Getting some sailing qualifications under your belt not only increases your knowledge and confidence, but can also help you secure some new and exciting crewing positions.
the RYA Competent Crew course is popular among new sailors, but here we cover some higher level courses and qualifications.
Here are 5 sailing qualifications we think every crew member should have…
Offshore Personal Survival Course
An ‘Offshore Personal Survival Course’ is an internationally recognised qualification. The training requirements form part of the World Sailing Offshore Special Regulations and are run and established by World Sailing Member National Authorities (MNAs). In Australia this is the Safety and Sea Survival (SSS) Course run by Australian Sailing, and in New Zealand it’s the Advanced Sea Survival Training provided by Yachting New Zealand.
A Safety and Sea Survival or equivalent course is a requirement for a portion of the crew in many offshore races, and provides invaluable knowledge and experience for anyone going offshore. Having this qualification not only gives you a leg up on the competition when trying to secure a crew position (such as in the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race), but could also save your life.
Marine First Aid
A First Aid qualification is also a requirement for a percentage of crew in many offshore races. Having a valid certificate could help you secure a crew position, and also provides valuable knowledge so you can help out a crew member in trouble.
In racing situations, help can be a long way away. If you’re racing inshore you will likely need to get back to a suitable landing area where an ambulance can meet you, and if you’re offshore it could take hours or even days for help to get to you.
A Marine First Aid course will cover how to manage common marine injuries over an extended period as well as how to stabilise a victim until help arrives and some more advance first aid techniques that may be required to treat a victim offshore.
Marine Radio Operator
A VHF Marine Radio is the most common way to communicate at sea.
To use a marine radio, the operator is required to hold a marine radio operator certificate of proficiency (Australia) or marine VHF operator’s qualification (New Zealand). These qualifications ensure you know the etiquette and regulations for using a marine radio, and digital selective calling (DSC), where appropriate.
There are a variety of courses that teach how to use marine navigation equipment and how to read and use nautical charts, understand course planning and management and learn other relevant topics such as the international regulations for preventing collisions at sea.
Whether you’re racing inshore or offshore, or trying to gain some experience with delivery trips, this knowledge will make you a valuable member of the crew.
The RYA offers a number of Navigation theory courses, or there are many other in-person or online courses available.
Diesel Engine Maintenance
The RYA Diesel Engine Maintenance course teaches you how your engine works, how to keep it healthy by using basic checks and maintenance procedures, and how to get it started again in the event of a breakdown.
Being able to trouble shoot and fix basic engine issues is a huge asset on a yacht; many yachts pull out of offshore races because of engine troubles, which mean they can’t recharge their batteries or safely complete the event.