ASA #103 Basic Coastal Cruising

Learn to sail and get your ASA 103 Coastal Cruising Certificate. By the end of this course you will be able to skipper a sloop-rigged auxiliary powered (inboard or outboard engine) keelboat of approximately 25 to 35 feet length by day in moderate winds (up to 20 knots) and sea conditions. Also, with the ASA 103 Coastal Cruising course you will have gained knowledge of cruising sailboat terminology, basic boat systems, auxiliary engine operation, docking procedures, intermediate sail trim, navigation rules, basic coastal navigation, anchoring, weather interpretation, safety and seamanship.

Prerequisites for the ASA 103 Coastal Cruising Course

ASA #101 Basic Keelboat Sailing and the ability to demonstrate competencies in all knowledge and skills elements of that Standard are required before completing the ASA 103 Coastal Cruising Course. Also make sure you have learned the theory required.

Study Materials for the ASA 103 Coastal Cruising Course


1. Identify and describe the following cruising sailboat parts, areas, or systems and their functions:

Stemhead *Fitting* Turnbuckle *Chainplate* Rudder Post *Transom *Self-bailing Cockpit *Compass* Binnacle *Cockpit Locker *Emergency Tiller *Companionway *Saloon Galley *V-berth* Auxiliary Engine *Bilge* Bilge Pump *Through-hull Fitting *Seacock *Ground Tackle *Windlass

2. List the federally required equipment for a 33-foot recreational vessel equipped with an inboard diesel engine.

3. Describe the different types of Personal Flotation Devices (PFD, or Life Jackets), their characteristics and benefits.

4. List the ASA recommended safety equipment for a recreational sailing vessel.

5. Describe ways to keep gear and equipment secure and in their proper location.

6. Describe the purpose and proper use of a safety harness and tether.

7. Describe the main responsibilities of the skipper and crew.

8. Demonstrate understanding of basic coastal navigation terminology and practices, including essential navigator’s tools, use of navigation charts and symbols, depth soundings, bottom types, hazards, aids to navigation, latitude / longitude, determining magnetic direction, and measuring distance.

9. Describe and apply the following Navigation Rules to avoid collisions: proceeding at a safe speed (Rule 6), determination of collision risk (Rule 7), and taking early and substantial action to avoid collision (Rule 8).

10. Describe and apply the Navigation Rules for sailing vessels (Rule 12), overtaking (Rule 13), and power-driven vessels in head-on (Rule 14) and crossing (Rule 15) situations.

11. Describe actions to be taken by Give-way and Stand-on vessels (Rules 16 & 17).

12. Describe the location, color and illumination angles of required navigation lights on a 33-foot recreational vessel at anchor, under sail, and under power.

13. Describe actions to be taken when operating a vessel in restricted visibility such as fog or haze including adaptation of speed and use of sound signals.

14. Describe the meaning of basic maneuvering and warning signals (short and prolonged whistle blasts) for inland waters.

15. Describe two methods for getting a person out of the water and safely back on board the vessel.

16. Describe the three stages of hypothermia; name symptoms and treatment for each.

17. Describe how to prevent undue magnetic influence on a compass.

18. Identify common sources and prevention of fires and/or explosions, as well as appropriate actions to be taken if these situations arise. Describe different types of fires and procedures for operating a fire extinguisher.

19. Describe safe refueling procedures for a vessel equipped with an outboard engine using gasoline or a diesel engine using diesel fuel.

20. Describe the appearance and purpose of the ‘Diver Down’ and ‘Alpha’ flags.

21. Describe the dangers of, and how to avoid, a ‘Lee Shore.’

22. Describe the benefits of, and procedures for, heaving-to.

23. Describe the appropriate sail combinations to carry under the following wind conditions: light (0-11 knots), moderate (12-19 knots), and heavy (20-33 knots).

24. Describe the procedures for reducing sail using a roller furling jib and a mainsail slab reefing system.

25. Describe common anchor types, major considerations for anchorage selection, and proper scope for short term and overnight anchoring as well as storm conditions.

26. Describe immediate actions to be taken when the following urgent situations arise: cabin filling with water, failed steering system, fouled propeller, failed running or standing rigging, dragging anchor, engine failure, running aground under sail, grounding at anchor.

27. Obtain and interpret marine weather information; describe the impact that present observations and forecasts may have on sailing plans for the next 6 -12 hours.

