This RYA Practical Competent Crew Course is for beginners and those who would like to become active crew members rather than just passengers.

Experience living on board and really get to know the boat. Virtually all the course is hands on. You are the crew – without you the sails won’t go up and the boat won’t be steered!

By the end of the course you should be able to steer, handle sails, keep a lookout, row a dinghy and assist in all the day to day duties on board. 

The RYA Competent crew course lasts for five days and you sleep and eat on board.


Minimum Pre Course Experience: None

Recommended Knowledge: None required

Course Content: Knowledge of sea terms and parts of a boat – her rigging and sails – sail handling – ropework – fire precautions and fire fighting – personal safety equipment – man overboard – emergency equipment – meteorology – seasickness – helmsmanship – general duties – manners and customs – rules of the road – dinghies

Ability after the Course: Able to steer, handle sails, keep a lookout, row a dinghy and assist in all the day to day routines as a useful crew member.

Next step: Day Skipper Theory and Practical Courses


Further Information

What to Expect on your Course

  • You can expect to be confident at steering and handling the yacht under both sail and power.
  • You can expect to be knowledgeable in trimming your sails. 
  • Be aware of the safety aspect about the yacht and emergency procedures
  • Learn to become a competent member of crew on board any yacht.
  • You can expect a friendly club instructor keen to teach you everything you want to know.
  • Each day of the course is packed with activity. Breakfast is usually at 8am or earlier, depending on the wind and tide.
  • At the end of the day, you will normally be in a marina ready for a hot shower and a trip to the pub by late afternoon.
  • Sometimes you may drop anchor for the night, other times you may tie on to a buoy.
  • On one evening of the course you will probably go sailing in the dark to gain experience and see how fun that can be.

Where will you sail?

You will sail mainly in the Solent.  There are plenty of places to visit without going to the same place twice in a week. The Solent is a great place to learn to sail and get qualified.

There are numerous harbours, bays, creeks, rivers, marinas and anchorages making it ideal to practice and test a whole range of yachting skills.

Because of the large volume of other boats and busy shipping activity, the Solent is always fun and interesting.

The Isle of Wight provides some protection from the worst of the Channel weather, meaning the sea within the Solent can stay relatively flat compared with conditions in the open sea. But at the same time the tides in the Solent provide students with a challenge to their seamanship and navigational skills.


Our yachts are based at Mercury Marina, Hamble.  Please click HERE for directions and information.


Competent Crew courses are normally conducted on one of our two superb training yachts, Sapphire of Broadway and Spirit of Broadway. 

They are both Halberg Rassy 34 and are one of the highest quality and safest training yachts on the Solent.

Your Instructor

Your skipper will be a highly experienced commercially endorsed Yachtmaster Cruising Instructor or Yachtmaster Instructor.

They are normally serving or retired Police Officers & Police Staff and have often completed all their training within the MPSC.

They will normally make contact with you before the start of the course and you will be provided with their contact number and email address in your joining instructions.


Accommodation during a sailing course is on board the yacht and crew berthing is arranged by the instructor on the first day. We only ever have a maximum ratio of four students to one instructor. 


There are very limited showers on board, but most nights you will be in a marina with good hot showers and shoreside facilities.


We cater on board for all meals, although it is customary to eat out on at least one evening. The skipper will do their best to provide food that is healthy and nutritious.  

There will always be a plentiful supply of chocolate and biscuits. We will do our best to accommodate any special dietary requirements, just make your instructor aware when you receive your joining instructions.

Is it Dangerous?

All Royal Yachting Association sailing schools are controlled by a strict code of practice which lays down safety standards for the vessel and it’s skipper. Full instruction is given about how to use the safety equipment on board.

I can’t swim. Am I precluded?

Non-swimmers are welcome. All we ask is that you tell the skipper as soon as possible, comply with their directions and wear a lifejacket.

Is it hard work? Do I have to be fit?

We always say “If it’s not fun, it’s not worth doing”. There are ropes to pull, cooking to be done and at times you’ll get wet from the rain and spray. These are soon forgotten over a drink in the evening whether it’s in a marina or a quiet anchorage.

Are there any medical restrictions?

If you’ve any special medical condition you can still probably take part but you must tell us as soon as possible when booking and also ensure that the skipper knows when you get on board. You must also let him know if you are on any medication.

I haven’t got any sailing clothes or equipment. What do I need?

All the necessary equipment including lifejackets, harnesses and waterproof sailing suits are provided free of charge. You’ll need warm clothes and soft soled shoes such as trainers. The only other item required is a pair of sea boots which are a bit like wellies but softer and with better grip. You’ll also need a sleeping bag.

Click HERE for examples of typical sailing boots. You don’t need to spend a fortune and most sailors start off with the Gill long type boot.  Do shop around for the best deal and feel free to call the clubline should you need any advice.

Start/Finish Times

The course starts at 1700 on the Sunday evening and you can expect to get away by around 4pm on the final day of your course.

If you have any questions or would like some advice about which course is best for you, please contact us on the Clubline, 0208 643 4292 for a chat.


  • Diary of Events

    11th December - end FebBlue Spirit available for bargain winter charter
    6-7, 13-14, 20-21, 27-28 JanuaryWinter working parties
    29 JanuaryExec Committee Meeting
    3-4, 10-11, 17-18 FebruaryWinter working parties