The Best RYA Day Skipper Sail Practical Courses

Frequently Asked Questions About the RYA Day Skipper Practical Sail

Time5 days, OR 3x sets of 2 days, OR 1×2 days and 1×3 days
Prerequisites5 days at sea, 4 night hours, and 100 miles. The same as you would achieve on a Competent Crew course.
Min. Age16
ExamNone as such, this is a course with continuous assessment.
AimTo learn pilotage, navigation, seamanship, and boat handling up to the standard required to skipper a small cruising yacht safely by day in waters you are familiar with.

What Is The RYA Day Skipper Practical Sail Course?

The goal of the RYA Day Skipper Practical Sail course is to put all the lessons learned in your RYA Day Skipper Theory into practice and prepare you, the student, to be ready to skipper a vessel in familiar waters by day.

If you have not already done your RYA Day Skipper Theory, then you should do that first. You can find more information about our online course here; RYA Day Skipper Theory.

What Does the Day Skipper Practical Allow You To Do?

During the course, you will learn pilotage, navigation, seamanship and boat handling up to the standard required to skipper a small cruising yacht safely by day in waters which you are familiar with.

An RYA Day Skipper Practical Sail ticket allows the holder to charter a small cruising yacht. It also gives credibility to the holder’s skill and will likely be looked at positively by insurance companies.

Occasionally, charter companies may ask for an ICC but this is easily acquired by just a small additional fee after completion of the RYA Day Skipper Practical Sail course or for free if you are a member of the RYA.

Who Can Do an RYA Day Skipper Practical?

The RYA Day Skipper Practical Sail course is open to anyone who meets the basic minimum criteria.

  • 16 years of age or older
  • 5 days spent at sea
  • 100nm sailed
  • 4 night hours experienced on the water

If you are a complete newbie to sailing, then you will want to take the RYA Competent Crew course. You can read more about that here. (linked to comp crew course blog)

Can You Go Straight to the RYA Day Skipper Practical Sail Course?

A practical experience in line with the RYA Competent Crew course is expected as on the RYA Day Skipper Practica Saill you move away from the learning of the hands-on crewing skills and start to look at and develop your skippering skills.

Additionally, you should aim to complete your RYA Day Skipper Theory before attending your RYA Day Skipper Practical Sail course.

However, as long as you have this relevant knowledge, you can indeed, go straight into RYA Day Skipper Practical Sail.

How Long Does The Course Take?

The RYA Day Skipper Practical Sail is a 5-day live-aboard course, however, some schools may choose to split this, or indeed, even extend it.

Nobody will become an expert overnight on these RYA Day Skipper Practical Sail courses, but these early skillsets taught will enable the student to create firm building blocks as they progress in their sailing career.

Is There a Set Syllabus?

There is indeed a syllabus. Each of the following topics represents a specific part of the learnings that will be covered on an RYA Day Skipper Practical Sail course in varying levels of detail.

Preparation for sea, deck work, navigation, pilotage, meteorology, rules of the road, maintenance and repair work, engines, victualling, emergency situations, handling under power, handling under sail, passage making and night cruising detail the various aspects of the syllabus.

Read on to learn in a little more detail about how each of these is covered in a little more detail.

A Day Skipper student smiling as they learn everything required in the RYA Day Skipper Practical course.

What Might I Learn on an RYA Day Skipper Practical Sail Course?

Whilst on the RYA Competent Crew the learning was focussed on the deck work of sailing skills, at RYA Day Skipper Practical Sail the focus is on skippering the boat through the manoeuvres, knowing when to tack and even going on to understand how to control the vessel under sail to pick up a mooring.

You will learn how to prepare their boat and crew for sea. This will include guidance on how to brief the crew, carry out basic engine checks and even manage victualling. 

One of the most repeated tasks on the RYA Day Skipper Practical Sail course is understanding how to take charge and how to execute manoeuvering the vessel under power. This is because getting the vessel out of and into a harbour or marina is a key aspect in being able to both enjoy and be safe during your time afloat.

The application of chartwork and electronic navigation aids will be covered to learn how to apply these and use them to assist your passage-making and execution of pilotage plans including using bearings, leading lines and transits if available. 

Forecasts will be checked during the course to understand and interpret the weather and how to apply these to your cruising as well as monitoring this throughout the course.

Specific time will be given to further enhance the student’s knowledge of the ‘rules of the road’ and guidance on how to apply these in real-life situations.

Emergency situations will, of course, be covered, including how to effectively recover a casualty in the water, towing and using the safety equipment found onboard.

The care of and general maintenance of a vessel will be covered, ranging from how to ‘put the boat to bed’ in the evenings, to daily tasks we can do to look after the vessel and how to leave the boat clean and tidy at the end of the time onboard.

Finally, there will be the chance to experience a short passage under sail while being completely responsible for the navigational tasks required.

All of these aspects will be covered directly as the student acting as skipper, or having the opportunity to observe other students as skipper. Both these aspects provide very different but effective learning experiences.

What Is the Cost of an RYA Day Skipper Practical Sail Course?

As ever, many schools differ in price. We would recommend that you take a look around at the various options and find what suits your needs the best. Cheapest is not often better.

This can range from knowing if you will have to share a cabin while onboard to whether food and berthing charges are included to how many other students you will be sharing your week with.

Where Should I Do My RYA Day Skipper Practical Sail Course?

There are many thoughts on where is best, but to be truthful, it is what works for you best. 

One thought is to do it in an area that you plan to sail in in the future, that way, any specific learnings you take on your RYA Day Skipper Practical Sail course will be incredibly valuable to your future sailing. Another is to consider those factors above, such as berthing costs, food and sleeping situations.

Finally, it is important to know where you might be sailing to. Ideally, you want to be staying in different ports or anchorages each night, and while this isn’t always possible, you do not want to be returning to the same home port every night.

What Is the Pass Mark for the Course?

There is no specific pass mark as such. The instructor’s aim is to bring you up to a level where you can safely skipper a vessel in and out of a harbour and complete a short passage to another safe haven, be that an anchorage, harbour or port.

The instructor for your course will guide and personalise any learnings so as to improve your knowledge and skills as best as possible.

What Comes After RYA Day Skipper Practical

After your RYA Day Skipper Practical Sail, we suggest getting out on the water and putting your new skills into practice. This may be on your own boat, a charter boat or even a friend’s boat.

Being out on the water without an instructor to guide or correct you will really help to enforce your newly learned skills.

The next step will be first to do your RYA Coastal Skipper and Yachtmaster Theory and then progress on to your RYA Coastal Skipper Practical Sail. 

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