Competent Crew is an introductory course to teach you the basics of cruising a yacht.  We follow the International Yacht Training curriculum that will reach the International Crew Certification standard. 

Over this 5-day course you will gain a basic understanding of all aspects of safety on board, emergency responses, safe seamanship, and basic crewing techniques.  You will also dip your toes into navigation, tides, international collision regulations, weather, anchoring, docking, and much more.  The Competent Crew course lays the groundwork for you to be a valuable crewmember and be ready for the next level as you work your way up to becoming the skipper.  See the full curriculum below.


None!  No sailing experience is required to start the Competent Crew course.

IYT Certification

You will need to demonstrate practical skills and the depth of knowledge expected of this standard in order to receive the IYT International Crew Certificate. This includes passing a short, multiple choice written exam.

Achieving this standard indicates that you are ready to crew on a vessel up to 24 metres in length,  in coastal waters up to 20 miles offshore, and in daylight hours with fair conditions.

What to Bring?

Please bring your own lunch and review the required and recommended items listed for day sailing on our FAQ page here.


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Each course is 5 days, 9:00am to 4:00pm.
Note this is not a live aboard course- you go home each evening.

This course is open to ages 16 and up.
Maximum of 5 spots available per course. 
20% for ages 16-25.  
Contact us to access this pricing.

5% GST is added at checkout for Canadian customers.

Competent Crew Course Curriculum

The Competent Crew course covers a mix of theory and practical training outlined in the following sections:

Boat Orientation
Students are introduced to the boat including learning how to use the head, bilge pumps, safe use of the galley stove, etc.  Students are also made aware of hazards on board.

Safety Equipment
Introduction to the use and location of life jackets, first aid kit, fire extinguishers, safety harnesses, the VHF radio, depth sounder, GPS, flares, liferaft, etc.  We cover the safety equipment required for all pleasure craft under Transport Canada regulations as well as additional safety equipment carried by our training boat.

Safe Seamanship
Students learn to dress appropriately for the sailing conditions, prevent hypothermia in themselves and others, proper stowage of equipment in the cabin and on deck, and how to keep a good watch while underway.  We also cover marine etiquette and customs that contribute towards a safe and friendly boating environment.

Nautical Terminology
Start speaking in ‘sailor’ by learning the correct terms for all the parts of the boat and all the other terminology used on the water.

Rope Work
This segment of the course covers proper line coiling technique, how to use cleats correctly, the safe use of winches, and how to tie: a figure eight knot, round turn & two half hitches, clove hitch, reef knot, sheet bend, rolling hitch and bowline.

Collision Regulations
The basic ‘rules of the road’ are covered in order to avoid collisions at sea.  This includes the rules to keeping clear of other vessels, and learning how buoys, lights and sound signals all help to prevent collisions and other accidents. 

Emergency Procedures
The primary focus of this section of the course is on the safe and speedy action to take in the case of crew overboard when under power and under sail. 

Sail Handling
Introduction to handling the sails in order to get the boat moving safely and under control.  Students learn about the points of sail, sail trim, hoisting and lowering sails, reefing the mainsail, furling the genoa, and how to handle the sails while tacking and gybing the boat.

Boat Handling
Students learn basic engine checks, how to helm the boat while under power and under sail, how to steer by the compass, the effect of wind and tide on boat handling, the effect of ‘prop walk’ while under power, how to ‘heave to’.

Getting in and out of the dinghy safely, proper stowage of the dinghy while underway and both rowing and motoring in the dinghy are covered.

Students learn how to safely leave and return to a berth under power in a variety of conditions using a range of techniques.  This part of the course also covers the correct use of lines to effectively secure the boat to the dock.

Students learn how to safely leave and return to a fixed mooring under power and sail, and how to properly secure the boat to the mooring.

Students learn about the different types of anchors available and their suitability for different ground conditions, how to prepare the boat for anchoring,

Basic Navigation
Students are introduced to the tools that will help them navigate including a basic overview of charts and tide tables.  We cover how to take a basic fix using a hand-bearing compass and how to plot it on a chart.

Basic Weather
The importance of locating good weather forecasts, understanding their meaning and making a decision about whether to sail or not is covered in this section.

Basic Passage Planning
We consider all the factors at play for a safe passage and how to account for them in a short passage plan.



We start and finish each day at our home port in West Vancouver at 5750 Eagle Harbour Road or next door at Thunderbird Marina depending on which boat in our fleet you will be using. You will be sent directions specific to your course within 2 weeks of your course start date.

By Public Transit
Bus #250 between downtown Vancouver and Horseshoe Bay offers access with a stop at Eagle Harbour Road.  5 minute walk from the bus stop to the club.

By Car
Free parking on the street around the corner from the club lot.  Please do not park in the club parking lot as it is reserved for members and you will be towed.

By Bicycle
Marine Drive is a popular cycle route although does not have much of a shoulder on many parts of the road.  There are plenty of secure locations to lock your bicycle while sailing. 


What's Next?

Take the Day Skipper course with Sea to Sky Sailing, which gives you the IYT International Bareboat Skipper certificate in order to charter a boat on your own.  

You can also join us for some of our cruising adventures in order to gain more experience and mileage before entering the Day Skipper course.  And you could start learning some techniques to get the boat going faster in our Learn to Race program.

More questions? Contact us!