Often, people discover a love of sail cruising through clubs or by going out with friends who own boats; and they learn to work with the elements and progress steadily.
Motor cruising is different. Having an engine changes the dynamic as you are less reliant on the elements and you have the added bonus of being able to travel greater distances in a much shorter time. It appeals more to those who enjoy day trips rather than long voyages.
The apparent ease of motor cruising and the plushness of some of the modern boats attracts a variety of people; including those with experience who have some good boating knowledge, as well as newcomers with little or no experience at all.
When you are out at sea, experience is less of a problem � the electronics on new boats are such that much of the passage work can seemingly be done for you and the power allows passages even when there is no wind.
But pilotage is the same for us all and negotiating your way in and out of harbours and marinas can be trickier. Coming on to or leaving a berth under power in wind and with tidal stream is not easy � especially in front of a crowd of experienced sailors!
Jon Mendez, owner of Mendez Marine and author of RYA Day Skipper Handbook for Motor, describes the experience as �a little like steering a shopping trolley on ice.���
So, if you�ve bought a boat and want to be the skipper, how can you ensure that you, the crew and your boat are as safe as possible?
RYA Day Skipper for Motor is a four-day practical course, which can be taken over a single block or split over two weekends. An instructor will be with you at all times to guide and encourage you on either the school�s boat or your own vessel, if you have one.
Ideally, to take the course you should have:
While it�s not a requirement to get trained, RYA Day Skipper for Motor is a respected qualification which enables you to safely and confidently take charge of a 25-80ft motor boat and its crew on day trips.
It helps you get the best from your modern electronic aids such as GPS and radar, which are now virtually standard equipment on modern motor cruisers.
Many insurance companies now require some evidence of training before they will agree to insure your vessel especially if you are fairly new.
And it is evidence to charter companies that you have enough knowledge and practical experience to take their vessels out safely.
So what�s involved, and how do I do it?
Before attending the course you should be able to navigate and are well advised to attend the RYA Day Skipper Shorebased course to brush up on your skills.
We are talking about things like safety, collision regulations, navigation (on paper and electronically) and weather. Generally this is delivered in the classroom, but it can be delivered via an online learning course with support from an instructor.
It takes around 40-hours to complete the course with two paper assessments at the end.
RYA Day Skipper for Motor practical course takes four days on a motor cruiser. It can be taken in one block or split it over two weekends.
To ensure a quality learning experience ratios are a maximum of 5 people to an instructor on a boat. Allowing everyone will plenty of time to get comfortable with boat handling and theory, giving would-be skippers the best possible start.
What will I learn?
You will learn how to take charge of the vessel safely and most importantly be understand the importance of good pre-planning. By the end of the course you should be confident to:
Why should I take the course?
The best part about learning in a controlled environment is that there is an experienced RYA instructor on board ensuring your safety, while guiding and encouraging you to practice your manoeuvres.
By the end you will be a confident and capable skipper, able to assess situations and make qualified decisions for the benefit of the motor cruiser and its crew.
RYA Chief Instructor for Power and Motor, Rachel Andrews, said: �RYA Day Skipper for Motor is a brilliant investment for anyone who has bought or is thinking of buying a new vessel. Not only is it a fun course, it teaches you how to use your boat and enjoy it.�
To book a course, visit wheresmynearest
To find out more click RYA Day Skipper for Motor
RYA Day Skipper Handbook Motor is available in print and digitally
Images credit Marine Matters.