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Skipper training – practice for boaters


Skipper training is undoubtedly a must for beginners as well as newcomers to the boat license, because the trickier things like harbor maneuvers in tight spaces have to be learned and practiced. If, on the other hand, you think that because you can park a car well, you would maneuver a boat just as skillfully into the gap, you are simply on the wrong track.

But even somewhat experienced skippers can benefit from good practical training if you consider the following aspects.

The challenge

For most boaters, the greatest challenge is port maneuvers, especially in unfavorable wind conditions and little space. Many things need to be taken into account, such as the unwanted displacement of the bow in cross winds, the wheel effect, the response to the rudder, or the mooring lines, which often run out very flat and pose a great danger to the propeller or drive shaft.

Although today the majority of charter yachts are already equipped with bow thrusters, one can always observe skippers who have major problems with them when mooring. Often the reason is that it was misused. You should only give short thrusts and wait to see how the ship reacts to them. If you stay too long at the switch, the bow can overwind or worse, the electrical system can be overloaded and fail. (Let us show and explain how to secure a bow thruster – if you are not an electrician, you will probably be amazed at the load it carries!)

The so-called wheel effect is apparently often not used, on the contrary – not taken into account, which can also lead to distress. If you know it, this effect can be used very well to support putting on and taking off.

All of these previously mentioned things and more must be taken into account during the maneuvers, although admittedly the situations can be different – but – with participation in skipper training a lot can be simulated and trained accordingly!

Skipper’s experience

As a skipper, you can best “experience” experience in the truest sense of the word. Most holiday captains, however, are on the voyage for an average of only 1-2 weeks per year and so only a relatively small number of nautical miles comes together. If there are a lot of lull days, these can hardly be posted to the “routine account” on the credit side.

It may sound quite impressive when you can refer to ten years of experience as a skipper, but the bottom line is that the above remains. Average but only 10-20 weeks total experience. If you calculate that a week-long holiday sailing trip usually hardly covers more than 150 miles, the example gives a manageable 1,500-3,000 nautical miles – just like the world …

False pride, because you’ve been sailing for so long, is definitely out of place here, because as a skipper you never really stop learning!

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Skipper safety

The hustle and bustle emanating from the skipper is transferred very quickly to the other crew members, which very often leads to an unsuccessful port or anchor maneuver. Prudence and calm are essential when putting on and taking off!

Experienced recreational captains look at the destination to be approached beforehand in a district manual. He observes the information such as the expected water depth in order to know where to maneuver his ship and where there could be problems with the draft.

Even before the port or an anchor bay is called, the skipper discusses and justifies the necessary maneuvers with his crew and assigns each of them his or her task. This radiates safety from the skipper and if everyone is clear what to do, the matter will normally run smoothly.

In order for the captain to radiate sovereignty and transfer it to his team, he of course needs a good portion of routine, which can be trained very well with skipper training.

Skipper training on a sailing yacht, catamaran or motor yacht?

This question is easy to answer – ideally on the type of boat you want to use for your future trips!

In terms of the “sailing trade”, catamarans are very, very similar to how a monohull sailor operates, but you only notice the clear differences in the harbor at the latest. Multihulls (Kat’s) are much wider than Mono’s (monohulls), but usually equipped with 2 motors, which has a positive effect on maneuverability.

As mentioned, monohull sailors need less space to maneuver than the Multi, but are more limited when it comes to the so-called “turning on the plate” (turning at the stand) due to only one machine.

Amazingly, many newcomers believe that maneuvering motor yachts would be more difficult than sailing ships. This is usually not the case at all, because most modern motor yachts are twin-engine (which makes a lot of things easier) and are equipped with some additional helpers such as an IPS control. With the latter, a boat can even be steered sideways and diagonally with a little practice using the joystick. However, this does not mean that as a new coastal patent holder you can easily get started with a motorboat!

In summary, one can say that the handling of a monohull sailing yacht is the most difficult to consider in terms of maneuvering. And when you complete a skipper training on a mono, you are more likely to be equipped for the other types of boat than the other way around. Of course, it is more perfect if the training is done on the right type.

Final tip – especially in the Mediterranean region, such as in Croatia, a skipper training course is recommended outside the usual holiday season, as more winds are to be expected, especially in spring and autumn, which can be used very well for maneuver training!

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