Sail training vessels

The UK has one of the largest sail training fleets in the world, represented nationally by ASTO - The Association of Sail Training Organisations.

Sail training vessels take a variety of trainees to sea, including the young, disabled and disadvantaged. The aims are personal development and adventure. The vessels range from 30' yachts to 180' square riggers.

Manning of these vessels is usually a mix of full time, temporary and volunteer staff. Typical staffing would be a skipper, mate and bosun, although this does vary widely around the fleet, with some vessels carrying cooks and engineers as well.


Paid posts exist for holders of RYA Coastal Skipper and above. Coastal Skippers usually sail as a mate, with skippers being required to hold an RYA Yachtmaster® Offshore Certificate of Competence or above. On larger vessels, 20m to 24m, mates may be required to hold an RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Certificate of Competence.

Vessels over 24m usually require STCW 95 OOW (Yachts), Chief Mate (Yachts) or Master (Yachts), depending on the position in which you sail onboard.

Career Path

Short term, seasonal and full time posts exist within this industry.

Due to the vulnerable nature of some of the trainees taken to sea, many organisations give preference to applicants with prior sail training experience when applying for senior positions. Training and funding is available for sail training staff who wish to develop and progress their qualifications all the way to Master (Yachts).


More information about bursary schemes, jobs and sail training in general can be found on the ASTO website.