Serious training for cruising sailors, and those who want to be

Frequently Asked Questions

The American Sailing Association is an association of sailors, professional sailing instructors, sailing schools and charter companies. The ASA is dedicated to promoting safe recreational sailing in the United States by administering an internationally recognized education system.

ASA certification provides:
  • Internationally recognized credentials
  • Quality educational materials
  • Professional instruction
  • Specific goals and training for each level of the program
  • Discounts with many charter companies throughout the world.

Every charter company has their own standards to qualify prospective charterers. Some may accept the ASA Bareboat certification alone; most will also ask for resumes of experience.

Charter companies look at a variety of variables in qualifying a charterer: experience, certifications, size of boat being applied for, charter area and conditions, and the experience and certifications of crew members. A certification in Bareboat Chartering or higher will show the charter company that you have received formal training and have passed a rigorous program with specific standards.

The goal of Blue Water Sailing School is to provide training and education in sailing, seamanship and boating safety. We offer the finest quality education in one of the nicest areas for sailing in the United States.

We are one of the few sailing schools that offers not only the basic sailing courses, but also the most advanced sailing courses available: Advanced Coastal Cruising, Celestial Navigation and Offshore Passagemaking. At all levels you will be taught by instructors who are not only expert sailors, but expert teachers.

You can start at Basic Sailing and continue with our program to owning your own boat and sailing around the world. For more, please see “Why Choose Us.”

The highest-level course you could take with no experience at all is Course A Plus - Bareboat Skipper. The three certification levels covered in this course are a lot of material to learn in a one-week period. We’ll send you course material in advance, and it’s very important that you study this material before the course begins. We’ve found that, with diligent study, even people with no experience can complete this course successfully.

For more advanced students, all ASA certifications courses require the previous levels as a prerequisite. If you do not have ASA certifications you can challenge the lower levels based on previous experience. Challenging the lower levels requires taking the written tests and performing the skills for the prerequisite levels.

To see where you may fit into the program, please see our ASA Course Summaries page, and click on the course headings to get a detailed syllabus of each certification level. Compare this with your experience.

If you would like to just take the course for the experience and knowledge no prerequisites are required.

Please call and we will help you decide which course would be most appropriate.

Sailors may challenge any of the standards by taking and passing both the written and skills portions of the ASA test. You’ll then be eligible to take all further courses. Advanced sailors may also take any course for the training and experience, without receiving certifications.

Many people — even people who have been sailing for years — have experience on only one type or size of boat, or in a limited geographic area. Also, many people who are self taught lack fundamental knowledge that can let them adapt easily to an unfamiliar boat or an unfamiliar sailing area. We provide the education and the fundamentals so that a student can then proceed on his or her own.

Please see our fleet page for boat specifications and photos.

Class size is limited to four students. The Offshore Passagemaking classes (Bermuda, Transatlantic and Offshore Passagemaking) may have up to six.

Our prices include: the boat and running expenses, provisions, all costs to anchor or put it on a mooring ball each night, customs and immigration fees, books, certification fees, a one year membership to ASA and we provide a captain who is also your sailing instructor. We even include taxes, saving you a minimum of 4% to 8% off of competitors prices.

Not included are international shipping of the text books, restaurant dinners or any other meals eaten off the boat, adult beverages, any expenses incurred off the boat, dockage fees for a slip not in our marina and instructor gratuity.

As always, a gratuity is entirely at your discretion. However, it is standard practice in the industry to pay a gratuity to your instructor. A typical tip would range between 15% - 20% of your course fee.

All meals are provided from Sunday morning to Friday lunch. We have the ability to provide a wide variety of foods in an attempt to meet most dietary requirements.

As part of your education in sailing and cruising, you will be planning the provisions for the week with the instructor. Together, we will inventory the supplies on the boat, create menus for the week, and make a provisioning list. Blue Water Sailing School will then do the shopping and deliver the food to the boat, where you will stow it away.

You do - and everyone else on the boat. We will set a duty roster and everyone will help with the cooking, cleaning and domestic duties.

Yes, for consumption only after the anchor is down and the instructional day is over.

Our courses are live-aboard cruising courses, with all accommodations provided on board from the first evening (usually Saturday) through the last evening (usually Thursday).

