The chances are that if you own a boat, you’re probably already well qualified to skipper it. However, no matter how experienced you are, you need to be commercially endorsed by an MCA licensed authority such as the RYA before working on any British flagged vessels. This involves the authority checking that your qualifications are legitimate and current.
Imagine if you were a paying customer; you would want to know that whoever was skippering you and your family or friends was suitably qualified and prepared for any situation. The level of qualification required depends on your planned itinerary.
This matrix from the MGN 280 gives some guidance on the qualifications needed for skippering boats registered at each category.**link to coding page**
For example, you can see that for a Cat 0 (unrestricted) vessel, it is a requirement to have a Yachtmaster Ocean qualification, and also to make sure that someone else on board has the Yachtmaster Ocean or Offshore. If you were on a chartered yacht and your skipper was injured or unwell, you would need a competent replacement to keep everyone safe.
In the chart above, you can also see that for Cat 5 and 6, the RYA Day Skipper qualification is sufficient, along with twelve months relevant experience. If your vessel is only registered for Cat 6, you could just take the RYA Powerboat Level 2, which is a course that can be completed in one weekend.
Such courses are easily accessible and will teach you valuable information about protecting yourself, your boat and other water users. Look on the RYA website to find courses near you.
The process is actually really simple. To receive the commercial endorsement on top of your RYA Yachtmaster Yachtmaster qualification, you may have to complete additional training courses and provide the appropriate medical fitness certificates.
Before submitting an application, all potential Commercially Endorsed Skippers will also have to take an online Professional Practices and Responsibilities course.
It is very quick to get your commercial endorsement from the RYA, with the maximum wait in busy periods being two weeks from the date on which they receive your application.
The certification fee is normally £34 to the RYA, but the process can be done on a fast track service of two working days at an additional cost.
The Professional Practices and Responsibilities course is run by RYA recognised training centres, who will provide remote access to an instructor. (Find a PPR Training Centre here). The recommended retail price for the course is £39 including VAT but this could vary between centres.
Commercial endorsements are re-validated after five years providing you have completed 150 days of service at sea, and can still provide a medical fitness certificate.