The RYA Competent Crew Course aims to introduce the complete beginner to cruising and to teach personal safety, seamanship, sailing skills and helmsmanship to the level required to be a useful and competent crew member of a cruising yacht.
1. Naming the parts of a boat, her rigging and sails and Knowledge of nautical terms
The Competent Crew should be able to understand directions which are given by the skipper with regards to sailing the yacht.
2. Handling sails
Attaching (bending on), setting, trimming, adjusting and general sail handling.
Use of halyards and sheets to control the sails and safe use of winches
3. Rope work
Working with ropes, including; how to coil a rope, securing ropes to cleats, rings and bollards
Handling warps (the name given to the ropes we use secure the boat to a mooring)
The Competent Crew will be able to tie eight essential knots. These are; figure-of-eight, clove hitch, rolling hitch, bowline, round turn and two half hitches, single and double sheet bend, reef knot. You should also know when to use these knots and what they are use for.
4. Fire precautions and fighting
Fire on board a yacht at sea is a serious situation and assistance may not be readily available. The Competent Crew should be aware of the potential risk and precautions that can be taken to prevent a fire on board.
All crew will have a knowledge to what action to take should a fire break out.
5. Personal safety equipment
Crew should understand the rules for the wearing of lifejackets, harness lines and other personal safety equipment.
6. Man overboard
The Competent Crew will understand correct action to be taken to recover a person from the water.
7. Emergency equipment
All crew should understand how to safely operate distress flares and know when they should be used.
They should understand how to launch and board a liferaft
In addition to the above, the instructor will also cover other methods of distress alerting including sending out a Distress Alert by VHF radio and the associated Mayday call.
8. Manners and customs
All Competent Crew should understand the accepted practice with regard to: use of burgees and ensigns (flags), preventing unnecessary noise or disturbances in port and also the courtesies to be extended to other craft berthed alongside.
Often, particularly during the sailing season, yachts will be in close proximity with each other in port and it is important for skippers and crew to show consideration to others especially at night.
All competent crew members should be aware of their responsibility to protect the marine environment.
During the RYA Competent Crew course, the instructor will explain the legal stance regarding the disposal of rubbish at sea and the use of heads (toilet) in harbour.
9. Rules of the road
All crew should be able to keep an effective lookout at sea
The yacht will usually carry an inflateable dinghy onboard and it is important for all crew to understands and comply with the loading rules
During the Competent Crew course you will be taught how to row the dinghy in order to get ashore when the yacht is moored off.
Awareness of forecasting services and awareness of the Beaufort scale
In order to be a Competent Crew your working efficiency will be assessed and graded by your Instructor as: unaffected/partially affected/severely affected by seasickness.
If a student is seasick during a course but can still function as a useful crew member the log book will usually be marked up as unaffected by the instructor.
13. Helmsmanship and sailing
A successful Competent crew will demonstrate the ability to steer and trim sails on all points of sailing. They will also understand the basic principles of sailing and be able to steer a compass course, when the yacht is under both sail and power.
14. General duties
A good Competent Crew will carry out general duties satisfactorily on deck and below decks in connection with the daily routine of the vessel
It is possible to fail the Competent Crew course if you do not clean the boat at the end of the course or carry out your share of the domestic duties during the course!