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5 Day Learn to Sail Vacation – ASA 103 & 1042022-07-20T17:41:51+00:00

5 Day Learn to Sail Vacation – ASA 103 and 104 Combo, Basic Coastal Cruising and Bareboat Cruising Certifications

Course Pricing

This is a 5-day/4-night private live-aboard course.  You will not be sharing the accommodations on the yacht with other students who you do not know.

Information about the Course

103 Overview

In this course, you will learn to skipper a sloop-rigged auxiliary powered keelboat, by day, in moderate wind and sea conditions. Learn cruising sailboat terminology, basic boat systems, auxiliary engine operation, docking procedures, intermediate sail trim, navigation rules, basic coastal navigation, anchoring, weather, safety and seamanship.

For a full list of all 52 topics (knowledge and skills) that will be covered click below.

Cruising Sailboat Terminology

1. Identify and describe the following cruising sailboat parts, areas, or systems and their functions:

  • Turnbuckle
  • Chainplate
  • Stemhead Fitting
  • Rudder Post
  • Transom
  • Compass
  • Binnacle
  • Cockpit Locker
  • Emergency Tiller
  • Saloon
  • Companionway
  • Galley
  • V-berth
  • Auxiliary Engine
  • Bilge
  • Bilge Pump
  • Seacock
  • Ground Tackle
  • Windlass
  • Hatch
  • Through-hull Fitting
  • Self-bailing Cockpit

Safety Equipment & Procedures

2. List the federally required equipment for a 33-foot recreational vessel equipped with an inboard diesel engine.

3. Describe the characteristics and benefits of Personal Flotation Devices (PFD’s), both Wearable (Life Jackets) and Throwable.

4. List the ASA recommended safety equipment for a recreational sailing vessel.

5. Describe ways to keep gear and equipment secure and in their proper location.

6. Describe the purpose and proper use of a safety harness and tether.

7. Describe safe refueling procedures for a vessel equipped with an outboard engine using gasoline or a diesel engine using diesel fuel.

Navigation & Weather

8. Demonstrate understanding of basic coastal navigation terminology and practices, including

  • Essential navigator’s tools
  • Use of navigation charts and symbols
  • Depth soundings
  • Bottom types
  • Hazards
  • Aids to navigation
  • Latitude / Longitude
  • Determining magnetic direction
  • Measuring distance

9. Describe how to prevent undue magnetic influence on a compass.

10. Describe the dangers of, and how to avoid, a ‘lee shore.’

11. Obtain and interpret marine weather information; describe the impact that present observations and forecasts may have on sailing plans for the next 6 -12 hours.

12. Describe and identify Cumulonimbus clouds and what dangers they may signify.

13. Define ‘small craft advisory’ and ‘gale warning’ and describe precautions to be taken for each.

Sail Plan

14. Describe the appropriate sail combinations to carry under the following wind conditions: light (0-11 knots), moderate (12-19 knots), and heavy (20-33 knots).

15. Describe the procedures for reducing sail using a roller furling jib and a mainsail reefing system.

16. Describe the benefits of, and procedures for, heaving-to.


17. Describe the primary responsibilities of skipper and crew.

For elements 18 – 23, describe, using diagrams as appropriate, the applicable rules for a 33-foot recreational sailing vessel, as found in the USCG Navigation Rules and Regulations Handbook:

18. Proceeding at a safe speed (Rule 6), determination of collision risk (Rule 7), and taking early and substantial action to avoid collision (Rule 8).

19. Sailing vessels (Rule 12), overtaking (Rule 13), and power-driven vessels in head-on (Rule 14) and crossing (Rule 15) situations.

20. Give-way and Stand-on vessels (Rules 16 & 17).

21. Location, color and illumination angles of required navigation lights at anchor, under sail, and under power.

22. Actions to be taken when operating a vessel in restricted visibility such as fog or haze including adaptation of speed and use of sound signals.

