Zensekai (zen's world under sail)

The sailing adventures of s/v Zen and crew

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Zen & the ASA the Teaching certificate

As I start this entry I'm sitting in Tradewinds sailing school. Just across from San Fransico, Ca.It is Sunday, I have just finished the final module of my ASA teaching certificate class for Basic Keel Boat.
I am waiting for the instructor to return with the last of the candidates instructors doing their afloat teaching modules. I'm glad I got mine done early.

So lets use the Wayback machine and start from the beginning on Friday Nov 3rd. This has been a Long weekend! It started on Friday @1600 hrs it is now Sunday @ 1500hrs.

Fri . 11/03/06

I took the day off. Things were slow at work, again. I figured to using the day to get some extra study in for the test coming over the weekend. There were 3 at home test to complete. This was nice I can use my books to make sure I am correct and as a study aid for the big test at the class.

It started as a cloudy windless day, there had been a lot of that happening lately.
I had to go to the marina to let in the Phone Guy so I can have a land line down at s/v Zen. This way I can use it an an office for my Shaolin Enterprises.
It turned out to be a complicated affair, but I use the time while waiting to study.

Around 3:00pm I head out for class over in Point Richmond, CA at the TradeWinds school

I arrive shortly after 1600 hrs due to some traffic. It turns out others were MORE late than myself. Some of which were almost 2 hrs late! They, I found out had quite a ways to travel, some a 3-4 hour dr.

The evening progresses, we cover what is going to happen over the next few days, fill out papers and mark the tests we completed at home. We marked each others test. It took awhile as some answers were challenged.

I was happy to just recently done these test as a student so I was already comfortable with the correct answers to ones that were somewhat worded weird. That combined with research at home, the test was fairly easy. I got a 98 on one and 95 on the other. That one more advanced and I was never clear on a few answers even with research. No biggie! I got 95, I needed 90 to pass

The evening ended about 9:00pm with our assignment for the next day. We were to prepare a lecture on a drawn/choosen topic. Mine was on Man Overboard recovery or MOB drill as called. This was to be a 10 min lecture using whatever means we chose to help get the point over.


The day starts at 0830. I use this military term because that is what the instructor does. He is holds a USCG Master License. He turns out to be an excellant Instructor Evaluator ( IE). Helpful, relaxed,knowledgeable, a good example of teaching professional.

It is a very Foggy day over this way, foggy and low wind again. I arrive on time, but others are there before me. I get selected to do my on the water solo sailing with the morning group whilst the other half of the group does the instructor paper test and prepares for the lecture.
My group heads out.

After checking out the boat we set off. Seas are calm, as in almost mirror calm. In spite of the calmness I am surprised that another guy testing for instructor cert. gets sick and is hanging over the rail for a bit. Perhaps it was his breakfast ... bummer for him.

We pick turns to do the test. I go second, I want to get it over with. The first guy, does his almost perfect through everything.
He had been teaching for the Tradewinds school and was familair already with the boat and the teaching style. We are suppose to do everything solo but talk like we are telling students what we are doing. Meanwhile the IE is making notes...
I was nervous and glad to go second.
The drill generally takes about 15- 20 min to do everything, with no wind the first guy took almost 1 hr. That did include getting back close to our starting mooring after the current pulled us way down stream. Part of the long time lag also because we had very low wind.
My turn...gulp! Breathe...show time...

This is my first time sailing off a mooring. I did it, but had just a bit of trouble. I got dinged 5 points :-(
listed as not enough control. I had a small accidental gybe in the shifty winds. If I ever had to do that again I would start with only the jib.
The rest went fairly smooth. I was nervous about having to speak the whole time, and got a few terms mixed up, another ding. Otherwise things went smoothly considering I had light to no wind, and the little that was there kept shifting.

Now time to pickup the mooring. Again my first time, fast current and mostly no winds and shifting at that. I was able to pull it off. So I'm done, other than getting a low point for poor sail trim, something I need to watch on beam reach. Still other than that I got 95 % out of 100%, whewwww, I can breathe. It took me 45 min. Awwww yeah over! wahoooo!!

After taking way too much time and zero wind after me, we head in as it was getting late.
We have lunch and the next group goes out to try their luck with the winds. Meanwhile we get on with the HARD written test!! Gulp!
This test takes a couple of hours, hard questions, many of which I had not planned on or studied . Day signals on boats, towing questions, USCG Navigational rules, Yikes!! We do have some lead way, we only need 75% to pass.

Next phase the lecture...
I setup things.

The gent before me uses a powerpoint presentation. Smooth talker, the has all the answers type. It was polished. I followed, I did a few drawings on the board, and used some props, with a few joking remarks, it went well. No one knew I am uncomfortable in front like that.
Pick a friendly face, like the cutie in front and talk mostly to her.
Whewww that was over...

After 2 other's lectures it was time to mark the MAJOR quiz, no a test over 100 questions is not a quiz!!!! The other 4 lectures would go tomorrow for 8 total.

The big one...I was nervous. It was set in my mind I would need to come back and redo this part of the test. No one else seemed confident about it, even the other student with the USCG master Lic.
We as a class go through each other's test and check and discuss the answers. Some of the answers were direct, some were open to interpretation, others had more than one answer, there was much discussion. After another hour of that we finshed grading the test. I needed 75% to pass... I got 83.3 , wahooo!! What a relief
I'm thinking the worst is over, but no there is more...

I'm thinking today will be easy, no pressure, just do a quick bit of a teaching routine on the water and I'm home free. Turns out to be more than that! There is another classroom lecture as well.
Ok, so I get picked to go out with the first group, ok, not so bad. Get it done then relax for the most part.

