Best Sailing Courses

Find the best online Sailing Courses for you. The courses are sorted based on popularity and user ratings. We do not allow paid placements in any of our rankings. We also have a separate page listing only the Free Sailing Courses.

Ace Your 104, Bareboat Cruising Written Sailing Exam

Essential knowledge for living the sailing cruising life

Created by Howard Edson Sr. - cruiser, charter/delivery captain, ASA instructor, old salt

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Students: 1583, Price: $34.99

Students: 1583, Price:  Paid

Live the cruising life! This course is an essential step toward acquiring essential sailing knowledge. It contains over two hours of images and illustrations with narrations on the several subjects the cruiser needs to know to ace the 104 bareboat cruising exam.

Move toward self-sufficiency at sea with this knowledge of boat systems, auxiliary engine operation, coastal navigation and chart plotting, weather, seamanship tips, advanced anchoring and “good to know" knowledge to add to your lifelong learning.

Absorb essential cruising knowledge to skipper a cruising sailboat in on a multi-day voyage with competence and confidence.

Learn excellence in seamanship and first actions to take in a variety of distress situations.

Glean tips, opinions and commentary from the captain's personal experience.

Ace Your 101, Basic Keelboat Written Sailing Exam

Convenient way to accelerate your sailing knowledge, add to your seamanship and safety and improve your 101 exam score

Created by Howard Edson Sr. - cruiser, charter/delivery captain, ASA instructor, old salt

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Students: 1530, Price: $24.99

Students: 1530, Price:  Paid

So you are new to sailing and you don't know what you don't know. What are 'points of sail', or 'stand-on vessel' or 'leeward' (pronounced lew-ard)? This is a good place to start!
OR
Are you facing the prospect of taking the 101 Basic Keelboat Sailing written test? After completing this course you will be able to pass the exam with flying colors.

Additionally, you will have the knowledge that will bring you to a whole new level of understanding sailing: terminology that will become automatic, and concepts that make sense of your on-the-water experience.

  • Learn sailing basics – and be safe on the water
  • Ace your written knowledge exam – without test anxiety
  • Accelerate your learning – fast, easy and more efficient than reading

This course is patterned after the format of the American Sailing Association's learn to sail programs. It does not take the place of an ASA instructor or on-the-water practice and experience. However it contains a body of essential knowledge to advance your skills and seamanship.

This course is over two hours of content – utilizing over 250 colorful pictures, graphics, narrations and tips to add to your experience of having “been there done that" (before you ever face the situation on the water for the first time). The content is divided into six modules: Poiints of Sail; Terminology (SailorSpeak); Rules of the Road; Basic Navigation; Knots to Know; and Required/Good to Know. Supplemental content covers several topics in detail… all essential foundational knowledge to keep you safe  in a sailboat during day in light to moderate sea conditions and winds.

Ace Your 103, Basic Coastal Cruising Written Sailing Exam

Convenient way to accelerate your sailing knowledge, add to your seamanship, safety and improve your 103 exam score

Created by Howard Edson Sr. - cruiser, charter/delivery captain, ASA instructor, old salt

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Students: 1365, Price: $29.99

Students: 1365, Price:  Paid

When you are ready to take your knowledge from 101 Basic Keelboat ground school,to the next level of sailing knowledge: adding reefing, anchoring, basic navigation and good mariner stuff to what you've already learned, then this is the right place for your next step. OR when you are facing the prospect of taking the 103 Basic Coastal Cruising written exam, this is the right summary course to review to help you pass your exam with flying colors. Additionally, you will have the knowledge that will bring you to a whole new level of understanding sailing: intermediate level terminology, systems, concepts and tips to help you make sense of your on-the-water experience.

  • Learn intermediate sailing– and be safe and competent on the water
  • Ace your 103 written knowledge exam – without test anxiety
  • Feel competent in your new role as skipper or crew on a sailboat
  • Accelerate your learning – fast, easy and more efficient than reading

This course is patterned after the format of the American Sailing Association's learn to sail programs. It does not take the place of an ASA instructor or on-the-water practice and experience. However it contains a body of essential knowledge to advance your skills and seamanship. This course contains over three hours of content – utilizing over 250 colorful pictures, graphics and narrations by a senior ASA instructor to add to your experience of having “been there done that" before you ever face the situation on the water. The content is divided into seven modules: Terminology (Sailor-speak); Anchoring, Rules of the Road; Charts and Navigation; Knots to Know; and Required/Good to Know. Supplemental content covers several topics in detail… all essential knowledge to advance your confidence and competence while sailing an auxiliary powered sloop rig in light to moderate sea conditions and winds.

Pass Your Sailing Endorsement Exam

Be a More Professional Sailor or Get Ready for Your USCG Exam

Created by Christopher D. Nolan - Professional Mariner and Educator

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Students: 58, Price: $24.99

Students: 58, Price:  Paid

Taught by a professional tall ship captain and cruising sailor, this course is helpful for anyone interested in being a better sailor or looking to get a deeper understanding of sailing terminology, rules, and emergencies.  The course is structured to specifically help those studying for a U.S. Coast Guard sailing endorsement to operate sailing vessels in charter service or for deliveries.  However, it is useful to all sailors and will give you a true understanding of sailing theory and practice.  Ideally students have some sailing experience before tackling this class. 

Basic Cruising Skills for Sailing Keelboats

Learn the Basic Cruising Skills for Sailing - entry level course on sailing keelboats and cruising

Created by Wade Henderson - Sr IT Project Manager

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Students: 8, Price: $19.99

Students: 8, Price:  Paid

In order to set realistic expectations, please note: These questions are NOT official questions that you will find on the official exam. These questions DO cover all the material outlined in the knowledge sections below.

BASIC CRUISING STANDARD

This is an entry level course on sailing keelboats and on cruising. It tests the student’s ability to take command of and operate (with assistance of competent crew) an auxiliary powered sailing vessel, by day, in light to moderate conditions. Basic boating skills are developed under sail and power with a focus on operation of the vessel as both crew and skipper. Individuals with minimal practical on water experience should consider completing the Start Keelboat Sailing standard before attending for this training.

This course introduces the operation of a cruising keelboat both as a powered vessel and as a sailboat. Terminology used in describing the boat and on water activities is taught and used throughout the course. Practical topics under power include simple maneuvering skills as well as departure from and return to dock. Basic sailing skills are developed including sail selection, the use and positioning of sails to provide propulsion, and the operation of the vessel with crew. Required and recommended safety equipment is discussed as is the handling of emergencies that might be encountered while day sailing. The basic rules for avoiding collision with other vessels are explained and this information is applied during the practical sessions. The meaning of weather forecasts is clarified and the impact of weather on vessel operation, crew behavior, and on water activities is discussed. The curriculum includes an elementary introduction to the Canadian navigation system and to the basic use of charts and tide and current tables.

The program may be offered in a day sailing or live aboard format. It is envisioned that the day sailing format will be taught in not less than 27 hours of which at least 18 hours should be devoted to practical sessions on water. In a live aboard format the course may be offered over a period of 4 or more days. A challenge of the standard may be accomplished in a minimum of 4 hours afloat plus completion of the written examination.

Objective

To be able to cruise safely in familiar waters as both skipper and crew of a sloop rigged keelboat of 6 to 10 meters with an outboard or inboard motor in moderate wind and sea conditions by day.

Ashore Knowledge

Section I: Terms and Definitions

The candidate must be able to:

1. Identify and describe the following:

  • Hull and keel Gooseneck

  • Bow, beam and stern Boomvang and topping lift

  • Fenders Shackles and fairleads

  • Deck, cabin and companion way Cleats and winches

  • Rudder and tiller/wheel Pulpit and pushpit

  • Cockpit and self-bailing cockpit Stanchions and lifelines

  • Gudgeons and pintles Main, jib and storm jib

  • Mast and boom Genoa and spinnaker

  • Spreader Head, tack and clew

  • Shrouds and stays Luff, foot and leech

  • Tangs and turnbuckles Battens, hanks and slides

  • Chainplates Cringles and reef points

  • Running rigging Standing rigging

  • Roller and jiffy/slab reefing Sheets and halyards

  • Telltales Outhaul and cunningham

  • Spring and breast lines Roller furling

2. Describe the following with the aid of diagrams:

  • Ahead, abeam and astern, forward and aft;

3. Define and be able to identify these terms from a diagram:

  • Port Underway

  • Starboard No way

  • Windward In irons

  • Leeward Beating

  • Tacking Sailing by the lee

  • Gybing Running

  • Close Hauled On a tack

  • Port tack Luffing (of sail)

  • Starboard tack Heading up

  • Leeway Bearing away

  • Wash Wake

  • Reaching (Close, beam and broad)

Section II: Gear and Equipment

The candidate must be able to:

4. List from memory:

  • Transport Canada (TC) required items for the candidate’s boat (Safe Boating Guide),

  • The rules for care of PFDs and life jackets,

  • The recommended method of testing for buoyancy in a PFD;

5. Describe:

  • The reasons for keeping gear and equipment stowed in assigned places in a cruising boat,

  • The frequency of maintenance of a recreational boat and its equipment so that it is capable of functioning at all times,

  • The minimum items recommended for a waterproof emergency kit.

Section III: Safety

The candidate must be able to:

6. Describe:

  • State the purpose of a safety harness and dangers of improper attachment in a cruising boat,

  • State the purpose of pulpits and lifelines;

7. Identify the required navigation lights for:

  • A vessel under sail, under power, and at anchor and describe the angles of each,

  • An unpowered vessel less than 6 meters in length;

8. Define what hypothermia is including:

  • The signs and symptoms and the major areas of heat loss to the body,

  • Steps for prevention,

  • Treatment for mild and severe hypothermia,

  • The actions to be taken by one or more individuals in cold water to increase survival time;

9. Define what cold shock is including:

  • The signs and symptoms,

  • Steps for prevention,

  • Treatment for;

10. Define what carbon monoxide poisoning is including:

  • The signs and symptoms,

  • Steps for prevention,

  • Treatment for;

11. Describe the precautions taken to prevent undue magnetic influences to the vessel’s compass;

12. Describe the common sources of fire and explosion and list the methods for preventing such occurrences and actions to be taken in the event of an onboard fire;

13. Describe safe refueling procedures;

14. Identify the two scuba diving flags;

15. Describe/list:

  • The danger involved in re-charging batteries,

  • How to safely launch flares,

  • The types of signals used to indicate distress,

  • The actions to be taken in case of a capsize;

16. Describe the uses, capabilities and limitations of a yacht radar reflector;

17. State the dangers of overhead power lines;

18. Describe:

  • Reasons for filing a float plan and who the plan should be filed with,

  • Items of important information which should be included in a float plan,

  • Reasons for completing a pre-departure checklist.

Section IV: Rules of the Road and Canadian Regulations

The candidate must be able to:

19. Apply Rules 12 to 17 of the Collision Regulations by means of diagrams;

20. Identify and describe the following:

  • Pleasure craft Power driven vessel

  • Sailing vessel Recommended gross load capacity

  • Compliance notice / Capacity plate Recommended safe limit of engine power

21. Identify:

  • Four considerations in determining the safe speed to operate a vessel,

  • The actions and precautions to be taken in reduced visibility,

  • Responsibilities when operating in a commercial traffic lane;

22. Demonstrate knowledge of regulations applying to boaters as follows:

  • Identify the minimum required publications for operating a 10 meter pleasure vessel in unfamiliar waters,

  • Describe the guidelines for licensing and how a license number must be marked on a vessel,

  • Identify the principal acts and regulations that a pleasure craft operator should be knowledgeable about and the areas covered by each including:

    • Canada Shipping Act (2001) Small Vessel Regulations Contraventions Act

    • Vessel Operation Restriction Regulations The Criminal Code of Canada Collision Regulations

    • Competency of Operators of Pleasure Craft Regulations

Section V: Weather

The candidate must be able to:

23. State three sources of marine weather information;

24. Interpret the marine weather forecast applicable to the area of operation, and describe how to apply the information as follows:

  • Determine whether it is safe to set sail in the candidate’s boat,

  • Decide what changes are forecast for the next six hours and what expect these should have on the day’s planned activities,

  • Identify the wind speeds associated with:

    • Light winds Moderate winds Strong winds

    • Strong wind warning Gale warning Storm warning

25. Describe local weather hazards, how they can be identified, the normal warning time available, and the actions to be taken to reduce/avoid effects.

Section VI: Duties of the Skipper and Crew

The candidate must be able to:

26. List the main responsibilities of the skipper and crew as listed below:

  • Skipper:

    • Safety of crew and boat,

    • Briefing on location and operation of lifesaving and other safety equipment prior to getting underway,

    • Assigning duties,

    • Instruction in the safe use of the boat’s equipment while underway,

    • Obligations on observing an accident or vessel in distress,

    • Actions to demonstrate respect for other boaters and other’s property,

  • Crew:

    • Obey skipper,

    • Assist skipper.

Section VII: Seamanship

The candidate must be able to:

27. Describe the sequence of sail reduction as wind speed increases;

28. Describe the danger of a lee shore;

29. Understand the use of a Canadian Hydrographic chart of the local area as follows:

  • Describe:

    • A chart,

    • Aids to Navigation;

  • Read:

    • Depth of water,

    • Distance scale,

    • Buoys and their significance,

    • Types of bottom (sand, rock, mud and clay),

    • Under water/surface hazards: kelp, cable, rock, shoals, cribs, wrecks, currents,

    • Light symbols,

    • Beacons;

30. Use of Tide and Current Tables to find:

  • Times and heights of tides at reference ports,

  • Direction and rate of current at reference stations;

31. Describe:

  • The features of a secure anchorage,

  • The holding characteristics of commonly used anchors,

  • Suitable rode makeup and handling,

  • Scope requirements when anchoring for lunch, overnight and rough weather;

32. Describe the immediate action to be taken for the following circumstances:

  • Springing a leak, f) Dragging anchor,

  • Steering fails, g) Running aground,

  • Grounding at anchor, h) Broken halyard,

  • Fouled propeller, i) Fire;

  • Standing rigging fails,

33. Describe the one commonly accepted use for each of the following knots, bends and hitches:

  • Figure Eight, d) Bowline,

  • Reef Knot, e) Clove Hitch,

  • Double Sheet Bend, f) Round Turn & Two Half Hitches;

34. Describe the use of the VHF radio for receiving weather reports and making emergency calls.

Afloat Skills

(18 hours minimum) Recommended vessel should be a 6 - 10 metre, sloop rigged keelboat with an outboard or inboard engine.

Section VIII: Preliminaries

The candidate must be able to:

1. Demonstrate on land the correct method of putting on a personal flotation device in the water;

2. Demonstrate the correct use of a heaving line;

3. Carry out a check of the vessel’s gear and equipment in accordance with the Sail Canada Cruising Boat Checklist, and demonstrate use and care of onboard equipment;

4. Select, bend on, check and stow sails;

5. Coil a line and secure (sea coil);

6. Properly stow lines and fenders;

7. Demonstrate how to belay to a cleat;

8. Demonstrate safe winch techniques with particular emphasis on:

  • Possible high strain on sheet/halyard,

  • How to avoid riding turns (and how to clear),

  • Position of hands/fingers,

  • Fitting and removal of winch handles.

Section IX: Manoeuvring Under Power

The candidate must be able to:

9. Start auxiliary engine on vessel and as skipper and crew depart from dock observing commonly accepted safety practices ;

10. Come to a full stop with stem (bow) one half boat length away from a buoy using reverse. (The objective of this manoeuvre is to know how much distance is required to bring a vessel to a full stop. Vessel is to be kept on a straight course while the manoeuvre is being carried out);

11. Manoeuvre and stop a vessel under power to a position alongside and parallel to a dock, portside-to and starboardside-to, not more than two feet off without the aid of lines, without the stern passing a given mark at any time during the manoeuvre;

12. Apply Rules 5 through 18 of the Collision Regulations as applied to a vessel under power;

13. Set an anchor under power in water more than three meters in depth, so as not to drag when tested under engine power at half-throttle astern;

14. Raise anchor with the boat ready and get under way.

Section X: Handling Under Sail

The candidate must be able to:

15. Hoist the basic sails while under power, at anchor, or mooring (head to wind, hoist mainsail first), set appropriate luff tensions, and flake halyards;

16. Apply Rules 5 through 18 of the Collision Regulations as applied to a vessel under sail;

17. Act as skipper and crew while demonstrating the proper techniques of beating, reaching and running; tacking and gybing; heading up, bearing away, luffing and heaving to; using the following commands and responses:

Commands Responses Alert

  • “Head Up”

  • “Bear Away”

  • “Ease Sheets”

  • “Harden Sheets”

  • “Ready About” “Ready” “Helms-a-Lee”

  • “Ready to Gybe” “Ready” “Gybe-Ho”

18. Demonstrate, as skipper and crew, the management of the sail plan for different wind conditions and points of sail while keeping the vessel under control, either at the helm or controlling the sails by:

  • Reefing and shaking out the reef in the mainsail,

  • Reefing and shaking out the reef, or changing the headsail,

  • Easing or hardening sheets to achieve sail trim appropriate for the point of sail and conditions;

19. Demonstrate the skipper and crew action/commands from the time a member of the crew falls overboard without warning, until the crew is safely recovered. Consider the crew overboard is wearing a PFD and able to assist him/herself. Include the following minimum actions:

  • Sound alarm “Crew Overboard!”,

  • Deploy marker and buoyant object(s),

  • Appoint and maintain a look out,

  • Triangle method of return (under sail),

  • Describe at least two methods of getting a person out of the water and back aboard;

20. In response to a Crew Overboard situation , both assisted and unassisted, bring the vessel into irons. Start the engine, lower or furl sails as required to gain control of the vessel, ensuring on-board control of all lines, and manoeuvre the vessel under power for a successful Crew Overboard recovery;

Note: Both Performance Objectives (PO's) 19 and 20 above must be completed in reasonable time without losing sight of the victim or marker in the water. For these manoeuvres the crew can consist of three or more, but the student is to describe the actions to be taken if one member of a two person crew falls overboard also, with the vessel under sail.

21. Lower sail while under power or at anchor or a mooring.

Section XI: Making Fast and Snugging Down

The candidate must be able to:

22. Secure a vessel to a dock using appropriate dock lines to prevent excessive movement and set out fenders correctly;

23. Tie the following knots, bends and hitches within 30 seconds each:

  • Figure Eight,

  • Bowline

  • Reef Knot,

  • Clove Hitch,

  • Double Sheet Bend

  • Round Turn

  • Two Half Hitches

Outcomes and Evaluation

Candidates are expected to demonstrate the ability to safely operate the vessel in daytime in moderate conditions as both skipper and crew. These capabilities will be evaluated as part of the practical sessions. Candidate theory knowledge will be evaluated using a closed book written exam. For certification a 70% mark on this written exam is required.