RYA Competent Crew


This course is ideal for beginners to learn the basics and for those who would like to become active crew members rather than passengers. By the end of this 5-day course, you will not only be competent but a confident member of the yacht crew and be able to steer, handle sails, keep a lookout, row a dinghy and assist in all the day to day routines associated with the vessel.

During our Competent Crew course, you will be visiting local harbours and anchorages. You will assist in a longer passage and have the opportunity to experience some night sailing.

Safety is paramount on all RYA courses. To learn more about our standards and our school, see the RYA Training Centres page

Course Requirements

Pre-course Requirements: None

Minimum duration: 5 days (3 with start yachting certificate)

Recommended minimum age: 12

This course is aimed at beginners or those with limited previous boating experience. If you are looking for a more accessible course suitable for younger children and adults, then RYA Start Yachting is recommended.

To find out about our full range of courses, please see our RYA Yachtmaster Scheme.

Where you can take this course

The RYA Competent Crew course has a minimum duration of 5 days. It can be completed Monday to Friday or over 3 weekends at our Southampton UK school.

For our Mediterranean schools, this course is delivered over 6 days as part of a week-long holiday, giving flexibility for swim stops and longer lunch breaks.

To help decide where to do the course, please see our Training Centres overview page

Next Steps

After this course, you will be given a full debrief from your instructor who will be able to provide you with advice on the best next steps for you.

For most students, the next course we recommend is the RYA Day Skipper shorebased Course. However, if you have some familiarity with sailing or you like to have the theory in place, you can take this course before you do your Competent Crew course.

For most students, this then puts you in a place where you will be ready for your RYA Day Skipper practical. This is one of the most important and popular courses in the scheme. Upon successful completion, you will be able to take your family and friends sailing on either a flotilla or a bareboat yacht charter.

Course Syllabus

  • Knowledge of sea terms and parts of a boat, her rigging and sails – sufficient knowledge to understand orders given concerning the sailing and day-to-day running of the boat.
  • Sail handling – Bending on, setting, reefing and handling of sails. Use of sheets and halyards and their associated winches.
  • Rope-work – Handling ropes, including coiling, stowing, securing to cleats and single and double bollards. Ability to tie the following eight knots and to know their correct use: figure-of-eight, clove hitch, bowline, round turn and two half hitches, single and double sheet bend, reef knot.
  • Fire precautions and fighting – Awareness of the hazards of fire and the precautions necessary to prevent fire. Knowledge of the action to be taken in the event of fire.
  • Personal safety equipment – Understands and complies with rules for the wearing of safety harnesses, life jackets and personal buoyancy aids.
  • Man overboard – Understands the actions to be taken to recover a man overboard.
  • Emergency equipment – Can operate distress flares and knows when they should be used. Understands how to launch and board a life raft
  • 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 responsibilities of yacht skippers to protect the environment.
  • Rules of the road – Is able to keep an efficient lookout at sea.
  • Dinghies – Understands and complies with the loading rules. Is able to handle a dinghy under oars.
  • Meteorology – Awareness of forecasting services and knowledge of the Beaufort Scale.
  • 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
  • General duties – Has carried out general duties satisfactorily on decks and below decks in connection with the daily routine of the vessel.

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