Sometimes I Wonder

Guest Writer: Kim Walther, ASA Instructor for St Augustine Sailing

Sometimes I wonder why I teach sailing.  I think it is because sailing is so great; I simply can’t stand to keep it to myself; I have to share it!

I am a sailboat instructor.  I teach sailing on 21-45′ boats in Northeast Florida for St Augustine Sailing.  We offer American Sailing Association (ASA) classes from ASA 101 Basic Keelboat all the way up the curriculum.  I don’t have a favorite class to teach; whichever level I am teaching that day is my favorite of the day!

Our ASA 101 level classes are taught on small centerboard boats.  My technique for teaching this class is to get right on the boat and start pointing the pieces of the boat and assessing how much prior knowledge each student has, and filling in the terminology with easy-to-remember memory devices for every single line and piece of equipment.  Then we cover rules of the road, sound signals, markers, running lights, and more right-of-way topics.

After going through above deck and below deck terms, items and all those rules, we head out to the intra-coastal waterway to raise the sails and begin with performing tacks and gybes.

After a couple of hours of sailing, we head back to the marina for lunch and review.  After lunch, we head back out and put tacks and gybes together to actually take us somewhere -down by the fort, over to the lighthouse, up to the airport… reviewing all the way. It is fun to have a destination, and see how efficiently you can operate the boat in order to reach that goal.

That wraps up day one.  Strengths and weaknesses are discussed, and plans for the next day decided based on weather on the trip back into the marina.

Day two begins with a quick weather and plans check, then head out to perform man overboard under sail, man overboard under power, reefing, and anchoring.  Then the rest of the day is open for working on whatever skills anyone needs more practice performing, knot tying, rules review, and more sailing and practical exam maneuvers.  Near the end of the day, students take a written test, we pose for a graduation photo or two and make plans to get together again for some more sailing.

After the ASA 101 course, students usually opt to take the ASA 103 Basic Coastal Cruising class.  We teach that class on a 30 foot plus sloop.