Nice job, sailor! You’ve passed your ASA 103: Coastal Cruising classes and are now ready for your next step in preparing to own or charter your own keelboat! You’re clearly on your way to becoming a lifelong sailor.
During your ASA 103: Coastal Cruising classes, you strengthened your sailing vocabulary and concept knowledge, including defining and executing the points-of-sail, tacking, and jibing. You added some new skills, including anchoring, docking, and navigation, and increased your overall seamanship, focusing on proper line handling, winch procedures, and knot tying. You’ve also become more comfortable with many of the systems of the boat, and you can safely sail with other trained sailors.
The American Sailing Association (ASA) 104 Bareboat Charter certification class uses the knowledge and skills you practiced in ASA 103 to further train you to charter a keelboat, or perhaps sail your own boat, in coastal waters. This class encourages you to be confident in making your own decisions as you navigate to and from your destination.
Once again, you graduate to a larger boat – one of our boats in the 40- to 45-foot range, such as our Jeanneau 419, Hunter 41, Jeanneau 44DS, or Catalina 445.
This class has a different schedule as well, with each class member bringing provisions, assisting in preparing dinner, and spending the night on anchor at an anchorage between 10 to 20 nautical miles from St. Petersburg.
Your Sailing Florida Charters Captain/ASA-certified instructor will contact you before your class to discuss what you should bring, the forecasted weather, and the proposed schedule. Some instructors may elect to shop for groceries during class on the first morning, while others may choose to help decide what groceries each person should shop for ahead of time and bring with them.
Just as in preparing for the ASA 103: Coastal Cruising class, many of our clients believe they were more confident and learned more in the class by reviewing the basics (knots, proper winch handling, points-of-sail, tacking, jibing, navigation rules, names of the parts of the sail, etc.) prior to the class so your mind can be free for the new material. Reading through the updated and excellent ASA 104 Bareboat Chartering book, including answering the questions in the review tests, will definitely make you feel prepared for your class.
The typical ASA 104 Bareboat Chartering class will include the following elements, albeit often in different order depending on the weather and the needs of you and the other class members:
Many of the basic sailing skills and concepts will often by reviewed, to make sure the entire class is on the same page – or should we say – boat. You’ll use many of the knots you learned in a practical manner, such as cleating off a towing bridle and tying your dinghy to it with either a bowline, or a round turn and two half hitches. Often, there’ll be a quick vocabulary review, including the parts of the sail, as you will have more time during your voyage to work on sail trim. We’ll also review how to properly use the in-mast furling mainsails that are standard on all of the monohull sailboats at Sailing Florida Charters.
You’ll complete a thorough checklist of the boat, including identification of the Coast Guard-required equipment, performing a radio check on the VHF radio, locating the seacocks and throughhulls, topping off your water tanks, and checking the diesel engine and the generator.
Next, you’ll get out a paper chart, and using your parallel rules and dividers, will plot your course to your harborage for the night, including the distances and compass headings to each waypoint. You’ll also compare this course information with that which you calculate from the electronic chart plotter/GPS onboard the boat, and estimate how long your trip will take.
There are some great anchorages within a 2- to 5-hour sail from the Vinoy Marina, including DeSoto Point on the Manatee River, and Point Pinellas, 12 nautical miles away, near the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. As you make your way, you will estimate your position on the chart using both ‘dead reckoning’, as well as a 3-point fix, taking compass bearings of three objects onshore which you can also locate on the chart.
And don’t be surprised if your captain throws your type-4 PFD over the side and yells, “Man overboard!”. Remember, when you least expect it… expect it.
Working as a team, you and your crewmates will navigate the channel, ranging the channel marks and checking the chart plotter, and watching your depth. After taking into account the tide tables and properly setting the anchor, there will be time to unwind, review any material from the day, and prepare dinner on the propane grill in the cockpit and the stove in the galley. Remember, there’s no finer meal than the one you have while on the anchor.
The next morning, there will often be more review for the written test, including various methods of double anchoring, international travel procedures, emergency scenarios, sea fog and radiation fog, and the causes of sea breeze – one of the most beneficial things to know while sailing in Florida.
You’ll also spend time reviewing how to estimate fuel consumption, your vessel’s cruising range in hours and nautical miles, latitude/longitude plotting, and your estimated time of arrival.
Depending on your particular class itinerary, you may take the test in the morning and then navigate back to St. Petersburg, or get a head start on returning and finish up with the test at the dock. As the Vinoy Renaissance Hotel cupola comes into view, you’ll turn into the St. Petersburg Marina for some valuable diesel fueling and docking experience before heading back to the Vinoy Marina.
Congratulations, you’ve successfully completed the ASA sailing certification triumvirate – Basic Keelboat, Coastal Cruising, and Bareboat Chartering, three useful classes on their own, but extremely powerful once you’ve taken all of them.
Only ASA members who have completed through ASA 104, Bareboat Cruising, are eligible to order the International Proficiency Certificate (IPC). This certificate is mandatory when chartering in most European / Mediterranean waters. It serves as proof of bareboat charter competency for Mediterranean chartering companies.
If purchasing a boat is now your goal, our captains can help you evaluate your options and suggest other resources to consult. If chartering a boat is the next step, we can share our experiences both in the St. Petersburg area as well as in other destinations, including Key West, Miami, the Bahamas, and Cuba.
It’s an excellent idea to log your days during the class, as well as any previous experiences you’ve had on the water, including sailing on others’ boats, spending time on your own sailboat or power boat, or other boating classes you may have taken.
Any charter company you decide to sail with will want to know how much experience you’ve had on the water, in addition to the six days of your ASA classes. This allows them to assist you in choosing the correct boat for your needs and skill level. Depending on the degree of your experience, they may even recommend you sail with a captain for a few hours or even a day, to orient you to the local waters, the specific details of your charter keelboat, and assist in planning your trip – all designed to make your charter an absolute success.