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Frequently asked questions

Questions about the Day Skipper practical course

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Frequently asked questions about Day Skipper courses

Competent Crew

I want to charter a yacht, which sailing qualification do I need?

The Day Skipper course will teach you how to skipper a cruising yacht on short passages by day and is accepted by most charter companies in the UK for anyone wishing to charter a yacht under about 40 feet. If you are chartering a yacht abroad you will also need to obtain an International Certificate of Competence (ICC). By successfully passing your Day Skipper course you will be eligible to apply for this (subject to the ICC terms and conditions). If you wish to charter a larger yacht you may need to prove that you are an experienced skipper or pass a Yachtmaster Coastal or Yachtmaster Offshore exam.

Do I need to take a Day Skipper theory course?

You will need to have navigation theory to the level of the RYA Day Skipper theory course. You can achieve this in several ways:

These methods will enable you to be awarded the Day Skipper theory certificate subject to passing an exam and ensure that you are at the correct level to take the Day Skipper practical course.

  • independent self study or previous navigation experience

You will not be able to take Day Skipper theory exam but should be able to take the Day Skipper practical course although the instructor may decide you need to do some more study before awarding you with a Day Skipper certificate.

I have just passed my Day Skipper theory exam. Is there a time limit on the validity of the theory exam before taking the Day Skipper practical course?

 The RYA have set no limit to the validity of Day Skipper theory before taking the practical course. It would make good sense to take the practical training whilst it is still fresh in your mind. With a longer gap you will need to refresh your knowledge with some revision. If you have taken the Day Skipper On-line Theory Course you can access a revision section for 2 years after passing your theory exam.

What sailing experience do I need before taking the practical course?

We recommend that you take the RYA Competent Crew course. This 5 day course will give you the requisite mileage as well as all the skills you need to crew a sailing yacht. It is the perfect course for beginners learning to sail as well as providing a sound basis on which to move on to Day Skipper.

Solent Yacht Charter

What sort of yachts do you use?

All our yachts are modern Bavaria cruising yachts. Each yacht is designed for comfort first and has 3 or 4 comfortable cabins with on board toilet and washing facilities. The galley is well equipped with a oven and gas hob, fridge and plenty of storage.  The cockpit is spacious with wheel steering and plenty of seating for the crew. 

How many other students will be on the boat?

There will be a maximum of 5 students on the boat and an RYA Instructor. You will be accommodated throughout the course on a comfortable cruising yacht which can sleep up to 8 people in 3 cabins and the saloon. Occasionally you will be on a larger yacht with 4 cabins.

How can I be sure about safety?

All our yachts are coded by the Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA) and have to meet demanding standards of safety. In addition Commodore Yachting have added extra safety features such as crotch straps on life jackets for extra peace of mind. Our RYA instructors are all highly qualified and are expected to attend one of our ‘School Instructor Days’ led by the school Principal or Chief Instructor just so we can be sure that they meet our high standards.

I have heard that the RYA no longer offer separate Tidal and Non Tidal Day Skipper certificates. Should I choose to take my Day Skipper course in the sun?

With regard to the tidal changes, you certainly would have the option of taking the practical course overseas without the distinction on your certificate. As a RYA school and charter company we will still place a higher value on courses undertaken in tidal waters as there is no way you can replicate this experience in non tidal waters. Aspects such accounting for the tidal stream when working out your course to steer, considering the rise and fall of the tide when anchoring and berthing in a strong tide are important skills that can only be discussed in non tidal areas. They form an important part of your Solent based Day Skipper practical. These aspects would be reflected in your log book and considered should you wish to charter in tidal areas in the future or move on to higher level training when tidal miles are required.

What  is included in the course fee?

The course fee is fully inclusive and includes:

* Accommodation on board the yacht throughout the course – even for 9 day courses where bed and breakfast on board is provided.

* Weekend courses – breakfast and lunch provided on board, evening meal eaten ashore unless nightsailing.

* 5 day courses courses – breakfast, lunch and 2 evening meals provided on board, two evening meals eaten ashore.

