ASA 103/104 on Catalina 32 with Ralph, Steve, and WC

Over a four day period, I took the combined ASA 103 (Coastal Crusing) and ASA 104 (Bare Boat Chartering) classes from Seaforth, the sailing club I joined when I started sailing.

The instructor, WC Young was not only an instructor, but an Instructor Evaluator, meaning that he could certify instructors. Although the advertisement billed it as a sailing class to Catalina Island, we all decided, at WC's suggestion, that we would learn more by spending our time in the waters around San Diego instead of sailing to Catalina Island and back.

Catalina Island is 18 hours one way, usually under motor, since the wind is always absent or in the wrong direction, so we would use 36 waking hours just going to Catalina and back. And since the class was only really 3 nights, this meant that half our waking hours would be spent just motoring to Catalina or Sailing a single tack back. We would get almost no practice docking the boat and have limited time for learning actual sailling skills.

And, as it turns out, arguably the most important skills in handling a larger boat today have to do with maneuvering it, usually under motor, but also under sail, in tight places and varied conditions. So we spent a lot of time practicing docking, mooring, and anchoring. When on the ocean we were free to go around and around doing Man Overboard drills, learning to Heave-To, reef sails, and so on, and we got to do plenty of nice sailing. We would have never had time to do all of these things and go to Catalina and back, so I really believe we got the most out of the class doing it this way.

WC was a great skipper, and Steve and I became sailing buddies, as he has joined me several times on my new boat, Mandala. We spent the 3 nights studying, taking tests, and telling stories. We anchored in 3 different places, and in general, although Ralph got a little seasick, we all had a good time as we learned more about sailing large boats.