ASA 208, Offshore Passagemaking Instructor Certification

The ASA Offshore Passagemaking Standard represents the highest accomplishment within the ASA keelboat system. The intention of the examination process is to evaluate a candidate’s ability to rely solely upon self, crew, boat, equipment and provisions to cross an ocean. The testing process is time consuming and the testing standards are very high. The consequences of failure however, are much less severe than the consequences for failing to properly plan and execute many of these procedures on an actual trans-oceanic passage.

Application Procedure

Documentation which substantiates the following must be submitted to ASA headquarters prior to acceptance as an offshore candidate.

  • Advanced Coastal Cruising status (over 90% score)
  • Celestial Navigation (over 90% score)
  • U.S. Coast Guard license
  • CPR certification
  • First Aid certification
  • 1000 NM previous offshore passage
  • Birth certificate
  • 300 hours sailing documented at ACC rating

Sailing Knowledge
The following will represent the written portion of the Offshore Passagemaking standard.

  • Plan a North Atlantic or Pacific passage. Plot a Great Circle Route, including way points, and select the earliest opportunity in the current year for such a trip. Plot on Great Circle Plotting charts. In essay form discuss the advantages, disadvantages and hazards of various routes. List references and submit copies when necessary.
  • Also plot a series of rhumb lines on a mercator chart to approximate a great circle route.
  • List the publications you would select for a north Atlantic or Pacific passage.
  • Describe three methods of self steering along with their advantages and disadvantages.
  • Describe first aid preparations including crew training, contents of the kit(s) and reference materials.
  • Submit a passage plan and a brief discussion of how it would be filed, with whom and how it would be used if necessary.
  • Describe the contents of your abandon ship bag as well as the bag itself. Compute its final weight and size. Discuss where it will be located and how it is to be secured.
  • Describe crew briefing on emergency procedures.
  • Submit a brief essay on which U.S. production sailboat you would select for this trip. Compare features such as hull, keel, rig, interior, range, etc.
  • Include a meal plan for four people for seven days without refrigeration.
  • Prepare a passage plan for the cruise which will qualify a candidate for ASA Offshore Passagemaking certification. Include charts and other important information.
  • Briefly describe and discuss your chosen watch keeping system. Also, include an alternative if one or more crew members becomes unable to assist.
  • Describe a man overboard trailing line with alarm.

Sailing Skills

While on a passage of not less than 100 NM document and submit the following information. All work should be done beyond the sight of land.

  • Chart and keep current with DR and coastal and celestial fixes not more than 12 hours apart. Include sun sights, as well as other visible bodies used for fixes and running fixes.
  • Log sheets should be kept which document each candidate’s participation in activities necessary to shipboard life. Included among these should be navigation, (coastal and celestial) helming, maintenance, galley work, etc.
  • Perform the following drills.
    • Steer vessel without the aid of a rudder for a period of 2 hours performing course alterations greater than 20 degrees on at least two occasions. Maintain the new course for a minimum of 30 minutes.
    • Simulate a dismasting by lowering sails. Jury rig a sail which occupies only that area of the foretriangle below the spreaders (the portion of the rig which was salvageable and able to be secured to carry sail). Halyards run through masthead sheaves are unusable. Carry on under these conditions for at least two hours and clearly indicate the necessary adjustments in navigation.
  • Discontinue DR for a minimum of 4 hours. Determine position using celestial fixes and resume DR.
  • Calibrate compass for current heading using celestial fix.
  • Establish, describe and log a method for checking celestial navigation with available electronic devices.