Practical Sailing Courses

Start Yachting for Beginners

A short introduction to sailing for complete beginners. By the end of the course you will have experienced steering a yacht, sail handling, ropework and be aware of safety on board. Holders of the Start Yachting certificate can go on to complete the Competence Crew course in a reduced time of three days.

Course Content
  • The Yacht
  • Ropework
  • Underway
  • Rules of the road
  • Man overboard recovery
  • Clothing and equipment
  • Emergency equipment and precautions
  • Methodology
Price: €450.00
Assumed knowledge and pre-course experience: None
Minimum Age: None
Minimum Duration: 2 Days
Ability after the course: Basic knowledge of yachting.

Competent Crew

Experience living on board and really get to know the boat. Virtually all the course is hands on. You are the crew - without you the sails won't go up and the boat won't be steered. By the end of the course you should be able to steer, handle sails, keep a lookout, row a dinghy and assist in all the day to day duties on board. You should also have visited some interesting places and had an enjoyable holiday.

This course is for beginners and those who would like to become active crew members rather than just passengers.
Course Content
  • Knowledge of sea terms and parts of a boat
  • Her rigging and sails
  • Sail handling
  • Ropework
  • Fire precautions and fighting
  • Personal safety equipment
  • Man overboard
  • Emergency equipment
  • Meteorology
  • Seasickness
  • Helmsmanship
  • General duties
  • Manners and customs
  • Rules of the road
  • Dinghies
Price: €750.00
Assumed knowledge and pre-course experience: None
Minimum Age: None
Minimum Duration: 5 days. Often run over 3 weekends or 3 days plus a weekend. If you have done the Start Yachting course, this course can be completed in 3 or 4 days
Ability after the course: Able to steer, handle sails, keep a lookout, row a dinghy and assist in all the day to day routines

Day Skipper

Learn to skipper a short passage with the instructor on hand to give advice and encouragement and ensure your safety. Experience being in charge, taking credit when it all goes well and being responsible when it doesn't.

A course for aspiring skippers with some yachting experience and basic navigation and sailing skills.
Course Content
  • Preparation for sea
  • Deck work
  • Navigation
  • Pilotage
  • Meteorology
  • Rules of the road
  • Maintenance and repair work
  • Engines
  • Victualling
  • Emergency situations
  • Yacht handling under power
  • Yacht handling under sail
  • Passage making
  • Night cruising
Price: €750.00
Assumed Knowledge: Basic navigation and helmsmanship. It is recommended you attend the Day Skipper shorebased course beforehand. Pre-course experience: 5 days, 100 miles, 4 night hours on board a sailing yacht
Minimum age: 16 Years Old
Minimum duration: 5 consecutive days or 2 weekends
(3 + 2 days).
Ability after the course:

Coastal Skipper

Like the Day Skipper course, this course consists of skippered passages in a variety of situations. Each trainee will skipper more challenging passages and learn more about passage planning, pilotage by day and night, boat handling, safety and emergency situations. It is a satisfying but intensive week, with candidates often working towards a Certificate of Competence. Coastal Skippers should be able to undertake more difficult passages by day and night and handle the yacht in more demanding conditions. By the end of the course you should have the knowledge, if not the experience, to become a Yachtmaster.

Advanced skippering techniques for yachtsmen and women with considerable knowledge of sailing and navigation, wanting to undertake coastal passages by day and night.
Course Content
  • Passage planning
  • Preparation for sea
  • Pilotage
  • Passage making and ability as skipper
  • Yacht handling under power
  • Yacht handling under sail
  • Adverse weather conditions
  • Emergency situations
Price: €850.00
Assumed knowledge: Boat handling to the standard of Day Skipper and navigation to shorebased Coastal. Pre-course experience: 15 days, 2 days as skipper, 300 miles, 8 night hours
Minimum age: 17 Years Old
Minimum duration: 5 days
Ability after the course: Able to skipper a yacht on coastal passages by day and night

