Buying a motorboat is a big decision to make and there are lots of factors to be considered when considering this venture. The cost, the time it will consume, your families enthusiasm, the insurance, where to keep it, maintenance and not least safety. Training for new boat owners should be a factor in the whole boat buying process.
An understanding of the dangers involved with being an inexperienced boater must be a huge consideration. However, there are a few simple steps you can take to ensure you are prepared and you become a responsible boater.
Yes, learning by mistakes is one way of gaining some skills and being shown the ropes by another boater is also an option but if you wish to practice safe boating, be a competent boat handler and install confidence in your crew as to your worthiness as a skipper then there is not a better way to learn than on a RYA motor cruising course.
Before you buy a boat, consider booking yourself on a 2-day RYA Helmsman course. This is an ideal starting point for a new boat owner. This course will be held on the water and run by a recognised RYA training centre. There are many such centres specialising in motor boat training in the UK and increasingly more and more abroad. Find details of centres offering this training HERE.
The basics of safety, boat preparation, engine operation, boat handling, rules of the road, manoeuvring, picking up a mooring buoy, berthing and what to do in the event of someone falling over, are all subjects which will be covered. The bonus for the potential new boat owner is that topics such as the different types of vessels, hull shapes, engine drives etc. will also be discussed and as your instructor will be extremely knowledgeable in these subjects, it will be a great opportunity for you to pick his or her brain and find out which type of vessels you should be considering for your chosen cruising area.
Try before you buy. Armed with this knowledge you are in a good position to ask the right questions when you are looking at boats with their owners or yacht brokers. Whilst you are searching for your perfect yacht, it is advisable to do a 5-day RYA Day Skipper theory course. This can be done in a classroom at a RYA training centre, online or at higher education centres (night school). This will arm you with all the theory you need including weather, pilotage, using charts, using electronic instruments, rules of the road and much more. Pretty much essential training.
When you have finally procured your new vessel, it is time to start to think about the next level of training before you venture out on the water. It would make sense at this point to take the training on your own yacht as the instructor will be able to help familiarise yourself with everything you need to know. Do make sure you have all the required safety equipment in date before you do this. If necessary ask the training centre for guidelines as to what you must have.
The next level of training is the 4-day RYA Day Skipper practical. This will all be undertaken on your yacht. You will also be able to invite some family or friends along to learn the ropes with you and be your crew. This course is quite a big step up from the Helmsman level in that you will be expected to make decisions and act as the skipper. If you do not feel ready for this, consider refreshing your knowledge by doing the Helmsman training again but on your boat. When the instructor walks off your boat and you have the RYA Day Skipper ticket, you want to feel comfortable with all aspects of handling the vessel, safety and being able to make the correct decisions. The Day Skipper course is an opportunity to put everything you have learnt on the theory course into practice.
It is not a requirement to have certification in the UK (it is in most of Europe and it varies from country to country) but it will probably reduce the cost of your boat insurance, increase your confidence and go a long way towards increasing the safety of your vessel, yourself and your crew.
Anything that goes on in the marina does not stay in the marina, it is discussed at length in the yacht club and no one wants to be the butt of the jokes because you can not handle your own yacht. Be the master of your vessel and be safe with RYA training.