This is the 2012 New Years Resolution Sailing Tip
This issue’s sailing tip is a pretty simple one. It will lead to you having more valuable practical sailing experience than you’d ever imagine. And it fits nicely in with any new years resolutions you might be considering.
When I lived in Austin Texas, I raced a lot with the local sailing club there on Lake Travis, an inland small lake. And I have to admit that much of my finer technical sailing knowledge came from those many regatta races.
When a sailboat racing next to you is inching ahead moment by moment you learn quickly the importance of accurate sail trim. And talk about drilling the rules of the nautical road – wow when you’re on collision course with dozens of yachts you’ve got to know the rules.
Here’s the tip: Join a local yacht club this year.
At NauticEd we REALLY believe that practical sailing experience is one of the keys to becoming an excellent sailor (of course we’re making a big assumption that you don’t have a goal to be a crappy sailor).
A bit of History: When we designed the NauticEd sailing certifications, we consulted with dozens of sailing instructors and many of the world’s largest charter companies. With out any hesitation, they all rated practical sailing experience as a must have to becoming a competent sailor (durh). When we looked at every other global sailing certification, none required practical sailing experience as a prerequisite to gaining the certification. That’s a bit strange we thought because in this digital age, it’s easy to write an algorithm that can combine theory knowledge and practical experience (well not that easy but you get the point).
Then we looked at the scuba diving industry and the scuba certifications. We found that the theory education was excellent but practically – if you can barely swim, you’ll still end up with a certification. Still strange! The scuba magazine editorials are full of complaints about new divers banging into the protected reefs because they can’t do the most basic buoyancy control.
When it comes down to it I guess, most certifying companies are more interested in the $ than the true competency of the student. Thus we decided to set the competency bar high so that the charter companies could truly trust a experience and theory based certification.
So here’s the big “but” that people ask us all the time then.
“But … how do I get sailing experience when I don’t own a boat”.
Well… in virtually every city with a sailing waterway there is a yacht club.
- Joining a yacht club is pretty simple and relatively inexpensive for the return you’ll get. Costs range from $40 to $80 per month. And if you own a boat, many times the marina fees are less expensive than a regular marina.
- Some clubs are very racing focused some are not. I’ll maintain however that even if you’re not a racing type person, racing experience will improve your cruising sailing skills vastly. Racing is like learning a language by immersion.
- Yacht clubs are highly social and so you’re going to meet a lot of very cool and interesting people who will become your friends. Throw away the preconceived notions of the stereotype snooty stuffy yacht club and just join one and find out for yourself.
- Yacht clubs many times have a nice pool for the kids to hang out in and they will get to hang out with other yachting type kids. A vast improvement from learning life skills at the mall.
- Yacht clubs organize weekend sailing trips away. These are usually very fun flotilla events. Here you can learn a lot of overnighting and anchoring skills.
- Occasionally yacht clubs will also organize a bareboat charter sailing holiday to places like the Caribbean, Mediterranean or the pacific islands. This is a great opportunity to join in on the safety of a flotilla.
Some people think that if you don’t own a boat, then what’s the point of joining a yacht club. However, if you don’t own a boat, then you should definitely join a yacht club. Here’s a big fact. Virtually all boat owners are desperate for crew for either racing or cruising events. This is proven by the dozens of post-its on the yacht club notice board from skippers looking for crew.
Typical Yacht Club Notice Board
So – this year, join your local yacht club. Put your name up on the notice board that you’re willing to crew. Commit to some regatta race series. Do some boat jumping to find the boat/crew/skipper that you like. Make some friends. Get lots of sailing experience and most importantly, fill out your free NauticEd electronic sailing logbook. As with above, your logbook is the single most important thing that the charter companies look at when you are trying to charter a boat.
And one more comment – years ago when I ran a large yachting membership program, the biggest reason that people dropped out was that they did not have friends to go sailing with them. A mistake that I made was that we should have promoted our boat owning members to also join a yacht club. There, they would have found plenty of new friends to go sailing with, from the exact same notice board mentioned above. If you own a boat – join your local yacht club this year.
Happy Sailing Experience!
You’ll notice a new NauticEd sailing school widget next time you login to NauticEd. It’s a quick snapshot of your Sailing Certificate Progress through the ranks and levels.
Sailing Certificate Progress
The widget views your completed NauticEd theory experience and your practical experience logged in your NauticEd online logbook. It runs an algorithm against that data and presents a graphical representation of how close you are to reaching each rank and level.
