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Sailing! Learn to Sail: Basic Keelboat Certification Lessons for the ASA 101 Exam

Sailing! Learn to Sail: Basic Keelboat Certification

Lessons for the ASA 101 exam


This is a 7 hour 6 minute: 16 lesson audio course designed to help you prepare for the Basic Keelboat Certification exam conducted by the American Sailing Association, the ASA exam are basically the same material covered in the other exams such as the US Sailing Association and the British Royal Yachting Association with one big difference in Europe and for the most case, most of the rest of the world outside north America, the lateral aids to navigation are red left returning from the sea.

We cover terminology, definitions, and commands, different names of components on a sail boat. We learn about Rules of the Road, Lateral aids to navigation, man overboard recovery drills, boating pollution rules, required safety equipment, and really all that can be covered an audio course for this basic exam.

While it is obvious we can’t cover the actual on the water exam we do discuss what is expected and what your thought process might be when taking the practical sailing on the water exam.

The author, producer, narrator is Franz Amussen the host of Sailing in the Mediterranean Podcast (medsailor.com) with over 30 years of sailing experience, both in racing and cruising.. He spends at least 2 months each year sailing aboard his Lyle Hess designed Bristol Channel Cutter usually in the Mediterranean also he sails or charters with friends in other locations too numerous to list.

Lesson 1

This lesson is the beginning of our understanding of the terminology of the science and sport of sailing. In this lesson we discuss the meaning and definition of the following terms:


The measurement of the boat in displacement, net registered tons and gross registered tons)

length waterline, length overall, length on deck, draft, Beam, free board, stringers and bulkheads


Keel (Full, Fin, Modified)


Bow (forward)

Stern (aft)

Rudder (rudder post, aft hung, skeg)

Pintle’s and Gudgeon’s




Theoretical maximum speed of a displacement hull

Lesson 2

In this lesson we continue our understanding and learning about the terminology of sailing.





Mast and mizzen mast


Gooseneck, Outhaul, Vang, Preventer,

Standing Rigging

Stays, forestay, Backstay, Running Backstay, Shrouds, turnbuckles were rigging screws, chain plates,

Bowsprit, Whisker stays, Bob stay

Running Rigging

Main Sheet, Jib Sheet, Staysail Sheet,

Halyards, Main, Jib etc.

Parts of the Sail

Head, Tack, Clew

Leach, Luff, Foot

Lesson 3

In this lesson we continue our understanding and learning about the terminology of sailing.

Hanking on a mainsail

Sail Track

Boom Track

Bolt Rope or sail slides

Jib and Genoa

Hanking on an Jib

Bolt rope or Hanks (plastic or Bronze)

Jib Tracks (Foil)

Roller Furling

Reducing sail area on a jib

Roller furling

Roller furling is a method of furling or reefing a sail by rolling it around a stay or rotating spar. Roller furling is most prominent on foresails such as jibs, followed by mainsails.


In nautical contexts, a cleat is a device for securing a rope.

Types of cleat designs include the following:

A horn cleat is the traditional design, featuring two “horns” extending parallel to the deck or the axis of the spar, attached to a flat surface or a spar, and resembling an anvil.

A cam cleat in which one or two spring-loaded cams pinch the rope, allowing the rope to be adjusted easily, and quickly released when under load.

A jam cleat in which the line is pinched in a v-shaped slot.

A clam cleat (or jam cleat) in which the rope is held between two fluted stationary pieces. Such a cleat vaguely resembles two halves of a clam shell held back to back. It is more compact than a cam cleat, but the rope is less easily released under load.

A cleat hitch is a knot used to secure a rope to a cleat.

Lesson 4

In this lesson we continue our understanding and learning about the terminology of sailing.




Dock lines










Helmsman / Skipper



Port Trimmer

Starboard Trimmer



Weather Helm




Lesson 5:



Starboard Tack

Port Tack

Wind Vane at top pf Mast

Apparent Wind

True Wind



Close Hauled

Close Reach

Beam Reach

Broad Reach




In Irons


Comands and crew Responses

Heading Up

Bearing Away

Ready About –Ready—Helms a-Lee (or Coming About or Tacking)

Prepare to Jibe—Ready—Jibe-Ho (or Jibing)

Lesson 6:

Navigation Rules Part 1

Stand On Vessel and Give way Vessel

Rules of the road Starboard vs Port Rule, Rule 12(A)(i)

Rule 12 - Sailing Vessels

Overtaking Rule 13

Rule 13 - Overtaking

Power vessel approaching head on Rule 14

International Rule

Inland Rule

Lesson 7:

Navigation Rules Part 2

How to determine if you are on a collision course!

