ASA 101 Basic Keelboat


Recommended reading: 'Sailing Made Easy' by the ASA. Order from our Ship's Store.

All terms below are described in the Glossary.

Sailing Knowledge

Be able to describe and identify the following parts of a sailboat:

  • hull
  • keel
  • bow
  • deck
  • spreaders
  • backstay
  • gooseneck
  • mast
  • chainplate
  • boom
  • stern
  • helm/tiller/wheel
  • rudder
  • transom
  • stanchion
  • lifelines
  • standing rigging
  • shrouds
  • cabin
  • headstay/forestay
  • backstay
  • pulpit
  • winch
  • fender
  • dock lines
  • block
  • fairlead
  • cockpit

Describe the functions of the following sails, sail parts, and sail controls:

  • mainsail
  • jib/genoa
  • tack
  • head
  • clew
  • luff
  • foot
  • leech
  • batten
  • batten pocket
  • topping lift
  • outhaul
  • main sheet
  • jib sheets
  • boom vang
  • halyard
  • downhaul
  • outhaul
  • traveler
  • running rigging
  • tiller/wheel
  • jib sheet
  • fairlead
  • cunningham
  • telltales
  • cleats
  • roller furler
  • shackle
  • hank
  • bolt rope

Dock lines illustration:

Boat tied to dock with dock lines

Define the following terms:

  • port
  • helmsman
  • crew
  • ahead
  • draft
  • freeboard
  • windward
  • starboard
  • forward
  • tacking
  • abeam
  • leeward
  • weather helm
  • skipper
  • aft
  • heel
  • astern
  • beam



Know the following terms and points of sail (see Points of Sail):

  • in irons
  • no sail zone
  • close hauled
  • broad reach
  • close reach
  • beam reach
  • by the lee
  • running
  • stand on
  • give way
  • jibing
  • tacking
  • luffing
  • head to wind
  • starboard tack
  • port tack

Points of sail


Explain and utilize correctly the following helm commands and crew responses:

Navigation Rules: Apply Rule 5 (look-out) from Navigation Rules.

For the following items describe and use diagrams to apply the Navigation Rules identifying the 'stand-on' and 'give-way' vessel in each situation. (Learn all about the Rules of Road: Avoiding Collisions)

  • Port tack and starboard tack sailboats
  • Windward and leeward sailboats on the same tack
  • Port tack vessel cannot determine windward vessel's tack
  • Overtaking situation
  • Power vessels approaching each other head-on
  • Boat on the right
  • Describe appropriate actions to be taken when sailing in the vicinity of commercial traffic, including responding to a danger signal.

Identify lateral aids to navigation by color, shape, and numbering including preferred channel markers. Identify safe water, information, and regulatory markers.
(See: Aids To Navigation)

List required federal equipment for vessels of 25 feet in length..
(Listed in the Glossary)

Describe location, color, and meaning of navigation lights.
(See: Navigation Lights)

Describe the purpose of a Float Plan and to whom it should be submitted.

Describe when and to whom boating accidents must be reported.

State the Federal Blood Alcohol Content limit for vessel operation.


Sailing Skills

Demonstrate the proper use of a life jacket or PFD (personal flotation device).

Rig/hoist/set sails safely and correctly to obtain proper sail trim using the following lines and controls if available on the practice vessel.

Halyards and/or furling devices
Downhaul or Cunningham
Boom Vang
Lower/furl/stow sails and coil/flake/stow lines properly

Without direction, verbalize appropriate commands and demonstrate competence, safety and good seamanship in the role of Skipper/Helmsperson during the maneuvers listed below. honor all aids to navigation and use properly the basic Navigation Rules. Ensure sails are trimmed correctly and the vessel is in control at all times.

Describe and demonstrate the actions to be taken when sailing from the time a person falls overboard until safely recovered. Speed is secondary to safety.
(See: Crew Overboard)

Secure a sailboat to a dock properly.
(See 'Dock Lines' above)

Describe the function of and tie the following knots without assistance:
(See: Sailing Knots)

Learn more about Sailing Knots.

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