RYA Cruising Scheme Explained
The RYA Cruising Scheme:
Worldwide, Royal Yachting Association (RYA) sailing courses and certificates arguably comprise the most well-recognised and highly-respected sail training scheme there is.
Sail cruising holds wide appeal for a huge variety of reasons and at Sail Nelson we teach RYA practical sail cruising courses to sailors of all skill levels. Regardless of whether you have never set foot on board a boat before, or are already very experienced, we have a course to suit you; from RYA Competent Crew for the beginner to RYA Yachtmaster™ Offshore for the highly experienced keelboat sailor.
All our courses are practical courses and focus heavily on practical sailing and cruising skills. Whilst on board we also cover the theory necessary to carry out the practical skills safely, but we don’t go into this in as much depth as on a dedicated theory course.
We teach all students at the level appropriate for their existing experience and ability and issue certificates accordingly. You can join the scheme at any level without having to work your way up through the certificates, so here’s a bit of a guide to help you decide which is the right course for you:
RYA Competent Crew Course
RYA Day Skipper Course
To be ready for the RYA Day Skipper practical course it’s important that you have a reasonable knowledge of terminology, navigation theory, rules of the road, lights, shapes and sound signals. You will get the chance to brush up on these during the practical course, but if these aren’t things that you’re already familiar with you should do the RYA Day Skipper Theory course first. This can be done online through Navathome.com as well as through other providers.
If you’re not sure that your skills under sail are up to speed then it’s a good idea to develop your wind awareness in a sailing dinghy. You can also do this in Nelson at Nelson Yacht Club, with training run by Nelson Watersports. More details can be found on our Dinghy Sailing Courses page.
The RYA Day Skipper practical certificate is the benchmark that is used by most Bareboat Yacht Charter companies to determine whether they will allow you to skipper one of their boats. Depending upon your country of residence, holders of the RYA Day Skipper practical certificate can also be issued with the International Certificate of Competence. More details on Day Skipper courses
RYA Coastal Skipper Course
RYA Yachtmaster™ Certificate
Both RYA Yachtmaster Coastal (not to be confused with RYA Coastal Skipper) and RYA Yachtmaster Offshore are certificates of competence that are awarded to successful candidates on completion of a 6 to 8 hr practical exam, conducted by an external examiner, independent from the sailing school. Sail Nelson run 5 day live-aboard RYA Yachtmaster™ exam preparation weeks, followed immediately by the exam over the weekend at the end of the course.
To be ready for your RYA Yachtmaster exam it’s not a requirement to have to obtained any prior sailing certificates, but you do need to be a very experienced and accomplished sailor with excellent navigation and boathandling skills and sufficient sea miles, as skipper and at night, under your belt. You also need to have recently completed and passed the RYA Yachtmaster theory course or at least have the theory knowledge of that level. More details on RYA Yachtmaster™ courses