When you head out to the wide blue yonder you may have full confidence in your boat, your knowledge of the seas, your ability to navigate and your locker stuffed full of jammy dodgers. But what about your crew? How confident are you that they know their keel from their elbow?
One of the more recent courses introduced by the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) is the Competent Crew Course. This actually forms part of their Cruising Scheme, and can be completed either on its own as part of a combined RYA Competent Crew & Day Skipper Practical course.
There are plenty of sailing schools all around the world offering this course, and if you follow it through from beginning to the end, with all of the subsequent courses which neatly fit together you’ll be able to go from complete novice to an ocean sailor, with the entire world at your feet. Or a few feet below your feet preferably, otherwise swimming lessons might be more practical.
One of the benefits of the Competent Crew course though is that whilst it does fit very neatly together with other courses that take you as far as you want to go, it also works perfectly as a standalone course, and for many people this is more than enough. To be able to qualify as a competent crewmember is for some people all that is necessary to enjoy a great time, explore parts of the world and have an adventure on the ocean waves. The course itself is fun and engaging, and usually lasts five days.
So what is included in the Competent Crew course? The course begins by assuming you know nothing at all about sailing, so whether this is true, or whether you have a little experience, and whether that is quite recent or in the dim and distant past when the sea was all in black and white doesn’t matter a bit.
A member of the crew of a boat will usually be expected to do rather more than admire the view and stand at the front of the boat with arms outstretched declaring themselves to be the king of the world. In fact a crew member will usually be involved in almost every aspect of sailing, and so the course will cover a wide range of topics, which is why it lasts a full five days.
One of the first things you’ll be taught is the various nautical jargon used to refer to the various parts of a boat. You’ll learn all about the sails, how to set them up and how to take them down correctly, and what exactly it is you need to do with all those ropes. Sailing a boat involves more than wide open waters – you’ll need to learn what to do when you arrive at a marina or harbour, and how to secure the boat so that after you’ve enjoyed your scotch on dry land you’ll still have a boat to set sail in again.
The course itself is set on board a yacht, and this will provide a really good practical experience which will encompass all aspects of life on the ocean wave, including accommodation and food – essential, but often overlooked.
At the end of the Competent Crew course you’ll receive an official RYA G15 Logbook in which you can record all of your sailing adventures, and you’ll also receive an official RYA Course Completion Certificate.
Whether you see yourself as the captain of your own yacht one day, or you just want to experience what it is really like to work and live on board a yacht, this course is definitely proving popular and is well worth a look. To see a list of upcoming Competent Crew Courses visit www.theboatinghub.com/courses/competent-crew-practical-course/8