Sailing Certification

What is Sailing Certification?

Sailing Certification is the documentation of your training that shows you have successfully completed the knowledge or practical requirements of a course. Certification documents that you've achieved the minimal standards required by the certifying organization.

Generally speaking, certifications are recognized by Charter and Insurance companies to verify your competence and training progress. Many insurance companies also offer discounts based upon your training and certifications.

Is Certification Required?

It depends on your level of experience and where you're sailing. Simply, a Charter company isn't going to let you play with a $250,000+ boat unless they're confident in your knowledge, skills AND experience.

What will be required is a Sailing Resume that documents your sailing experience and training. If you have years of experience and are a Salty sailor, then you don't need certification. If you're developing as a sailor and want to charter, then you should pick a training program that (a) trains you well, (b) certifies you through "Bareboat" chartering, and (c) trains in Navigation.

For example, the following is from Moorings, an international charter company:

No formal certification is required for most regions. Complete our Sailboat Resume and we will immediately inform you what size yacht you qualify to sail with us and which destinations are appropriate for your experience.

And note, certification on it's own is not enough. You'll need to show that you also have experience sailing.

Your Confidence is Most Important!

When you skipper a boat (doesn't matter if it's yours, a club boat or you're chartering), you're responsible for the preparations, safety, and welfare of the boat and your crew. You're not only the Skipper, but also the helmsman, engineer, cook and whatever else may be required.

So, it's important that YOU are confident in your knowledge and skills. Some areas of focus:

- Character and Skill: You may be surprised to learn that the "Seaworthiness" of a boat includes the character and skill of her Skipper....
- Basic Seamanship: your overall knowledge and skill in the operation of a sailboat.
- Boat Handling: the ability to maneuver a sailboat with accuracy and precision - whether under sail or power.
- Systems & Troubleshooting: you should understand and competently use ALL the systems on the boat you're operating, as well as basic troubleshooting.
- Navigational Rules: like driving, you need to know the legal rules of the waters in which you operate
- Navigation: at a minimum, knowing how to read a printed chart, nav tools, planning a trip, avoiding hazards and finding your position. Electronic Aids and smartphones are great, but they're not always accurate and can fail....
- Humility: relates back to the "character" point. As a sailing company, we can attest to being more comfortable with sailors who ask a lot of questions and seek guidance. It's a mark of a good sailor and seamanship to leave nothing to chance, ask questions and gain "local knowledge."

Certification Systems

Starpath, NauticEd, ASA, US Sailing, RYA - the choices are many. Suffice it to say that after 35 years of teaching sailing, we're confident in our program. But, if looking at different programs (which we'd recommend), our best advice:

Certification is a Standard, not a Training Program. By that we mean schools design and develop their programs, which in turn meet standards set by Certifications. Simply, when training look at how well you'll be trained as well as the certification that best fits your needs. Keep in mind as you plan how you will achieve your sailing goals that charter companies look for a combination of certifications and actual experience. Getting time on the water sailing is very important for achieving your chartering goals.

As for systems, the majors:

American Sailing Association (ASA): ASA offers certification on a progressive training program and is recognized by all the major charter companies. ASA courses each have well developed text books that are to be reviewed before the class. All ASA classes are taught by ASA certified instructors who have completed and satisfied a rigorous Instructor Qualification Clinic.

Starpath School of Navigation: based out of Seattle, one of our favorites and we offer their courses (as well as include their materials). In topics such as Navigation or Weather, Starpath exceeds ANY standard in any country! We recommend Starpath certification for the committed sailor. For more info, see Starpath Certification

NauticEd: NauticEd offers online classes, sailing certification recognized by charterers worldwide. NauticEd also works with schools to provide practical training and verification within broader certification programs. Certification is bench marked on a combination of classes, practical training, and experience - and certification is online. Membership is required.

US Sailing Association: US Sailing offers certification on a progressive training program (101, 103, 104, etc...) and is recognized by US charterers. US Sailing doesn't offer the ICC, but "equivalents". Courses are a combination of book knowledge and practical, both requiring physically proctored exams, and certification is presented as a sticker in a logbook. Membership is required, but the first year is included with courses.

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