Frequently Asked Questions

Sailing? Why Sailing?

Something about sailing a boat brings so many senses and sensations into play that it's very difficult to pinpoint what it is, specifically, that makes me like it so much: the sight of sails and sheets overhanging the water; the foam and spray flying as the bow cuts the water; the motion of the boat; the physical and mental ballet necessay to handle the boat correctly. A sailboat might just be the most beautiful, sensuous, and intelligent blend of man/machine/elements that exists in the world today. The relationship between the three is the most harmonious I have experienced so far.

Besides, you can have a beer while you do it.

What does the NASA Ames Sailing Club offer?

The club organizes and facilitates sailing activities that are open to all club members:

  • Day or evening cruises (Bay and/or ocean)
  • Races (from informal fun races on the Bay to serious off-shore racing)
  • Weekend or longer bareboat charters

The club also hosts several social events throughout the year such as after-sail barbecues, and an end of season party.

How much does it cost to join?

Starting in 1999, there will be two levels of membership. Basic membership costs $10.00 a year and gives members priority access to all club activities and discounts on ASC merchandise. Charter membership provides all the benefits of basic membership as well as discounted sailing instruction and charter rates at certain locations. Charter membership costs $60.00 annually.

When one of our qualified skippers charters a boat for a club event, those participating share the cost of the charter. Some examples of 1998 costs are:

  • Wednesday Night Races (3 hr race on a 22’ Santana)=$25.00
  • Chardonnay II cruises (2 hr cruise on 70’ Santa Cruz commercial charter)=$38.00

I don’t have a boat — can I still join?

Yes definitely! Oftentimes we charter boats and we all split the cost.

I don’t know how to sail, but I am interested in learning. Can I still join?

YES! This is a perfect opportunity to learn. Several club members had never sailed before joining the club. Every boat always has a certified skipper aboard who will ensure a safe sail.

I have sailing experience but have never raced before. Can I crew for the club races?

Definitely! Come join our team. Most of our races are informal, fun, "beercan" style races. They are a great opportunity to get out on the water, and improve your sailing skills in the process. We participate in a number of the local yacht club racing programs, and there are usually many skippers looking for crew.

If you're interested in the more competitive YRA and SBYRA events, we can put you in touch with the right people.

Do you offer lessons?

All of our certified skippers are happy to "show you the ropes" but the Ames Club does not offer formal lessons. We can help you find the right sailing school or if there is enough interest we could arrange for group instruction and possible group discounts.

Speaking of lessons...

  • Is there a difference between certification, licensing and accreditation?
    The two major sailing organizations in this country are the American Sailing Association (ASA) and U.S. Sailing Association. The ASA was organized to establish national standards for sailing schools, instructors and students while U.S. Sailing says it is the "official National Governing Body of Sailing and represents sailors before Olympic, government and international organizations".

    Both groups offer certification programs that document that you have a specific level of practical knowledge and skill.

    Licensing (6-pack, 100 ton, etc) is done by the Coast Guard & allows you to operate charter and commercial vessels. Accreditation is done by ASA and U.S. Sailing for sailing schools and instructors.

  • How many classes are required for certification?
    For both ASA and US Sailing, the Keelboat Certification program consists of the following:
    • Basic Keelboat
    • Basic Cruising
    • Bareboat Cruising
    • Coastal Navigation
    • Coastal Passage Making
    • Celestial Navigation
    • Offshore Passage Making

    Bareboat Cruising certification is the minimum required for charter purposes. Charter companies may still require a practical check out before they let you take a boat but having the certification and a current logbook help the process.

    Instructor certification is a whole separate program. Both ASA and US Sailing also offer Small Boat Sailing and US Sailing offers Yachtmaster Offshore certification.

  • How long are the above classifications good for?
    As long as you stay current, they're good forever. You get a logbook from ASA or US Sailing to keep track of your experience. Also, if you own a boat, you should always maintain a ships log. Keeping a log helps you track your progress and records your experience for chartering, insurance, licensing, training or other purposes.

Does the NASA Ames Sailing Club have sailboats?

No, currently the club does not own sailboats. If there is enough interest among members we may consider that in the future.

Can I bring my spouse and children along?

Yes, Ames Sailing Club members can bring a friend or spouse along. Some events are better suited for children than others — if you are unsure ask the event coordinator.

I am interested a sailing vacation — does the Ames Sailing Club do that?

Several members are interested in bareboat charters. Shorter weekend cruises to Angel Island and Monterey have been popular so far. There is also interest in organizing longer (1 or 2 week) cruises to Catalina, the Caribbean and other destinations. Any of our certified skippers can arrange a charter for any destination.


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