Our 5-day Day Skipper Practical Course syllabus is designed for aspiring skippers who want the qualification, knowledge, and skills you need to be skipper on a yacht charter.
To enrol in this course, you must have either completed a Competent Crew Course or have the equivalent level of competency (click here for availability). Additionally, you must have finished the Shore based Day Skipper course or have sufficient navigational knowledge. With the aid of our knowledgeable instructor, you will acquire the skills necessary to captain a yacht and handle all associated responsibilities.
During the course, you will have the opportunity to stay and eat onboard the yacht. Each night, we aim to visit a new marina, harbour, or anchorage.
But what are the specific details of the Day Skipper Practical syllabus, and what can you expect to be doing daily?
Day Skipper syllabus (practical course)
The Day Skipper Course is conducted on board a cruising yacht (7 to 15m LOA), to teach pilotage, navigation, seamanship, and boat handling up to the standard required to skipper a small cruising yacht safely by day in tidal waters with which the student is familiar.
The syllabus sections are:
Preparation for sea: Learn how and develop the ability to understand basic stability and buoyancy principles for small boats, as well as the skills to ready a cruising vessel for sailing, such as performing engine inspections, securely storing all gear above and below deck, and choosing appropriate sails.
Deck work: Learn how to be capable of preparing the anchor, mooring warps, and taking command of the deck while mooring alongside, approaching a buoy, anchoring, lifting anchor, and detaching from a buoy or a dock. Proficient in reefing, shaking out reefs, and changing sails to adjust to the current weather conditions.
Navigation: Learn how to understand the functionality and constraints of AIS. You will also become skilled in working up a Dead Reckoning (DR) and Estimated Position (EP), using a lead line or similar, and working a Course to Steer to account for set, drift, and leeway. Also learn about taking and plotting visual fixes, using electronic navigation devices for position fixing, and relying on secondary methods of position fixing. Familiar with waypoints and routes, as well as with the IALA buoyage system. Competent in keeping navigational records and operating an echo sounder.
Pilotage: Learn to be proficient in devising and implementing a pilotage plan for entering or exiting a harbour, employing leading and clearing lines, as well as transits and soundings to assist in pilotage.
Meteorology: Learn how to interpret shipping forecasts and utilizing a barometer as a predictive tool. You will also learn how to locate forecast data from various sources.
Rules of the road: Learn and demonstrate a practical understanding of the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea.
Maintenance and repair work: Learn about the characteristics and applications of typical synthetic fibre ropes. You will also become competent in performing and completing maintenance tasks.
Engines: Learn to understand the importance of conducting routine maintenance assessments on engines and electrical systems. You will also become knowledgeable on the necessary tool kits, spare parts, and lubricants required for maintenance. Become familiar with the location of filters and bleeding points for fuel, as well as the proper tension and adjustment of drive belts. Become proficient in performing pre-start, mid-operation, and post-operation checks, cleaning water filters, and identifying impellor locations. Become capable of estimating fuel consumption rates at different speeds and understand the effects of fouling. You will learn to carry out basic troubleshooting.
Victualling: Understands how to victual a cruising vessel appropriately for the planned passage.
Emergency situations: Learn to be proficient in issuing emergency distress signals using all available methods, such as distress flares and VHF radio, in a crisis. Become capable of deploying a life raft and securing a tow, as well as understanding rescue protocols, including helicopter rescue. You will also learn about the impact of cold-water shock on an individual in the water, as well as the necessary aftercare for a casualty who has been immersed in water. Competent in taking appropriate action as a yacht skipper for man overboard recovery.
Sail Training Candidates only – Watch Leader
Yachting Candidates only – Day Skipper
Yacht handling under power: Learn about the impact of waves on vessel control and crew well-being and comprehends distinct hull and propulsion system designs. Skilled in mooring and departing from a bow/stern-to position and adept in identifying and accounting for wind and current patterns when plotting and carrying out manoeuvres. Capable of performing the following actions under power in a range of wind and tidal scenarios: steering a straight course, turning in a restricted space, anchoring at a predetermined site, berthing alongside, leaving an alongside berth, picking up a mooring buoy, and being mindful of other water users.
Yacht handling under sail: Learn how to understand the attributes of varying keel designs and capable of recognizing and considering wind and current factors when planning and executing manoeuvres. Proficient in safely approaching and departing from a mooring buoy, as well as anchoring in different wind and tidal circumstances. Skilled in steering and adjusting sails efficiently on all sailing points.
- Is able to prepare a yacht for sea, including engine checks, selection of sails, securing and stowage of all gear on deck and below
- Can reef, shake out reefs and change sails to suit prevailing conditions
- Can prepare an anchor, mooring warps and take charge on deck when mooring alongside, coming to a buoy, anchoring, weighing anchor and slipping from a buoy or an alongside berth
- Is proficient in chartwork 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
- 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
- Knows sources of forecast information
- Can interpret shipping forecasts and use a barometer as a forecasting aid
- Has a working knowledge of the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea
- Understands and is able to carry out maintenance tasks
- Knows the properties and uses of common synthetic fibre ropes
- Knows how to change fuel and water filters, pump impeller and to bleed the fuel system
- Understands how to victual a yacht
- Is able to take correct action as skipper for recovery of 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
- Understands the organisation and is fully competent to take charge of a watch at sea and in harbour
- Can bring a boat safely to and from and alongside berth, mooring buoy and anchor under various conditions of wind and tide
- Can bring a yacht 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
- Can plan and make a coastal passage, taking account of relevant navigational hazards and limitations imposed by the type of boat and the strength of the crew
- You will also be assessed on how you carried out general duties satisfactorily on deck and below decks in connection with the daily routine of the vessel.
Want to get started?
We appreciate that sailing can seem intimidating at first, particularly when you see the syllabus of the Day Skipper course. However, with the expert training and support you will receive from the First Class Sailing team over the five days, it will be a fulfilling and enjoyable experience.
Our experienced instructors will guide you through each step of the course syllabus, providing support and encouragement along the way. You will also get support from the team of other people with you, most of whom are starting from the same point as you.
The most important thing is to keep an open mind, don’t be worried about your perceived ability (or lack of), listen closely to instructions, and trust in yourself.
It’s going to be a great 5 days!
If you have any questions about the RYA Day Skipper Practical course or would like to check for available dates, please call us on 020 3006 3717.
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