It has now been over a month that many of us have been on lockdown confinement due to the corona virus outbreak. This has had a huge impact on the yachting industry, from the restriction of movement of yachts to crew being prevented from travelling to join yachts.
The restrictions have, unsurprisingly, also prevented sailing schools and training centres from running practical and classroom-based courses. This time of year is usually very busy for superyacht crew training in the Mediterranean, particularly for Yachtmaster courses. I wouldn’t like to speculate on the numbers, but a lot of crew have had to reschedule their course plans.
While I can’t provide a solution for practical training until the restrictions have been lifted, I wanted to take the opportunity to offer advice regarding theory courses. The RYA offer 4 separate shore based (theory) courses which can either be held in a classroom within a training centre, or online. As most schools have had to temporally pull down their shutters they are still working and now is a great time to sign up to a course. Doing so is a great way to beat the COVID boredom, while taking steps to further your career and expand your knowledge.
Here’s a rundown of the online shore based courses available:
Essential Navigation and Seamanship is an introduction course, teaching the basics. It’s a great starting placeand, in terms of progression, a good option for green crew, possibly as a follow on from the Powerboat Level 2 course.
Course topics include charts and publications, safety, engine checks, buoyage, tidal awareness, visual and electronic navigation, pilotage, rules of the road, anchoring, weather forecasts, passage planning.
Day Skipper provides the foundations of navigational, chartwork and tidal theory. Achieving this level of knowledge is a requirement before progressing to Yachtmaster offshore.
Course topics include the basics of seamanship, the essentials of coastal navigation and pilotage, chartwork, electronic charts, position fixing, plotting a course to steer, weather forecasting and meteorology, tides, collision regulations, the construction, parts and equipment of a cruising boat, emergency and safety procedures including distress calls, use of flares, safety harnesses, lifejackets and life rafts.
Coastal Skipper/ Yachtmaster Offshore expands on the fundamentals of the Day Skipper course to present navigation at a higher level. To start this course without having a good grasp of theory at Day Skipper level is likely to be quite overwhelming and perhaps counterproductive.
Course topics include position fixing, course shaping and plotting, tidal knowledge, use of almanacs and admiralty publications, electronic position finding equipment, taking and interpreting forecasts, plotting weather systems, weather predictions using a barometer and by observation, collision regulations, customs and excise regulations for cruising abroad.
Yachtmaster Ocean is the last and highest level of the RYA shore based courses. A prerequisite of this course is that students must hold the Yachtmaster Offshore (practical) Certificate of Competence. It is also expected that you have retained most of the theory knowledge of the Yachtmaster Offshore shore based course.
Topics covered include the earth and the celestial sphere, practical guide to use and care of sextant at sea, meridian altitudes, sun, star and other sights and ocean passage planning.
Where can I sign up?
All RYA courses are run by recognised training centres as opposed to being offered directly by the RYA. This means that you have a lot of choice. A quick search on Google or on the RYA website will provide many options for you. I recommend doing some research to find an option that works for you.
I would, however, like to make a recommendation. Sovren Nautical Academy has recently opened in Palma’s Santa Catalina. The Nautical Academy provides the full range of training, not just on deck, but also interior crew training and STCW training with the added benefit of working in association with Sovren Crew, so you can train and secure a job all with one team.
The team at Sovren have ensured that throughout these challenging times they are doing everything they can to help and one of their many initiatives is to donate 10% of all course fees to ‘Yachting Gives Back’ organisation. Yachting Gives Back are currently running their HEROES AGAINST HUNGER campaign. Every morning the volunteers put on their masks and gloves as their mission to feed Palma’s poor and homeless begins all over again. Sovren is the only training centre providing support in this way.
As I sit in isolation, anchored in Palma Bay, writing this article for an unprecedented ‘online only’ issue of The Islander, it is not clear how long the restrictions will continue to be in force. For sure, our industry has been disrupted for the foreseeable future. However, you can make a positive action towards furthering your career, expanding your knowledge by choosing an online course, with the added benefit of a donation made in your name to an extremely worthwhile charity.
Here are some useful links:
Royal Yachting Association: www.bit.ly/rya-theory
Sovren Nautical Academy: www.bit.ly/academy-theory
Yachting Gives Back: www.yachtinggivesback.com
Stay positive, stay safe.