Want to become Yachtmaster? Polish certificates of competence in…

Probably you’d have never thought of Poland as a country with some extensive leisure sailing traditions. Before WW II we’ve had very limited access to the sea, and in the period of socialism, because of the politics, sea – sailing was activity limited to very few people. In the ’90s and 2000s’ the situation changed rapidly and Polish people started to enjoy spending time at sea much more often. Polish sailing is governed by the Polish Yachting Association which is also responsible for registering yachts, and issuing certificates of competences for leisure sailors. 

Compared to for example the Royal Yachting Association – it is relatively easy to acquire certificates allowing to command relatively large vessels without territorial limitations. Polish certificates are widely recognized in the European Union, and obtaining them is several times cheaper than climbing, for example, the RYA path. The system has been simplified a few years ago, and at the moment path from zero to hero consists of three ranks.

Polish sailing certificates of competence progression chart

Inland Skipper

That’s the most basic certificate issued. In order to get it, you need to participate in training and pass theoretical and practical examinations. Training usually lasts between five to seven weekends, but there are schools that prepare you for it in five intensive days. You’ll learn boat handling under sails (tacking, jibing, docking the boat under sails, man overboard maneuvers) and engine, ropework (knots, mooring, etc.) and some safety aspects of leisure on the water. After acquiring this certificate, you’re entitled to sail any sail-powered vessel on the inshore waters, but also at sea: up to 2 nautical miles from the shore, daytime.

Yacht Skipper

That’s level two. This certificate can be obtained only if you can document your sea – time. The minimum is: 200 hours in at least two cruises. There are plenty of offers of Polish companies where you can complete your sea- time onboard of their skippered vessels in course of their sailing adventures. It usually works this way, that you sail with other people who collect experience hours, and you’re actual crew on the yacht. It’s great fun and indeed an adventure, something you’ll never experience on a chartered vessel in Greece or Croatia. You’ll get to know what it is to keep the watch at night or sail a few days in a row.

In order to get a certificate, you’ll also need to participate in training that lasts approximately five days. The syllabus is similar to inshore skipper training, but this time you’ll learn all maneuvers on a much bigger boat – and that makes a significant difference. You’ll also learn terrestrial navigation, International Rules Preventing Collisions at Sea, safety at sea, meteorology, pilotage etc. You don’t need to have Inland Skipper certificate, but you must have the knowledge required by it

If you successfully pass the theoretical and practical exam, you’ll be allowed to command vessels of up to 18 m without any territorial limitations.

Author’s Yacht Skipper CoC

Yachtmaster

is the top of the ladder in the leisure sailing system. Funnily enough – there is no exam for it. You need to be the holder of Yacht Skipper certificate, and document following sea- time: a total of 1200 hours at sea in a minimum of six cruises. Out of those: one hundred has to be completed on a vessel with a length exceeding 20 meters, one hundred on tidal waters, and four hundred of independent command of the vessel at sea.

It allows you to be in command of sailing vessels without limitations in terms of their length – but based on other regulations it is in fact limited to 200 GT. Considering that average seagoing sailboat weights between 10 – 15 GT it is more than enough.

How is sea-time documented?

After each cruise, skipper issues so-called: “Opinia z rejsu” which is in fact ‘Crew Member’s Certificate of Passage’’ where he indicates: number of hours, miles, whether these were tidal waters, visited ports, and other necessary information. Command hours are confirmed on the so-called “Karta Rejsu” (“Captain’s Certificate of Passage”) and are countersigned by the vessel’s operator. 

Examples of Polish Certificates of Sea Passage

Polish rules for certification are frequently criticized in the country. It is said that it is too easy to get a Yacht Skipper license, because of relatively short sea-time required prior to the training and exam. But as they’re recognized in the countries which are the most popular sailing destinations in Europe, so holders of Polish certificates can charter yachts – they might be an interesting and cheaper alternative for RYA certification. What’s also important: Polish companies offering mile – building trips operate mostly in the North, on the Baltic or North Sea and building your experience there may be interesting preparation before you decide to charter a boat in the South and take all your family with you on island hopping in Croatia.