Yachtmaster Prep Week

An RYA Yachtmaster Certificate of Competence is often the ultimate aim of aspiring skippers. It is a well known, highly respected qualification worldwide, proving your experience and competence as a skipper. Unlike other courses in the cruising programme, there is no formal training to complete in order to become a Yachtmaster. Instead, provided that you have sufficient experience and seatime, you can put yourself forward for an exam to test your skills and knowledge.
Price: €900.00 + Exam Fees
Yachtmaster Coastal and Yachmaster Offshore – What’s the Difference?
The definition of a Yachtmaster is: ‘A yachtsman or woman competent to skipper a cruising yacht on any passage that can be completed without the use of astronavigation’. Yachtmasters should be able to enter any well-charted harbour for the first time, with sufficient depth, by day or night. A Yachtmaster Coastal has ‘the knowledge needed to skipper a yacht on coastal cruises, but does not necessarily have the experience needed to undertake longer passages’. In other words, the theory is the same for both, but less practical experience and skill is required for the Yachtmaster Coastal exam.
Pre-exam Experience
As with any exam, the more practice you have beforehand, the more confident you will feel. Before your exam, be more adventurous than the usual weekend trip to your favourite anchorage. Enter some new harbours to refine your pilotage. Attempt the occasional night entry and be aware of the problems. There is no requirement for you to attend an RYA course before your exam. However, it is often worth receiving some tuition, if only to find out your strengths and weaknesses. Many centres offer an exam preparation service.
What Happens During an Exam?
Your RYA examiner will meet you onboard and talk you through the plan for the day. They understand that you could be nervous and will do their best to allay your fears and make sure you are clear about what they want you to do. They are there to find out what you can do, rather than pick holes. You will be asked to undertake a short passage, but you may have to plan a longer one. In general, you should skipper the yacht in your normal style. If this means putting the kettle on every half hour, then do it!
Navigation
You must know your position reasonably accurately throughout the exam, but don’t make the mistake of being so busy plotting fixes that you forget to look around you. Often, a quick glance on deck will confirm your position from a buoy or transit. Make sure you know how to use a GPS, but there is no need to over-navigate. You will usually be given practical problems involving tidal streams and heights. Make life easy for yourself and look them up beforehand – it’s not cheating. Practice a few tidal calculations so you are happy with the methods you are going to use.
Boat Handling
You need to know how your boat will react, its turning circle and any predictable quirks to its handling. There will be some close quarters manoeuvring, usually in a harbour, to demonstrate your skills at berthing and leaving pontoons, piles or moorings. Sailing yachts will complete this section under power, but make sure you practice manoeuvring under sail too, picking up mooring buoys and short tacking. Your examiner isn’t looking for first-time-every-time success, but you will need to demonstrate competence and a good understanding of how the boat reacts at slow speed. Don’t hesitate to change sails or reef, if you think it is necessary for the task. Experience in a variety of conditions will be your biggest help in these situations.
Man Overboard
Exams almost always include a man overboard recovery exercise. The multitude of methods for this can be confusing, but pick one that works for you and your boat. However it’s done, you must end up with the yacht stopped next to the man in the water. If you’re sailing, check with your examiner whether you should handle the boat with or without the engine.
Safety
Make sure you understand and follow safety procedures, and give a safety brief. If you decide that harnesses should be worn at night, take your own advice.
Metorology
Listen to the forecast before your exam and be prepared for questions about the current weather and how this might affect a passage plan. Understand how weather systems influence sea conditions and how to plan based on this knowledge. The type of boat and strengths of your crew can have a bearing on decisions based on the weather, so your examiner may ask you to consider various possibilities. There is rarely a definitive answer, so it is your informed opinions that are required.
Skippering Ability
This is where your experience and knowledge will really show. Whether you are fully in command of the yacht is the most important assessment that your examiner will make. A good skipper leads the crew and communicates with them, making sure they understand what is going on and listening to them when they have something to say. They do not shout a stream of commands, leaving their crew in a quivering mess. Quiet competence instils confidence, helping your crew feel safe in the knowledge that the right decisions are being made.
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