P R A C T I C A L  S K I L L S

Practical Skills

I am currently discussing with publishers a new book:

The Practical Skipper: Guidance and checklists for yacht skippers

This will explain all the exercises that trainee Skippers encounter on the two RYA Practical Courses, Day Skipper (Tidal) and Coastal Skipper (Tidal).

Once it is in progress I will feature the book on this site, giving the Publisher and date of publication.


See also my books that are already in publication, which Skippers and Crew may find useful.


Teaching practical skills on a yacht

Although you can start to understand the skills you need by reading books, the only way to really teach and learn practical skills is by doing it, at sea on a yacht.

One of the satisfying things about the sea, and sailing on it in a yacht, is that you cannot argue with it. The only thing that really matters, when you are learning practical skills such as boat manoeuvring, the practical application of navigation and pilotage, or sailing in different wind conditions, is: Does It Work?

It may sound simplistic, but broadly speaking if it works it's right (and you may even have discovered a new way of doing it) and if it doesn't, it's wrong.

A good sailing instructor can work with this - and you never have to have any debate or argument, because it is obvious to one and all whether It (the technique, the manoeuvre) is working or not. The key to instructing is to let people learn by their own mistakes, while keeping things safe for the yacht and crew.

Occasionally things happen on a practical course which even the instructor doesn't expect. For the instructor, this separates the Men from the Boys (this metaphor has nothing whatever to do with age or gender, of course).

The inexperienced or insecure instructor will brush over the event, maybe telling the sceptical students what 'ought' to have happened, and then move quickly on to something else.

The good instructor will say "That's interesting. Let's figure out what happened there, and then let's have another go and see if we can find a better way to do it." This is often the best part of the course, particularly if the students are involved in coming up with ideas or explanations.