I head out with the 1st group. What I was told would be a few minutes, like about 30 sec around robin turned out to be about 10 min talk rounds, on different aspects of sailing like we had a boat full of students, except there is someone watching and making notes on your performance, again yuk!

One of mine was leaving the dock for the first time. Not bad, were the comments. After another round it was me again this time, on heading up and bearing away. Comments this time were "unsure in the beginning, but got into after a bit". Heck yeah! I was nervous, then I figured I could shift the burden to the students by putting things into more of a question form. Then using the right answers & words to clearify. It was a good plan.
After another person did their two modules, and we start to head back as again there is NO wind! At least nothing to really work in. But everyone had their 2 rounds.
So we fire up the motor, go for about 5 minutes, then the outboard DIES!!
There we are with no wind and no motor!. The fuel line had fell off and we ran out of gas. Not a big deal you may think, but after replacing the hose connection, the motor still would not start. Everyone gives it a try to get the motor going. Nothing! How many sailing instructors does it take to start a motor?...We have the sails back up now but are mostly just a drifting!! A boat full of instructors, with no wind and no motor! Great!! There are a bunch of kids in Lazer like sailboat buzzy around us...There we are a bunch of grown adult instructors, for the most part stuck...priceless.

We drift for about 15 min waiting for hopefully the motor to unflood after replacing the hose. If that was the problem. Luckly after the wait the motor did start and we were off to port. We were almost 1 hour later than we had planned on being back.

So we have lunch and prepare for the afternoon lecture for my group. The second group heads out for their final on the water check.

The second lecture is easy goes smooth, I finish in 5 min. Nice! No pressure since this one is done without the IE there, the other instructor candidates grade your lecture.
and we are done!!!! Whaoooooo relief, now I can relax.

We have to wait for the rest to return before we get to the final wrap up stuff.
I take a stroll around the area.
I had no idea there were such nice, home$$$ in this part of town. More so right on the water. Some were even able to have their boats right outside the back door. Must be nice!! Of course it does not insure happiness, but it is comfrortable. :-)

There is a boat there like an old schooner, or something, made of CONCRETE at the dock. The guy took 20 years to build. His wife left him in the process. Everyday he is out cleaning it, I saw him chasing birds off of it.
That says a lot eh...

After a 30 min walk I head back the office, I start writing this and get very sleepy, so nap time while everyone else is chatting away. We are all waiting for the second crew.

Finally they return and we settle in for the final chat from the (IE).
After filling out and learning about more paperwork. We are done. The group wants to head over to a Hotel bar/cafe for the final debriefing. I was not that pleased, as I am not the bar dinking type, but went along. It was a nice place over in town. I had a glass of wine, the others had beer and shots. While the IE held separate talks with each of us and signed our official books, Yeah!!!!!! Finally I was done!!
I headed home, Lady Zen and I head out to our favorite Japanese restaurant for a celebration dinner. Stuffed and happy we returned home to relax.

So how was the class... more complex than I had thought, it was a challege, as I was told it would be. I'm glad I put in the extra study time and took it seriously. It was a good exprience and makes one feel the certificate has some real value.

A special thanks to Bill of Bliss in Kobe, Japan for turning me on to this learning/training path and his helpful study aids.

So what is next...
A bit of a rest then, onward. I should start teaching the Lady Zen to sail. Then she can challege the ASA BKB student level test and get certified to sail. Also it will help to have her knowing what do do on the water and help teach/translate in Japanese when needed.

Though I guess the next real things is to find an outlet to teach so I can stay as an active instructor. I di not know about that part until after I signed up. Well I have a shot at getting on with the city of Oakland Program. Some P/T work with them would be good.

I'm pretty sure Coastal Navigation is the next study, then Bareboat student level.
The USCG Power Squad offers Celestual Navigation & passage making classes for free to members. Since I took one of their safety classes I am able to become a member. I'm also thinking about the limited USCG six-pack. It will not be of any good in Japan, but the knowledge learned will be, since I will need to do testing there to get a Japanese License to sail.


  • At 4:22 PM, Blogger Val said…

    Good for you, congratulations! I really enjoyed reading your account - I was with you every step of the way! Even though we are barely acquainted, I am very proud of you!

    I am off to Japan the quick way on Wednesday!

  • At 7:24 PM, Blogger EVK4 said…

    Wow, that is incredible. I might have to read back through your blog, but unless I'm mistaken you've taken up sailing fairly recently right? Or at least you took the first classes recently. But either way, this is quite an accomplishment.

    Would you have been allowed to scull the boat back when the wind and engine died? That would be my second choice, right after the one lonely oar my boat came with.

    Congratulations again... we're going to see each other out on the bay someday, I'm looking forward to that.

  • At 9:45 AM, Blogger Zen said…

    Thanks both of you.


    Sailing for about 6 yrs now, I think. Mostly just winging it. Just started the classes this year.
    1st one this summer.

    We did do a bit of sculling, going against the current, mostly just kept us in place. It was kind of funny really.

    I'm sure will we be ships passing on the bay at some point :-)

  • At 10:14 AM, Blogger EVK4 said…

    That's cool, I am really impressed with your dedication to getting this certificate. Every time you sail you're either teaching a bit or learning a bit, but to compress it down the way you have into these rapid fire classes is a great thing.

  • At 10:15 AM, Blogger EVK4 said…

    One more thing, I'll drop you a note here on your blog next Chowder race we do, maybe you can bring the good ship Zen over to Berkeley for the race. It's free and fun.

  • At 4:29 PM, Blogger royalLD said…

    Congratulations! This was an outstanding write-up. I enjoyed every word.

  • At 12:03 PM, Blogger Pat said…

    Very valuable to me, because Carol Anne and I are thinking of doing keelboat instructor training.


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