Develop your skills and expand your horizons

You�ve done your Powerboat Level 2 and are quite proficient at handling a small powerboat with 15 years� experience under your belt so why would you even think about getting another qualification to go just that little bit further afield?

PB Level 2 and beyond...

It�s the $64,000 question� �

You�ve done your Powerboat Level 2 and are quite proficient at handling a small powerboat with 15 years� experience under your belt, so why would you even think about getting another qualification to go just that little bit further afield? � �

There is no legal requirement for anyone who wants to drive a powerboat getting behind the wheel and going wherever they wish, and you have to look at online forums on websites such as RIBnet to appreciate how popular coastal hopping is. �

But say you were doing a coastal trip, even just a relatively short trip from Lymington to Poole for example, and it got a bit bumpy, or the weather took an unexpected turn or your trip took longer than anticipated and the night started drawing in. �

Would you feel confident you could handle the situation and keep you and your passengers safe and comfortable? �

26,000 people

Last year, Powerboat Level 2, considered the base level entry qualification for organisations as wide-ranging as sailing clubs and the emergency services to the RSPCA, as well as a minimum requirement for many insurance companies, was completed by around 26,000 people worldwide. � �

In comparison the RYA�s Intermediate Powerboat course, which acts as a natural pathway to the Advanced Powerboat qualification, itself an entry-point to commercial endorsement for those who wish to use powerboating in a professional capacity, was completed by far fewer people. �

Yet plenty of newcomers to coastal hopping took to previously uncharted waters for the first time. �

Trial and error undoubtedly remains the most common way for people to get their sea legs further afield from their more familiar surrounds. Some people may opt to have a more experienced, although not necessarily qualified, head onboard when they feel their way for the first time, while others may back themselves to be ok. �

Certainly we have all heard anecdotes, often recounted as funny stories, of people having just got away with things when unexpected situations arose. �

But wouldn�t you feel more confident in your own experience and ability, and more excited about the prospect of being able to explore even further afield without having to go with someone who has been before, by just by-passing the trial and error phase altogether and undertaking a bit more training? �

Armed with knowledge

Rachel Andrews is the RYA�s Chief Instructor Motor Cruising and Power. She believes that armed with a bit more knowledge of planning and pilotage, the world becomes a much more accessible place for people confident enough to explore it safely. �

She said: �We�re all about building confidence. Trial and error inevitably means mistakes, and if those mistakes create a situation that has been a bit unpleasant or uncomfortable for yourself or your passengers are you likely to repeat it in a hurry? �

�We want to encourage people to use their driving skills as often as possible because one of the best things about our sport is we have almost a limitless playground. � �

�But that only comes from people feeling confident in their own ability and not deterred by a bad experience, or even something as simple as actually having access to a boat, and there are many ways we can help people can address those things.� �

The two-day RYA Intermediate Powerboat course covers the practical use of pilotage and passage planning by day on coastal waters, using both traditional and electronic navigational techniques. It also tackles more advanced boat handling. � �

With courses limited to just three people the opportunity to get plenty of time on the helm while discussing ideas freely in the classroom is huge. �

Boat handling to the standard of Level 2 with a coastal endorsement and knowledge to the level of Day Skipper theory is recommended, but certificates are not compulsory, while it is strongly recommended that candidates hold a first aid certificate and a VHF/SRC operator�s certificate. Anyone 16 or over can do it.��

People still hear the word �training� and think �classroom�, �homework�, �exams�, all in all not much fun. But the Intermediate course is geared up to give students as much time on the water as possible, and because there is a maximum of three students on a boat at any one time there is always a job to be done, whether that�s helming, navigating or being the crew member with the responsibility of look out. �

How many times have you been driving car and asked your passengers to keep an eye out for a certain landmark to help you know where you are? Being at the wheel of a boat is no different, and better understanding your various sources of information and how best to respond to the situations they present to ensure a safe and smooth passage for all those aboard is the fundamental point of the course. �

Training on your own boat

The flexibility is also there to do the course on your own boat with an RYA-qualified Advanced Powerboat Instructor certified to teach the course. This would need to be arranged with an RYA recognised training centre. �

After all there are lots and lots of small powerboats around, while the difference between a Regal 18 and a Humber Destroyer, for example, is vast, yet all come under the same �powerboat� umbrella. People often feel more confident developing their chartwork and boat handling skills using electronics and equipment they are already familiar with and will be using most often. �

The main thing is that by the end of the two days students can plan a day cruise, prepare their boat properly, are confident boat handlers in a range of conditions, know man overboard drills and are able to execute short coastal passages by day. �

Advanced Powerboat, with its night passage element, is considered the top award. � �

But, as Rachel admits, the course has experienced low pass rates in the past because some candidates entered directly from Powerboat Level 2 with insufficient further knowledge and experience. The Intermediate course was brought in to address this learning gap. �

�It is a really natural progression from Intermediate to Advanced,� she continues. �

�The Advanced course uses all of the skills from the Intermediate course but does so in the dark. We look at doing all the things you need to plan a daylight route and then the adjustments you make for returning in the dark. �

�If candidates are already comfortable and relaxed with all those daylight elements it means just the nighttime factors are the new learning, not everything else too. �

�If you do a course you�re not ready for you are not going to get as much from it as if you were better prepared. Is this likely to put you off doing the sport? Possibly, which is the opposite of what we want.� �

Find out more

The full breakdown for both courses can be found in the RYA Powerboat Scheme Syllabus and Logbook, while overviews can be found under the Training section on the RYA website, where you can also find your nearest recognised RYA Training Centre offering either or both of these courses. �

Rachel concludes: �This training provides structured, enjoyable steps to help people move forwards and become experienced and confident powerboat drivers through recognising and understanding the questions they should be asking in their planning, and then allying that with the knowledge and skills to complete a safe passage. �

�It enables exploration and what could be more exciting than that?�������