Sailing Lesson #2: ASA 101

Undeterred by the misery inflicted upon us by our previous instructional experience, I booked us an ASA sailing course in St Petersburg to coincide with our 10th wedding anniversary. Matt wanted to revisit the basics that were lacking last time - tacking, man overboard, etc. My take: how hard can it be? Pull on a rope and the big white thing goes up. And don’t fall off. Am I missing something?

I was resigned to weathering a storm of horror and confusion in the name of “learning”, but figured it would make for a good war story (better than “that time the oil pressure light was stuck on”) and a mini vacation. The sailing school we picked allowed students to stay aboard their sailboats. This satisfied the Chief Bean Counter’s intense frugality (aka cheapness), put us right downtown, and on the water!

Hunter sailboat at sunset, St Petersburg sailing school
Lesson boat and boatel
We met our instructor, settled into the boat (a 36 ft Hunter) and walked downtown to an English pub. Does it get any better?! Wait, it does: the boat didn’t smell! We didn’t sink it or set it on fire before lesson time!
St Petersburg marina and downtown at sunset
St Petersburg
The next morning, the on the water class began. We were joined by a lovely woman. Our instructor was very thorough and gave step by step instructions and explained the terminology. I have to say, it is actually very difficult to be a professional and teach a complete beginner. Teaching is an art and you either can or you can’t - we were SO lucky to have an actual teacher! The day went well and we both gained confidence. We tacked and jibed as a team, and learned words like “leech” and “luff” (these are parts of a sail and not a blood sucking creature and a drunk English person). I had read the books, watched videos and I could not for the life of me figure out these stupid made up words and how it all fell together. However, by the end of the day - I could. Like a miracle.

As soon as the first day was over, I was wiped. It wasn’t even that late! Now a big decision was to be made: do we try another restaurant that might not be as good, or do we go back to the pub? We went to the pub. :-)

The second day, we went over the maneuvers and tacked and jibed by ourselves. At some point, Matt self-identified himself as a flight instructor (see sailing lesson #1: how to identify a pilot). Then he threw me under the bus too. Unfortunately, this revelation made our instructor think we were smart. It’s a real problem, cause we are not.

Sailing lesson on a Hunter, St Petersburg, FL
Matt at the helm
There was a written test, taken in the salon, and graded immediately. We all passed and were sent out into the world to make our own mistakes and inflict misery upon ourselves with no one to blame but each other.

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