RYA Day Skipper - Practical

RYA Day Skipper Practical Course - Tidal

The RYA Day Skipper practical course, is your introduction to skippering a yacht. We know that the first time you charter a yacht or set off on your own boat, it can be a nerve racking experience! During the course we teach you the basic practical skippering techniques to enable you to feel confident, the first time you set sail as the Skipper. You will need some sailing experience and a basic knowledge of  theory and navigation up to RYA Day Skipper shore based level. Completion of a RYA Day Skipper shore based course beforehand will greatly enhance the value of the Day Skipper practical course, although it is possible to study the syllabus at home if you wish.

The RYA Day Skipper practical course can be taken as a straight five day course, over weekends or it can be combined with the shore based course and completed in 9 days. During the course each person is given the opportunity to navigate and take control of the yacht on short coastal passages. Your instructor is there to ensure that your first, perhaps hesitant steps as a Day Skipper are taken in safety. You will be given the opportunity to practice your boat handling in a variety of mooring situations, and whilst at sea your instructor will cover subjects such as pilotage, deck work, sail trim and how to cope in emergency situations.

As a Skipper, you are responsible for the management of a yacht and for the safety of those on board who sail with you. Therefore the course also includes meteorology, basic engine checks, passage planning, preparing the yacht for sea, and rules of the road. Although you will qualify to sail in day light hours, night sailing is also undertaken to give you a taste of pilotage in the dark. By the end of this course the successful RYA Day Skipper will be able to undertake short coastal passages by day, in both tidal and non-tidal waters. Successful completion of this course means that you will be awarded the RYA Day Skipper practical course completion certificate and can charter one of our yachts.

Holders of the Day Skipper practical certificate can gain an International Certificate of Competence (ICC) without any further training or assessment.


Pre-course experience:

The minimum pre course experience for this course is 5 days, 100 nautical miles and 4 night hours on board a cruising yacht. We would recommend that most students have more experience than this prior to attending this course. Along side command skills, those considering the Day Skipper practical course should have a sound knowledge of the Competent Crew syllabus and be confident with helming and basic sail trim on all points of sail. Day Skipper Course participants should be able to take charge when tacking or gybing and should be able to recognise when close to a gybe situation to avoid any accidental gybes. Students should know the correct order for putting in and taking out reefs, be able to use winches and jammers safely and know how to secure the yacht along side.

Assumed theoretical knowledge: Day Skipper shore based course completion certificate or the equivalent knowledge of someone who has attended the course

Minimum age: 16

Teaching ratio on board 5:1

Not included in the course fee: Although accommodation is provided onboard, the mooring fees are split between the students. Wet weather jackets & salopettes are available to hire for £7.50 per day. A selection of accompanying course books & logbooks are available to purchase.

Students should allow for one evening meal ashore on a five day course. All other catering including three evening meals are provided onboard. 



RYA Day Skipper Practical Training Centre

RYA Day Skipper Practical - Typical 5 Day Course Itinerary

Day 1

08:30 Arrive at Hamble - Check in at School reception. Introduction to yacht. Try on safety equipment. - Preparations to depart,  deck briefing on all the workings of the various ropes and sails.

On deck - Introduction to ropes and rigging, preparation of the yacht for sea. Engine start controls, sea cocks and bilge pumps. 

Practice manoeuvring under power. Coming alongside pontoons, the use of warps and fenders. 
Lunch on board at anchor or tied to a mooring buoy. 
Weather forecast. 
Manoeuvring under sail, reefing and headsail changes 
Man overboard , the correct response as the skipper. 
19:00 Enter Solent harbour. Stow sails and tidy up on deck. 
Discuss the days events. 
20:00 Supper

Day 2

Weather Forecast, clean up and prepare for sea. 
Tide tables, the tidal stream atlas. Pilotage techniques. 
Practice pile moorings or mooring buoys. Set off on short passage 
Weather forecast 
Sail off to anchorage - steering a compass course 
Whilst at anchor cover rules of road, buoyage and position fixing
18:3 Supper 
20:00 Depart on night sail (weather permitting)