23. Basic maneuvering and warning signals (short and prolonged whistle blasts) for inland waters.

24. Describe the appearance and purpose of the ‘Diver Down’ and ‘Alpha’ flags.

25. Describe common anchor types, major considerations for anchorage selection, and proper scope for short term and overnight anchoring as well as storm conditions.


26. Describe the three stages of hypothermia; name symptoms and treatment for each.

27. Describe two methods for getting a person out of the water and safely back on board the vessel.

28. Identify common sources and prevention of fires and/or explosions, as well as appropriate actions to be taken if these situations arise. Describe different types of fires and procedures for operating a fire extinguisher.

29. Describe immediate actions to be taken when the following urgent situations arise:

  • Cabin filling with water
  • Failed steering system
  • Fouled propeller
  • Failed running or standing rigging
  • Dragging anchor
  • Grounding at anchor
  • Running aground under sail
  • Engine failure


30. Locate and examine for compliance the vessel’s federally required and ASA recommended safety equipment.

31. Demonstrate on shore or aboard the vessel the correct method for putting on a life jacket while in the water.

32. Identify the vessel’s battery selector switch and power distribution panel and ensure all switches are in the proper position for getting underway.

33. Ensure navigation lights (sidelights, stern light, steaming light, and anchor light) operate properly.

34. Perform a radio check using a working channel on the VHF radio.


35. Visually pilot the training vessel in and out of a harbor, correlating nautical chart symbols to actual landmarks and aids to navigation.

36. Steer a compass course (+/- 5 degrees) under power for a minimum of five minutes.

Under Power

37. Visually inspect the auxiliary engine and demonstrate safe engine starting, operating, and stopping procedures. Demonstrate proper gearshift and throttle usage.

38. Ensure vessel & crew readiness and depart dock or slip smoothly and under control.

39. Approach a mooring buoy (or other mark as a simulation if no mooring available); stop the vessel within boathook reach; attach the vessel to the mooring using an appropriate line or bridle; cast off from the mooring and get underway.

40. Set a bow anchor in water depth 8 feet or greater, using correct procedures including hand signal communication, vessel maneuvers, safety in handling ground tackle, and proper operation of windlass (if equipped). Anchor should hold with engine in reverse gear at one-half throttle. Raise anchor and get underway smoothly using correct procedures.

41. Describe and demonstrate the correct actions to be taken while under power from the time a person falls overboard until safely recovered.

Under Sail

42. Hoist or unfurl sails correctly using halyards and / or furling devices. Describe the effect on sail trim or performance while adjusting each of the following lines and controls (if available on the practice vessel):

  • downhaul or cunningham
  • outhaul
  • boom vang
  • mainsheet
  • traveler
  • jibsheets
  • jibsheet fairleads
  • Discuss ways to reduce heeling.

43. Demonstrate correct winch operation, including safety considerations for line tension / breakage, hand / finger position, winch handle insertion / removal, and clearing overrides.

Without coaching or assistance, verbalize appropriate commands and demonstrate competence, safety and good seamanship in the role of Skipper / Helmsman during the maneuvers listed below. Honor all aids to navigation and use properly the Navigation Rules. Ensure sails are trimmed correctly and the vessel is in control at all times. Adjust sail controls appropriately as the vessel’s heading changes and wind / sea conditions evolve.

44. Get out of ‘irons’ then select and maintain a given tack and course.

45. Head Up, Tack, Bear Away, and Jibe while pausing briefly at each of the following points of sail: Close Hauled, Close Reach, Beam Reach, Broad Reach, and Run (with sails “wing on wing”).

46. Heave-to and get sailing normally again.

47. While underway, reduce sail area by reefing mainsail and genoa; then shake out reef.

48. As crew, give appropriate verbal responses and perform correct actions during the maneuvers listed above.

49. Describe and demonstrate the correct actions to be taken while under sail from the time a person falls overboard until safely recovered.

