Helmsman – on your boat

Key Course Details

Duration: 2 Days

Time: 9am to 5pm

Group Size: Up to 4/5 per boat

Min Age: 12

Price: £560



The RYA Helmsman’s course is aimed at those who have no boating experience and who want to develop the skills to be able to handle their motor cruiser close to their home marina/berth.

Course Duration

2 days from 9am to 5pm.

Course Dates

Helmsmans courses on your own boat craft can be run at any time and in almost any location. Short notice bookings are often available.

Course location

Occasionally we suggest that depending on where your boat is berthed that running the course in an area with more training resources (marinas and pontoons to practice with, harbours to enter etc) may make sense but we’d always discuss this in advance with you.

Minimum age

For the Helmsman’s course the minimum age is 12.

Prior Experience Required

Candidates do not need any prior experience to undertake this course.

Instructor – Student Ratio

The maximum RYA training ratio is 5 students to 1 Instructor on your craft however this might merit reducing depending on the size and layout of your craft.

We can also ‘mix and match’ which courses we run when training on your craft. For example, if two of you want to undertake the Helmsman’s course it is possible if you have children they could be working towards the “Start Motor Cruising” Certificate.

Why choose Powerboat Training UK for a Dayskipper Practical course on your boat?

Our location and teaching facilities ~ Poole Harbour is a truly amazing teaching location – so much so that the RNLI and the Royal Marines base their training operations here. The RNLI are based in our marina and at the last count there were 14 all weather lifeboats in the marina!! Our classrooms are well resourced, professional, clean and tidy.

Likewise our base in Lymington at Aquasafe Powerboat School is at Lymington Yacht Haven which like Cobbs Quay is a large marina with a huge range of craft. The Solent offers an outstanding cruising ground with a wide variety of harbours and marinas to enter.

Our Instructors ~ we ensure that our instructors are teaching 100% ‘Best Practice’ and have a process whereby we constantly review their sessions to ensure that you get the most productive experience from your time with us. All teach because they love boating and we work with them to constantly ‘upskill’ their qualifications and experience.

Our history ~ we started the school over ten years ago and have grown a reputation for delivering on our promises. Our clients range from individuals with their own craft to organisations such as Sunseeker, the RNLI and we were awarded the RYA Training contract by Dorset Police for the London 2012 Olympic events in Weymouth.

We are also very proud to have written the RYA Powerboat Handbook for the RYA and 2014 saw the launch of the RYA Advanced Powerboat Handbook.

What is included in the course price? ~ When you undertake your Helmsman Course on your boat then the price you pay includes all certificates, free use of waterproofs if required (often charged as an extra). The price includes VAT too – yet another common extra.

Does the course price represent good value? ~ remember in life you pretty much get what you pay for. We have great facilities in large marinas offering a great all-round experience. Check out the other relevant pages on this website to see what we mean.

Course prices The price quoted in the ‘Key Course Details’ section above is for the four days for up to 5 people in the area Weymouth to Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight. Areas further afield may incur travel and accommodation charges at cost but we will discuss these with you. The price shown is inc VAT.

Some of the offers available when buying this course include…..

Special Offer No1!! Book and pay for your VHF Course at the same time as you book the Helmsman course and only pay £75 for the VHF course (including course pack). (Usual cost is £100, you also need to pay the RYA Fee which is £60). You can choose whether to undertake the course in the classroom or online. We run VHF Courses every two weeks so fitting you in will never be an issue – we run these courses  in Poole and Lymington.

Special Offer No2!! We also offer the opportunity to book the RYA Dayskipper Theory Course online for £280 (usually £295) when booked alongside a Dayskipper Practical course. This is a great course to really further develop your understanding of charts, tides, buoyage and navigation onto the next level after the course. The course price includes a plotter and dividers and the course certificate fee.

The Course

Helmsman courses are run frequently on our craft and can be run at any time on your vessel. This is an excellent two day introduction to Motor Cruising. The course assumes no knowledge (although some prior experience is always helpful) and aims to spend the majority of the time on the water practising boat handling.

Your instructor will cover the following topics with you during your course:

  • Safety and seamanship
  • Engine operation and maintenance
  • Boat preparation
  • Boat handling
  • Securing to a buoy
  • Berthing alongside and leaving
  • Man Overboard
  • Anchoring
  • Theory

This course is aimed at

Helmsman's - our_boats

The RYA Helmsman’s course appeals to those new to motor cruisers and keen to develop their experience and knowledge.