This itinerary is sample itinerary for our Fort Lauderdale Bareboat Skipper course. Your particular week may differ in specific routes, anchorages and schedules, but the main goals of sailing instruction will remain paramount. The specific itinerary may change based on weather, student progress and captain's discretion. This itinerary is not guaranteed.

Saturday, you will board your boat at 3pm and get started with orientation, provisioning, boat systems and safety. You will stay at the marina Saturday evening, dinner is not included Saturday. There are many restaurants within walking distance of the marina.

Sunday morning (as most mornings), you will have a couple hours of academic instruction before starting sailing. Heading out from the marina you travel down the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) to Port Everglades and then on to the Atlantic Ocean. Traveling on the ICW will give you a practical demonstration and practice with Rules of the Road, Lights and Shapes, draw bridge procedures and proper VHF radio operation. From Port Everglades the boat will head south, with the destination this day being Miami/northern Biscayne Bay, typically somewhere in the Key Biscayne area. Anchor is down in the late afternoon and you are free to swim, study, read or otherwise relax. One of the students will have chef's duty with another will be on galley duty. This will change each day.

Monday, while having coffee and breakfast, you will check the weather, look at the chart and plot the course for the day, noting any hazards to be aware of. After an engine check and some class time sailing will commence. Lots of sailing drills: tacking, gybing, Crew Overboard maneuvers. Lunch will be either underway or drop anchor for a short break. Destination this day is In the Elliott Key area. Anchor down in mid to late afternoon, furl the sails and coil the lines, time for a swim before dinner.

Tuesday morning, after breakfast and morning routine, the ASA 101 - Basic Sailing test will be given. After testing is done, more sailing and drills, ending up in the southern Biscayne Bay/Card Sound/Barnes Sound area for the evening.

Wednesday you will start to retrace your route, heading to back northern Biscayne Bay anchoring off Key Biscayne Bay or Virginia Key. The ASA 103 - Basic Coastal Cruising test will be completed.

Thursday morning, when you’re feeling refreshed after a peaceful night’s rest, the Basic Coastal Cruising (ASA 103) test will be completed. Then you will back onto the Atlantic Ocean for the sail back to Ft Lauderdale. Depending on the weather (as always) you may be able to get out into the Gulf Stream, picking up a couple knots of boat speed and making a quick sail up the coast. But if the wind is from the north the sail will stay close to shore as you make your way to windward. Pull back into our marina in Ft Lauderdale in the mid to late afternoon.

Friday morning will be the final review and the ASA 104 - Bareboat Cruising test. The instructor will review your tests, sign your logbooks and you are an ASA certified sailor. Boat clean-up, showers and you will be done in the early afternoon, usually noon - 1pm but no later than 3pm.

This itinerary is sample itinerary for our Virgin Islands Bareboat Skipper course. (The Bareboat Cat Skipper course may differ slightly). Your particular week may differ in specific routes, anchorages and schedules, but the main goals of sailing instruction will remain paramount. The specific itinerary may change based on weather, student progress and captain's discretion. This itinerary is not guaranteed.

Saturday

Welcome to Blue Water Sailing School. Students board the boat around 4pm and are greeted by the instructor. Cabin assignments are decided and students gear is stowed. An offer of cold beverages is usually meet with a resounding "yes"! We'll gather in the cockpit to get to meet each other learn our boating experience and discuss our goals and decide what our schedule is during the week.

You learn how to use different parts of the boat. Most students are inexperienced, which is just fine; by the end of the week you'll leave feeling much more confident and secure handling a 40' plus sailboat. Then we discuss the menu plan and provisioning. The instructor has several suggestions but will look to you for special needs and dietary requests. Once the final list is prepared the instructor goes provisioning. Students may purchase any alcohol and mixers desired. This is the the best grocery store that will be encountered for the week so care is taken and options provided for. Once back at the boat all provisions are stowed, now each of us has an idea of where things are located. Must be approaching dinner time now and Mollie Malone's restaurant is a good choice among the dozen within walking distance. You stay on the boat at the marina.

