I’ve decided to empty my pockets to take some sailing certification courses after graduation. I’ve also decided I wanna do this some place sweet – I am kind of settling on the Florida Keys / Caribbean at the moment. Anyway, there is a lot of murk to wade through when deciding what certification, school, etc. Here is what I know so far: (stop reading here if you aren’t thinking about learning to sail)
The sport of sailing itself is governed by The International Sailing Federation, the ISAF. Individual countries become members of the ISAF through one of their own sailing organizations, which is then called a “Member National Authority”. In the United States, our sailing governing body and Member National Authority of the ISAF is the United States Sailing Association, or US Sailing for short, which offers certification courses. However, that is of course not our only sailing organization. Another giant one, and probably the first you’ll come across when researching this, is the http://www.american-sailing.com/, the ASA, a sailing promotional organization which offers many types of sailing certifications at varying levels of difficulty, through its member schools. There are also numerous other sailing schools and organizations offering courses not affiliated with US Sailing OR the ASA.
So, where to get certified? Why get certified?
Well, when chartering a sailboat, the owner will want some assurance of your experience. They want to know you know how to sail. Naturally the ASA and US Sailing carry some weight here and in common US tourist destinations because they are large organizations. The US Sailing, as a member of an international body, carries more weight abroad, but the ASA also offers an international certificate which is equivalent. And what about unaffiliated schools? Well, with the ASA, US Sailing, or otherwise, it is a good idea to keep a log of your sailing time, à la a journal or captains log – almost sounds fun! Anyway, just keep a list of dates you sailed, time on the water, and if it was coursework or training of some kind, what you did. A log and any certificate ought to be enough documentary evidence of your experience.