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Offshore Passagemaking Sailing Classes

Americian Sailing Association 108 Offshore Passage Making Standard

Certification in ASA 108 Offhore Passagemaking is a tremendous accomplishment. This course, the highest level in the ASA learning ladder, it is designed to give you the skill and confidence to strike out on your own vessel, anywhere you choose or be praticed crew for long distance sailing journeys. Offshore skippers will welcome you to sign on as a competent crew and watch stander on their blue water passages, so that you can start getting some serious sea miles under your keel. So given the serious nature of what we are certifying you to be and to do, we take this course very seriously and expect you to too.

What is Involved?

ASA requires 101 to 107 certifications as prerequisites for the 108 class.  If you have signifacant coastal sailing experience we are happy to work with you challenging the lower ASA levels. It also may be possible to also join us for the offshore cruise without doing certifications depending on your experience. We encourage couples to come together, watchstanding as a couple is avialable. You must be in good health and fitness so that everybody has a safe trip. Please contact us for details of how we can make the trip work for you.

Before your offshore passage

Your first task is to pass the ASA 107 Celestial Navigation theory standard, preferably before you board the vessel for your offshore passage. This is a home study course culminating in a rigorous exam, and guidance is available from us every step of the way. Once you are on board we can review your exam results but we can not take valuable time away from passage preparation to deal with the theory aspect.

During your offshore passage

On board the vessel, you will have plenty of opportunity during a multi day passage of several hundred miles to practice taking sextant sights, with a clean horizon away from land, and to use the procedures learned in ASA 107 to reduce these sights and fix your position. Celestial fixes will be used along with other time honored ocean navigation techniques to make our exact landfall, sans GPS to show you how it’s done. (We do of course have state of the art electronics on board.) Review the What to Bring Offshore for a list of what will be available on board and what you need to bring with you. But there is much more to the course than celestial navigation. A safe passage begins at the dock. You will spend the first two days aboard reviewing the boat’s systems and performing inspections that will ensure her readiness for sea. These will include: rigging, steering, electrical, electronics, bilge pumps, engine and more. You will familiarize yourself with emergency procedures and equipment: liferaft, abandon ship bag, fire fighting equipment, heavy weather gear, offshore medical kit and more. And you will think about what provisions, tools and spare parts are carried aboard and identify their location. Offshore you will stand watch and you will log our course and distance on an hourly basis, along with other standard information. You will use Blue Planet‘s custom offshore log sheet, which you can download ahead of time to get familiar with it.

After your offshore passage

You will use the information gathered on board and consult various references to write a comprehensive essay answering all the questions given in the ASA Log Book standard. You will hand in your essay along with your celestial results for review to request certification. You will have one year from the completion of your passage to turn in your materials for certification. Again there will be guidance available during this process.

Required Course Materials

There is not a single text book for this course. The ASA Log Book standard provides the full requirements of the course, and you will be given hands on data and book references to complete your requirements.

You will plan a passage across the North Atlantic as an exercise, and to do so you will need two charts which we provide.

OGW 11 North Atlantic Ocean

OGW 17 North Atlantic Great Circle

We will have a copy on board but you will need to bring your own copies so that you can mark them as you prepare your passage plan using on board references such as pilot charts and cruising guides.

Note: If you are a West Coast sailor who would prefer to plan a passage to Hawaii, talk to us and we can make that happen. Captain Orion has personal experience with passages from the West Coast to Hawaii and to the Marquesas.

What to Bring Offshore

Your ASA 107 exam with all papers and plotting sheets

A waterproof quartz wrist watch with good second digital readouts

Your ASA Log Book ASA 107 materials and ASA 108 materials

Offshore quality inflatable PFD with D ring for tether attachment and a Spare cartridge for PFD

Offshore quality tether with a spring loaded clip Whistle and waterproof light to carry inside PFD Optional: Personal locator beacon

Deck tool or multi tool in carrying case Small flashlight with red LED

One lightweight double size flat sheet and one pillowcase (as we will hot bunk at sea), Two small micro fiber quick drying towels

Any medications you take, double supply Passport and emergency contact information

Optional: your personal sextant Optional: your personal plotting tools

We Supply

An Astra III B sextant Plotting Sheets

 The vessel’s custom celestial workforms

Nautical charts, light lists and pilot charts for the passage

Plotting tools Hand bearing compass

Current Nautical Almanac Pub 229 and Pub 249 Sight Reduction Tables

Various reference texts on coastal and celestial navigation

An extensive library of references for your ASA 108 essays

The ship’s custom offshore passage log forms

An HF radio (offshore capable) from which to obtain the US Standard time signal

Offshore safety equipment

Lee cloths to sleep safely in all bunks

All our 108 courses are with Captain Louise on her Hylas 47. She is based in St Thomas. So that you have a great sailing experience with the prevailing trade winds we do the course either from St Thomas to Grenada or returning from Grenada to St Thomas We are flexible with your timing, trying to start each class on a on a Friday and finishing the following Saturday.  Join us as we costal cruise the Grenadines or BVIs before the offshore passage This can be a good time to complete prerequisites like the ASA 106 class.