* Combined courses – bed and breakfast on board during shorebased part of course. Breakfast, lunch and 2 evening meals provided on practical, remaining evening meals eaten ashore.

* Free hire of waterproofs

* All berthing fees

* All safety equipment

How much should I budget for extra food?

It depends! For weekend, 5 day and 9 day courses there will be 2 evening meals to consider. Most crews enjoy sampling local pubs and so you should budget for pub prices and any drinks.

For 9 day courses, there is a mix of  meals provided / self catering and eating out. There will be 5 lunches and 2 on board evening meals also included. You can keep costs down by using the on board facilities for lunches and evening meals whilst shorebased and shopping for food to eat on board. We are 5 minutes walk from the nearest supermarket and so you can eat cheaply and well with minimum effort. If you wish to eat out there are many cafes, pubs and restaurants to choose from within walking distance of the marina.

Are you able to offer a discount as there are two of us booking and it’s slightly more than we wanted to pay?

This is a difficult one! The question we ask ourselves is where can we make the saving?

  • Safety?
  • Comfort?
  • Cleanliness?
  • Instruction?
  • Administration?

The answer then is is easy – we can’t! What we can do if offer a quality course on modern boats with top class instruction. Behind the scenes are our engineers, boat maintainers, cleaners and admin team. They ensure your course runs as smoothly as possible, from the moment you make that first enquiry to the end of your course.

In 2019 we were awarded the Trip Adviser ‘Certificate of Excellence’ for the fourth time so it would seem we are getting it right!

So no discounts?

Luckily, we are able to make discounts from time to time. Amazingly, the way we offer discounts actually helps us to save money by ensuring unfilled places are offered. Check our Website and Facebook page for last minute discounts. You will find ‘SALE’ items on many of the course pages. We also send out newsletters from time to time with special offers. If you are flexible with regard to dates you might consider booking a STAND BY course saving 20% on course fees.

I have a long distance to travel and would like to arrive the evening before the course begins. Do I need to book a hotel?

You will be accommodated on board your yacht on the Friday or Sunday evening before your course begins. Your instructor will usually be on board and by arriving the evening before there is time to get to know your yacht, instructor and fellow crew members before going out for a relaxing meal or drink at a local pub. We suggest 1900 hrs as a good time to arrive but there is no problem if this is too early for you, just e-mail us with your arrival time. There is no charge for this accommodation. You can also arrive in time to start the course at 9am on the first day.

Many sailing schools charge for berthing fees, fuel and waterproofs, do you?

No, we feel that it is annoying to arrive for your course only to be confronted by a request for payment for things that are essential to your RYA training course. We include these things in your course fee and you will not be asked for unexpected payments.

I would like my friend to come but she has never been sailing before. Can we do the course together?

The RYA Competent Crew course would be the perfect course for your friend. This sailing course is suitable for the complete beginner and teaches them the sailing skills necessary to become a useful member of the crew. We often have a mix of people taking the Day Skipper course and the Competent Crew course on the same boat and we find this works very well.

I would be arriving by train, how far is the sailing school from the station?

We are based at Gosport Marina and it takes about 5 minutes to cross the harbour from Portsmouth Harbour station on the Gosport ferry which can be found just outside the station. We are then 5 minutes walk from the Ferry port. We are also within easy walking distance of the national coach drop off points.

What do I need to bring with me?

You will need to bring a sleeping bag, pillow and pillow case, towel and some warm clothing. It can sometimes be cooler on a boat even in the summer. You will also need some non slip shoes with non marking soles. You don’t need to buy special sailing clothes but if you want to purchase anything, ‘You Boat’ just outside the marina offers our students a 10% discount off most items.

You may also want to bring any special snacks / drinks that you can’t live without as it is impossible to cater for everyone’s favourites!

