Mobile: 07931 940277
07917 573772
Tel: 02392 528019

RYA Helmsman Course Syllabus

No previous experience required

Course Duration

The course takes place over 2 days usually at the weekend. 

Course Content

This course aims to teach boat handling and seamanship on 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

Nomad Sailing and Haslar Sea School are run by Lou and Jim Barden. We are both passionate about boating and having fun whilst learning valuable skills. We also have a small number of instructors who are equally passionate about what they do. To book onto one of our courses visit our Course Dates page or contact Jim on 07931940277 or Lou on 07917573772


RYA Helmsman Course Practical Syllabus

Safety and Seamanship

  • The difference between manual and auto-inflating life jackets
  • The importance of crotch straps
  • Appropriate clothing
  • Cold shock
  • Correct fitting of a life jacket

Engine Operation and Maintenance

  • Fuel consumption range and reserve 
  • Engine monitoring while running
  • Routine maintenance checks
  • Basic fault diagnosis
  • Perform pre-start checks
  • Locate fuel cut offs
  • Perform close-down procedure

Boat Preparation

  • Local boating conditions and regulations
  • CE marks; loading; effect on handling and performance
  • Safety equipment; lifejackets; dangers; the need for crew
  • Use of a kill cord (if fitted)
  • Secure stowage of equipment
  • Tie and know the use of : round turn and two half hitches;bowline;clove hitch
  • LPrepare boats, lines and fenders

Boat Handling

  • Different hull shapes and propulsion systems
  • Steering; controls; windage
  • The effect of wind on the bow
  • Carry away
  • 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 the boat at planning speed
  • Us trim 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
  • Prepare mooring warps
  • Use a boat hook
  • Make fast
  • Approach and secure to a buoy

Berthing Alongside and Leaving

  • Preparation of lines and springs
  • Methods of approach in various wind and tide conditions
  • Attach fenders
  • Coil lines
  • Throw a mooring line
  • Secure lines to cleats
  • Make fast alongside
  • Use springs to leave a berth

Man Overboard

  • Various methods for recovering the person overboard from the water
  • That engine should be switched off unless unsafe to do so
  • Drift down approach
  • Take immediate action
  • Observe the MOB
  • Carry out the correct return with awareness of the propellers
  • Approach and recover the man-overboard dummy


  • 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


  • 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
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