ASA Courses

What is the American Sailing Association (ASA) and why is certification important?

The ASA is the leading authority on sailing instruction and sailing schools in the United States. ASA schools follow a proven curriculum with certification standards for students and instructors. ASA certification provides a standard of skill recognized by many charter companies, national authorities, and insurance companies. While every charter company has its own chartering guidelines, ASA certification shows you have received formal training and meet that standard.

I have little or no sailing experience.  Do I need to know how to sail before I can take a course?

Basic Keelboat Sailing (ASA 101) is a comprehensive course for the beginning sailor. No sailing experience is required!

I have been sailing for years without the benefit of formal classes.  Why should I take one now?

Self taught sailors, while skilled, may lack fundamental knowledge gained from a formal sailing course. Our professional instruction, quality course materials, and on the water training are invaluable for helping you become more confident and competent in your sailing skills. Certification may also make it easier and less expensive to charter a boat since you will have proof of your sailing experience.

What course or courses should I take?

Deciding what course to take depends on your sailing experience and your long term goals. Whether you just want to learn the basics or become an advanced offshore passage maker is up to you. Everything starts with Basic Keelboat Sailing which is a prerequisite for all other levels of certification. It can be taken alone or in combination with other courses. If you are an experienced sailor, you can “challenge” it by taking and passing the test. You can then move on to the Basic Coastal Cruising class. If you don’t care about certification, you can take courses simply to learn to sail or improve your skills.

How many students are in each class?

By design, we keep our classes small. We usually have only 2 to 4 students per class. This guarantees each student enough hands on training to really learn to sail.

What's provided on live-aboard classes?

For live-aboard classes, usually ASA 104 combos or higher (or custom classes), we provide all bedding (one sheet, sleeping bag or fleece blanket, pillow case, and pillow) for all guests. Towels and wash clothes are also provided per guest. All meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus snacks) are provided while at anchor. If some nights include staying the slip, students have the option of trying local restaurants at their expense. Meal plans will be sent to all class participants at least one week prior to classes and can be modified depending on diet and preference.

Are there showers on the boats?

It depends on the boat you are sailing! S/V Atlas and S/V Deja Vu are fully equipped with hot water and showers in the head. Hot water is heated by running the engine. Water on a boat is a precious resource, so often conservation is key especially when living at anchor. The captain will advise you on best practices for water conservation. It is recommended that you come prepared to take fast showers, if desired. S/V Athena does not have a shower, but if the weather is nice you can use the solar shower bag hoisted into the halyards or we may hook up a hose to the water tanks for deck showers.

Booking & Cancelations

Do you operate year round on a set schedule?

We do operate year round in Panama City, but operate only during the winter months in Key Largo. We like to keep our boats closer to our homebase in Panama City for hurricane season. We operate only during the summer months in Maine for sunset sails and charters. We do not have a set schedule, instead we book classes by request and they may begin any day of the week. Classes typically book 30 days in advance and 60-90 days for live-aboard courses. Weekends and holidays tend to book first, so please try to plan ahead.

What is your cancelation policy?

Cancellations are allowed 14 or more days prior to your class and carry a $150 fee. We will make every effort to accommodate date changes if you need to reschedule. Prices are subject to change without prior notice. In the rare event RRS has to cancel, partial or full, due to unforeseen circumstances such as weather not safe to carry out course instruction (e.g. strong winds, heavy fog, torrential rain, etc), or the unforeseen illness of a captain, rescheduling will be offered at no additional cost. Please note these instances are rare. Reef Runner Sailing captains make weather calls. We use a variety of apps that track weather and wind to help make hour to hour decisions on each day of your course. All students should come prepared to sail in a variety of conditions. If it's teachable conditions, we will be sailing in it!

Can I reschedule a class or charter?

We do allow you to reschedule a class, sunset sail, or charter. Please let us know as soon as possible prior to the event that you need to reschedule as our captains make travel plans around these events. We will do everything we can to help find another date that works for you. Please note that our calendar fills up quickly so rescheduling may result in several weeks or possibly months later.

What are your booking policies?

A deposit of 50% is required to confirm your reservation. The full balance is due prior to boarding. For classes, you will receive an application form that, once completed and returned, will act as your booking confirmation. Prices are subject to change without prior notice unless deposit is received and reservation is confirmed


Do we sail if the weather is bad?

Learning to sail in different types of weather, both good and bad, is important to becoming a confident sailor. We teach in all types of weather unless we deem it too dangerous to safely be out on the water. Should a serious storm cause the interruption or cancellation of your class, we will gladly reschedule for no additional cost. Reef Runner Sailing captains make weather calls. We use a variety of apps that track weather and wind to help make hour to hour decisions on each day of your course. All students should come prepared to sail in a variety of conditions. If it's teachable conditions, we will be sailing in it!

What do I need to bring with me?

Be sure to bring all of your course materials. In addition, bring a rain jacket, hat, sunblock, sunglasses, and deck shoes or white (non-marking) soled sneakers. For day sails (ASA 101 or 103), we are usually on the water during lunchtime, so you may want to bring food, snacks, or drinks. Bringing a refillable water bottle is always as a good idea. For overnight classes (104 combos), all meals are provided while at anchor. It's common to get a little wet while sailing - either from pop-up rain showers (common during Florida summers) or from salt spray. Wear clothes that are fast drying and that you don't mind getting wet! Tech-wicking or other moisture wicking clothing are recommended. Cotton and jeans are not recommended.

Should I tip the instructor?

A gratuity for the instructor is customary if you had a good time. If you feel a tip is warranted, 5-to-10% of the class price is generous. All tips are greatly appreciated.

Do I need sailing gloves?

This is a personal choice. In all ASA classes, students will do the majority of the line handling. Lines are generally soft, but of course have the potential to slip through hands resulting in rope burn. This is rare. Most of our students choose to sail without sailing gloves, but you are welcome to bring them if you would like. West Marine have both men's and women's sailing gloves that are fairly inexpensive. If you want something higher end, Gil and Helly Hansen are popular marine brands.

Do you have recommendations for closed toed shoes?

There are many closed toed shoes available that provide good traction on slippery decks and protect the decks from scuff marks. Sperry and Olukai are popular brands if you are looking for an all round moderate weather shoe, and looking to invest in a good pair. For heavy weather, we've had good success with XTRATUF. For those looking for something cheaper and better for warmer weather conditions, we use ALEADER for all round deck and water shoe. Generally, flip flops or other sandles are not recommended because they present tripping hazards and do not have good traction. If you are headed out for a multi-day trip, you can bring open toed shoes for wearing after classes, if preferred.