50. Lower and/or furl all sails and coil or flake and stow all lines properly.

Return to Dock/Slip

51. Ensure vessel / crew readiness and use the auxiliary engine to bring the vessel smoothly and under control to a stop next to a parallel dock or into a slip; secure the vessel using appropriate lines and fenders.


52. Describe the purpose of, and construct without assistance and in a timely manner, each of the following knots:

  • Figure-8
  • Square (Reef) Knot
  • Clove Hitch
  • Round Turn & 2 Half Hitches
  • Cleat Hitch
  • Bowline
  • Sheet Bend
  • Rolling Hitch

104 Overview

In this course, you will learn how to sail a sloop-rigged, auxiliary powered 30′-45′ sailboat during a multi-day cruise upon inland/coastal waters in moderate/heavy winds and sea conditions. Learn about provisioning, boat systems, auxiliary engines, advanced sail trim, coastal navigation, anchoring / mooring, docking, emergency operations, weather, and more.

For a full list of all 55 topics (knowledge and skills) plus knots that will be covered click below.

Cruise Planning

1. Describe appropriate clothing and personal gear to pack for safety and comfort during a one-week cruise.

2. Describe the required documents and procedures for customs and immigration when cruising to a foreign port of entry.

3. Plan a menu and create a provisioning list for a one-week cruise.

4. Describe the symptoms and first aid treatments for hypothermia and heat exhaustion / heat stroke.

5. Describe the causes, prevention and treatments for seasickness.

6. Describe the tools and spare parts that should be on board for a one-week cruise.

7. Describe variables that affect fuel consumption and cruising range under power, and calculate range based on average fuel consumption.

8. Describe the minimum daily water requirements for all personnel on board as well as methods to conserve fresh water.


9. Describe safe galley procedures to minimize dangers such as fire, scalding, and spillage.

10. Describe proper marine toilet operation, including precautions to prevent malfunction, and describe proper holding tank pump-out procedures.

11. Identify and describe the function of the fundamental systems and components of a marine diesel engine, including fuel, lubrication, cooling, and drive train.

12. Describe safe fresh water tank filling procedures, including identification of correct deck fills.

13. Describe power conservation measures and procedures to prevent running batteries down when anchored/moored overnight.


14. Name four acceptable distress signals, per the USCG Navigation Rules and Regulations Handbook, which are appropriate for a recreational vessel.

15. Describe actions to be taken in the following situations:

  • Collision with another boat
  • Running aground
  • Dragging Anchor
  • Flooding
  • Fire

16. Describe actions to be taken in the following situations when the vessel is under power:

  • Fouled Propeller
  • Engine cooling water fails to flow
  • Engine fails in a crowded anchorage where using sails is not possible
  • Engine fails in a busy channel


17. Describe the information required and the procedure for tying a boat to a fixed dock in areas with a large tidal range.

18. Describe the following multiple-anchor mooring procedures and their purposes:

  • Fore & Aft Moor
  • Forked Moor
  • Bahamian Moor
  • Mediterranean Moor

19. Describe methods and potential dangers of rafting vessels at anchor.

20. Describe safe methods for towing and securing a dinghy / tender.

21. Describe preparation of the vessel for heavy weather sailing including gear stowage, crew safety and appropriate sail plan.

22. Describe the following courtesies and customs:

  • Permission to board
  • Permission to come alongside
  • Courtesy in crossing adjacent boats when rafted
  • Rights of first boat in an anchorage
  • Keeping clear of regattas
  • Flag etiquette
  • Rendering assistance to vessels in distress

23. Describe, using diagrams as appropriate, the applicable rules (steering & sailing, lights, and sound signals) for a 30’ to 45’ recreational vessel, as found in the USCG Navigation Rules and Regulations Handbook.

