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This article first appeared in  Sportsboat & RIB Magazine

Training – what’s right for you?

 In Jon Mendez’s previous article he detailed the changes to the National Powerboat Scheme and outlined the courses available. But which course is right for you and what do they each involve? 

Becoming a highly capable and safe powerboater comes from a mixture of experience, practice, training and common sense. 

The RYA National Powerboat Scheme consists of a number of courses aimed at powerboaters with different levels of experience and different areas of interest. It is aimed at those using planing and displacement craft both at sea (Coastal) and on the inland waterways or lakes (Inland). The courses generally suit vessels up to about 30ft where the Motor Cruising Scheme Courses become relevant.  

In contrast the RYA Motor Cruising Scheme Courses are aimed at those using motor cruisers (planing or displacement craft typically with accommodation) from about 30ft and usually with twin engined installations. The scheme consists of Dayskipper, Coastal Skipper and Yachtmaster courses. These courses are available both as theory courses and as practical courses with the theory courses acting as an excellent way to really develop the theoretical knowledge ahead of the practical courses.  

Inevitably there is no clear cut-off between the Motor Cruising and Powerboat Schemes and those seeking courses on craft around the cut-off point should chat to both a Motor Cruising school and a Powerboat school to see which course best suits their boating requirements.  

For most readers of Sportsboat & RIB Magazine it will be the National Powerboat Scheme that offers the most relevant courses. 

Level 2/ ‘National Powerboat Certificate’: The Level 2 course (also known as the ‘National Powerboat Certificate’) is very much the ‘work-horse’ of the National Powerboat Scheme. Those attending the course can range from novices fresh to the world of powerboating to experienced helms keen to develop their skills after years of ‘learning as they go’. The course addresses a variety of subjects including: Launch and recovery; safety; boat handling ( slow and high speed); charts; tides; passage planning; man overboard and many other areas.   

These areas are pulled together over the two days by the instructor to create an intensive but fun two days. The Instructor’s aim will be to spend as much time as physically possible on the water ensuring plenty of ‘hands on’ experience is gained.  The Instructor to student ratio of 1:3 ensures that a good amount of time is spent at the helm. The boats used are typically RIBs (which are well suited to training) but the skills you learn will apply to most types of craft. 

Students of differing capabilities can be accommodated on one course as the Instructor will aim to teach subjects to differing levels for each of the students, according to the initial capabilities of those attending. This can work well for families, with inexperienced children attending alongside their parents.  

Level 2 is open to everyone from the age of 12 upwards but bear in mind not all schools will train unaccompanied children. Those successfully completing the course are awarded the Level 2 Certificate which allows them to apply for their International Certificate of Competence (‘ICC’).  Some powerboaters find that their insurance companies either insist on Level 2 or give discounts to those that have it - so it can save you money too! 

Level 1: Is a one day course for those seeking an introduction to powerboating. The course suits those keen to get a ‘taste’ for powerboating or is equally effect as a ‘competent crew’ type course. Children aged 8 upwards can take this course – subject to one or two restrictions. 

Intermediate Powerboat Day Cruising course: This is a new course for 2004 and is an excellent addition to the National Powerboat Scheme. The course is aimed at those seeking to go that bit further than the local bay or beach. The two day course starts by building on the knowledge gained at level 2 by improving your understanding of areas such as navigation, tides, charts and of how to plan a passage.  These skills are brought together and the passage planned is then. A key aspect of the course is developing an understanding of the practical uses of GPS whilst afloat in a high speed vessel. Techniques such as the ‘waypoint web’ will be explained and used as a means to plot a position on a chart by reference to a single waypoint – a very clever and useful technique.  Before departure on your passage your Instructor will spend time looking at all aspects of boat preparation and safety, he/she will also take the opportunity to spend time developing your boat handling skills and whether this is at slow speed or high speed there will be plenty of opportunity to develop new skills and techniques. 

To attend the course you should be experienced to the standard of Level 2 and ideally have your first aid and VHF qualifications.  In terms of experience no minimum is specified but it would be sensible to build on the skills gained at Level 2 by leaving a bit of a gap between the two courses. 

Advanced Course: 2004 sees some changes to this course as it becomes more closely aligned to the Coastal Skipper qualification. The course continues to be aimed at the experienced amateur and the professional boater and addresses areas such as passage planning, search techniques, helicopter rescue, rough water handling, metrology and includes a night navigation exercise.  Time is also spent looking at the subject of safety and the skipper’s responsibility for the management and safety of the crew. 

To attend the course you must be an experienced powerboater able to helm a variety of craft in a variety of conditions. You should possess your VHF and First Aid qualifications and a navigation capability to the level of the Dayskipper Shorebased qualification.  If this course interests you it is worth speaking to a powerboat school to assess whether it is the right time for you to attend the course. 

Safety Boat course: This course is aimed at those involved in providing safety cover for dinghies, kayaks and windsurfers. It best suits those already actively involved in those sports with an understanding of how the craft that will be rescued behave and the problems they suffer. 

Instructors courses: There are two levels of Instructors. Powerboat Instructors can teach Levels 1, 2 and, if they possess the qualification themselves, Safety Boat. Advanced Powerboat Instructors can also instruct the Intermediate and Advanced courses.  

To become a Powerboat Instructor you need to successfully pass a three day course run by a Powerboat Trainer.  The recommended minimum level of experience is 5 years across a range of sizes and types of boats, or one year if your helm a powerboat in your job. . Bear in mind that as an Instructor you could be teaching individuals with considerable hands on boating experience so it is essential that the Instructor can demonstrate ‘clear water’ between them and their students. 

To become an Advanced Instructor you need to attend a two day Advanced Instructor endorsement. To become a Powerboat Trainer you need to complete a pre-assessment course then attend a four day course at the invitation of the RYA.  Trainers can instruct all of the courses and run courses to train all levels of Instructors. 

Training is a great way of enhancing your enjoyment and knowledge of powerboating. There is a course to suit all levels of experience and with the changes to the courses for 2004 there are new courses that may help develop your skills. The details of the various schools running these courses can be found at www.rya.org.uk, do call and speak to the schools and they will give you advice and guidance on the courses that best suit your needs.

The new RYA Powerboat Logbook (Ref G20/04) details the syllabi for all of the courses in the National Powerboat Scheme. It is available from the RYA at www.rya.org.uk for £4.50.


 If you are thinking about becoming an Instructor buy the RYA Powerboat Instructor Handbook – G19/97. It is available from the RYA at www.rya.org.uk for £4.30.


 The new RYA Powerboat Handbook (G13) is to be launched in the Spring priced £14.99. It will be available from www.rya.org.uk and is the official RYA book for the National Powerboat Scheme.

 Paul Glatzel is a RYA Powerboat Trainer and runs Powerboat Training UK in Poole.



Author: Paul Glatzel
Contact: www.powerboat-training-uk.co.uk

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