Start Sailing is a 4-day introductory course to teach you the basics of sailing a yacht.  During this hands-on course we cover the curriculum for the Royal Yachting Association Basic Sailing Level 1 & 2 (see details below).  

The course covers the basics of sailing a yacht, getting the sails up as soon as is practical and focusing on sailing skills and manoeuvres, working together as a crew. It covers all the sailing techniques and manoeuvres on a yacht under sail both as crew and helm, including sailing a yacht in tide or across a current, some basic docking techniques, sailing theory and basic safety.


None!  No sailing experience is required to take the Start Sailing course. It is also an ideal gateway for dinghy sailors to transition into yacht sailing.

RYA Certification

You will need to demonstrate practical skills and the depth of knowledge expected of this standard in order to receive the RYA Start Sailing Level 2 Certificate.

Achieving this standard indicates that you are ready to crew on day sailing trips in fair conditions.

The next step in your skill progression is our Competent Crew Condensed 3-day Course, where you learn the intricacies of cruising a yacht farther afield.


5% GST and 6% booking fee is added at checkout.

Each course is 4 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 4 spots available per course.
20% off for ages 16-25.  


We start and finish each day at Thunderbird Marina in West Vancouver. You will be sent joining instructions upon booking.

What to Bring?

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

Start Sailing Course Curriculum

The Start Sailing course focuses on practical training to give you a good handle on the basics of sailing. The course includes:

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, how to rig, hoisting and lowering sails, reefing the mainsail, furling and hoisting/dropping the genoa, and how to handle the sails while tacking and gybing the boat.

Boat Handling
Students learn how to helm the boat while under power and under sail both upwind and downwind, the effect of wind and tide on boat handling, how to ‘heave to’, etc.

Students learn the role of the crew to safely leave and return to a berth under power.  This part of the course also covers the correct use of lines to effectively secure the boat to the dock.

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.

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. 

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. 

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. 

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.

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.

What's Next?

Take the Competent Crew Condensed 3-day course with Sea to Sky Sailing, in which you cover the Royal Yachting Association curriculum for the Competent Crew certificate. This 3-day live aboard course is your introduction to yacht cruising and your next step on the road to a lifetime of sailing adventures!  

You can also 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.

More questions? Contact us! 

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