Header_bar logo111 social_facebook_box_blue ryatraining-smll

Shearwater Sailing School

Woolverstone Marina, on the River Orwell, Suffolk

RYA Sail Cruising Courses

Shearwater Sailing School is a registered training centre through the Royal Yachting Association (RYA), offering the full range of RYA Sail Cruising Courses from Start Yachting to Coastal Skipper.


Upon completion of your first practical course with Shearwater Sailing School, you will receive a free RYA Yachtmaster Logbook to record your achievements.  You will also receive personal feedback and advice from one of our RYA Yachtmaster Instructors on how to enhance you future sailing be it a career as a yacht skipper or instructor or taking your family out safely on your own boat. Sign up for our newsletter and find out about adventure sails to Holland, France and The West Country.

Book RHYC DSC_1300_crop

Practical Courses are all taught on either Shanti II or Vala, and Theory Courses are all taught at the Royal Harwich Yacht Club.

Practical Courses

Start Yachting

The Start Yachting course is a fantastic introduction to sailing for complete beginners.


The 2 day Start Yachting course covers all the basics and essential skills needed to go on to, and complete the Competent Crew course in a reduced time of 3 days instead of the usual 5.


Although not a requirement for the Competent Crew course, it does offer a great opportunity to get on the water and see what it's like before making the leap to a full 5 day course. You won't see this course listed in our course schedule, but it is offered during the first 2 days of any 5 day course.


Get in touch to find out more.

Competent Crew

The Competent Crew course is aimed at beginners, with little or no experience sailing, but would like to become an active member of a crew (rather than just a passenger) or for those desiring to progress their training to the more advanced RYA Yachtmaster courses.


During this course you will be living on-board for 5 days, and without you, the boat doesn't sail! You will learn to steer the boat, handle sails and navigate coastal waters.


There are no prerequisites for this course.


After this course you will be able to steer a yacht, handle sails, keep a lookout, row a dinghy and assist in all the day-to-day routines of sailing a yacht.

Day Skipper

The Day Skipper course is a 5 day course aimed at aspiring skippers who have some yachting experience and basic navigation.


You'll learn to skipper a short passage with the instructor on hand to give advice and encouragement, and to ensure everyone's safety.


To take this course you must have completed at least 5 days, 100 miles and 4 night hours on board a sailing yacht and must be 16 or older.

Coastal Skipper

The Coastal Skipper course is aimed as yachtsmen and women with considerable knowledge of sailing and navigation who are wanting to undertake coastal passages by day and night.


This course is a satisfying, but intense week with candidates undertaking more and more challenging passages, learning about planning safe passages, pilotage by day and night, boat handling techniques and safety and emergency situations.


To take this course you must have completed at least 15 days, 300 miles, 8 night hours and 2 days as skipper on board a sailing yacht and must be 17 or older.


It is advisable that you have completed the Coastal Skipper/Yachtmaster Offshore shore based course before taking the Coastal Skipper course, as there is not sufficient time to learn the theory during the week.


After this course, you will have the confidence to skipper a yacht on a coastal passage by day or night.

Theory Courses

First Aid

The 1 day First Aid course covers all the usual first aid subjects, but from a boating perspective.


It is aimed at anyone who goes afloat, whether on inland waters, rivers, estuaries or on cross channel passages.


In a medical emergency, a little first aid knowledge and immediate action can save lives, especially in remote locations.

RYA VHF/DSC Radio Course

A radio is an important piece of safety equipment on board and it is vital to understand the correct procedures for using it and communicating with other boats and ground based stations.


This course is a requirement for anyone who owns a fixed or handheld marine VHF radio.


The Short Range Certificate (SRC) is the minimum qualification required by law to control the operation of VHF and VHF Digital Selective Calling (DSC) equipment on any British flagged vessel voluntarily fitted with a radio.

Day Skipper (Theory)

This course equips you with enough knowledge to navigate around familiar waters by day. A basic knowledge of lights is also included to introduce you to night cruising.


This course is taught over 40 hours with two exam papers.

Coastal Skipper/Yachtmaster Offshore (Theory)

This course is aimed at sailors who have completed the Day Skipper course (theory and practical) and wish to take their sailing skills to the next level by focusing on advanced navigation and meteorology.


The course is taught over 40 hours with three exam papers.


This course allows time for revision of the basics before moving on to the advanced navigation techniques.