I emailed several of our Day Skipper Practical students and asked how they had learned their theory, how well this method had prepared them for the practical course with us, and whether they would recommend it to others.
Here is a selection of replies from around the world.
Kathleen Dussault, Canadian, living in UK – online 2-day course + books
Did the online RYA Basic Safety & Navigation course and read RYA Day Skipper practical course notes. We would recommend this method because it was very user-friendly and it permitted us to do the course during time that was convenient.
It prepared us very well for the theory aspects, especially navigation but we would have benefitted from learning more in advance about the different parts of the boat and we should have practiced knots. Would definitely recommend the course but should be supplemented by other reading.
Advice to other students:
- learn the key knots ahead of time
- learn each of the different parts of the boat (in more detail than was covered in the theory course)
Mike Sackman, UK – Tiller distance learning course
I completed about 50% of the Day Skipper distance learning course with Tiller before completing the Day Skipper practical with you guys . I think the Tiller course is v.good . However, since completing Day Skipper practical , I’m afraid I have not completed the course . This was mainly due a failing in my own personal discipline (and work / family commitments getting in the way – excuses excuses !!) and motivation once the practical week was complete.
Clearly this is personal preference and wouldn’t want to put anyone off distance learning if they can schedule the time in a disciplined way to complete the course , but on reflection, I think I would rather have completed the course in a classroom before the practical.
Do not be afraid to ask questions, the instructors are brilliant and very, very helpful.
George Arvanitis, Canadian – previous training in another country
I took the Canadian power and sail squadron’s basic course which was a 4 month course 4 hours per week covering all facets of shore based training including navigation and rights of way etc. There was a written exam at the end. It prepared me very well so I would recommend it.
Marcus Klockner, UK – combined RYA theory and practical course with Aegean Sailing School
Prepared me well. I would add that the shorebased theory is made much easier if students have already spent some time on a yacht and have a basic understanding of how a yacht works as they can already apply and visualise what they are learning on the shorebased theory to what they will do when they get back on board for the practical course.
This method of learning allows you to put everything that has been learnt in the theory course straight into practice. Perhaps the only one downside is that students do not have time to fully digest everything before they commence the practical course (but this will no doubt vary from student to student)
Roland Gotti, USA – previous training plus 9-day combined Day Skipper theory & practical with Aegean Sailing School
Taking RYA shorebase + practical at the same time keeps the content fresh and relative to the practical. Also allows area specific questions to be answered. Would definitely recommend it.
David Hawkett, UK – classroom course at Elite Sailing School in London
Read The Sailing Handbook, Adlard Coles Nautical – easy to read, lots of pictures, but with a sprinkling of mistakes which I noticed since I can do maths.
Did RYA shorebased classroom course before coming to Greece run by Elite sailing school in central London. Prepared me well for the theory part. Of course a real boat is another matter!
Hans Pruim, Dutch, living in Austria – previous training in another country
Read The Complete Yachtmaster, Cunliffe; Austrian Course book: Sportkuestenschifferschein; several German and Dutch books.
Took 8-Day Austrian Theorie Course FP2 one month before the practical course with Theoretical exam one week after the Skipper course. Prepared me very well and I would recommend it. It is good to know the theorie, specially with navigation, and practice the knowledge.
Vladlen Lisovik, Russia – previous training in another country.
I have finished national skipper school. It is obligatory to drive vessel in Russia.
First of all I recommend RYA shorebased classroom course before coming to Greece.
The success of education depends primarily on the instructor. I can recommend to learn only from experienced instructors (like George Barton). Someone can choose a trainer only by feedback from the students. I encourage schools to publish studentses reviews of the instructor to promote the most successful trainers. (I had a bad experience in the Netherlands. I do not recommend going to an unfamiliar school in an unfamiliar instructor.) For foreigners it is very important to know the English language. And for instructors, it is important to know how to properly and accurately speak English with foreigners and identify maring terms correctly.
Peter & Gail Stanway, UK – classroom course at Conway School of Yachting in North Wales
Did RYA shorebased classroom course before coming to Greece. It prepared me very well. I would definitely recommend this method.
For me to take time off work and get the theory done in the class room during a week off work was the only way I would get around to it. I don’t think I would have managed to complete a distance learning / online course.
I also feel that in the classroom with 5 or 6 other students the group discussions made the learning experience very enjoyable. Plus, the guidance of a skilled teacher on hand to discuss the fine detail was vital to successful learning and getting through the course without undue stress!
Gail and I learned our theory at Conway School of Yachting in North Wales and were taught by Ian Thomas. When we came to Greece we found that Ian Papworth is a close friend of Ian Thomas and at one time owned a Sigma 40 with him when they were in the North Wales Police force together. Small world!