We will run three offshore cruises for our passagemaking students this winter season, with celestial nav and ASA certification, both optional:

Jan 16 – Jan 31: “Cross Caribe Southbound 1″. One-way offshore instructional cruise St Thomas to Grenada via the BVIs. Students can join us either in St Thomas on Jan 16 or in Tortola on Jan 22 before we jump off for the 415 mile offshore leg. 16 days total including welcome and goodbye dates, both of which are always offered FREE on Blue Planet.

Feb 5 – Feb 14: “Cross Caribe Northbound”. One-way offshore instructional cruise from Grenada to St Thomas. We plan to linger for 2-3 days cruising up the Grenadines before jumping offshore, both to give us an improved sailing angle and to visit a few of these unique islands. 10 days including arrival and departure days. Good choice if you only have one week off.

Feb 27 – March 13: “Cross Caribe Southbound 2″: One-way offshore instructional cruise St Thomas to Grenada via the BVIs. Students can join us either in St Thomas on Feb 27 or in Tortola on March 4 before we jump off for the 415 mile offshore leg. 16 days total including welcome and goodbye dates.


Arrival and Departure days are free

        Single -$370 per day

 Couple - $630 per day total for 2

After 8 days each succeeding day is ½ price!

      ASA Certification included and includes the cost of books and membership in ASA.

 The choice of any intermediate stop overs will be determined as part of your cruising instruction. Factors to be considered will include weather, wind direction and sailing angles, facilities available ashore, time available, any course load you have selected, and of course crew interests.

You will join the yacht at a marina in your port of departure. We will spend the next two days doing an intensive hands-on offshore preparation exercise. When we’re ready and the weather is right, we will cast off and sail directly across the Caribbean sea. This is a 360 nautical mile offshore passage as the crow flies, that will require three to four days of round the clock navigation, during which we will stand watches and navigate the vessel using celestial navigation as well as our state of the art electronics. This itinerary was chosen as it generally provides a pleasant reach across in both directions as well as delightful facilities and interesting sights at both ends.

To complete the ASA 108 certification, you must have completed ASA levels 101, 103, 104 and 106, as well as coastal navigation level 105, and celestial navigation level 107. The two navigation courses have no prerequisites and can be done on a home study basis, with exams proctored in your local library. Alternately you may arrange a longer stay on Blue Planet prior to your offshore cruise to complete the celestial theory requirements and take the exam. We can also help with challenging the lower ASA levels. You can participate in the cruise without the certifications if you have significant coastal sailing experience.

To participate in this offshore cruise you must complete our medical questionnaire, and be found to be in good physical health and reasonably fit. You must present a sailing resume which documents adequate sailing skills to undertake an offshore passage, whether acquired through formal sailing education or through significant coastal sailing experience.

You may enroll as a single on a shared cabin basis. Participants will be berthed in two double cabins, each with ensuite head and shower. Normally four participants will be enrolled on each cruise. We will run the cruise with only one student if necessary. Private cabins can be arranged for an extra fee, couples will have a private cabin at no charge. We warmly encourage couples to enjoy this offshore cruise together. Both partners will learn to stand night watches in a supportive environment under expert supervision and in a tropical setting. One or both of you may choose to take the ASA certification.

 Shorter or longer trips are available. Please call for additional pricing.

Payment:  50% deposit is required in order to confirm your charter, with the balance paid 30 days before sailing. Cash, checks and credit cards accepted.

Cancellation:  If you cancel the charter, the fees are not refundable unless the vessel is re-booked by another party. If we are able to re-book a charter for the same dates, the deposit will be refunded less a 10% fee. If you need to change your booking dates, a fee may be charged. We strongly recommend trip insurance to cover unexpected circumstances. If a trip is canceled due to weather, we will refund the fees for the unused part of your trip.

Alcoholic beverages:  Not included in charter fees. Shopping at a local liquor store upon your arrival can be arranged. On passage it is a dry boat.

Gratuity:  After your charter, if you feel we have done a wonderful job, a gratuity is welcomed and always appreciated.