Most people taking an RYA Day Skipper or RYA Competent Crew level qualification are doing it because they want to formalise their existing experience (in the case of Day Skipper) or learn the basics (in the case of Competent Crew).
Most reputable charter companies (and just as importantly, their insurers) will require anyone chartering one of their yachts to be sufficiently qualified for the purpose. So, what is ‘qualified’?
The definition of ‘a qualified skipper’ may vary and certainly, one sailor with a piece of paper can be much less competent than another with no such paperwork, but a lifetime of sailing behind them. Furthermore, the rules relating to the private charter of a pleasure craft in coastal waters will be governed by the flag nation (where the chartered boat is registered) and the sailing area (which country’s waters you are sailing within). Of course, like all licences, the purpose is to try and assess a skipper’s knowledge and grade it accordingly, for just this eventuality.
In most of Western Europe, the basic requirement is generally taken to be The International Certificate of Competence (ICC) although formally, only some of the EU have adopted Resolution 40 and formally recognise the ICC as an acceptable certification of competence. The ICC is a licence issued by an authorised sailing body within a nation that has accepted Resolution 40 and will also require photo ID. In the UK, the holder of an RYA Day Skipper qualification (or above) may apply to the RYA and be granted an ICC.
Most countries in Europe are vague about the exact definition of a qualified skipper, but we strongly recommend that as a bare minimum, the skipper should be at least to the standard required of an RYA Day Skipper and possess an ICC. At the time of writing, only in Croatia, are there specific requirements laid out for charterers, including a requirement that a member of the crew should hold a VHF GMDSS Operator’s Certificate. The full list of acceptable is available here, although the requirements of specific charterer’s may vary.
Wherever you are chartering, remember that as Skipper, you are responsible for the yacht and crew in your charge. This is a very real responsibility and so it is worth making sure that you are both sufficiently qualified and confident for the boat chartered and the sailing area. After all, it’s meant to be a holiday! For further details of how learning to sail with an RYA Training Centre in the Mediterranean is better suited to aspiring charterers living in the UK, contact us for a chat on +44 7925 784407