What to pack for an RYA Competent Crew Course

Knowing what to pack when going on holiday can be tricky. Knowing what to bring and what to leave at home can be even harder when you are going sailing for the first time, so we’ve put together a bit of a list for the rookies amongst you.

What to pack on your RYA Competent Crew course;

  • A soft bag (about 50 - 70 litres should be more than enough!). If you are flying, it might be worth getting a bag that has trolley wheels or shoulder straps for easy transit. Just make sure the bag is soft and collapsible for easy stowage when on board.
  • Suncream and lipsalve with UV protection - the more the merrier! We recommend factor 50 suncream and many of our instructors swear by the spray you can buy rather than the gloopy cream. It’s easier to apply and much less messy. The sun out here can be very intense so make sure you protect your skin.
  • Sun Hat - for the same reasons as above. A light hat that is ventilated and has a wide brim is great for the spring and summer months particularly. Make sure you have a chin strap as hats can go overboard pretty easily when it’s windy!
  • Sunglasses - there is a theme developing here don’t you think? A pair of sunglasses is a real ‘must have’. You might want to bring along a spare pair too. If you wear glasses or contacts remember to bring them too - you need to see where you are going after all!
  • Washbag - hopefully this needs no explanation. We usually stop in marinas overnight, although the odd night at anchor or on passage is likely. Make sure you pack what you need for the shower and maybe a very small ‘pocket pack’ of 5 wet wipes is always useful for a quick freshen up if you are offshore for a while. We supply freshly laundered towels, so you won’t need to pack one.
  • T-shirts, shirts or polo shirts to see you through the course. Most courses are 5 days duration (check when booking) and so five shirts for the day and maybe a few shirts for the nights ashore should be fine. When sailing, our instructors like to wear cotton polo shirts of ‘wicking’ T shirts made from merino wool or specially treated man-made fibres. They stay fresh for longer and efficiently ‘wick’ the sweat from your skin, leaving you dry and comfortable.
  • Underwear. Again, underwear that will ‘wick’ will stay fresh for longer and is comfy to wear - but good old fashioned boxer shorts or pants will be just fine.
  • Socks! You may not be a socks and sandals kinda guy (or girl) and for that we are all very grateful, but a sufficient number of liner socks for your deck shoes will make for less smelly feet on board - which everyone likes.
  • Deck Shoes. A decent pair of deck shoes will be very useful. Non-marking trainers are OK, but specially designed deck shoes have a good grippy sole and are usually designed to get wet - and dry out. In any event a pair of shoes for sailing and another pair for shore is a good idea.
  • A fleece top. Dependent on the time of year and the time of day (or night) a fleece top is a good idea. It can get cold on a clear night and a fleece will be very welcome. If you have room - bring a lightweight one and a heavier weight one - just in case. Alternatively, if you have an insulated or fleece lined jacket that would be great for any occasion when it gets a bit chilly - even when eating Alfresco in a local cafe.
  • A woolie hat / beanie. Keeping your head warm will keep you warm - especially on a long night watch.
  • Shorts and trousers. Most of our instructors pack a couple of pairs of shorts and a couple of pairs of trousers for a week on the water. Lighter weight, quick drying trousers (such as hiking trousers) are great on the boat and pack down small in transit.
  • Lightweight shower jacket (optional). We also provide wet weather clothing for your use during the course, so this is an optional item.
  • Mobile Phone Charger. All our boats have 12v cigarette-style charger points and in most scenarios you have access to 240v power on board when we are in a marina and plugged in to the pontoon.
  • Sea sickness tablets. If you suffer, it might be worth bringing them along - although most people are just fine in most conditions.
  • If you have an RYA textbook or old course material feel free to bring it along. You can also buy a very easily readable and well illustrated RYA Competent Crew Course book from us when you get here, if you’d prefer.


And don’t forget;

  • Passport
  • Travel Insurance. We always recommend you take out travel and cancellation / Holiday Insurance. Make sure it covers you for sailing.
  • Money - it always helps. Two credit cards gives you security when abroad. If you are being really prudent, perhaps keep one safe in a separate place or bag?
  • Next of kin details. We need these before you can sail - just in case there is a problem later.
  • Passport Photos! If you are doing a course which will require passport photos (assuming you pass!) make sure you bring them with you. There is a place in Gibraltar that will do this for you but finding the time can be tricky once the courses ends.
  • Have you notified us of any special dietary or health issues ? If not, please make sure you do before you get here.
  • Details of our address and local contact number. We always have a duty skipper waiting on the quayside for new arrivals so get a taxi to Queensway Quay and look for the Jolly Parrot boats.
  • Your RYA logbook - Don’t worry if you don’t have one yet - we sell them too.


What you don’t need to bring to Jolly Parrot;

  • Wet weather salopettes and jacket - We can lend you this kit free of charge so that’s less for you to have to pack!
  • Towel - We supply all students with their own freshly laundered towel on arrival
  • Bed linen or sleeping bag - We supply all students with a freshly laundered sheet, pillow and pillow case - and a sleeping bag at the beginning of each course. Just strip your bed at the end of the week and we deal with the rest.
  • Navigation Instruments or charts - as you might expect, we supply all necessary navigation paraphernalia, pencils, plotters, dividers, etc for your use during the course.
  • Lifejackets and safety kit - We provide fully tested and regularly checked life jackets, liferafts and emergency equipment as required under MCA coding regulations.
  • Enthusiasm and a sense of humour - hopefully you have your own but if you forget to bring it along don’t worry, our instructors have lots to spare. 


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We look forward to meeting you on arrival. In the meantime, if you have any other questions feel free to contact us on 07925 784407