Few things compare to the thrill of slicing through the water at the helm of a high speed powerboat. The freedom and adventure combines with a sense of exhilaration and excitement, and they’re surprisingly easy boats to handle.
Once you’ve got used to the power, and you understand safe handling and navigation you’re not far off being able to either hire a powerboat, or buy one. But what about training?
The Royal Yachting Association (RYA) run a number of powerboat courses, from ones designed for complete beginners to more advanced courses. But what’s included with each course, and what pre knowledge or experience do you need to have?
The first course available is designed for complete beginners, and therefore assumes no prior knowledge or experience. It doesn’t really matter too much if you wouldn’t even know a marine map if your cod and chips came wrapped in it, and if the closest you’d come to a boat before was watching Pirates of the Caribbean on Blu-Ray.
This Level 1 course lasts just one day, and will cover three basic areas, including general boating safety, basic handling of a boat, and basic theory. The minimum age for anyone to undertake the RYA Level 1 Powerboating course is 8 years old.
The Level 2 course follows on straight from the Level 1 course, and whilst it is preferable to do one after the other, there is no actual prior knowledge or experience needed to undertake the Level 2 course. The minimum age for this though is a little higher, at 12 years.
The Level 2 course lasts two days, so it’s twice the length, and covers close quarters boat handling, planning speed manoeuvres, man overboard recovery and collision regulations. At the end of this course you should be able to handle a powerboat in familiar waters during the daytime.
In order to enrol on the Intermediate course you will need to have completed the Level 2 course first, and the minimum age is 16. This is another two day course, and will cover daytime navigation skills, passage planning, use of plotting instruments and GPS and electronic navigation. By the end of this course you will be able to handle and navigate a powerboat on coastal passages during the daytime.
There are three certification requirements you will need to have gained before beginning an RYA Advanced Powerboat course, and these include the Intermediate course, Navigation to Coastal Skipper and Yachtmaster Offshore Shorebased. This is another two day course, and the minimum age is 17.
The practical aspects of the Advanced course will provide the information, knowledge and experience necessary to cope with skippering techniques for coastal passages, and will provide you with the ability to safely navigate a powerboat on coastal passages by both day and night. Note that this is the first level of certification which provides the ability to use a powerboat at night.
There is one further course available, which is the RYA Safety Boat course. This can be completed at the age of 16, covers two days, and requires you to have the Boat Handling certification to either Level 1 or 2. This course will cover recovery techniques for a variety of boats, and is ideal for anyone who is considering providing safety support cover in either a racing or a training environment.
Of course these all cover practical techniques, but there is a good deal more which can be learned in order to increase the competency and safety of both you and your crew when out enjoying a powerboat. There are plenty of shore based courses, including navigation and first aid, which will be of great benefit.