Sunday

Class starts about 9 am and continues for a few hours. Terminology, rights of way, and reading a chart are on the agenda, as well as learning where the federally required safety equipment is located. We discuss dock lines, cleats, prop walk and figure out how to get underway. Then, once the cooler is filled with ice and drinks left to chill, we'll depart. St. John in the distance beckons but we'll spend a few hours on the water getting familiar with the chart, using it to find aids to navigation and local islands. We take time to do sailing exercises: learning to tack, the points of sail and applying rules of the road. Later in the afternoon, making our way east we must tack back and forth to make our way into Francis Bay, St. John. We'll learn how to pick up a mooring ball and use the dinghy when we motor over to the pay station where the school pays for the mooring. Back on board we're all hungry and fire up the grill as well as break out favorite beverages. Now's also a good time to jump off the swim platform for a few strokes around the boat. There is great snorkeling by Big Maho Bay, but if the sun is low then tomorrow morning is a good time to go.

Monday

After getting our batteries charged up and the boat in order we have class which includes on the water drills and skills. Then we depart north for Jost Van Dyke in the BVIs. Arriving in the BVIs the instructor goes ashore to clear customs and immigration. Then we're off to pick up a mooring or anchor the boat and dive into the test for ASA 101. This is all usually completed by late afternoon. Diving off the boat is quite safe and the water is always refreshing. A beautiful little island awaits with tasty lobster, roasted pig or a fresh catch of the day and more for those who choose to take the dinghy ashore to explore.

Tuesday

This morning after the boat is put in order and the course plotted for our next destination we have class. After that we may get in docking and mooring practice. If the weather report and the wind are favorable we will go around St. John. Our destination may be Leinster Bay or Lameshur. Along the way we do crew overboard exercises. Rule is: lightest person goes in the water! No, just kidding; only PFDs go in the water to await our return and pick-up. We will sail the boat in each point of sail and learn to heave-to. Then we'll pick up a mooring and learn to tie knots in the cockpit. Now is a good chance to snorkel and see something. Did anyone see that ray jump out of the water over there? Or, how about that sea turtle swimming by? We set up the grill and make another fine meal under the stars.

Wednesday

Class in the morning and plotting our course for our next destination, Cane Garden on Tortola. And see the dolphin that lives on the reefs and listen to Quito Rhymer strum his guitar and sing his sings. If the north wind is blowing we may instead head to The Bight on Norman Island. This island was the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson's book "Treasure Island". Leaving our mooring, we make our way through The Narrows. Students will take the 103 test followed by some great snorkeling. As a matter of fact, we can go for it right off the boat. Once dried off, we may choose to dinghy ashore for dinner where both the ribs and seafood are outstanding. There are some great hikes and a lovely beach. We're away from the city lights here so the stars shine brightly, it's a great view from our home on the water.

Thursday

Class again in the morning, but this time we follow class by a spectacular snorkel at The Caves or the Indians just a short distance from where we moored. Then, with our course plotted, we'll make our way through The Narrows leading to Cruz Bay, St. John and US Customs. Whoever is captain for this day will bring us in. Yes, the instructor is right by your side as he or she gives you the moves for a safe and smooth landing. We all get off the boat to go through the experience of clearing into the US. Back onboard, we head back to the dock at American Yacht Harbor.

Friday

We do a review and take the 104 bareboat charter test. After some cleaning it's time to take photos, exchange email addresses, and say goodbye to each other and our home on the water. Finishing time is around noon.

This itinerary is a sample of a typical week on one of our Bareboat Cat Skipper courses in the Bahamas. Your particular week may differ in specific routes, anchorages and schedules, but the main goals of sailing instruction will remain paramount. The specific itinerary may change based on weather, student progress and captain's discretion. This itinerary is not guaranteed.

 

Saturday

Welcome to Blue Water Sailing School - Bahamas. You will board the boat at 3pm at Harbour View Marina in Marsh Harbour. We will get your food preferences in advance so we can have the boat provisioned and ready to go. We’ll have an orientation, discuss goals and go over a plan for the week. After a some last minute shopping, if necessary, you’ll cast off the dock lines and head to the anchorage at Matt Lowe’s Cay (that’s pronounced “key”) and BBQ for dinner.

 

Sunday

After breakfast will be instructional time. Sailing drills will follow as we sail toward Fowl Cay, where we may anchor for lunch, or possibly sail to Scotland Cay. More sailing drills after lunch, sailing towards Fisher’s Bay on Great Guana Cay. If you’re ready, the ASA 101 test will be given. Now that that is over, you can relax at happy hour at world famous Nipper’s Beach Bar and Grill. Around 1730 head back to the boat for an afternoon swim and dinner.

 

Monday

ASA Course 103 instruction, then sail to Manjack Cay either via Don't Rock (VERY shallow) or Baker's Bay. Anchor at Manjack Cay, Stay for the night.