Navigation & Weather

24. Explain and identify the following coastal navigation terms, using a chart or diagrams as appropriate:

  • Speed
  • Time
  • Distance
  • Tidal Range
  • Tidal Current
  • Track
  • Course
  • Heading
  • Bearing
  • Fix
  • True
  • Magnetic
  • Variation
  • Deviation
  • Line of Position (LOP)

25. Describe the sea breeze and land breeze dynamics and their effect on sailing conditions.

26. Identify conditions that may lead to the formation of radiation and sea / advection fog.

27. Describe actions to be taken in the following weather situations:

  • Fog / reduced visibility
  • Squall / thunderstorm


28. Perform the duties of skipper and crew on a live-aboard coastal cruise of at least 48 hours

29. Locate and check the condition of all federally required equipment.


30. Perform a routine vessel inspection, ensuring that all systems and equipment are in working order, including:

  • Fuel level
  • Fresh water level
  • Battery voltage
  • Electrical system
  • Navigation lights
  • Instruments and electronics
  • Bilge
  • Through-hulls and seacocks
  • Standing rigging
  • Running rigging
  • Deck hardware
  • Ground tackle

31. Visually inspect the auxiliary engine. Check for correct engine oil level and potential problems such as leaking fluids or frayed belts; demonstrate safe engine starting, operating and stopping procedures.

32. Inspect the raw water strainer for debris and ensure that the raw water intake seacock is in the proper position for engine operation.

33. Locate the emergency steering tiller and identify where it attaches to the rudder post.

34. Operate the electric and manual bilge pumps to ensure they are functional.

35. Demonstrate proper usage of the VHF radio, including hailing another station on Channel 16 and switching to a working channel.

36. Demonstrate proper operation of the galley stove including fuel supply, lighting, and shutting down; simulate the proper way to extinguish a galley fire.

37. Demonstrate the proper method of disconnecting and reconnecting shore power cables.

Under Power

38. Demonstrate the use of spring lines in the docking/undocking process (e.g., pivoting the vessel away from the dock during departure).

39. Maneuver the vessel in reverse gear, observing and explaining the effect of prop walk on the stern’s direction.

40. Maneuver the boat in a confined space to include performing ‘standing turn’ maneuver, turning the vessel 180 degrees in a confined area using rudder position and gearshift / throttle control.

41. Ensure vessel / crew readiness and use the auxiliary engine to bring the vessel smoothly and under control to a stop next to a parallel dock or into a slip; secure the vessel using appropriate lines and fenders.

42. Describe/demonstrate an appropriate person in water (a.k.a. Man Overboard or MOB) recovery maneuver while under power and describe methods to bring the MOB safely back aboard.

43. Demonstrate one of the following multiple-anchor mooring methods as appropriate to local conditions, using correct procedures such as hand signals, safety in handling ground tackle, proper operation of windlass (if equipped) and use of a snubber or bridle. Raise anchors and get underway smoothly using correct procedures.

  • Fore and Aft Moor
  • Forked Moor
  • Bahamian Moor
  • Mediterranean Moor

Under Sail

44. Sail a steady compass course within +/- 10 degrees with sails trimmed properly.

45. Demonstrate the proper use of all available lines and sail controls (halyards, sheets, traveler, boom vang, outhaul, downhaul/cunningham, jib sheet fairleads, etc.) to obtain maximum performance and comfort.

46. Demonstrate the correct usage of a jibe preventer.

47. Demonstrate proper reefing procedures while under sail or hove-to.

48. Demonstrate two different MOB recovery maneuvers while under sail; starting from both close-hauled and a broad reach and selecting an appropriate maneuver for each initial point of sail.

Navigation & Weather

49. Plan a coastal passage from origin to destination, plotting courses, distances, and waypoints. While en route, keep a written log and plot DR positions on a chart, and calculate estimated times of arrival (ETA) to waypoints.

50. Obtain and interpret marine weather information; describe the impact that the present observations and forecast may have on cruising plans over a 3-day period.

51. Obtain updated weather forecasts during a passage and compare with visual and measured observations.

52. Take visual 2 or 3-bearing fixes using a hand-bearing compass.

53. Determine the predicted depth above or below chart datum at a given time using tide prediction tables.

54. Use a GPS / chartplotter (if available) to obtain information and perform basic navigation functions such as position, course, speed, waypoints, ETA, and tidal information.