In the example above, the student has completed the Skipper requirements, is 76% of the way towards Bareboat Charter Master and 48% of the way towards Captain. The slider bar is weighed according to course effort and practical experience logged.
When you click on the [more] button you are lead to a page which shows in more detail what your requirements would be to achieve 100% in the next Ranks above.
You’ll notice that NauticEd does place significant weight on practical experience. We absolutely believe that after taking classes you can’t expect to step on a boat and know everything. And we also believe that students must have a grounding in theory. Rules of the Nautical Road, navigation, turbulence theory vs laminar flow theory, knowledge of what to do in an emergency etc etc are all theory based elements in learning to sail. I guess we might compare this to an electrician. I would assume that most people would want their electrician to have studied the theory as well as spent many hours as an understudy working in the field in a practical manner before he comes to rewire a house. In fact this is why State governments require such theory and practical experience combo licenses.
It’s an interesting debate as to weather state governments should require boating licences. But I digress…
Anyway, next time you’re logged into NauticEd take a look at your Sailing Certificate Progress widget.
For more info on how to navigate and reach each Rank with the NauticEd Sailing School – Sailing Certificate go to our website.
Here is a question posted by one of our students today with our response following.
On 6/4/10 1:54 PM, “Ted” wrote:
I have recently started through your courses in the hope of chartering next winter. My own boat is a 25′ Catalina. From your information it appears that I will not receive credit for my days on water due to my boat being under 28′. Is that correct and therefore will I not be able to progress beyond crew level 0?
Thank you for your time
Some of your small sailboat experience is counted. However, the sailing certification and experience that the yacht charter companies are requiring is that their customers have some experience on larger sailboats before they responsibly release a sailboat to anyone on a chartered sailing vacation. As you can imagine, sailing experience is a major factor for them in lending out their charter sailboats. When we consulted with the major yacht charter companies in the world to put this program together they were adamant and rightly so that a proper and valuable sailing certification would include some big boat time.
My advice would be to buddy up with some one the local yacht club who has a larger boat to gain the experience you’ll need.
You will be able to advance to Skipper as soon as you log 5 days more on a sailboat 28ft or longer whilst you are acting as master of the vessel.
I hope that answers your question.
There is a myth that you need a sailing license to charter a boat. Call any charter company outside of Croatia, Greece and Spain (whose governments legally require a certification) and none will insist on a certification. What charter companies want is competence. And they will take competence in lieu of a certification any day. How does anyone define competence? The charter companies define it as total time on the water as master of the vessel which is within 10 feet of the vessel being chartered. They also list yacht ownership, blue water sailing experience, previous charters as master of the vessel, time sailing in the last 5 years, anchoring experience, and experience as crew as important factors in deciding whether or not to release the boat to a potential customer. No question however, they also certainly do put credence into a sailing certification and practical teaching by a professional.
What the charter company does then is look at the combined factors above and then make a decision. They most certainly would not charter a boat to some one who showed up with a Bareboat Charter Certification from any organization or association with just the minimum time required on the water to get the certification with the exception of perhaps the RYA Day Skipper certification – who require a significant amount of sailing experience for the certification.
In addition to the theory side of the certification, what NauticEd provides is easy access to the information you need to be safe. NauticEd also recognizes that you must have the experience to handle situations that arise and thus there is no substitute for time on the water. In addition to that – if you can get practical competence verification from a sailing school then you’re really good to go.
If you don’t have any experience and don’t have access to a boat, then starting out with practical training by a sailing school is the best way to get “helm time”. Then once you’re deemed competent, many schools can charter you a sailboat by the day. After about 20 times out, you’ll be at a point whereby you’re probably feeling pretty comfortable and a sailing vacation destination company would probably charter a boat to you.
Documented sailing experience including some of:
- 20 + outings as master of 30ft (9m) plus vessel
- yacht ownership
- blue water experience
- crew experience
- last 5 years experience
- Mediterranean mooring
- previous charter experience
Documented sailing experience above and documented education
Documented sailing experience above, documented education, verified practical competence.
When you show up at a charter company with time on the water as master of the vessel and proven education from any certifying body, they’ll be delighted to let you charter their boat. NauticEd recommends that you show up practiced, educated and taught by a professional.
Regarding Education we recommend a minimum of