RYA Training Centre

The CSSA is recognised as an approved training establishment by the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) and offers courses that lead to nationally recognised RYA qualifications. If members wish to improve their skills, the CSSA’s volunteer instructors will be only too willing to help. A wide range of practical training is available, enabling members to qualify as competent crew, approved yacht skippers, dinghy sailors or dinghy instructors. As CSSA instructors are all volunteers, course costs are generally cheaper than commercial sea schools.

Training is undertaken by individual CSSA clubs, rather than the CSSA directly. For more details about course availability and cost, check on the individual club web sites. You can find the web addresses on the Our Clubs page.

Offshore – Sail Taster Days – 1 day events – I think I might want to sail… Start here …

One of the common questions we get asked is how to explore yacht sailing. You have thought about it and have decided to “Give it a Go!”   Taster days are a brilliant starting point to get into sailing.

Taster Days are run by most of our yacht clubs. These are advertised on the CSSC website and also the club sites ( Channel Sailing Division – “Portsmouth”, East Coast Yacht Division “Ipswich” and 5 Kingdoms “Liverpool” ). These allow people to sign up for a day sailing experience which allows absolute beginners to join an experience skipper and mate and take the boats out for the day. This will include a full safety briefing and then they skipper and mate will take the new crew through the basics and then take the yacht out. Everyone is then encourage to take part in sailing the yacht. Setting sails, working the helm and acting as lookouts. A one day sailing experience really does give you the chance to experience sailing. The weather will play a part in this. However, we are an island nation and sailing is in our blood! Your fellow crew members will be like you. They will have also decided to try sailing and you will all be made very welcome by our host clubs. These courses are not formal training and do not lead to certificates. Also check the day sailing taster events schedule on CSSA Day Sail Events

BT Day Sailing
A staff sail taster day organised for BT – September 2015

Offshore – Sea Time Cruises – 3 to 5 days – Getting more into sailing… Developing a stronger interest in sailing … I have Sea Legs!

Although these are not strictly training courses, the cruises on the CSSA yachts with approved skippers can be used to gain seatime, mileage and night hours which can be recorded in a RYA yacht cruising logbook (G15) as required for all of the higher certificates. It may also be possible to get sections of the logbook signed-off for specific practical abilities during cruises. The novice crew sleep on the boat each evening. Sailing destinations are selected each weekend based on wind and tides by the approved Skipper. These courses are not formal training and do not lead to certificates.


Sea Essay 01
Crew taking a yacht out for a Sea Time weekend sailing experience



Boat-handling courses – 

Short sails of one-three days for crews who have sailed before and wish to learn the practical skills of manoeuvring under sail and engine, berthing in marinas and picking up mooring buoys under various conditions of wind and tide.

Introduction to racing

The Civil Service Offshore Racing Club (CSORC) sometimes runs short courses specialising in the crewing skills required for racing, such as sail trimming, tactics, starting procedures, and spinnaker handling. These are sometimes followed by participation in a short inshore club race


RYA Training Centre

RYA five-seven days practical yacht courses

These are formal courses and lead to internationally recognised certificates.

  • Pre-exam refresher Courses for RYA Yachtmaster Coastal and Yachtmaster Offshore
  • Competent Crew, Day Skipper, Coastal Skipper Practical Courses

These are all five-day courses to an RYA syllabus with instruction by an RYA-qualified skipper. There are minimum starting experience requirements for the courses set by the RYA. (See RYA cruising logbook G15). If competent, all pupils receive an RYA Course Completion Certificate from the CSSA.

RYA Yachtmaster Coastal and Yachtmaster Offshore require candidates to demonstrate their abilities in a practical one-day examination with a professional RYA examiner who is not a CSSA member. The CSSA runs five-day preparatory courses for these examinations, which can then be taken on the CSSA yachts. The total course duration is usually six-seven days including two days for examining three-four candidates. These qualifications, plus CSSA references, allow members to charter the CSSA yachts in either coastal or offshore waters

RYA Yachtmaster Ocean Certificate

This certificate requires the candidate to complete a 600-mile offshore passage out of sight of land as navigator or watch-leader, using a sextant for astro-navigation. Each year one of the CSSA yachts may organise a long distance cruise which is suitable for this requirement. Candidates must first have attended a course of evening classes on the theory of celestial navigation.

Shorebased certificates

The RYA sail training scheme also provides certificates for shorebased theory courses (Day Skipper or Yachtmaster Theory and Yachtmaster Ocean Theory) which are usually taught as a series of weekly evening classes at schools and colleges during the winter. Many CSSA members are involved as tutors in these classes, but details of your local classes should be obtained from the RYA or your local library or Adult Education Authority.

Dinghy training

claire and izzy

The CSSA has coastal dinghy clubs in Plymouth Sound and Southampton Water, and inshore clubs in Berkshire, Essex, Lancashire and Middlesex. All of these clubs have training officers and offer some informal dinghy training for new members. Several of the larger clubs also offer formal RYA dinghy courses which provide certificates at several levels for those who meet the required standards in both the theory and practical aspects of sailing. These clubs are lively, full of energy and with a real thirst for sailing. Your will be very welcome! Please check out the local club sites. They advertise sail taster sessions through out the year where you can book a session and see where you have sea legs after all without the need to commit to something without having tried it! Check out some of the advertised sailing events CSSA Sailing Events

Summer Cruises – A week sailing during the summer

As an Island Nation there are a couple of things to consider! The weather and the seasons. The clubs tend to slow the pace down during the winter due to the temperature and people appetite to sail. However, the Yacht clubs tend to send their boats on summer cruises which members can then sign up to. In effect the clubs decide on a summer cruise route ( Baltic, Scottish Coast, French Coast ). They then co-opt experienced authorised skippers and 1st mates to legs of the cruise ( week long sections of the route ) and then people sign up as crew for legs of the trip. You become the crew and make your way to a port to join the boat and then back from the port at the end of your sailing leg. Routes are decided in late autumn and then advertised to the club members. Members can join any of the club boats across the country.

If all else fails and your still thinking about the best options to get into sailing drop us a line and we will help with queries and point you in the right direction. Email us at   info@cs-sailing.org.uk