55. Pilot a boat into an unfamiliar harbor or anchorage by day using relevant nautical charts, publications and tidal information.


Describe the purpose of and construct each of the following knots (without assistance and in a timely manner):

  • Figure-8 Knot
  • Square (Reef) Knot
  • Clove Hitch
  • Round Turn & 2 Half Hitches
  • Cleat Hitch
  • Bowline
  • Sheet Bend
  • Rolling Hitch
  • Trucker’s Hitch

Prerequisite – ASA 101

Boat utilized and description – 2017/2019 Beneteau 38.1 or 2016/2019 Beneteau 41.1

This is an attractive 38 or 41 foot sailing yacht with 3 cabins and 1 bathroom.  This is a top of the line cruising model with all of the comforts and features to make learning fun and safe.  Features include: Roller furling sails, dodger and bimini, anchor windlass, autopilot, radar, GPS, and color chartplotter.

Boat location – Balboa Marina, Newport Beach, CA

The boat will be docked at the Balboa Marina where our office is located.  This marina has some of the best facilities and is one of the best destinations in Southern California.  This is also where the boat will be docked for your overnight stay, before sailing to Catalina.   Some of the features that make this a great location are:

  • Ample free parking
  • Bathrooms and showers
  • Two great restaurants with full bars – SOL Mexican Cocina & Tavern House Kitchen and Bar
  • Starbucks across the street
  • Gas station and minimart across the street
  • Subway across the street
  • Kayak and SUP Rentals a block away – Southwind Kayak Center
  • Large grocery store, 3 blocks away – Pavilions
  • John Wayne (SNA) Airport, 6 miles away
  • Several other great restaurants and bars within a mile
  • Balboa Island within a mile
  • Newport Pier and Balboa Pier within a mile and a half
  • Art Museums of Laguna Beach within 10 miles
  • Disneyland, 20 miles away
  • Numerous hotels and resorts within just a few miles
  • The famed Balboa Bay Club, where John Wayne use to hang out, less than a mile from the marina

What’s included

  • ASA 103 and 104 textbooks “Coastal Cruising Made Easy and Bareboat Cruising Made Easy”
  • Fuel, insurance, and safety gear (including life jackets)
  • High quality bedding (duvet in Fall, Winter and Spring; cotton blanket in Summer) along with fitted sheets and your choice of pillows (exact selection based on availability)
  • Comfortable, upgraded mattresses. If you are going to “live” on a boat, you should be comfortable!
  • Bath towel, hand towel, beach towel, and dish towels
  • Fully equipped galley with refrigerator, sink, oven, stove, pots, pans, dishes, silverware, cooking utensils, glasses, cups and coffee mugs. BBQ outside in the cockpit
  • Hot water in the sinks and showers. “No cold showers for this sailor, thank you very much!”
  • Stereo with speakers inside the cabin and outside in the cockpit
  • The boat is also stocked with 15 disposable items for your convenience. (Click here for a list)
  • Cleaning and washing after your stay. It wouldn’t be a vacation if you had to clean up!

Sample Itinerary

Day 1: Meet at our office inside the Balboa Marina at 10am.  The address is 201 E. Coast Hwy, Newport Beach, CA 92660.  There is free parking at our office.  You’ll meet a friendly member of our team who will assist you in taking your belongings to your sailing yacht.  We will give you an orientation of the boat and the marina, as well as the surrounding area, including locations of stores and restaurants.  You’ll have time to go to the store or walk to get a sandwich or coffee.  At noon, your sailing instructor will arrive at your boat, you will depart the slip, and you’ll spend the next 4 hours working through 1/3 of the topics under the Knowledge and Skills section. You’ll return to the slip at 4pm.  Your instructor will make sure you are properly situated to spend the night on the boat on your own and then he/she will leave.  You’ll have the rest of the afternoon and evening to enjoy your new boating lifestyle.  You can enjoy sunset from the deck of your boat and then cook on board, or walk to one of the excellent restaurants in the marina.

