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The RYA Coastal Skipper Practical Course - What’s it all about?

Find out how it differs to the Day Skipper practical course, what you’ll learn and why it’s such a rewarding course...

The RYA Coastal Skipper practical course builds on the skills learnt on the Day Skipper practical course and is arguably the most rewarding course in the cruising schemes. Delivered by Sail and Motor Cruising centres across the country, these courses cover advanced skippering techniques in terms of boat handling and passage making. It is at the ‘Coastal’ level that the first option exists to verify to the world that you have a level of competence as a skipper, i.e. be examined for the Yachtmaster™ Coastal Certificate of Competence.

Before we get too carried away with exams let’s talk about the Coastal Skipper practical course in more detail, and how it differs from the Day Skipper practical course.

Whether sail or motor, the emphasis is on developing higher levels of independence. The training moves away from the shorter passages of Day Skipper and starts looking at passages that require watch-keeping routines, crew management and the ability to pilot a vessel both day and night. With longer passages it is less likely that you will be familiar with the sailing area, so a higher level of overall navigational and pilotage skill needs to be developed.

The passage planning process for coastal skippers begins to involve consideration of the requirements for offshore passages e.g. vessel equipment or the significance of meteorological trends. Coastal passages can easily be out of sight, and shelter, of land for a number of hours and span a series of weather forecasts.

This is a hands-on course with your instructor focussing on coaching your practical skill-set up to the next level. It is therefore essential that you are comfortable with practical boat handling skills taught on the Day Skipper practical course. As the course focuses on the practical application of this theory it is assumed that you have the theoretical knowledge required for coastal and offshore passages. In reality this means you should have theory knowledge up to the level of the RYA Coastal Skipper/ Yachtmaster™ shore-based course.

If it isn’t already apparent, this is not a beginners’ course and it is therefore suggested that you have at least 15 days sea-time, two of these days as skipper, having covered 300 miles with eight night hours.

The course is a satisfying but intensive 5-days, with many candidates working towards the Yachtmaster Coastal Certificate of Competence. Successful completion of the Coastal Skipper practical course means you have the knowledge and understanding, although not necessarily the experience, to be examined for the RYA Yachtmaster™ Coastal Certificate of Competence.

The eligibility requirements for taking Yachtmaster™ Coastal exam are 30 days sea-time, including two as skipper, with 800 miles with 12 night hours (those holding a Coastal skipper course completion certificate have a partial reduction to the sea-time of 400 miles and 20 days at sea).

The examination process is a practical assessment of approximately 6 to 10 hours for one candidate. The assessment is carried out by a RYA/MCA Yachtmaster Examiner who may ask you to demonstrate any section of the practical or shore based course syllabi.

Whilst some people will be ready for the exam at the end of the Coastal Skipper practical course, others will not and would prefer to consolidate the new skills and techniques before coming back to take the Yachtmaster Coastal exam. Many RYA recognised training centres provide exam preparation courses for candidates about to enter into an exam.

To find a centre that delivers this course visit: www.rya.org.uk/wheresmynearest

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