ASA 104, Bareboat Cruising


Prerequisites: 101 & 103

Required reading: 'Cruising Fundamentals' by Harry Munns. Order from our Ship's Store.

General Description: An advanced cruising standard for individuals with cruising experience. ASA recommends a minimum of 80 sailing hours before undertaking this course. Demonstrated ability to skipper a sloop-rigged, auxiliary powered keelboat (or catamaran, if course is conducted on such) of approximately 30 to 45 feet in length during a multi-day cruise upon inland or coastal waters in moderate to heavy winds (up to 30 knots) and sea conditions. Course is conducted as a live-aboard cruise of at least 48 hours. Knowledge of provisioning, galley operations, boat systems, auxiliary engine operation, routine maintenance procedures, advanced sail trim, coastal navigation including basic chart plotting GPS operation, multiple-anchor mooring, docking, health & safety, emergency operations, weather interpretation, and dinghy/tender operation.

All terms below are described in the Glossary.


Cruise Planning:


Describe safe galley procedures to minimize the danger of fire, scalding, spillage, etc.

Describe proper marine toilet operation, including precautions to prevent malfunction.

Describe proper holding tank pump-out procedures.

Describe safe fresh water tank filling procedures, including identification of correct deck fills and cautions to be observed near a pump-out station.

Describe power conservation measures and procedures to prevent running batteries down when anchored/moored overnight.


Name four acceptable distress signals, as listed in the Navigation Rules, which are appropriate for a recreational vessel. (See distress signals).

Describe actions to be taken in the following situations:

Describe actions to be taken in the following situations when the vessel is under power:


Describe the information required and the procedure for tying a boat to a fixed dock in areas with a large tidal range.

Describe the following multiple-anchor mooring procedures and their purposes (see Anchoring Styles & Mooring):

Describe methods and potential dangers of rafting vessels at anchor. (See Rafting).

Describe safe methods for towing and securing a dinghy/tender.

Describe preparation of the vessel for heavy weather sailing including gear stowage, crew safety, and appropriate sail plan.

Describe the following courtesies and customs:

Describe and apply rules 1 through 19 from the Navigation Rules. (See: Avoiding Collisions).

Navigation & Weather:

Explain and identify the following coastal navigation terms, using a chart, or diagrams as appropriate:

Speed Track Fix
Time Course True
Distance Heading Magnetic
Tidal Range Bearing Variation
Tidal Current Line of Position (LOP) Deviation

Describe the sea breeze and land breeze effects.

Identify conditions that may lead to the formation of radiation fog and sea/advection fog.

Describe actions to be taken in the following weather situations:


Sailing Skills


Perform the duties of skipper and crew on a live-aboard coastal cruise of at least 48 hours.

Locate and check all federally required equipment.


Perform a routine vessel inspection, ensuring that all systems and equipment are in working order, including:

Visually inspect the auxiliary engine. Check for correct engine oil level and potential problems such as leaking fluids or frayed belts.

Inspect the raw water strainer for debris and ensure that the raw water intake seacock is in the proper position for engine operation.

Locate the emergency steering tiller and identify where it attaches to the rudder post.

Operate the electric and manual bilge pumps to ensure they are functional.

Demonstrate proper usage of the VHF radio including hailing another station on channel 16 and switching to a working channel.

Demonstrate proper operation of the galley stove including fuel supply, lighting, and shutting down. Simulate the proper way to extinguish a galley fire.

Demonstrate the proper method of disconnecting and reconnecting shore power cables.

Under Power:

Demonstrate the use of spring lines in the docking/undocking process (e.g. pivoting the vessel away from the dock during departure).

Maneuver the vessel in reverse gear, observing and explaining the effect of prop walk on the stern's direction.

Maneuver the boat in a confined space to include performing 'standing turn' maneuver, turning the vessel 180 degrees in a confined area using rudder position and gearshift/throttle control.

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.

Describe/demonstrate an appropriate crew overboard recovery method while under power. Describe methods to bring COB safely back onboard.

Demonstrate one of the following multiple-anchor mooring methods as appropriate to local conditions, using correct procedures such as hand signals, safety in handling ground tackle, proper operation of windlass (if equipped) and us of a snubber of bridle. Raise anchors and get underway smoothly using correct procedures.

Under Sail:

Sail a compass course (+/- 10 degrees) with sails trimmed properly.

Demonstrate the proper usage of all lines and sail controls (halyards, sheets, traveler, boom vang, outhaul, jibsheet, and fairleads) that are available on the training vessel to obtain maximum performance and comfort.

Demonstrate the correct usage of a jibe preventer.

Demonstrate proper reefing procedures (jiffy reefing or in-mast furling as appropriate for the training vessel) while under sail or hove-to.

Demonstrate two appropriate crew overboard recovery methods while under sail; options include the quick-stop, figure-8, and Broad reach/close reach methods. Begin from both close-hauled and broad reach and select the most appropriate maneuver for the initial point of sail.

Navigation & Weather:

Plan a coastal passage from origin to destination, plotting courses, distances, and waypoints. While en route, keep a log and a DR plot and calculate estimated times of arrival (ETA0 to waypoints.

Obtain and interpret marine weather information; Describe the impact the present observations and forecast may have on sailing plans over the n3xt three days.

Update weather forecasts during your passage, verify through visual and measured observations.

Take visual 2 or 3 bearing fixes using a hand-bearing compass.

Determine the predicted depth above or below chart datum at a given time using tide prediction tables.

Use a GPS/chartplotter (if so equipped) to obtain information and perform basic navigation functions such as position, course, speed, waypoints, ETA, and tidal information.

Pilot a boat into an unfamiliar harbor or anchorage by day using relevant nautical charts, publications, and tidal information.


Describe the purpose of and construct each of the following knots without assistance and in a timely manner:

figure eight
cleat hitch

reef/square knot
sheet bend
Round turn and 2 half hitches
clove hitch
rolling hitch
trucker's hitch

Learn more about Sailing Knots.


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