  • This course perfectly suits those keen to try out Motor Cruising and get a feel for handling such a craft.
  • Those thinking about buying their own craft find that by undertaking the course they become far more educated buyers and therefore tend to be clearer exactly what their requirements are. Also the fact that we operate from two very large marinas gives the opportunity to see up close the variety of craft that can be considered as possible options.

Note: Those keen to boat overseas and want to achieve their International Certificate of Competence (‘ICC’)[the up to 24m version of the ICC] will need to undertake the Dayskipper Practical course which then allows them to apply for the ICC using a copy of their Dayskipper certificate.


Aim: “This course aims to teach boat handling and seamanship in motor cruisers. By the end of the course you will feel comfortable berthing and unberthing in straightforward locations and should be confident in general boat handling.”

Within the RYA Motor Cruising Scheme the course contents of each course are taught to one of three levels. These levels are:

Knowledge of: The subject will be briefly explained. Familiarisation during the course and where to find out more after the course.

Understands: The subject will be covered in greater depth and you will be asked to demonstrate a basic understanding and go away from the course able to develop your own skill in this area.

Can: The subject will be covered in great depth, including background theory, demonstrations by the instructor and repeated practice by yourself until you can demonstrate good skills in the subject.


Safety & Seamanship

  • The importance of crotch straps
  • The difference between manual and auto-inflating lifejackets
  • Appropriate clothing


  • Correctly fit a life jacket

Engine operation and maintenance
Knowledge of:

  • Fuel consumption range and reserve


  • Engine monitoring while running
  • Routine maintenance checks
  • Basic fault diagnosis


  • Perform pre-start checks
  • Locate fuel cut-offs
  • Perform down procedure

Boat preparation

Knowledge of:

  • Local boating conditions and regulations
  • CE marks; loading; effect on handling and performance


  • Safety equipment; lifejackets; dangers; the need for crew
  • Use of killcord (if fitted)
  • Secure stowage of equipment


  • Tie and know the use of relevant knots; round turn and two half hitches; bowline; clove hitch
  • Prepare boat, lines and fenders

Boat handling

Knowledge of:

  • Differences between hull shapes and propulsion systems


  • Steering; controls; windage
  • The effect of wind on the bow
  • Carrying way
  • Movement around the boat and crew positioning at sea
  • Boat control in waves
  • Use of power trim and trim tabs


  • Start and stop the engine
  • Steer a straight course at low speed
  • Turn in a confined space
  • Handle a boat at planing speed
  • Use power trims tabs/power trim (where fitted)

Securing to a buoy


  • The importance of crew communication
  • Methods of approach in various wind and tide conditions
  • Taking way off
  • The procedure when overshooting


  • Preparing mooring warps
  • Use a boat hook
  • Make fast
  • Approach and secure to a buoy

Berthing alongside and leaving


  • Preparation and use of lines and springs
  • Methods of approach in various conditions


  • Attach fenders
  • Coil a line
  • Throw a mooring line
  • Secure lines to cleats
  • Make fast alongside
  • Use springs to leave a berth

Man overboard

Knowledge of:

  • Various methods for recovering person overboard from the water


  • That engines should be switched off unless it is unsafe to do so
  • Drift down approach


  • Take immediate action
  • Observe the man overboard
  • Carry out the correct return with awareness of the propellers
  • Approach and recover the man overboard dummy


Knowledge of:

  • Types of anchor
  • Depth of water; holding ground; scope required


  • Stowage and attachment to boat
  • Preparation of anchor, chain and warp
  • Correct approaches in various conditions
  • Taking way off
  • The importance of crew communication
  • Use of windlass
  • Weighing anchor


  • Approach and anchor
  • Check holding
  • Weigh anchor



Knowledge of:

  • Types of craft
  • The advantages/disadvantages of different hull types with respect to seakeeping ability and wash considerations
  • Engines and drives – advantages/disadvantages of different drive systems
  • The choice and use of fuel

Helmsman – on your boat - Book Now

Thank you for choosing to undertake a course on your boat.

We can be very flexible on the dates to train you on your boat so please choose dates that work for you and we’ll check the calendar and contact you to confirm the training. This will usually be at the latest the next business day.

Viv on the phone