Episode #019: Your Pocket Sailing Instructor Podcast: Which Sailing Course Do I Take?

So you have decided to take up sailing! Great! But where do you start?! There are a lot of options out there so this week I’m going to dive into figuring out which course is for you. Here are some of my insider opinions on what to think about when signing up for your sailing course.

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#20: How to prepare for your sailing course! Your Pocket Sailing Instructor Podcast

What is my sailing background?

  • Never sailed before: alright in this case you have never been on a sailboat and have no idea how to manage the sails, rigging, where the wind is coming from, etc. You see sailboats out on the water and think “I want to do that!”. Don’t worry, there is a course for you!
  • Sailed dinghies as a kid: in this case you used to do summer camps or maybe had a dinghy at your cottage that you used to bomb around the lake on. You don’t really have an idea of what the heck the boat was doing, but you knew when you capsized that something was off.
  • Some keelboat sailing: you’ve probably hopped onto someone’s boat and thought “this is great!” You may have picked up a few good (and bad) habits along the way, but don’t have formal training.
  • Multiple seasons of keelboating: in this case you have been sailing a pile of times, potentially have your own boat, and are really just looking to get that pesky piece of paper!

Also, if you’re not sure where to start, take my New Sailor Survey to find out!

What are my options?

  • Intro to Sailing: an introductory course is usually a few hours and really geared towards someone who has never been on a sailboat and really doesn’t know if it is for them. The Introduction to Boating Standard with Sail Canada is perfect for this level.
  • Basic Day Sailing: this course is for someone who has been out on a boat and you are now looking to increase your knowledge and skills, but in a formal setting. Maybe you are thinking about certifications at this point and want to follow a curriculum. The Start Keelboat Sailing Standard with Sail Canada is the right fit for this level of sailor.
  • Day Skipper Sailing: at this point you are looking to skipper your own vessel and potentially move up into liveaboard sailing. The Basic Cruising Standard with Sail Canada is the level that you want as it covers everything from boat parts, to emergency situations, anchoring, crew overboard and much more.
  • Bareboat Sailing: Now you’re seriously thinking about chartering and sailing off into the sunset. You’re interested in bareboat chartering a vessel and being in charge. You should look at completing the Intermediate Cruising Standard with Sail Canada to receive an internationally recognized certification.

Can I skip levels?

This can be a bit of a loaded question. As a school I want to encourage as many people to buy my products as possible (ie courses). However, as an instructor I want to maintain the integrity of the Sail Canada curriculum and need to see that someone really knows their stuff before I sign off on their logbook. So, how should you prepare yourself to request to skip levels? I would suggest you have a comprehensive list of your sailing experience. Keep a log of nautical miles completed, a list of extra courses completed (first aid, etc.), and do some research on the level you are challenging. Look up the Sail Canada standards and make sure you recognize the terminology and skills that are discussed. Do you know how to complete the required maneuvers? Are you familiar with all the terminology? Once you have all of that collected you are in a better position to request a course challenge and focus on any areas that need brushing up. You’re off to the races!

Why should I get a certification in the first place?

I don’t get asked this question as often as I used to, and I think most people realize that a basic boating certification is now basically equivalent to drivers ed. If you’re purchasing a boat, you should have some sort of course under your belt. I also believe that in the not so distant future, insurance providers are going to require some form of boating education, so getting a certification just makes good sense. Also, being a life-long learner, I believe that we can always learn something new! So take a course and see what you add to your knowledge bucket!

Have fun exploring courses and see you on the water soon!

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