The Day Skipper course is our second level of cruising instruction, giving students the knowledge and confidence to skipper a boat on their own. We follow the Royal Yachting Association curriculum for the Day Skipper standard, which also opens the door for students to apply to the RYA for the highly valuable International Certificate of Competency (ICC instructions here).
The ICC certification really enables you to sail anywhere in the world as it is considered the gold standard of licensing by dozens of governments around the world and by charter companies in some of the most popular cruising destinations.
The goal of the Day Skipper standard is to ensure you are prepared to safely skipper a yacht on your own. At the end of the course you will be prepared to act as the skipper for sailing trips in daylight hours and fair to moderate conditions, staying within 20 miles of shore.
Day Skipper is taught over 5 days in a ‘live-aboard’ format, meaning you join the boat on the morning of Day 1 and you are on board until the end of Day 5. In this intensive program you will rapidly develop your navigation skills including an in-depth understanding of tides, and learn to plan for longer and more complex passages. See the full curriculum below.
You need to have sailing experience before taking the Day Skipper course. This should be one of the following:
1. RYA Competent Crew certificate (our Competent Crew course) or equivalent certification / experience and knowledge covering sailing theory, international regulations, boat handling and basic navigation.
+ Minimum 5 days at sea
+ 100 nautical miles on a sailing yacht
+ 4 hours of night sailing
We strongly recommend that students take the Day Skipper Online Theory course prior to joining the practical training course. Having this prior knowledge makes it far more likely that students will be successful in achieving the Day Skipper certification.
Contact us if you're unsure about your readiness for the Day Skipper level.
In order to legally use the VHF marine radio on board, sailors are required to have the VHF Restricted Operator's Certificate- Marine (VHF ROC-M). Students are welcome to register in the Day Skipper course and take the VHF course afterwards, but we strongly recommend that students pursue VHF licensing early in their sail training process.
Check the Canadian Power & Sail Squadron's calendar for a Maritime Radio course offered near you. Courses are usually 8 hours including an exam to achieve the VHF Restricted Operator's Certificate (VHF ROC). This is a legal requirement for operating a VHF radio in Canada and in most other jurisdictions around the world.
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.
This course is open to ages 18 and up.
Maximum of 5 spots available per course.
20% off for ages 18-25 at time of booking.
Included in Registration
You will receive 5 full days of hands-on training from our talented instructors. The Day Skipper program is not just an exceptional training course, it is also an adventure. You get to live on a boat for a whole week! You can expect a lot of fun and new experiences with a rustic level of comfort.
Registration includes all food and beverages for the duration of the course, from lunch the first day to lunch the final day. We often choose as a crew to enjoy one dinner on shore during the course, students are responsible for their own costs on shore. Check this section of our FAQs for what else is included and not included.
The Day Skipper course requires both knowledge of theory and demonstration of practical skills in order to receive the RYA certificate. Your instructor will assess you throughout the course on your practical sailing skills. The RYA certification indicates that you are ready to be the skipper on a vessel up to 24 metres in length, in coastal waters up to 20 miles offshore, and in daylight hours with moderate conditions.
With successful completion of the RYA Day Skipper practical course, students can apply directly to the RYA for the International Certificate of Competency (ICC), allowing them to charter yachts anywhere in the world.
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.
Day Skipper Course Curriculum
The Day Skipper course provides a mix of theory and practical training outlined in the following sections. The course is designed to greatly increase your understanding and confidence in all the topics introduced at the Competent Crew level, as well as prepare you for the additional responsibilities of being solely in charge of a yacht:
Students learn how to check every aspect of a boat before taking charge (for example what to look for when chartering a boat). This includes hull and rig checks, instrument checks, gas and propane system checks, basic engine checks, safety equipment checks, and ensuring suitable tools and spares are on board.
We will cover good safety practices such as filing a trip plan and topics specific to skippers. These include effective communication with crew, duty of care, delegation of tasks, and good leadership.
Menu planning, planning for re-provisioning, understanding fuel and water capacity and range, and other aspects of preparing for a short cruise are covered.
Students are expected to already have some familiarity with the collision regulations, lights, sounds, shapes and buoyage. These will be reviewed and knowledge assessed throughout the course.
Crew overboard procedures and recovery, and actions to take for first aid, fire, flood, grounding, abandoning ship and other emergencies will all be practiced.
Students will learn about true, apparent and boat wind, the combined forces of CE and CLR, and how to fine tune sail and rig trim to adjust lee and weather helm.
All aspects of boat handling will be reinforced and practiced, especially maintaining control with, against and across strong currents. Students will learn how to assess situations with strong currents and how to use them to their own advantage.
Docking, Mooring & Anchoring
Students learn how to assess conditions and develop strategies to safely arrive and depart from a dock, mooring or anchorage.
Major emphasis will be placed on the importance of understanding tides and currents including the use of almanacs, tide tables and atlases, calculating tidal heights in primary and secondary ports, as well as general tidal theory.
Meteorology including weather patterns associated with frontal systems, the cause and characteristics of sea and land breezes, cloud types and formations, and precipitation and fog are all covered. Students will learn how to use this theory in combination with personal observation to determine where and when to sail safely and enjoyably.
Students will continue to improve their navigating techniques and new concepts will be introduced like taking a running fix, plotting a course to steer with tidal vectors and navigation with the use of depth contours.
We will go into a great deal of depth on sources of information for passage planning, tidal gates and their implications for a trip, contingency planning, pilotage plans, and port regulations and reporting requirements. Students will prepare real-life passage plans for a multi-day coastal cruise.
Time to log more sailing miles to solidify the skills you have just learned as a Day Skipper! We offer Mileage Builders exclusively to our existing students. Or, join us for some of our cruising adventures or start learning some techniques to get the boat going faster in our Learn to Race program. Then it’s time to move on to our advanced Yachtmaster Coastal program!
More questions? Contact us!