Competent Crew is an intensive 3-day course to teach you the basics of living on and cruising a yacht, following the Royal Yachting Association curriculum. By the end of the course you will have explored a little bit of the BC coast and have a taste for what this fantastic cruising lifestyle has to offer!

On this live-aboard 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 crew member on a cruising adventure and be ready for the next level as you work your way up to becoming the skipper.  See the full curriculum below.


Students must have their RYA Start Sailing or be able to demonstrate equivalent experience on a yacht and knowledge to a high standard.

For those wanting to get some knowledge under their belts before the practical sailing course, the RYA Day Skipper Theory is the best place to start. This online course provides a valuable introduction to the theory we will put into use during the Competent Crew course and gives you a head start on the next level of training!

Please contact us if you have any questions about your suitability for the course.

RYA Certification

You will need to demonstrate practical skills and the depth of knowledge expected of this standard in order to receive the RYA Competent Crew Certificate.

Achieving this standard indicates that you are ready to crew on a sailing yacht in coastal waters, in daylight hours with fair conditions.


We start and finish the course at our home port in West Vancouver at 5750 Eagle Harbour Road. You will be sent joining instructions specific to your course within 2 weeks of your course start date.


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The course is 3 days, from 9:00am on day 1 to 4:00pm on day 3.
This is a live-aboard course.

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.

What to Bring?

Please review the required and recommended items listed for live-aboard sailing on our FAQ page here.

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, day to day duties on board and other essentials to living comfortable on the boat.  Students are also made aware of hazards on board.

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 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. Prior knowledge to the level of Essential Navigation & Seamanship is strongly recommended.

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, and practice anchoring safely.

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. 

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 live-aboard 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.

What's Next?

Take the Day Skipper course with Sea to Sky Sailing, which covers the RYA Day Skipper curriculum and is the stepping stone to achieving the International Certificate of Competence (ICC), allowing you 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!