Georgina Lawrie, UK – classroom course
My course was a total of 40 hours over 20 evenings from Oct to April. There were about 10 students in the class and all but one stayed to the end. The instructor went at a pace which took into account the individual differences of each student, and there was always time to help everyone who needed extra support. We were encouraged not to miss any evenings, but there was good support outside the class via phone and email. <
We had work to do at home every week, before the next lesson. Some parts of the course were tricky for those who had not done any previous navigation and I dont think you could really understand tidal theory or passage planning in any less time than this.
I actually think I learnt more than I needed, the instructor did say that some parts of the course, such as extra exercises given out in class, were equivalent to Yachtmaster theory standard for those who could cope. When I did my day skipper practical I found that I never needed and was not tested on half the things I had learnt. Of course I do realise I did the non-tidal practical course and a lot of the learning was not required. I thoroughly enjoyed the theory course. One evening the instructor arranged a trip on a boat on Southampton water so we could have as look at night-time hazards and the navigation lights.
Learning some basic navigation is a very useful skill to have. You should definitely do the theory course before you do the practical.
Paul Roman, Romanian – CD course
I used a CD, basically a computer assisted learning, named The Complete Course. Prepared me very well and I would definitely recommend it. This gives you theory lessons from Day Skipper to Yachtmaster. It is RYA approved. No other comments other then it is very very good to have the theory studied as it gives one the basic knowledge in order to understand what the instructor is teaching during the practical training. I am not an english native speaker
Reg Webb, UK – previous training
Having been sailing, admittedly on and off, for over 50 years I had acquired some knowledge added to the fact that I was in the navy, originally in communications and later as an officer, so it was more a question of refreshing my knowledge from the RYA handbooks. This prepared me very well, based mainly on experience gained over many years.
Glenn Brown, UK – reading plus 2-day course with us.
Before coming to Aegina to do the Day Skipper Course I read Tom Cunliffe’s book The Complete Day Skipper. It is a very good preparation for the course. Then I had 2 days shore based tuition with you which I thought was first class. You taught the subject extremely well.
I really enjoyed my Day Skipper experience and would recommend your school to anyone.
I read “Les Glénans”, RYA DS intro to nav,theory etc, RYA practical course notes (which had a fair bit of theory).
Teach me to sail DS cd-rom; a very useful internet site whose name I forget, and a “cheat sheet” of terms in English and French (I’m a native English speaker, although all my previous sailing was in French)
Prepared me Okay. It was difficult to set aside time, between work and family.
I would not recommend this to others. It worked for me, since I already had quite a lot of sea miles as (in)competent crew, and a highly qualified skipper/husband. Had circumstances been different, and if budget was no issue, I would have done a combined theory/practical.
Alex Simouline, Russia – books and Internet
RYA day skipper practical book, Yachting books by Russian authors, and Internet. This prepared me very well and I would definitely recommend it. A lot of general information required for this course is publicly on the internet.The most important thing for the non-native english speaker would be to get familiarized with the nautical terms.
I am native Dutch but lived most of my life in Germany. I had already a certificate in navigation from the Nautical Club of Vouliagmeni Offshore Sailing School, issued in 1993. I went twice per year sailing with friends as co-skipper in the Aegeas.
My advice is when possible do a lot of sailing as a crew member with a good and experienced skipper.
- Learn about nautical commands, their meanings and replies as skipper and crew member
- Learn about the rules of the road, Boat-handling, do repairs, manoeuvres under sail and motor
- Learn all the information needed for coastal and off-shore navigation
The books I read and studied are
- Pass your dayskipper, David Fairhall
- The complete yachtmaster, Tom Cunliffe
- Haven Manoever, Bobby Schenk
- The complete sailing handbook, Roland Denk
- Reeds skipper handbook, Malcolm Pearson
Cristian Ditescu, Romanian – milebuilding trip with friends
Went to a mile bulding trip in Croatia with some friends who already got their Day Skipper certificates. Prepared me Okay for the course and maybe I would recommend this.
I would recommend any mile building trip before, with RYA instructors / Day Skippers, because I think would be the most effective way to gain experience and to really assess how is the the life on the boat like (maybe something like Competent Crew preparing trips) My other advice is Enjoy it!
Mel Toulson – interactive CD
I had a basic knowledge of sailing from having crewed on small and medium sized boats in the past.
I sent off for the RYA Teach Me To Sail Day Skipper Edition Interactive CD and studied at home. There are 13 topics covering everything you need to know and more. The Med is non tidal so you can skip a few sections.
I would recommend this to anyone wanting to learn at their own pace and at home. There are exercises included and there is an interactive test at the end of each section.
Thank you very much to everyone who responded to my email. I am sure that potential Day Skippers will find your experience and advice useful.
Please feel free to add any comments to this post on the blog, or send them to me for inclusion.