 

Tuesday

More Basic Coastal Cruising (ASA 103) instruction, then feed the sharks. Sail to New Plymouth, Green Turtle Cay, reviewing ASA 103 and staying overnight at No Name Cay on anchor.

 

Wednesday

After breakfast testing for ASA 103.  Sail south toward Elbow Cay. Lunch at Baker's Bay, Guana Cay. After lunch start Bareboat Cruising (ASA 104) material. Sail to Hope Town Harbour and its iconic lighthouse. Dinner ashore at one of the fine restaurants in Hope Town. Anchor and overnight at Hopetown.

 

Thursday

More Bareboat Cruising coursework. Get off the boat and tour Hope Town. Reprovision if needed, top off the water tanks at Lighthouse Marina while guests visit Elbow Cay Lighthouse. Leave Hope Town Harbour, sailing drills on way to lunch at Tahiti Beach. After lunch is the Bareboat Cruising (ASA 104) test. You can relax after successful completion of the test on the sail back toward Marsh Harbour. Dock at Harbour View Marina in Marsh Harbour and dinner at Snappa's, or Anchor at Matt Lowe Cay (depending on tides and weather)

 

Friday

Pick up anchor (if at Matt Lowe's Cay)and head back to Marsh Harbour for our docking practice. After some cleaning it's time to take photos, exchange email addresses, and say goodbye to each other and our home on the water. Departure is by noon so you can catch an afternoon flight or check into a hotel if staying longer.

Saturday

Your instructor will meet you at 3 pm in front of the Conanicut Marina office in beautiful downtown Jamestown, Rhode Island, a small, quaint New England town. If you drive to Jamestown, be sure to arrive early enough (approx. 30 minutes extra) to park your car in long term parking, which the office will help you with. We will walk down the dock and catch the launch out to the moored sailing school cruising boat, a Dufour Gib’Sea 43-“Weatherbird”, located in the anchorage off of the marina.

Once we are comfortably aboard, we get acquainted regarding our boating experience, set class goals individually and as a group for the week, get orientated to the boat, the curriculum, the itinerary, and plan the week’s meals. Your instructor goes ashore to buy provisions while you as a group work on the first skill of the week, searching the boat for all US Coast Guard required safety gear. Upon returning with provisions, we load them aboard and stow them as a group, learning the strategies of proper stowage. Dinner is ashore at one of the great restaurants in Jamestown just up from the marina on Narragansett Ave. Your transportation ashore and back to the boat will be the marina’s launch servicing the mooring field.

Sunday

We have a simple breakfast, get prepared for class (sunscreen, hats, gloves, water bottles, etc), and learn about basic boat chores. We continue our boat orientation in the morning, leave the mooring, learn to hoist sails and steer straight, tacking, rules of the road, while sailing amongst beautiful classic yachts in Narragansett Bay, which is one of the most popular sailing grounds of America. We drop the anchor in Potter’s Cove or Dutch Harbor on Conanicut Island, learning the principles of anchoring a boat for an overnight stay. We prepare dinner aboard and enjoy a beautiful New England starry night.

Monday

After breakfast, we usually have a discussion about various topics such as rules of the road, aids to navigation, chart reading, etc. After our morning discussion, we learn to hoist the anchor efficiently and safely, then practice sailing all of the points of sail, proper sail trim on each, the four turns and the proper communication between helmsman and crew for each maneuver. We head to an anchorage on Prudence Island or south, dependant on time/weather conditions, drop our anchor and secure the boat for the night. With the use of a checklist, each crew member has the responsibility to make sure various items get done, such as turning off instruments, securing the sail and boom, checking the bilge, securing the wheel and turning on the anchor light. We may take our first written knowledge test, or prepare to take it the next morning. As a team, the crew prepares dinner aboard and enjoys another beautiful New England night at anchor. There is time in the evenings and early morning to study using your books and materials onboard, as well as relax.

Tuesday

We have our usual morning routine, and more discussion topics, including plotting and dead reckoning navigation. In the afternoon, we head out for more sailing, honing your sailing skills and adding to them by reefing, heaving to, close quarters tacking, stopping techniques, etc. Typically, we are still in Narragansett Bay and sail down south to Newport, one of New England’s greatest sailing ports of call, and anchor right off of the New York Yacht Club for the night. This is about our halfway point through the week, and it’s a nice break to get off the boat and take the launch service into town for a meal out in one of Newport’s fine restaurants. We can also top our water tanks here and buy more ice as needed.

