Learn to Sail

Complete Your RYA Courses

Learn to sail on RYA courses designed for people of mixed experience and are usually based over 5 days, although we are happy to run courses over weekends. They include lots of formal tuition and of course a good degree of fun.

A typical week, may involve nights in Cowes, Yarmouth (via Beaulieu and Newtown,) Poole (via Swanage), a round the Island trip to Bembridge, returning to Lymington on the final day.

Alternatively, if weather conditions are favourable, a Channel crossing to Cherbourg may be possible, with many of our 5 day courses making it to France.

The maximum number on board will be 5 (plus instructor, Charlie Tait), however should you feel in need of more attention, or wish to sail with a smaller group, this can be arranged. Charlie regularly undertakes own boat tuition for those who wish to complete RYA courses in the comfort and familiarity of their own boat.

Start Yachting

A short introduction to sailing for complete beginners.

By the end of the course you will have experienced steering a yacht, sail handling, rope work and be aware of safety on board. Holders of the Start Yachting certificate can go on to complete the Competence Crew course in a reduced time of three days or two weekends. 

  • Pre-course experience: None
  • Assumed knowledge: None
  • Minimum duration: 2 days
  • Minimum age: None
  • Course content: The yacht, rope work, underway, rules of the road, man overboard recovery, clothing and equipment, emergency equipment and precautions, meteorology.
  • Ability after the course: Basic knowledge of yachting.

Competent Crew

This course is for beginners and those who would like to become active crew members rather than just passengers.

Experience living on board and really get to know the boat. Virtually all the course is hands on. You are the crew – without you the sails won’t go up and the boat won’t be steered.

By the end of the course you should be able to steer, handle sails, keep a lookout, row a dinghy and assist in all the day to day duties on board. You should also have visited some interesting places and had an enjoyable holiday.

  • Pre-course experience:
  • Assumed knowledge:
  • Minimum duration: 5 days. Often run over 3 weekends or 3 days plus a weekend. If you have done the Start Yachting course, this course can be completed in 3 or 4 days.
  • Minimum age: None
  • Course content: Knowledge of sea terms and parts of a boat, her rigging and sails, sail handling, rope work, fire precautions and fighting, personal safety equipment, man overboard, emergency equipment, meteorology, seasickness, helmsmanship, general duties, manners and customs, rules of the road, dinghies
  • Ability after the course: Able to steer, handle sails, keep a lookout, row a dinghy and assist in all the day to day routines

Day Skipper 

A course for aspiring skippers with some yachting experience and basic navigation and sailing skills.

Learn to skipper a short passage with the instructor on hand to give advice and encouragement and ensure your safety. Experience being in charge, taking credit when it all  goes well and being responsible when it doesn’t.

  • Pre-course experience: 5 days, 100 miles, 4 night hours on board a sailing yacht
  • Assumed knowledge: Basic navigation and helmsmanship. It is recommended you attend the Day Skipper shore based course beforehand
  • Minimum duration: 5 days, 3 weekends or 3 days plus 2 days
  • Minimum age: 16
  • Course content: Preparation for sea, deck work, navigation, pilotage, meteorology, rules of the road, maintenance and repair work, engines, victualling, emergency situations, yacht handling under power, yacht handling under sail, passage making, night cruising

Coastal Skipper

Advanced skippering techniques for yachtsmen and women with considerable knowledge of sailing and navigation, wanting to undertake coastal passages by day and night.

Like the Day Skipper course, this course consists of skippered passages in a variety of situations. Each trainee will skipper more challenging passages and learn more about passage planning, pilotage by day and night, boat handling, safety and emergency situations.

It is a satisfying but intensive week, with candidates often working towards a Certificate of Competence.

Most centres will expect you to complete the Coastal Skipper/Yachtmaster™ Offshore shore based course beforehand as there is insufficient time to teach you theory during the week.

Coastal Skippers should be able to undertake more difficult passages by day and night and handle the yacht in more demanding conditions. By the end of the course you should have the knowledge, if not the experience, to become a Yachtmaster™.

The course can be taken in tidal or non-tidal waters and your certificate will be endorsed accordingly.

  • Pre-course experience: 15 days, 2 days as skipper, 300 miles, 8 night hours
  • Assumed knowledge: Boat handling to the standard of Day Skipper and navigation to shore based Coastal
  • Minimum duration: 5 days
  • Minimum age: 17
  • Course content:
    • Passage planning
    • Preparation for sea
    • Pilotage
    • Passage making and ability as skipper
    • Yacht handling under power
    • Yacht handling under sail
    • Adverse weather conditions
    • Emergency situations
  • Ability after the course: Able to skipper a yacht on coastal passages by day and night

 Yachtmaster™

An RYA Yachtmaster Certificate of Competence is often the ultimate aim of aspiring skippers. It is a well known, highly respected qualification worldwide, proving your experience and competence as a skipper.

Unlike other courses in the cruising programme, there is no formal training to complete in order to become a Yachtmaster™. Instead, provided that you have sufficient experience and sea time, you can put yourself forward for an exam to test your skills and knowledge.

Many Yachtmaster™ candidates choose to book themselves into an RYA training centre for some tailor-made tuition to prepare them for the exam, but this is not compulsory.

The ICC Assessment 

Sailors who need an ICC, but do not wish to attend an RYA training course, can take the ICC assessment to prove their competence.

Any sailor who has passed an RYA training course which proves their ability to skipper a vessel, such as the Day Skipper Practical Course, has proved their competence and therefore on presentation of their certificate the ICC can be issued.

For sailors who have not successfully completed an acceptable RYA practical course, but already have the required level of competence, the alternative is to take the ICC assessment which Charlie Sailing can arrange.

Once successfully completed, the relevant section of the ICC application form is signed  and submitted to the RYA Certification Department.

The ICC CEVNI Test

Sailors requiring an ICC valid for Europe’s inland waters must also pass the CEVNI Test, which checks your knowledge of the rules and signs that skippers of pleasure craft are expected to know and follow.

Charlie Sailing can arrange a paper based test on board.

Once successfully completed, the relevant section of the ICC application form is signed  and submitted to the RYA Certification Department.

For more information about RYA courses and availability please contact us.
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