Day 2: Enjoy a leisurely breakfast aboard, walk to get a coffee or breakfast, or go for a walk or run, or relax.  You’ll have time to study your course materials and if you’re feeling ready, you can walk up to our office and take the 103 exam.  Your captain will then meet aboard your boat at the time convenient for you.  (The most common timeframe is for the Captain to arrive at noon and sail with you until 4pm because the wind is generally best in the afternoon.) You’ll spend the 4 hours working through 1/3 of the topics under the Knowledge and Skills section. Upon your return to the marina, the captain will once again ensure that you are situated to spend the evening on your own, and then he/she will leave.  Enjoy a second evening on your yacht.  Maybe sip some wine at sunset.  Make a reservation for dinner or cook on board. The choice is yours!

Day 3: At 9:30am, your sailing instructor will arrive at your boat. You’ll spend the next hour or so discussing the cruising plan, doing safety checks as well as going over all the features and functionality of the vessel.  About 10:30am you’ll depart for Avalon, Catalina. It is about a 4 to 5 hour journey to Avalon, during which you’ll have plenty of time to practice sailing, controlling the vessel under power, using the sophisticated set of electronic navigation equipment, and working through another 1/3 of the topics under the Knowledge and Skills section. You also might get a chance to spot some marine wildlife like sea lions, dolphins, whales or maybe even the elusive sunfish.  Don’t forget to bring your camera!

When you arrive in Catalina, you’ll pick up a mooring and set the outboard motor on the dinghy.  You can cook aboard or go ashore for dinner and explore.  Spend a peaceful evening on the boat or hit one of the local bars in Avalon.  Don’t forget to listen to Southern Cross by Crosby, Stills & Nash.  “In a noisy bar in Avalon, I tried to call you.”

Day 4: Wake up to the birds chirping and the sun shining on the quaint town of Avalon and its surrounding hillside.  Go for a walk past the famous old Casino where Hollywood’s elite used to party.  Enjoy a leisurely breakfast aboard or eat ashore.  Later that morning you’ll drop your mooring lines and begin your journey North West toward Two Harbors, Catalina.  While you are underway, you’ll continue to work through the topics under the Knowledge and Skills section.  During this part of the trip, you will sail past many beautiful private coves along the front side of Catalina.  Take this opportunity to practice anchoring in at least one of them.  Perhaps you’ll even be adventuresome enough to swim through Blue Cavern Point.  In the afternoon, you will arrive in Isthmus Cove and pick up a mooring for the evening.  Enjoy a second evening on your yacht.  Maybe sip some wine at sunset.  Make a reservation for dinner at the Harbor Reef restaurant, play a game of pool at the local bar, or BBQ, or cook on board. The choice is yours.  You can also take this last chance to study.

Day 5: If you are ready, this morning might be a good time to take the test. If not, you can always take the test back at our office on a later day.  There are some great hiking trails in Two Harbors.  Bring your camera and good shoes.  This is a great chance to take some scenic pictures of the beautiful coves of Catalina.  Oh, and watch out for bison–they’re big and they have horns!  Be respectful of their space and distance, but enjoy this wonderfully unique experience to see them in nature. After breakfast, prepare your vessel for the 5 to 6 hour journey back to Newport Beach.  Generally you’ll be sailing downwind and maybe you’ll get the opportunity to fly the gennaker or Code 0.  During this passage, you’ll have plenty of time to work on your navigational skills, motor the boat under power, and work through the topics under the Knowledge and Skills section.  You’ll return to the dock about 3 or 4pm.  The captain will then help you remove your belongings for disembarkation.  Don’t worry about cleaning the boat!  Our crew will be down early the following morning to clean it after your stay with us.

Cost Matrix to Reschedule a Class

Call us at (949) 209-9931 with any questions or to book by phone.

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