All about skipper licenses

A skipper license — do you need it?

This is a reasonable question. Let’s just say that in most countries you need licenses if you charter a yacht. If you own a yacht, then in many cases no one will ask you for a license: you can manage your boat without it, though most likely you will not be able to insure it. In this article, we will consider the first option when you need a license to charter a yacht.

How to get a skipper license

Well, firstly, you need to study. If you studied in a driving school, then you understand the process — there is theory and practice. The situation is similar with yachts, but there are two main approaches. In the first case, you study the theory and all issues related to yachting — from what’s inside a yacht to navigation at sea, usually this happens in your own city with a class schedule several times a week and / or on weekends, which is a big advantage of this training option. Then you need to practice. The practice usually lasts 7-10 days. If you pass it successfully, the instructor will issue you a license. The second approach is usually a two-week intensive course, where the practice begins a few days after you start learning theory and then alternates with the continuation of the theory (often half a day theory, half a day practice). The disadvantage of this approach is the need to learn a huge amount of theoretical material in a very short time, however, you will be able to immediately practice the theory and this is a big advantage.

What kind of skipper licenses are there?

Unfortunately, there are no uniform international sailing licenses, so you need to consider the region in which you plan to sail. However, there are training and licensing systems for skippers that are recognized in most countries of the world, and the International Certificate of Competence, an ICC certificate, is the most common standard.

International systems that are subject to ICC certification are IYT, ISSA, and RYA. Now let’s talk about each of the systems in more detail.

International Yacht Training (IYT) appeared in Canada in 1988. Even though studying is conducted in your native language, you must know the terminology in English. Until 2013, IYT licenses were perpetual. Now, every 5 years you need to update them (the cost of updating is from $ 125). Studying an IYT theory costs between $ 500 and $ 1,300; the practice is about the same price.

The International Sailing School Association (ISSA) appeared earlier — in 1969. ISSA licenses, unlike IYT, are perpetual. Training can also take place in your own language.

Finally, the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) is the oldest international system. The British Royal Yachting Association was founded in 1875. The difference from the previous two systems is that the training is conducted in English. The price of theoretical courses is 500-600 euros.

The categories of licenses

Yacht licenses are somewhat similar to car licenses — there is also a gradation into different categories. However, in practice, it’s more important not what category of license you have, but what your practical experience is and how many miles there are in your logbook.

In fact, Bareboat Skipper (IYT) / Inshore Skipper (ISSA) / Day Skipper (RYA) license may be enough to charter a yacht in Europe. This is the beginner category that gives you the right to sail 20 miles offshore in the daytime in fine weather. In practice, this means that if you, having such a license, sail further than 20 miles and something breaks on your yacht, then the insurance company most likely will not recognize this as an insurance case. Otherwise, until recently, with such licenses, it was possible to charter a yacht anywhere in the world. However, since last year, some countries, such as Greece, began to impose restrictions on the chartering of yachts for skippers with «day licenses».

The next category is the Coastal Skipper / Offshore Skipper. With this category, you can sail at night 60 miles offshore, also in fine weather.

The highest category of yacht skipper is Yachtmaster / Master of Yacht. Having a license of this category, you can go on difficult sailing expeditions, for example, across the Atlantic. This license is the most honorable among yacht owners.

In general, you need to understand that even charter companies will sometimes look at the miles in your logbook, indicating your experience. So, start your logbook as soon as you seriously think about yachting. But most importantly, of course, responsibly approach the choice of training courses. The study system or what abbreviation will be displayed on your license is not so important, it is important who your teacher will be. On our platform, there are only proven schools and courses in which you can not only get the right license but also gain real practical experience.

Photo materials for the article were provided by the «Sila Vetra» sailing school
The author of the article: Rodion Karneev, editor: Anastasia Mosina