ASA Basic Coastal Cruising Sailing Standard

Prerequisites: Basic Keelboat Sailing (ASA 101) Certification

ASA103 certification requires demonstration of ASA101 knowledge and skills standards.
ASA recommends a minimum of 24-40 sailing hours before undertaking ASA 103.

Description: Demonstrated ability to skipper a sloop-rigged auxiliary powered (inboard or outboard engine) keelboat of approximately 25 to 35 feet in length by day in moderate winds (up to 20 knots) and sea conditions. Knowledge of cruising sailboat terminology, basic boat systems, auxiliary engine operation, docking procedures, intermediate sail trim, navigation rules, basic coastal navigation, anchoring, weather interpretation, safety and seamanship.


Cruising Sailboat Terminology

  1. Identify and describe the following cruising sailboat parts, areas, or systems and their functions:
Stemhead Fitting
Auxiliary Engine
Cockpit Locker
Emergency Tiller
Bilge Pump
Through-hull Fitting
Self-bailing Cockpit
Ground Tackle

Safety Equipment & Procedures

  1. List the federally required equipment for a 33-foot recreational vessel equipped with an inboard diesel engine.
  2. Describe the different types of Personal Flotation Devices (PFD, or Life Jackets), their characteristics and benefits.
  3. List the ASA recommended safety equipment for a recreational sailing vessel.
  4. Describe ways to keep gear and equipment secure and in their proper location.
  5. Describe the purpose and proper use of a safety harness and tether.
  6. Describe safe refueling procedures for a vessel equipped with an outboard engine using gasoline or a diesel engine using diesel fuel.

Navigation & Weather

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

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

  1. Describe how to prevent undue magnetic influence on a compass./li>
  2. Describe the dangers of, and how to avoid, a ‘Lee Shore.’
  3. 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.
  4. Describe and identify Cumulonimbus clouds and what dangers they may signify.
  5. Define ‘small craft advisory’ and ‘gale warning’ and describe precautions to be taken for each.

 Sail Plan

  1. 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).
  2. Describe the procedures for reducing sail using a roller furling jib and a mainsail slab reefing system.
  3. Describe the benefits of, and procedures for, heaving-to.


  1.  Describe the primary responsibilities of skipper and crew/li>
  2. Describe and apply the following Navigation Rules to avoid collisions: proceeding at a safe speed (Rule 6), determination of collision risk (Rule 7), and taking early and substantial action to avoid collision (Rule 8).
  3. Describe and apply the Navigation Rules for sailing vessels (Rule 12), overtaking (Rule 13), and power-driven vessels in head-on (Rule 14) and crossing (Rule 15) situations.
  4. Describe actions to be taken by Give-way and Stand-on vessels (Rules 16 & 17).
  5. Describe the location, color and illumination angles of required navigation lights on a 33-foot recreational vessel at anchor, under sail, and under power.
  6. Describe 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.
  7. Describe the meaning of basic maneuvering and warning signals (short and prolonged whistle blasts) for inland waters.
  8. Describe the appearance and purpose of the ‘Diver Down’ and ‘Alpha’ flags.
  9. Describe common anchor types, major considerations for anchorage selection, and proper scope for short term and overnight anchoring as well as storm conditions.


  1. Describe the three stages of hypothermia; name symptoms and treatment for each
  2. Describe two methods for getting a person out of the water and safely back on board the vessel.
  3. 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.
  4. Describe immediate actions to be taken when the following urgent situations arise:
    Cabin filling with water
    Dragging anchor
    Failed steering system
    Grounding at anchor
    Fouled propeller
    Running aground under sail
    Failed running or standing rigging
    Engine failure



  1. Locate and examine for compliance the vessel’s federally required and ASA recommended safety equipment.
  2. Demonstrate on shore or aboard the vessel the correct method for putting on a life jacket while in the water.
  3. Identify the vessel’s battery selector switch and power distribution panel and ensure all switches are in the proper position for getting underway.
  4. Ensure navigation lights (sidelights, stern light, steaming light, and anchor light) operate properly.
  5. Perform a radio check using a working channel on the VHF radio.


  1. Visually pilot the practice vessel in and out of a harbor, correlating nautical chart symbols to actual landmarks and aids to navigation
  2. Steer a compass course (+/- 5 degrees) under power for a minimum of five minutes.

Under Power

  1. Visually inspect the auxiliary engine and demonstrate safe engine starting, operating, and stopping procedures. Demonstrate proper gearshift and throttle usage.
  2. Ensure vessel & crew readiness and depart dock or slip smoothly and under control
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Describe and demonstrate the correct actions to be taken while under power from the time a person falls overboard until safely recovered.

Under Sail

  1. 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.
  2. 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 from the instructor, 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.

  1. Get out of ‘irons’ then select and maintain a given tack and course.
  2. 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 ’n’ wing’).
  3. Heave-to and get sailing normally again.
  4. While underway, reduce sail area by reefing mainsail and genoa; shake out reef and resume course.
  5. As crew, give appropriate verbal responses and perform correct actions during the maneuvers listed above.
  6. Describe and demonstrate the correct actions to be taken while under sail from the time a person falls overboard until safely recovered.
  7. Lower and/or furl all sails and coil or flake and stow all lines properly.

Return to Dock/Slip

  1. 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.


  1. Describe the purpose of, and construct without assistance and in a timely manner, each of the following knots:
    Cleat Hitch
    Square (Reef) Knot
    Clove Hitch
    Sheet Bend
    Round Turn & 2 Half Hitches
    Rolling Hitch