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I’m a first time boater - what qualifications do I need?

Undertaking sailing courses is a great way to build confidence, spend time on the water with an experienced instructor, and gain the qualifications you need to keep your family safe on board. 


Each country has its own accreditations and sailing associations, but entry-level qualifications will always focus on steering a yacht, sail handling, ropework, and safety.


In the UK, the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) has a super range of beginner’s courses including the National Sailing Scheme for those wanting to learn in dinghies, small keelboats or multihulls. Levels 1, 2 and 3 will enable you to progress in a few days from complete beginner to being ready for more advanced courses such as Seamanship Skills, Day Sailing, Performance Sailing, or Sailing with Spinnakers. Check out Sailing Yachts for Sale


For more advanced courses for offshore cruising, the RYA Day Skipper qualification is a good starting point and leads on to the RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Certificate.

NauticEd International Sailing Education provides a 21st century platform for learning to sail. They offer multimedia online courses as well as a global network of sailing instructors. They provide free tools such as a sailing resume building tool, a free online logbook, a wealth of free learning to sail information, and a free sailing vacation booking service for their students. They even provide two free sailing courses to get started. NauticEd focuses on helping sailors become competent with comprehensive knowledge and skills using a variety of teaching methods which include virtual reality training. They are the only American sailing education body recognized by the US Coast Guard's American National Standards. 


The American Sailing Association (ASA) has a comprehensive package of progressive sailing certification programmes to get you started. Sailors can cherry-pick the courses which suit their interest and skill-levels, whether it’s ASA 101 Basic Keelboat Sailing, ASA 103 Basic Coastal Cruising, or ASA 104 Bareboat Cruising. As an example, Bareboat Cruising would teach you how to sail a sloop-rigged 30'-45' sailboat during a multi-day cruise in moderate winds and sea conditions. The course would include provisioning, boat systems, auxiliary engines, advanced sail trim, coastal navigation, anchoring and mooring, docking, emergency operations, and weather. 


Across the world, there are sailing associations with invaluable resources and training schemes to help get you started. In Australia, Discover Sailing, part of the national Australian Sailing Association is the best place to start, while the World Sailing Organisation, the world governing body for the sport of sailing, is a really good resource for those wanting to get competitive.


Based in Canada, International Yacht Training Worldwide (IYT) is an independent sailing and boating training organisation which offers recreational and professional courses all over the world. They are the largest organisation of their kind and have been endorsed by the world’s leading regulatory authorities. You’ll find over 250 schools in 56 countries using the IYT curriculum.


When it comes specifically to motorboats, in the UK the RYA offers the well-known and valuable Powerboat training courses which offer a sound grounding in theory and practical. The Powerboat Level 1 and RYA Powerboat Level 2 are the entry-level courses and these can be followed by the more comprehensive Intermediate and Advanced powerboat courses. The Powerboat Level 1 is a one day course that gives you hands-on training in boat handling and safety, while Advanced course covers everything from handling to seamanship, Pilotage, navigation, night cruising, and tidal waters.


Rightboat have 1000’s of great boats for sale that would be perfect starter boats.  From sailing dinghies, yachts, speed boats, bowriders, and RIBs and more.   



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Written By: Samantha Wilson

Samantha Wilson has spent her entire life on and around boats, from tiny sailing dinghies all the way up to superyachts. She writes for many boating and yachting publications, top charter agencies, and some of the largest travel businesses in the industry, combining her knowledge and passion of boating, travel and writing to create topical, useful and engaging content.

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