Competent Crew is the ideal 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.

Sea to Sky offers the Competent Crew course in 2 formats: Condensed or Full.

The Condensed 3-day version is exclusively for students who hold their RYA Start Sailing certification or who have enough prior experience on a yacht to demonstrate an equivalent level of expertise. This is our recommended route to get the most well-rounded sailing education, and actually provides the best value overall as you get 7 days of instruction for less!

The Full 5-day version of Competent Crew is for anyone getting started in sailing yachts for the first time. It’s also the ideal route for students visiting from out of town or those who are short on time and unable to take Start Sailing with us. The Competent Crew course runs on the same dates as our Day Skipper course, so for those training with a friend or partner at a higher level than them, it’s also a good option as you get to be on the boat together.  

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.


There are no prerequisites for the Competent Crew Full 5-day Course.

For the Competent Crew Condensed 3-day Course, students must have their RYA Start Sailing or be able to demonstrate equivalent experience on a yacht and knowledge to a high standard.

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

RYA Certification

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


$1,595 Full Course
$815 Condensed Course
5% GST and 6% booking fee is added at checkout.

This is a live-aboard course.
The Full Course is 5 days, from 9:00am on day 1 to 4:00pm on day 5.
The Condensed Course is 3 days from 9:00am on day 1 to 4:00pm on day 3.

This course is open to ages 16 and up.
Maximum of 5 spots available per course. 
20% off for ages 16-25 at time of booking.  


Day Skipper is taught over 5 days, from 9am on Day 1 to 4pm on Day 5.  We start and finish the course at our home port in West Vancouver at 5750 Eagle Harbour Road. You will receive joining instructions upon booking.

What to Bring & What to Expect?

Please check the required and recommended items listed for liveaboard sailing, as well as reviewing the section on what to expect life to be like on board.  Find both 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!


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