Accommodation: You will be accommodated on board one of our Bavaria yachts for the whole course. You will need to bring your own pillow, pillowcase, sleeping bag and towels (pillows and sleeping bags can be hired for a small charge). During the course you will visit different ports, harbours and marinas in and around the Solent returning to Gosport Marina at the end of the course. You can expect to spend at least one night on a buoy or at anchor and may not have access to shore power every night. You may find it useful the bring a 12 volt charger for charging phones. All our yachts sleep at least 8 people in 3 or 4 double cabins although there will never be this number on board for a RYA training course. Occasionally you may be expected to share a cabin or saloon with another student of the same sex.

Single occupancy: We can guarantee you a single cabin for a supplement of £100.00 for 5 and 9 day courses, subject to availability. Please contact us for supplement rates for other courses.

Day Skipper

All inclusive price: means that once you have booked your practical sailing course with us there are no hidden extra charges:

  •  Berthing fees included
  •  Free hire of wet weather gear
  •  Two evening meals provided during practical courses (except meet and greet night and one course night, weekend courses and theory aspect of 9 day courses
  •  Accommodation on board the yacht on all practical courses and for the full 9 days of a Combined Day Skipper course

Meals: for 5 day RYA practical courses you will  generally receive three meals a day although on a couple of  evenings we do eat ashore to make a change from cooking and to sample the local cuisine. Please bring your own favourite “treats” or shop for them when we go ashore as we cannot cater for everyone’s tastes although we do try very hard! If you like lots of cakes and biscuits you may wish to supplement those on board with your own supplies, we aim to provide a varied menu throughout the week but not endless snacks.

During the week you can expect:

  • Breakfast – choice of cereals / toast and marmalade / bacon and eggs
  • Lunch – hot pasties and soup / sandwiches / salad and quiche
  • Supper- spaghetti bolognese / curry / fajita wraps / bangers and mash

Combined Theory and Practical Courses

For 9 day RYA practical courses your breakfast, lunch and 2 evening meals will be provided during the practical aspect of the course – cooking on board is all part of the experience! During the theory part of the course you will receive bed and continental breakfast on board your yacht. On weekend courses you will receive breakfast and lunch each day and have the opportunity to enjoy a meal ashore although this meal will not be included in the course fee.

Vegetarians and Special Diets

If you are a vegetarian we will  provide a vegetarian alternative to meat for meals on board. Special diets can be more of a challenge to our shopping skills and we appreciate anyone who requires a special diet to bring suitable items from home.

Day Skipper Theory - Two Minute Knowledge Check

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Day Skipper

Watch out for hidden extras!

Many schools have hidden extra expenses adding up to £100.00 to the cost of a 5 day RYA course. These extra expenses often include contributions to a ‘kitty’ for berthing fees, up to £7.50 per day to hire waterproofs and most evening meals. These are all included on most of our courses. We also provide accommodation on board for the full 9 days of a combined theory and practical course so you won’t need to book a hotel or bed and breakfast room. Our 9 day courses are fully inclusive of berthing fees, waterproofs and breakfasts, lunches and even some evening meals after the first weekend when bed and breakfast is provided on board one of our boats. These hidden costs can make your course a lot more expensive than the advertised price that attracted you in the first place!

Cooking on board is part of Competent Crew Course
Cooking on board is part of Competent Crew Course

What students have said about Commodore Yachting:

Simon is an excellent instructor and made the course for us. His sense of humour coupled with his 50 years plus of sailing knowledge was invaluable. I learnt lots from the course.

Instructor very very very good, well pitched, excellent explanations, relaxed but safe, informative, great weather conditions (sure that was not anything to do with instructor though) Brilliant course

Mark – May 2019

Christopher – Day Skipper, May 2016

Despite storm Katie causing disruption with the weather, Pete managed to work around that and achieve all the course requirements. It was a great 5 days and I really got a lot out of it. Pete is a bit of a character with some great stories and we had a fantastic time on and off the boat 😀

Denys – Day Skipper, March 2016

Had an amazing time with Pete and our fellow crew. Some challenges thrown at us by storm Katie but that only improved the sense of achievement. Can highly recommend the great personal service offered by Stuart, Karen and the team

Keith – Day Skipper, March 2016