Wednesday

This is usually a long day. We head out to sail and continue working on skills including crew overboard. If all goes well and the weather gods cooperate we could get to Block Island. You will need to take another test, the Basic Coastal Cruising knowledge either this evening or first thing Thursday morning. Crew prepares dinner, and enjoys the time to study and relax. If you chose, you can take the launch service in for dinner ashore on Block Island.

Thursday

This is the day to demonstrate what you have learned. You, as a team, plot the way back to Newport, hoisting anchor, sail the boat, and anchor in Newport Harbor, as if you are bare boating. Your instructor is available for consultation and to make sure the boat is operated safely. This is demonstrating 104 Bareboat Cruising skills.

Friday

We have a review in the morning, and then dive into the ASA 104: Bareboat Cruising knowledge test. While your instructor is signing logbooks, you sail the boat across the bay to Jamestown, pack your gear, fill water tanks, finish up the post sail checklist, and straighten up your cabin. We have our logbook presentation and say our goodbyes. It is usually between 1pm-3pm when you call the launch to pick you up from the boat.

Our main goal is to sail and to teach sailing. If time and weather permits, we may have time in the schedule to snorkel on one of the beautiful reefs. Swimming from the boat in the morning before class or at the end of the day is another option.

Unfortunately, we have neither the time, space or insurance to accommodate scuba diving.

Only if you choose to do so. Every student gets a private berth, couples will get a private cabin. All boats have at least one head (bathroom), some have two, some have more. The boats come equipped with linens, blankets, towels and pillows.

Sailing lessons and drills usually run from approximately 9am to 5pm. Depending on weather, tides and course material, a day may start earlier or run later. This is mixed between classroom sessions and sailing exercises, with the emphasis on hands-on sailing and drills. We will break for lunch, either anchoring or eating while under way. You will drop anchor in late afternoon.

Evenings are yours to relax, watch the sunset, swim, review your textbooks, read a novel or chat with your fellow students.

Yes. Course material is included in the course fee, and is mailed to you upon registration. A thorough study of the material in advance is required to get the most out of the course. How much time you will need to study the material varies by student. There are approximately 325 pages of material for Course A Plus Bareboat Chartering (covering ASA certification levels 101, 103 and 104). If you are interested in what books we use, please see the Blue Water Bookstore.

Due to the nature of sailing and the weather, we do not cancel classes nor are we able to provide refunds for bad weather, with the following exception: If — at any time during your course — a tropical storm watch, warning or hurricane watch or warning is issued for the area you are sailing, you may take a rain check for the unused portion of your class. You may also be given a rain check if both you and Blue Water Sailing School agree to such, even if a storm or hurricane watch has not been issued.

Yes. There are a few areas of spotty coverage, but most of the time you will have service. Check with your carrier about roaming charges and service area.

While in the US Virgin Islands and in some parts of the BVI that are in sight of USVI towers there is service. AT&T is the main carrier so AT&T customers have native service. Verizon, Sprint and other phones will be roaming so please check with your carrier for service and rates. While in the BVI the carrier is Cable and Wireless and you will be on international roaming (expensive). Again, please check with your carrier for international plans and service.

The Bahamas has a single mobile network provider, Bahamas Telecommunications Company, commonly referred to as BaTelCo. BaTelCo's mobile network is primarily GSM but they also have some CDMA tower support. The Abacos appear to be primarily, if not totally, GSM. If you have a GSM phone you should be able to use your phone in the Bahamas, although it will be quite pricey. Please check with your carrier for international rates, plans and service area.

Yes, you will be a major US population area. Check with your carrier about roaming charges and service area.

Definitely - we do this quite often. As this type of course is totally custom please call or email to discuss options and pricing.

In general - No. We can only take a limited number of people on a boat, whether they are taking courses or not. Therefore, he/she would be taking the space of a full fare student.

We are fortunate that we have been in business long enough and are successful enough that we almost always fill up our courses. Even if the course is not filled up, we seldom cancel courses. We understand that you have taken a vacation, booked flights and rearranged your life to take this course.

Our guarantee - if we have to cancel your course due to not having enough students, you will receive a full refund and a rain check to take the course at a later date for no cost.

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