How long does it take to learn how to sail a yacht?

Probably one of those questions right up there with “how long is a piece of string”, providing a meaningful and accurate answer to this question is pretty much impossible. That said, there are a few variables that will have an impact on the learning process.

When learning anything there are several critical factors to bear in mind. They include the motivation, intelligence and natural aptitude of the student as well as the enthusiasm, knowledge, experience and attitude of the instructor. All of our instructors have enthusiasm, knowledge and experience aplenty and we specifically select them based on their positive and attitude and pleasant persona - we recognise that after safety, fun is an important part of the learning process - after all, no-one goes sailing to not enjoy themselves!

In simple terms, there are three levels of recreational sailor, namely;

The Competent Crew - The title pretty much speaks for itself. Most people can achieve the RYA Competent Crew Certificate of Competence after a 5 day ‘on-the-water’ course. Our courses generally run Sunday night to Friday afternoon and if you’ve never sailed before this is the course you need to start your sailing career.

The Competent Skipper - The RYA course that leads to the RYA Day Skipper Certificate of Competence is the next step on the ladder and this course is aimed at sailors with some experience who are keen to learn more about how to navigate a yacht and safely pilot it in familiar waters, primarily during the day. The holder of an RYA Day Skipper Certificate will have completed a shorebased theory element (usually 4 or 5 days in a classroom) followed by 5 days at sea.  There are minimum requirements for prospective candidates.

The Competent Offshore or Coastal Skipper - This level of competence crosses over into boat and crew management, long distance passage planning, coastal sailing and ocean crossings (as skipper). Understandably, someone looking to take a vessel and crew offshore needs to have significant experience and a reasonable level of competence. The RYA Yachtmaster Coastal, Offshore or Ocean certificates are examined externally by RYA-appointed assessors and we regularly run courses for candidates at all levels from RYA Competent Crew all the way through to RYA Yachtmaster.

So, in answer to the question “how long does it take to learn to sail a yacht”? we’d probably say “where to, who with and when”? Seriously though, our skippers (male and female) are well versed in teaching everyone from complete novices to experienced sea dogs looking to gain their ‘ticket’. Five days is certainly enough to turn a landlubber into a ‘salty sea dog’ or a ‘brackish puppy’ at the very least!

We also run mile building voyages throughout the Mediterranean and across the English Channel every year for those looking to build on their current qualifications and experience. We also find that competing on the water helps accelerate learning, so why not join us for one of the many regattas we enter every year with Jolly Parrot crew - sometimes we even bring home some silverware!

Contact Jolly Parrot Sailing for more details on which of our many RYA courses would best suit your needs.

Related articles: