OK, so you’re ready to start taking club boats out on your own? Great! We love to see our boats get used, and the more members having fun out on the water, the better. But before you hoist your sail(s) and sail away, we want to be sure you’re able to sail safely, and sail back, with all the same people on board.
So we have a checkout process: a way for you to demonstrate that you have the knowledge and skills to safely command a club boat. The process includes a written test of sailing knowledge and an on-the-water examination by one or more of our instructor skippers. The written test is common to all fleets, but (of course) the on-the-water exam is specific to each fleet…after all, knowing how to sail a Laser doesn’t mean you’re ready to command a Cal-20. Or vice versa!
Here is the written test you’ll be asked to take. It’s not complicated and there’s nothing tricky about it; it simply covers the knowledge you need to have as a skipper in command of any sailboat: safety, right of way, points of sail, nomenclature, boat handling, stuff like that. Remember, this test applies to all of our fleets from Lasers up to Cal-20’s.
Cal-20 Skipper Checkout
Alternatively, we’ve found that the ASA 101 Basic Keelboat Sailing course or the US Sailing equivalent provides a solid grounding in the necessary skills. In particular, the ASA 101 class is offered at several local sailing schools, uses the same textbook as our class, and covers an even wider range of topics leading to a recognized ASA certification.
After your class, or if you’re already an experienced sailor who just needs familiarization with our local conditions and fleet specifics, follow up with some time in our Wednesday Night Sailing and/or Sunday Skippers activities to see how we do things with our fleet, in our harbor.
Once you’re comfortable, and ready to begin the actual checkout process, start with the written test. Once you’ve passed that, you need to pass two separate on-the-water examinations. Click here to review the list of skills you will need to demonstrate. We try to have an instructor skipper on hand every Sunday during the Sunday Skippers activity, for members working on their certification, but you can always contact the examiners by email directly. (Note that the checkout form is also available in a binder in the sailing/radio cabinet, for your reference.)
To be certified, you’ll need to demonstrate the required skills in both low (5 knot) and high (over 10 knot) wind conditions. We require you to do it all twice, with different examiners, so that we (and you!) are comfortable that you’ve really mastered the needed skills. Note that an on-the-water exam can only be passed if there is sufficient wind; please take that into account when scheduling your test.
Please note: our checkout process only verifies that you are able to sail club boats inside the harbor.
C15 and Laser Skipper Checkout
The C15 and Laser checkout processes are very similar to the Cal-20 process described above, except that the on-the-water exam will also require you to demonstrate your ability to recover from a capsize repeatedly…we know that dinghies capsize, and we want to be sure that you will be able to take care of yourself and your crew/passengers. Informal C15 classes are held the first and third Sundays of most months; email the organizers if you’re interested in attending. Laser classes are scheduled several times each year and can be found on the class calendar.
A Special Note About Youth Sailors
Youth sailors, under age 18, may be checked out on club Optimists, Lasers, and C15s. (On a case-by-case basis, sailors age 16-18 may be considered for Cal-20 certification as well.) The processes are the same as above, except that parental consent is required and a parent is required to have completed our safety boat training.
We offer youth sailing classes and camps in the spring and summer, and encourage young sailors to attend prior to attempting a checkout.
Please note that the club requires youth sailors to wear wetsuits when sailing dinghies, owing to the increased risk of hypothermia in younger sailors. (We don’t exactly require them of older sailors, but they’re always a good idea on dinghies. The harbor water is never what you’d call “warm”!)