How to become a skipper

You want to learn how to sail and get your yacht skippers license. For many, the motivation for getting a skippers license are so they can charter a yacht. Likely a family holiday in the Mediterranean, possibly further afield. You may well have done a flotilla holiday or skippered charter but now want a bareboat charter and gain the flexibility to go wherever the wind takes you.

The first training ladder is focused on achieving the recognition needed to attain the Internation Certificate of Competence, widely used by charter companies as a barometer of a skippers ability. Whilst it is not a guarantee, most major companies use this as a base level.

Depending on your level of experience, you can join the training ladder at different points.

How to become a yacht skipper learn how to sail 1

Previous experience: None
Motivation: You want to find out if you enjoy sailing

Start yachting


An introduction to sailing and the enjoyment of a weekend on the water.

Previous experience: None
Motivation: You want to find out if you enjoy sailing

How to become a yacht skipper learn how to sail 3

Previous experience: One or two weekends
Motivation: You want to understand more about what’s going on

RYA Essential Navigation


The RYA Essential Navigation and Seamanship online course provides a great introduction to navigation and safety awareness for new or inexperienced skippers and crew. In fact, it’s for anyone interested in sailing, motor boating, sea angling or diving, and works well in complementing the RYA on-the-water training, such as the Competent Crew courses.

Previous experience: One or two weekends
Motivation: You want to understand more about what’s going on

How to become a yacht skipper learn how to sail 1

Previous experience: One or two weekends
Motivation: You’ve spent some time on a boat and enjoyed it and would like to become a more active crew member

Competent Crew


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 spend 5 days on a boat learning the ropes including how to hoist the sails, helming and other jobs needed to help run a yacht.

Previous experience: One or two weekends
Motivation: You’ve spent some time on a boat and enjoyed it and would like to become a more active crew member

How to become a yacht skipper learn how to sail 7

Experience: You’ve spent some time sailing
Motivation: You want to learn the basics of skippering a yacht yourself

RYA Day Skipper theory


RYA Day Skipper theory is a comprehensive introduction to navigation and cruising for new skippers providing the necessary tools to ensure you put out to sea safely. The course provides a solid foundation in boat safety, charts and navigation techniques including integrated navigation using both paper and electronic chart plotter (GPS) tools.

Experience: You’ve spent some time sailing
Motivation: You want to learn the basics of skippering a yacht yourself

How to become a yacht skipper learn how to sail 9

Experience: You’ve spent more than 5 days on a boat & have theory knowledge to the level of Day Skipper theory
Motivation: You are wanting to skipper on your own, possibly to charter a boat

RYA Day Skipper Practical


The RYA Day Skipper practical is a course for aspiring skippers with some yachting experience, basic navigation and sailing skills. The course is run in a safe, but fun and friendly environment with the objective to build confidence in your skippering ability.

Experience: You’ve spent more than 5 days on a boat & have theory knowledge to the level of Day Skipper theory
Motivation: You are wanting to skipper on your own, possibly to charter a boat

How to become a yacht skipper learn how to sail 11

Experience: You have passed your Day Skipper Practical
Motivation: You need proof of your abilities, probably to charter a yacht

International Certificate of Competence (ICC)

This is as an administrative exercise to convert your RYA Day Skipper practical certificate into an ICC.

The ICC is generally recognised by Yacht charter companies as proof you are capable of safely skippering a sailing yacht.

Experience: You have passed your Day Skipper Practical
Motivation: You need proof of your abilities, probably to charter a yacht

Enjoy your holiday!

Scroll to Top