How to become a yachtsman

As soon as a man invented the first tools, he began to build devices that would help him cross the lake, river, or sea. Sailing has always been about romance and attracted people with its atmosphere and adventurous spirit. In our time, it is still relevant, especially when it comes to yachts — beautiful sailing ships. We wondered whether it was difficult to learn how to steer a yacht, whether it was possible to sail around the world, and what was interesting about skippers' lives. The instructor of the SPBSAIL yachting school from St. Petersburg, Andrey Usachev, who has an Offshore Yachtmaster certificate, answered our questions.

What is the coolest thing about sailing, in your opinion?

We conduct open lessons on the introduction to yachting, where we talk about what yachting is and how it differs from other types of recreation. So, here are some points:
— Complete freedom of movement. Not just a feeling of freedom but total freedom. You plan where and how long you want to sail, which cities or even countries you want to visit for your vacation.
— In sports and amateur yachting, in regattas, the coolest thing is friendship, drive, mutual assistance. And, of course, the pleasure of winning a race.
— And for romantics, every day will be unforgettable, when a boat glides on the sea surface and takes you to new countries, meetings, adventures.

Is it challenging to learn to steer a yacht?

A couple of hours of practice at almost any age is enough if you just stand at the helm. But to become a skipper of a yacht, you need to train in very many areas, such as safety rules, navigation, rules for preventing collisions, meteorology, radio communications, controlling the yacht on sails, controlling the yacht on the motor and much, much more. After having a certain level of theoretical knowledge, you must practice what you've learned.

If a person is motivated and knows what he wants to achieve, this is possible, regardless of age and job. No wonder certificates or licenses that give you a right to steer a yacht can be issued starting from the age of 14. The main thing is to never stop self-education after receiving your first certificates.

If a person studies at your school, what size of boat can he manage?

If he has a desire and takes a full course of study at our or any other school, he will have the license to control a sailing yacht up to 24 meters long during the day at a distance of up to 20 miles from the coast. Is it a lot or a little? Believe me, a 24-meter yacht is a huge ship, and 20 nautical miles from the coast is 36 kilometers, which is also a lot. We are now talking about the rules introduced only for the first stage of the skipper — BBS (BareBoatSkipper). And to expand possibilities of crossing the seas and oceans, you must study further and learn such things as astronomy, astronavigation, and rescue at sea. You can also do this at our school.

Is it possible to sail around the world after training?

To officially have permission and be prepared to do that, you must have an OceanMaster certificate. Although unofficially, as a private person, of course, you can sail in the ocean and even around the world, especially if you own a yacht. As it was, for example, with the 16-year-old Australian girl Jessica Watson, who sailed around the world by herself.

But let's be smart and remember a very important phrase that we made the motto of our school: «To go to sea, you need certificates, and to return from the sea — you need knowledge.»

Following this principle, we will never sell licenses and certificates, just to get money from a person, and then, after training him for 7-10 days, issue him the certificate. We are always responsible for those people who have been trained. And so far no one has complained about the quality of our training. Although there were cases when people, even having paid money for training, for various reasons, could not pass the necessary tests and exams. In this case, we find options for an additional, in-depth study of issues and bring our students to the required level, although this is more an exception than a rule. Mostly, people come to training motivated and know in advance what they want to achieve.

Which water transport, in addition to yachts, will it be possible to sail after graduation from your school legally?

Let's look at the definitions of "water transport«and «legally.»

Now, in the world, there are several sailing education systems. The programs in all the systems are almost identical since they are compiled in accordance with the requirements of IMO (International Maritime Organization). At our school, we can issue ISSA (International Sailing School Association) and IYT (International Yacht Training) certificates, which give the right to steer sailing yachts. After completing an additional four-day practice, we can issue a license to manage a motor yacht.

Now about the word «legally.» All certificates issued by our school are legal and recognized throughout the world and give you the right to rent a boat (sailing or motor) anywhere in the world and manage it, inviting friends, acquaintances, and relatives.

There are two restrictions: these certificates do not give the right to engage in commercial activities, and they do not yet operate on the territory of Russia.

How does the exam take place?

After a two-week training on a yacht, when the students practiced the theoretical knowledge learned what cannot be learned sitting at a table or computer, on the penultimate day of training, tests and exams are held.

First, there is a team practice, on which the yacht goes to sea and sails are put in the team, sailing maneuvers are performed, and each person performs actions according to the MOB command (Man Overboard). After rescuing the person, we go to the marina.

In the marina, everyone makes the yacht mooring to the place indicated by the instructor and shows how he correctly, methodically, and technically mastered what he trained for two weeks.

If you have successfully passed the practical part of the tests, you can take the oral and written exam, in which everyone receives 35-40 questions on all topics of the course. You must give detailed written answers to all questions.

The instructor immediately checks the answers, and when the students go home the next day, they already know who has passed all the necessary tests, and when they will receive their first certificates and will be able to go to sea on their own.

Can you live on a yacht? Sail around the world, stop to replenish the food supplies? Will it be possible to go to the shores of other countries legally? Is a visa necessary for this, or can I spend some time ashore without a visa?

For travel, you always need visas to those countries. To travel around Europe, a Schengen visa is enough.

There is one erroneous opinion that sailors can go everywhere without visas: in fact, this is not so. Everyone, even sailors, must comply with existing laws. There are several exceptions, namely: in the event of a ship breakdown or a serious illness of one of the crew members. In this case, you can go to any nearby port, even if you do not have prior permission or a visa. You can also go to replenish stocks of water or food. But in this case, only the skipper has the right to go ashore. Crew members who do not have a visa must remain on board.

Speaker: Andrey Usachev