What you need to become a Commercial Charter Skipper
(as well as
having the boat).
As a paying customer did you know that the skipper/owner
MUST display a
current license? This is often a prominently displayed in date sticker. I
suggest if the skipper does not understand that then you are already
chancing your arm and forcing the reliable and legitimate skippers out of business.
A Coastal Skipper or Yachtmaster Certificate of Competence
First, you will need one of these, an
MCA/RYA Certificate that must be gained to prove Skipper competence to that
level. The Coastal Skipper/Yachtmaster certificate is in the shape of a
small hard backed blue book. This must include a commercial
endorsement, this stamp proves a successful medical, sea safety and first
aid course has been completed.
The Skippers certificate is re-applied
for every five years and this includes an ML5 medical.
of Practice for commercial vessels
Then secondly, the vessel
must meet the Code of Practice regulations as inspected by a qualified
surveyor. The Licensing Authority MECAL or the RYA will normally recommend a
local Surveyor that will do this.
The boat is self checked on anniversary
1 and 2, surveyed at year 3, self checked ay year 4 and re-surveyed at year
Obtaining a Coastal Skipper or Yachtmaster Certificate of Competence
So to start up and get
into the charter boat business legally you must obtain one of these
certificates first. These certificates are issued by the RYA/MCA and
generally examined by the RYA. Once the certificate is received, then a
medical must be passed (ML5 similar to HGV) and a Basic Sea Survival (1 day
Course) certificate obtained. Only then can the Coastal Skipper or
Yachtmaster Certificate of Competence be commercially endorsed.
This certificate and yourself then become part of a COP license AND
insurance that is integral to your boat.
Sounds easy? Surely
you have heard and read the stories in the angling press from disgruntled
skippers, it is justified I can tell you, as obtaining your Coastal Skipper
or Yachtmaster is no trivial matter. There are many prerequisites required
before attempting Coastal Skipper and even more before going for the
Yachtmaster. These include an ‘in-date’ First Aid Certificate, VHF
Operators License, Diesel Engine Maintenance knowledge, theory required up
to either the Coastal Skipper level or Yachtmaster level, normally learned
through a shore based course, 1250 logged sea miles in tidal waters for
Coastal Skipper or 2500 logged sea miles, including a minimum of five, 60
mile passages with two skippered and one at night for Yachtmaster, plus some
days ‘live aboard’ and some hours at night.
Skipper or Yachtmaster Certificate is a 10 to 12 hour practical
test to a standard that is measured by an RYA examiner. The test includes
boat handling, knowledge and practical seamanship at either a Coastal Skipper standard or at
a higher Yachtmaster standard. The examination is exactly the same for
Coastal Skipper or Yachtmaster. A Yachtmaster must pass at a higher standard
than Coastal Skipper, where less errors can be made. The
tolerance for error widened for Coastal Skipper and requiring less sea miles. To
attempt the Yachtmaster Certificate you must have at least five
skippered passages logged, including one at night,
all greater than sixty miles. That is not thirty miles there and back!!! During the
practical test you are also tested for an understanding of your required
theory. In particular you will be tested on the Collision Regulations (IRPCS),
IALA Buoyage System, Knots, Crewing, Weather, Safety at Sea, the boat, the
equipment and engine including servicing and boat navigation.
In theory you can
invite an RYA Examiner along to your own boat. It must be fully equipped and
longer than 7.0 meters and have crew available on the day of the test. You
need to prove you can brief and command your crew. You will test out from
your own port but potentially you could go to any other port in that period
of time. Some of the time will be spent proving your Pilotage skills at
night into a port you are not so familiar with.
The other option is
the one I chose where you can get yourself on a Coastal Skipper Practical
Course that has the examination on the last day. The problem with this is
that you actually use 3 days of the course learning how to steer another
boat and learning the layout, engine and safety equipment. In my case this
was a Fairline Phantom 38 with two 370 Volvos giving it a top speed of 31
knots drinking around 65 litres of diesel an hour! The advantage of this
is that you are proving that you can transfer your skills to a strange boat
and it is all good practice to revise what you actually need to know. Twin
screws are great until they expect you to berth on one engine. They don’t
steer too well against the prop walk on an engine offset opposite to the
turn. Add some wind and it makes it a challenge.
Regarding my own
training course, the instructors and
examiners were fantastic but there is a huge difference between living
aboard a new Fairline Phantom 38 and staying in a room with just a mattress
and duvet. The sales team weer poor. Anyway I do not wish to dwell on the negatives. But I must say,
if you are not a Yachtmaster Offshore Sail qualified skipper already, the
Motor Conversion is not suitable for you, whatever the sales people say!
Personally this was one
of the hardest tests that I have had to endure but mainly because the course
content did not cover everything we were examined on. It was our previous
experience that got us through!
Details of the 12 hour practical examination
The Exam starts with
a walkthrough of the boat which is a Safety Brief by a nominated Skipper.
You may be the nominated skipper so you need to know it all. This will