28. Describe and identify Cumulonimbus clouds and what dangers they may signify.

29. Define ‘small craft advisory’ and ‘gale warning’ and describe precautions to be taken for each.


30. Describe the purpose of, and construct without assistance and in a timely manner, each of the following knots: Figure-8, Square (Reef) Knot, Clove Hitch, Round Turn & 2 Half Hitches, Cleat Hitch, Bowline, Sheet Bend, and Rolling Hitch.

31. Locate and examine for compliance the vessel’s federally required and ASA recommended safety equipment.

32. Demonstrate on shore or aboard the vessel the correct method for putting on a life jacket while in the water.

33. Demonstrate correct winch operation, including safety considerations for line tension / breakage, hand / finger position, winch handle insertion / removal, and clearing overrides.

34. Identify the vessel’s battery selector switch and power distribution panel and ensure all switches are in the proper position for getting underway.

35. Ensure navigation lights (sidelights, stern light, steaming light, and anchor light) operate properly.

36. Perform a radio check using a working channel on the VHF radio.

37. Visually inspect the auxiliary engine and demonstrate safe engine starting, operating, and stopping procedures. Demonstrate proper gearshift and throttle usage.

38. Ensure vessel & crew readiness and depart dock or slip smoothly and under control.

39. Visually pilot the practice vessel in and out of a harbor, correlating nautical chart symbols to actual landmarks and aids to navigation.

40. Steer a compass course (+/- 5 degrees) under power for a minimum of five minutes.

41. Approach a mooring buoy (or other mark as a simulation if no mooring available); stop the vessel within boathook reach; attach the vessel to the mooring using an appropriate line or bridle; cast off from the mooring and get underway.

42. Set a bow anchor in water depth 8 feet or greater, using correct procedures including hand signal communication, vessel maneuvers, safety in handling ground tackle, and proper operation of windlass (if equipped). Anchor should hold with engine in reverse gear at one-half throttle. Raise anchor and get underway smoothly using correct procedures.

43. Describe and demonstrate the correct actions to be taken while under power from the time a person falls overboard until safely recovered.

44. Hoist or unfurl sails correctly using halyards and / or furling devices.

Describe the effect on sail trim or performance while adjusting each of the following lines and controls (if available on the practice vessel): Downhaul or Cunningham, Outhaul, Boom Vang, Mainsheet, Traveler, Jib sheets, Jib sheet fairleads.

Discuss ways to reduce heeling.

Without coaching or assistance from the instructor, verbalize appropriate commands and demonstrate competence, safety and good seamanship in the role of Skipper / Helmsman during the maneuvers listed below.

Honor all aids to navigation and use properly the Navigation Rules.

Ensure sails are trimmed correctly and the vessel is in control at all times.

Adjust sail controls appropriately as the vessel’s heading changes and wind / sea conditions evolve.

45. Get out of ‘irons’ then select and maintain a given tack and course.

46. Head Up, Tack, Bear Away, and Jibe while pausing briefly at each of the following points of sail: Close Hauled, Close Reach, Beam Reach, Broad Reach, and Run (with sails ‘wing ’n’ wing’).

47. Heave-to and get sailing normally again.

48. While underway, reduce sail area by reefing mainsail and genoa; shake out reef and resume course.

49. As crew, give appropriate verbal responses and perform correct actions during the maneuvers listed above.

50. Describe and demonstrate the correct actions to be taken while under sail from the time a person falls overboard until safely recovered.

51. Lower and/or furl all sails and coil or flake and stow all lines properly.

52. Ensure vessel / crew readiness and use the auxiliary engine to bring the vessel smoothly and under control to a stop next to a parallel dock or into a slip; secure the vessel using appropriate.

You will have an interesting and varied week on the ASA Basic Keelboat Course  Also, you will be living in close quarters with your other crew members and instructor and learning how to become a skipper, and to work as a team. Over the course of a week when you learn to sail in Grenada, you will gain new knowledge and skills. It may kick start you onto your own boat ownership dreams and sailing adventures!

The objective is to enjoy an adventure, learning vacation; a holiday with a difference. Part activity, part relaxation, totally memorable. The emphasis is on learning how to sail safely, through plenty of practice. You will be working together, cooking together, eating together. Furthermore, you will be doing this in a beautiful part of the world.

It will be an early start in the mornings to learning new skills, with the help of your experienced instructor. In the afternoons you will set sail, heading off to a new destination for the evening. Along the way you will be practising and refining your newly learned skills. Finally, once anchored for the afternoon, there will be free time to spend exploring, snorkelling, fishing, and relaxing… and maybe a rum punch or two!

Find out about the next ASA level, #104 here