Rule 15 - Crossing Situation

Rule 17- Action by Stand-on Vessel Return to the top of the page

Danger Signal 5 blasts

RULE 2 Responsibility

RULE 5 Look-out

RULE 6 Safe Speed

RULE 7 Risk of Collision

RULE 9 Narrow Channels

RULE 10 Traffic Separation Schemes

Lesson 8:

Navigational Aids

Identify and state purpose of Lateral Aids to Navigation




Left side Even Numbered

Right Side Even Numbered

Preferred channel markers

Preferred-Channel Aids

Identify Safe Water Markers

Safe Water Marks

Regulatory Markers

Identifying Regulatory Markers

Regulatory or informational markers are used to advise you of situations, dangers, or directions. They may indicate shoals, swim areas, speed zones, etc. They can be easily identified by the orange bands on the top and bottom of each buoy.

Location Markers

Diamond-Shaped Dayboards

Range Dayboards



International Rules IALA

International Association of Lighthouse Authorities.

Red Left Returning

Cardinal Marks

Cardinal Marks are used in conjunction with the compass to indicate the direction from the mark in which the deepest navigable water lies, to draw attention to a bend, junction or fork in a channel, or to mark the end of a shoal.

Mariners will be safe if they pass North of a North mark, South of a South mark, East of an East mark and West of a West mark. Cardinal Marks are also used for permanent wreck marking whereby North, East, South and West Cardinal buoys are placed around the wreck. In the case of a new wreck, any one of the Cardinal buoys may be duplicated and fixed with a Radar Beacon (RACON).

At night, the lights of Cardinal Marks are programmed with distinct identifying characters; as an aide memoire they can be considered to flash in accordance with positions on a clock face whereby an East Cardinal flashes 3 times, a South Cardinal 6 times (but with an added long flash to make it more distinctive) and a West Cardinal 9 times. The North Cardinal doesn’t quite fit the pattern – having a continuous quick or very quick flash.

The buoy illustration shows Class Two configurations of buoys. These are approximately 3 meters in diameter and weigh approximately 6 tons excluding moorings. Buoys are needed to be recognized both in daylight and at night and use 'Top Marks' to assist in identification. A Top Mark on a Cardinal Buoy is triangular and colored black. Top Marks and buoy colors themselves are arranged in order to represent the points on a compass.


US Memory aids

Red, Right, Returning

-used when navigating in a channel

Green, Right, Going

-used when navigating in a channel

Do you have any red port left?

-the port (left) side of the boat has red lights

Red over Red, Captain Is Dead

-vessel not under command

White over Red, Pilot Ahead

-pilot vessel on duty

Red over Green, Sailing Machine

-optional sailing vessel lights

Red over Red over Red = Rudder Rubbing Rocks

-vessel constrained by draft – international rules

Red over Red over Red, big F*%&#in vessel ahead

-vessel constrained by draft – international rules

Green over White, Trawling Tonight

-fishing boat towing nets

Red over White, Fishing Boat Light

-general fishing lights (not trawling)

Lesson 9:

Safety Gear and Procedures

List the federally required equipment for a recreational sailboat of 25 feet in length

Lesson 10:

Lights, float plan, alcohol, reporting accidents, oil pollution and trash

Identify the location and color of navigational lights used by a recreation vessel of 25 feet in length

Describe the purpose of a float plan, give examples of information contained therein and to whom it would be submitted

Describe when and to whom boating accidents must be reported

Describe the federal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit for vessel operation

Describe proper means of waste disposal including penalties for improper disposal and means for Notification



Lead-Acid Batteries

Lesson 11:

Whistle Signals

International and Inland Whistle signals

Lesson 12:

Registration or Documentation

Hull Numbers

Registration Numbers

Documentation Numbers

Describe under what circumstances an operator must render assistance to another boater in danger.

Boat Capacity Plates

Describe the information an operator should acquire before operating his/her boat in an unfamiliar area.

Lesson 13:

Anchors and Anchoring, types and techniques

Anchor Rhode


Types of bottom and holding

Lesson 14:

How to trailer and launch a boat

Moring a boat!

Spring/ Breast Lines

Fairlead vs padeye

5 Situations which one may be considered negligent as a boater

Getting ready to leave the dock

What do you do?

Lesson 15:

Man overboard ideas and procedures

Lesson 16:

Proper Clothing

Knots you need to know:

Bowline (king of knots)

Reefing knot (Square Knot)

Figure 8 (Stopper)

Half Hitch

2 half Hitches

Clove Hitch

Cleat Hitch

Round Turn and 2 half Hitches

Leaving the dock

The on the water test ideas and thoughts for preparation

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Sailing! Learn to Sail: Basic Keelboat Certification Lessons for the ASA 101 Exam

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