Day 3

08:00 Breakfast. Passage planning 
Depart to sail on passage. 
During the day : points of sail, passage making decisions, Discussion of emergency situations. 
Dinghy drills. 
20:00 Supper (spare evening for night sail)

Day 4

By 08:30 Weather Forecast, breakfast, clean yacht and prepare for sea.
09:00 Pontoon moorings, further practice.
Depart to practice entry to as many ports as possible, more points of sailing practice.
19.00 Arrive at a port for evening.

Day 5

By 08:30 Weather forecast, breakfast, and preparation for sea.
0Sailing in the Solent - practice all aspects 
15:00 Return to Hamble Point. Clean up yacht, return oilskins etc.
16:00 Finish course, debrief, sign logbooks, depart

Day Skipper Practical Course Syllabus - Tidal

1. Preparation for sea

  • The Day Skipper should be able to carry out proper preparation of a yacht prior to departure, this includes; checking the engine, selecting the appropriate sails, securely stowing  all gear both on and below deck. 

2. Deck work

  •  A Day Skipper candidate should be proficient in sail handling and will be taught and practice how to reef, shake out reefs and change headsails to suit the conditions.
  • Can effectively prepare the anchor and mooring lines prior to berthing and take charge on deck in the following situations; mooring alongside, picking up a buoy, anchoring, weighing anchor and slipping  warps when leaving a buoy or from a pontoon berth 

3. Navigation

The successful Day Skipper should be proficient in chart work and routine navigational duties on passage to the level of someone who has completed the RYA Day Skipper shore based course  Core skills include:

  • Taking visual fixes and plotting these on a chart
  • The use of electronic navigation equipment for fixing your position
  • Using electronic waypoints
  • Working up deduced reckoning positions (DR) and developing estimated positions (EP)
  • calculating tidal heights and tidal streams
  • Working out course to steer to allow for the offset of tidal streams and leeway
  • A working knowledge of IALA buoyage system
  • Maintaining efficient navigational records
  • Use of echo sounder and lead line 

4. Pilotage

  • A Day Skipper should be able to prepare and effectively use a pilotage plan for entry or departure from harbour. This includes an understanding of the use of clearing lines, leading lines, transits, soundings and other aids to pilotage

5. Meteorology

  • Is aware of the common sources of weather forecasts
  • Can interpret shipping forecasts and use a barometer as a forecasting aid prior to undertaking a Day Skipper passage

6. Rules of the road

  • The Day Skipper should pocess a working knowledge of the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea

7. Maintenance and repair work

  • Understands and is able to carry out basic maintenance tasks
  • Knows the properties of common synthetic ropes and understands their use on board a yacht

8. Engines

  • Understands the importance of checking and knows how to change water filters, fuel filters, cooling pump impeller, alternator belts and to bleed the fuel system

9. Food

  • Understands how to provision a yacht, often called victualling

10. Emergency situations

  • An effective Day Skipper should be able to demonstrate an understanding of the correct action to be taken as skipper for recovery of a person overboard
  • Understands distress signals and flares and knows how to use a liferaft
  • Can operate a VHF radio in an emergency, send a digital distress alert by DSC and transmit a Mayday call
  • Understands how to effectively secure a tow
  • Has an understanding of the procedures employed by rescue vessels and helicopters, including hi-line rescue techniques

11. Yacht handling under power

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

12. Yacht handling under sail

  • An RYA Day Skipper should understand how to bring a boat safely to and from a mooring buoy and anchor under various conditions of wind and tide under sail
  • Can trim sails and steer a yacht effectively on all points of sail 

13. Passage making

  • Can effectively plan and undertake a coastal passage, taking into account all relevant navigational hazards and understands the limitations imposed by the type of boat and the strength of the crew

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Certificate is awarded following successful completion of 5 days of tuition

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