together and we all got through 114! We can't wait to charter a cat on our own.


  7. PatherGirl,
    Excellent update on your trip! It is nice that BOSS has another trainer, as Tony and Nancy were getting worked hard! I saw on Facebook that Nancy will take some time off and return to Canada, well deserved. Keep me updated on your charter experiences. As you have seen on my blog, I am looking for a catamaran for a 12 month sabatical. Stay in touch, and happy sailing!