by Pete Green
It’s a little-known fact that anyone regardless of age or experience can buy a yacht and go sailing without any formal training. This is the same whether it be a little sports-boat, day boat or a 150 foot Superyacht. It’s not like a car where you must pass a driving test before you can legally drive on your own. Although in theory this is the case, in practice it is usual that a boatowner will either already have experience or will want to get some before heading out into the great blue yonder. Just as our road system has its own specific rules and regulations, so do our waterways. Not knowing the basics of rules of the road (how to overtake and avoid others), navigation and meteorology, setting out to sea can all too quickly become a masterclass in calamity.
Boats are not like cars – they tend not to go in straight lines and are hugely influenced by tide, wind and weather. To keep safe on board and to also be safe around other boat users, training is fully recommended. The Royal Yachting Association (RYA) is the National body for all forms of boating in the UK. They run the world renowned recreational and professional boating training scheme which starts with RYA Competent Crew 5 day practical course and goes up to RYA Yachtmaster Ocean for those sailors wishing to Skipper yachts worldwide. The RYA’s brief is to increase participation in all boating activity so finding a steady line between getting more people involved and getting more people qualified is always a balancing act.
The RYA training scheme is very important for all people getting out on the water as it instils a sense of propriety and good order. The syllabus is set, so whichever RYA Training Centre you book a course from, the training should ultimately cover the same topics and relevant facts. (Halcyon Yachts clients and crew can get a discount from Sailing Logic in the Solent and Trysail in Falmouth). Living aboard a boat is very different to living ashore, and there is a whole new language to learn, which for the uninitiated can sound baffling. Such words as heave to, starboard, heads, halyard, fender, jib, boom all need to be learned as well as your knots (Bowline, clove hitch, reef and sheet-bend to name just a few). However different this seems, when you learn how to sail, you’ll not only become intimately familiar with all aspects of your boat, but also how your boat relates to its environment in terms of everything from the wind to the weather. Therefore learning how to sail can be so fulfilling and can foster such a sense of accomplishment.
Starting with RYA Competent crew, this 5 day practical course for beginners deals with how to live aboard a boat and shows crew what is needed to be a good member of the team when mooring up, steering, handling sails, rowing a dinghy and keeping a good lookout plus assisting in the day to day duties aboard. The next step up is learning how to take charge of a vessel and direct a team (your crew) on how to run the boat. To do this you not only need to practice bringing the yacht alongside pontoons and buoys safely but also need to understand the theory of sailing too. Weather plays a very important part of everyday boating, as does finding your way from A to B and back again. Reading a chart is not the same as reading a map, and understanding basic meteorology may save your life someday. The RYA Day Skipper theory and practical courses arm you with enough knowledge and practical experience to skipper a short passage safely, being in charge, taking credit when it all goes well and being responsible when it doesn’t.
The RYA provide formal training, but many a boat owner has never passed over the threshold of a sailing school and have honed their skills through trial and error. Many of Britains top sailors don’t have any formal sailing qualifications or certification and have managed successfully with help from friends and peers. However, what formal training does do, is to equip you with the knowledge of how to use a boat safely, look after your crew and have fun too! The variety of water and weather conditions make for every day on the water a different one and this is what makes it so enjoyable, exciting and exhilarating as a sport.
Don’t forget that Halcyon Yachts offer on-board tuition on your own boat, so you get relevant instruction using your own equipment in a familiar environment. Through our affiliation with an RYA sailing school we can also run RYA courses during deliveries. Whether you are new to sailing or just need a refresher, it’s always good to keep learning!
Halcyon Yachts Ltd is a dedicated international yacht delivery specialist with highly experienced and qualified crew. For more information or to see details of their recent deliveries please visit https://halcyonyachts.com/