Imagine you are standing at the desk of a yacht chartering company arranging for the sailing vessel you hope to take on a days-long excursion down the coast. You notice the guy next to you is not having much luck. He has his certifications in hand, but the chartering company doesn’t want to give him a boat because he doesn’t have a sailing resume. You are confident you will not have any problems because you have a resume. Then the unthinkable happens: you get turned away as well.
What happened? Sure, you have your certifications and your sailing resume, but the charter company doesn’t put any credence in your certifications because they know the company behind them. They know that the work you did to get the certifications doesn’t meet their standards. You put all that time and money into training only to discover that it’s worthless.
Inadequate certifications are all too common in the sailing industry, according to NauticEd. As a worldwide sailing school offering both online and on-the-water training, NauticEd knows a thing or two about what it takes to achieve sailing competence. That’s why their standards are so high. They do not look too fondly on other sailing schools that provide certificates after just a few hours of coursework and a written test. NauticEd calls such schools ‘certification factories’.
A chartering company has to look after itself and its boats at all times. They cannot afford to send vessels with sailors who do not have the kind of knowledge and skill necessary to guarantee their own safety and protect the vessel simultaneously. As such, chartering companies have high standards. They have to.
What many new sailors do not understand is that the required knowledge and skill cannot be acquired through books and online courses alone. A certain amount of book knowledge can be gleaned that way, but only spending time on the water can truly prepare a sailor for chartering a vessel. Once again, this is why NauticEd’s training courses take as much time as they do.
Let’s say you want to get a bareboat charter certification so that you can charter a sailing vessel without having to hire a skipper. You have one of two choices. First, you can go with a certification factory that only requires you to spend 15 to 20 hours doing coursework on and off the water before taking a written test and an on-the-water sign off without any rigid standards of competence.
Your second option is to go with a sailing school that requires upwards of 40 hours of coursework plus additional training and required competence assessment on the water before certification is granted. The former option may be faster and cheaper, but the latter option actually gives you the time and hands-on experience necessary to truly master sailing at that level; as well as passing standards driven competence assessment.
Your average chartering company these days will not allow a vessel to go out without a hired skipper unless the customer has both the proper certifications and an adequate sailing resume. It wasn’t this way in the past, but things are changing. Governments around the world are rethinking their licensing and certification requirements for sailors. Insurance companies are more picky about what they will and will not cover. Even chartering companies are facing new liability issues.
To charter a boat in the 21st century you need an adequate resume and the proper certifications. But not just any certifications will do. You need to get your certifications from a sailing school and formalized sailing body that meets or exceeds all U.S. and international standards. Otherwise, you could find yourself at the chartering desk anticipating your voyage, only to be turned away.