Which certification is the best?

Thread starter #1
Hi There -

My first post...

I am looking at taking a beginning sailing course and there seem to be several different certification choices, including ASA, CYA, and US Sailing, among others, I'm sure.

Are all of these respected as far as renting a boat goes? I may buy a boat someday, but for now I just want to get certified to be able to rent a day sailer, mostly in the US, but also abroad.

Any advice would be helpful.

I am not the best one to address your question because I never bothered to get "certified"; at lease in sailing. I started sailing back in the early 50s when none of this stuff was even thought about. I learned by crewing for very good skippers willing to take a person with no apparent skills and teach them the ropes. I did get a US Coastguard captains certificate long be fore the "six-pack" program was conceived. No question that it is best to learn the basics from someone or some school that can teach the basics as well as the more advanced knowledge and skills. The question is what do you plan to do with the training other than sail your own boat? You can get by with minimal skills if all you plan to do is putter around in a lake but if planing an ocean crossing the additional skills become very important. I tend to believe that many of the "sailors" I encounter have never had training of any kind yet they seem to enjoy "sailing".

If you plan to lease/charter a boat then a certification of some kind will probably be a handy thing to have; it may get you into a boat with less hassle. I have never had a problem getting a boat by simply demonstrating the skills they feel are necessary to keep their boat safe. Some charter companies will be satisfied with a brief conversation about your experience and knowledge of sailing while others may require a 50 question written test followed by a 30 minute demonstration of you skills out on the water.

So the bottom line is again; what are you looking for and what are your long term plans. If you choose a school then be sure to do research and I don't mean just read their literature. Talk to some of their graduates. If they can't or won't provide this information then find someone that will. Make sure their references are not their employees.

I am sure someone with experience with "schools" will provide a far better and helpful response.
Thread starter #3
Thanks so much for the thoughtful reply. I want to start small with this, i.e. coastal daysailing. But I want to have the ability to move up to cruising later, so I think what you said will apply:

No question that it is best to learn the basics from someone or some school that can teach the basics as well as the more advanced knowledge and skills
No harm in having a solid foundation - who knows where this will go... Years ago I had a dream of building a boat and sailing all over, even bought plans, and a shelf full of books. Then life happened, and sailing didn't. Now I'm more interested in just doing it, rather than fantasizing about the future. But I'll keep my options open just in case the dream wants to come back!

BTW - I'm signing up for ASA 101 at Santa Barbara Sailing School!