Note: ASA 103, Basic Coastal Cruising is a 2 day class.  When you become a sailtime member this course is included in the initiation fee. As a student without being a member of sailtime the course price is 399.00 for each adult student or $615.00 for a couple.

​​​​Cruising Sailboat Terminology

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

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

Safety Equipment & Procedures

2. List the federally required equipment for a 33-foot recreational vessel equipped with an inboard diesel engine.
3. Describe the different types of Personal Flotation Devices (PFD, or Life Jackets), their characteristics and benefits.
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
  • Aids to navigation
  • Use of navigation charts and symbols
  • Latitude / Longitude
  • Depth soundings
  • Determining magnetic direction
  • Bottom types
  • Measuring distance
  • Hazards

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


17. Describe the primary responsibilities of skipper and crew.
18. 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).
19. 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.
20. Describe actions to be taken by Give-way and Stand-on vessels (Rules 16 & 17).
21. Describe the location, color and illumination angles of required navigation lights on a 33-foot recreational vessel at anchor, under sail, and under power.
22. 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.
23. Describe the meaning of 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
  • Dragging anchor
  • Failed steering system
  • Grounding at anchor
  • Fouled propeller
  • Running aground under sail
  • Failed running or standing rigging
  • 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 practice 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 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.

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 ’n’ wing’).
46. Heave-to and get sailing normally again.
47. While underway, reduce sail area by reefing mainsail and genoa; shake out reef and resume course.
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, Cleat Hitch, Square (Reef) Knot, Bowline, Clove Hitch, Sheet Bend, Round Turn & 2 Half Hitches, Rolling Hitch

What's Next?

Congratulations! You passed your ASA 103, Basic Coastal Cruising so which ASA certifications should you take next?

ASA 104, Bareboat Cruising
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.

ASA 105, Coastal Navigation
Learn the navigational theory required to safely navigate a sailing vessel in coastal or inland waters. This is a theory course only, there is no sailing involved. The practical application of the material taught in this course is part of ASA 106, Advanced Coastal Cruising.

ASA 103 Basic Coastal Cruising

Demonstrated ability to skipper a sloop-rigged auxiliary powered (outboard or inboard engine) keelboat of approximately 25 to 35 feet length by day in moderate winds 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 forecast interpretation, safety and seamanship.

PREREQUISITES: ASA 101, Basic Keelboat Sailing and the ability to demonstrate competency in all knowledge and skills elements of those Standards.

RECOMMENDATIONS A minimum of 24-40 sailing hours before undertaking ASA 103
TEXTBOOK: Coastal Cruising Made Easy