RYA Competent Crew is a popular starting point in the yacht cruising syllabus. This course is for beginners and those who would like to become an active crew member rather than just a passenger. You’ll experience living on board, really getting to know the boat. Virtually all the course is hands-on, you are the crew, without you, the sails won’t go up and the boat won’t be steered. By the end of the course, you should be able to steer, handle sails, keep a lookout, row a dinghy and assist in all the day to day duties on board. You will also have visited some interesting places and had an enjoyable holiday!
The RYA Competent Crew is the perfect starting point for your RYA training programme and a great introduction to yachting. The course introduces you to the delights of sailing aboard a cruising yacht. It is an ideal stepping stone for dinghy sailors trying yachting for the first time and for those who have already done some crewing but wish to learn more. At the end of the 5-day course, you will become, a competent, confident crew member.
The course is run in a SAFE but FUN and FRIENDLY environment aimed at BUILDING CONFIDENCE and YACHTING SKILLS,it’s ideal for BEGINNERSwith no previous sailing or yachting experience.
You will be taught the fundamentals of crewing such as knots, nautical terms, sail handling and helming, as well as how to live in the environment of a cruising yacht. During the RYA Competent Crew course you will spend all 5 days aboard the yacht visiting many of the beautiful harbours and anchorages of the Solent and if the weather allows, complete a longer coastal passage. With a maximum of 4 students per course, your fully qualified instructor will devote plenty of time to your individual needs. Safety is paramount on all RYA courses and you will learn how to operate flares, lifejackets, safety harnesses, liferafts, how to assist the recovery of a man overboard and participate in at least four hours of night sailing during the course. This is the perfect starting point before going on to complete the Day Skipper Theory and Day Skipper Practical courses. If you want to get a head start before taking this course, you can do the Essential Navigation and Seamanship online course (this is not a pre-requisite).
At the end of the course, you will be awarded the RYA Competent Crew Certificate and be an asset to any crew you join!
Competent Crew Syllabus
The Competent Crew course introduces the complete beginner to cruising and teaches personal safety, seamanship and helmsmanship to the level required to be a useful member of the crew on a sailing yacht.
1. Knowledge of sea terms and parts of a boat, her rigging and sails
Sufficient knowledge to understand instructions given concerning the sailing and day to day running of the boat.
2. Sail Handling
Bending on, setting, reefing and handling of sails
Use of sheets and halyards and their associated winches
Handling ropes, including coiling, stowing, securing to cleats and single and double bollards
Ability to tie the following knots and to know their correct use: figure-of-eight, clove hitch, rolling hitch, bowline, round turn and two half hitches, single and double sheet bend, reef knot
4. Fire precautions and fighting
Awareness of the hazards of fire and the precautions necessary to prevent fires.
Knowledge of the action to be taken in the event of a fire
5. Personal safety equipment
Understands and complies with rules for the wearing of safety harnesses, lifejackets and personal buoyancy aids
6. Man overboard
Understands the action to be taken to recover a man overboard
7. Emergency equipment
Can operate distress flares and knows when they should be used
Understands how to launch and board a liferaft
8. Manners and customs
Understands accepted practice with regard to: use of burgees and ensigns, prevention of unnecessary noise or disturbance in harbour including courtesies to other craft berthed
Aware of the responsibility of yacht skippers to protect the environment
9. Rules of the road
Is able to keep an efficient lookout at sea
Understands and complies with the loading rules
Is able to handle a dinghy under oars
Awareness of forecasting services and knowledge of the Beaufort scale
Working efficiency is unaffected/partially affected/severely affected by seasickness
13. Helmsmanship and sailing
Understands the basic principles of sailing and can steer and trim sails on all points of sailing
Can steer a compass course, under sail and power
14. General duties
Has carried out general duties satisfactorily on deck and below decks in connection with the daily routine of the vessel
Example itinerary of a Competent Crew course
The RYA Competent Crew course is a 5-day course, either 5 consecutive days or runs over 3 weekends or 3 days plus a weekend.
EVENING BEFORE DAY 1
1830h Arrive at Universal and check in
Meet the instructor, collect food and move onto the yacht to settle in
Stowe away all provisioning and personal kit
Instructor’s safety briefing and yacht familiarisation talk
Go ashore for evening meal and drink. A good chance to break the ice and have a relaxing evening before setting sail the next day
0800 Showers at the marina facilities, breakfast, clean up and get a weather forecast
Recap safety procedures on deck. Introduction to deck gear, ropes and rigging and various parts of the yacht
Engine start controls and rigging/slipping of mooring lines and fenders
Slip mooring and motor down the River Hamble giving everyone a chance to steer the yacht under power
Practice coming alongside and leaving various pontoons with everyone rotating jobs
Short sail to an anchorage or mooring buoy giving everyone the chance to raise sails and control them using the sheets
1300 Lunch at a mooring buoy or anchorage. Discuss the use of liferafts
Practice the basic points of sail with each person having the opportunity to helm or control sheets
Practice putting in and shaking out reefs
Practice headsail changes or furling
Sail to overnight destination practising what a crew member should do in the event of a Man Overboard situation
1830 Enter a new harbour in the Solent and moor up. Stow sails and tidy-up on and below deck
1900 Debrief on the days’ events whilst dinner is cooking in the oven
2000 Supper followed by a trip ashore to a local pub
0800 Showers at marina facilities, breakfast, clean up and get a weather forecast
1000 Prepare the yacht for sea and undertake a passage to an anchorage for lunch. On route, each crew member will experience helming the yacht on different points of sail
Learn how to tie the basic 6 knots used by sailors and when they are used
Prepare to enter anchorage. Learn how to prepare the anchor and foredeck in anticipation of arrival
1400 Lunch at anchor
Set sail for evening destination learning the basic collision regulations on route
1730 Arrive at a new harbour in the Solent and prepare supper
Debrief the day’s events
1900 Depart for night sail exercise which will familiarise each crew member with light characteristics of buoyage and ships and additional safety procedures needed at night
2300 Arrive at destination
0900 Showers at marina facilities, breakfast, clean up and get a weather forecast
1030 Carry out some more manoeuvring under power using pontoons and mooring buoys
1200 Lunch at a nearby mooring buoy
1300 Depart mooring buoy for a sail to evening destination. Practice tacking, gybing and general sail trim on route
Practice steering a compass course and maintaining a lookout
1700 Arrive at a new harbour and learn how to secure to a town wall. General discussion about emergency procedures
1830 Dinghy rowing drills followed by debriefing on the days’ events
1930 Supper followed by a trip ashore
0800 Showers ashore, breakfast, clean up and get a weather forecast
1000 Practice pile moorings in harbour
1130 Set sail for lunchtime destination practising Man Overboard en-route. Practice taking sights with the hand bearing compass and keeping a lookout
1330 Lunch at anchor
1500 Depart for evening destination with a discussion en-route about weather and some more information on collision regulations
1900 Arrive at destination and anchor for the night
Supper followed by row ashore
0900 Wash onboard, breakfast, clean up and get a weather forecast
1000 Sail back to Hamble practising all aspects
1200 Early lunch on a mooring buoy
1500 Arrive back at Hamble
Clean up the yacht, return wet weather gear followed by debriefing and issue of certificates
1600 Depart Hamble
Courses running over weekends follow a similar itinerary except with a return to Hamble at the end of each weekend.
Please note: All course itineraries are examples and do not form any part of the contract. Your instructor will structure the course based on weather and tides to ensure you cover all areas of the syllabus in a safe environment.
We sail from Universal Marina, our adventures start here! Universal offers easy access from the M27, has plenty of parking and on-site facilities including a great restaurant and bar.