The Call of the Sea 01872 580022

RYA Day Skipper Practical Course

RYA Day Skipper

Skippering a boat is fun, and this course is about taking your first steps towards taking charge, with the safety net of an instructor on board. Everyone will be given a chance to navigate and take control for short coastal passages. You will also have plenty of practice at coordinating manoeuvres under sail and power, and learning how to cope with emergencies. Learn big boat watch leader skills on deck, and navigational techniques below. Successful completion of the RYA Day Skipper means you should feel confident enough to tackle short day passages as skipper in tidal waters. Our instructors will be happy to discuss what your next step might be.

Day Skipper - How Much Experience do I Need?

If you want to gain your RYA Day Skipper Practical Certificate you do need to successfully get through the syllabus and prove to the instructor by you actions, knowledge and attitude that you are capable and safe to take responsibiliy for a small yacht and the crew in daylight, in a coastal location that you are reasonably familiar with.  

It therefore helps if you start the course, with enough practical skills to be able to tack and gybe and trim sails efficiently.  This might have been learned by sailing on one of our sailing holiday voyages, or from past yachting, dinghy or keel boat experience.  You will also be learning to bring a boat alongside under engine, but we will teach you those skills from scratch as not many of us have the opportunity to 'park' boats often - unless we own one!

You don't have to do a RYA Day Skipper Theory Course as a pre requisite (it helps, and you can buy it from us and do it at home) but you do need some navigational knowledge - even if you have not had much chance to apply it at sea. In terms of navigation, you need to understand the difference between height of tide and tidal streams, read a chart and how to plot positions, courses to steer making allowance for tides and knowledge of bouys and 'Rules of the Road'. 

Why Learn Command Skills on a Classic Boat?

Our instructors are teaching you a juggling act. As skipper you will have to both navigate and make sure that he boat is sailing well and the crew are happy.  In learning to keep all those 'balls in the air' it helps if your vessels steers well in a straight line, and the deck is steady enough for you to concentrate on other things. Long keeled boats like Moosk and Golden Vanity are excellent at this, and with tiller steering it is much easier to spot if a novice crew is doing something crazy with the rudder.  Using blocks and tackles instead of winches requires teamwork and positioning your crew to set sails or reef hones your command skills. We use sail training instructors that are used to supervising youth crews on vessels much bigger than our RYA teaching vessels, so they will teach you good organisational habits appropriate for more than one crew. All types of sailing vessels handle slightly differently but a long keel generally gives you TIME in an approach to a pontoon as the vessel has predictable momentum at slow speeds.

Navigation - Its Harder at Sea!

At sea everything can happen that bit faster than in the classroom, so implementing a pilotage plan for the first time, is as much about keeping the chart table tidy and navigating at a boat speed that you can keep up with than spending 30 minutes plotting a precise fix.  Our instructors can teach you the skills to navigate at sea in bite size chunks, without the stress that you would be under if you were able to take a boat out on your own to practice.

TOP TIP FROM Classic Sailing RYA Principal Debbie Purser.

"I remember learning to skipper and the best bit of the career ladder was pilotage and boat handling in and out of ports. I could do Day Skipper courses again and again. Unlike Yachtmaster Prep Courses there is no external examiner at the end so everyone is that bit more chilled about the learning experiences. One you have a day skipper certificate, there is nothing to stop you doing another Day Skipper course in a different location or type of vessel as a refresher. You don't ever have to own a boat to progress your skipper skills each time...and where else can you go where someone lets you skipper a classic boat on short passages, with an instructor as a friendly backup to offer tips and action plans for the future."

RYA Day Skipper Practical Course Dates

RYA Day Skipper Practical Syllabus

Aim: The Day Skipper practical course is conducted on board a cruising yacht (7-13m LOA) to teach pilotage, navigation and seamanship. Plus boat handling to the standard required to skipper a small cruising yacht safely by day. This would be in tidal waters with which the student is familiar.

Preparation for Sea
Is able to prepare a yacht for sea, including engine checks, selection of sails, securing and stowage of all gear on deck and below.

Deck Work
Can reef, shake out reefs and change sails to suit prevailing conditions. Can prepare an anchor and mooring warps and take charge on deck. The situations to cope with are mooring alongside, coming up to a buoy, anchoring, weighing anchor, and slipping from a buoy or alongside berth.

Is proficient in chart work and routine navigational duties on passage including:

  • Taking and plotting visual fixes
  • Use of electronic navigation equipment for position fixing.
  • Use of waypoints
  • Working up DR and EP
  • Estimating tidal heights and tidal streams
  • Working out course to steer to allow for tidal stream, leeway and drift.
  • Knowledge of IALA buoyage
  • Maintenance of navigational records
  • Use of echo sounder and lead line Pilotage
  • Can prepare and execute a pilotage plan for entry into or departure from harbour.
  • Understands the use of leading and clearing lines.
  • Use of transits and soundings as aids to pilotage.
  • Meteorology
  • Knows sources of forecast information, can interpret shipping forecasts and use a barometer as a forecasting aid.
  • Rules of the Road
  • Has a working knowledge of the application of international Regulations for the Preventing Collisions at Sea.
  • Maintenance and repair work
  • Understands and is able to carry out maintenance tasks. Knows the properties and uses of common and synthetic fibre ropes.
  • Knows how to change fuel and water filters, pump impeller and bleed fuel system.
  • Understands how to victual a yacht.
  • Is able to take correct action as skipper for recovery of a man overboard.
  • Understands distress flares and how to use a liferaft.
  • Can operate a radio telephone in an emergency and send a distress message.
  • Understands how to secure a tow.
  • Understands rescue procedures including helicopter rescue.

Yacht handling under power

Can bring a boat safely to and from an alongside berth, mooring buoy and anchor under various conditions of wind and tide.

Yacht handling under sail

Can bring a boat safely to and from a mooring buoy and anchor under various conditions of wind and tide.

Can steer and trim sails effectively on all points of sailing.

Passage Planning

Can plan and make a coastal passage, taking account of relevant navigational hazards and limitations imposed by the type of boat and strength of the crew.

A sailing holiday on a classic sailing boat that allows you to study for the practical RYA Day Skipper Courses on Eve of St Mawes in Cornwall or onboard Golden Vanity in Devon will stand you in good stead for any type of yacht sailing.

Further reading

Another excellent way of learning is through reading. The RYA have an excellent range of books covering all aspects of sailing and navigation, as well as useful learning tools to help you along the way. 

Sail Cruise Books

Navigation Books

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