What do you need to hear from the skipper…

On a small sailboat, the skipper is that guy who usually just sleeps and eats. He docks and launches the boat, and from time to time tells his sea adventures which makes you feel like if you were nothing but a mere landlubber.
Each person being in-command of a small vessel, especially on a sea-going sailing adventure with a crew with limited to none sailing experience, the skipper has one very important duty, that mustn’t be omitted at any time. It’s a safety briefing before a departure from a safe haven.
It is important to listen to it carefully and try to as much as it’s practically possible. The reason for that is, that skippers also fell overboard, they may have a medical issue or might be vulnerable to any other judgment – impairing condition that human beings can possibly suffer from. Obviously, in a perfect world, there is a qualified relief crew onboard able and capable of stepping in, when actual crap hits the fan. But if that person sleeps or, for whatever imaginable reason, is unavailable? On top of that – safe manning rules apply only if you are on a commercially coded vessel. If you’re hitchhiker, or just sail with someone you know, privately – there maybe just nobody else qualified onboard. And what if the only qualified person has just disappeared 200 meters behind the stern? In an emergency – every second matter. It’s worth to know what to do. In the end: safety is everyone’s responsibility.
It is unlikely, that you’ll remember each and every single thing you’ll hear in the course of the briefing. Those are tons of information. Below, you’ll find non–exhaustive list of things which are worth being aware of, and maybe if they’re reinforced during safety briefing some of them will at least partially remain in your memory.


Lifejackets and safety harness

How to put them on, when they need to be worn, how to adjust all these straps properly. It is advised to dress them whenever you are on the deck, or in the cockpit. Very important is to properly attach crotch strap. If it hangs loose may become a cause of the accident itself.
The skipper will advise you as well when and how to use a safety harness. Remember to secure yourself with it always when you sail at night and you’re outside, but also when it is wavy, or when skipper tells you to do so for whatever reason. If you fall overboard at night chances of finding you are really minimal. Safety harness shall be attached to special belay points on the deck, or to a lifeline. Cockpit table handrails or mast are usually good places to attach yourself too. I’d not advise you to clip yourself into the helm. It makes helmsman job really miserable.
At this point, the skipper will usually tell you about the most basic rule, while onboard of any sailing vessel. ‘One hand for the yacht’ – wherever you go on the boat – hold yourself with at least one of your hands.


Fire fighting

Here you’ll learn about fire extinguishers, fire blankets, and their location. The skipper will also tell you how to prevent fire onboard. In practice, it means, that he’ll tell you how to operate the stove, to spare yourself the trauma of an explosion, and will remind you, that smoking is allowed only outside (if at all), far away from the gas cylinder storage.
How and where to check the coordinates or in other words position of the vessel
It is especially useful if you call Search and Rescue, and they’d like to know a bit more precise where exactly you are between Scotland and Norway for the sake of that example. Coordinates can be usually found on: radio, chart plotter, yacht logbook or on nautical charts.

How do you actually call SAR or Coast Guard?

The minimum knowledge you need to have on that subject is where to find distress pushbutton on VHF radio. As it is usually under a flap with the word ‘distress’ written on it – that shouldn’t be an issue. If you’d like to speak to someone over the radio – you need to remember that it is not a mobile phone, and to have an efficient conversation, you need to press and release push – to – talk button on the handset in right moments. To make sure, that everyone around understands that you’re in an immediate need of assistance it’s the best to follow ‘MAYDAY’ call protocol. It usually hangs just next to the radio. If you’re on an expedition somewhere really far away from the land there could be also: Long Range radio, EPIRB, SART or satellite phone. It is worth knowing what each of these things does, and how to turn it on. Ask your capt’n about it.

How to stop yacht in case of man overboard situation.

As one tragic event on the Atlantic Ocean in 2017 shown – it is very important to know it. Some married couple was crossing Atlantic making their ways towards the Caribbean, and skipper fell overboard. His wife, who knew literally nothing about sailing, continued on the same course for another two days before she managed to establish contact with a cargo ship passing by. All that time, she didn’t manage to drop sails and start the engine. Lady has been eventually rescued, but boat left with her sails on continued by herself for another week until she ran aground into one of the Caribbean Islands.

There are plenty of methods of man overboard rescue, and probably even more opinion which one is the best. My personal view is: immediately shout for help (if there is anyone to help), make sure you keep an eye on a person in the water, throw him lifebuoy, and heave-to boat.
If you do these things immediately, there is a good chance you’ll end up just a few meters away from a wretch who involuntarily chose freedom in the Ocean.

Heave – to is a very simple maneuver: you need to steer into the direction where the wind blows from until you cross its line. Once that’s done, you completely loose mainsail (just remove the rope from the winch and drop it on the floor), in the end, you turn helm hard towards the wind. You’re heaving – to, and remain almost in the same place.

Another steps are: turning on the engine (you need to be shown in the course of the safety briefing how to do it!), getting rid of the jib or genoa (these are sails in front), and securing the mainsail. With the engine running, and no front sails, approaching the man overboard shouldn’t be difficult.

If you haven’t understood a word of what I’ve just written – make sure skipper explains that to you or even practice with you somewhere on sheltered water.

Evacuation


In the event of an evacuation, you may have assigned duty. Usually, it will be: ‘take something with you and run to a raft’. It is worth knowing what you need to take and where it will be located. As some of these may be: ‘grab bag’ or ‘EPIRB’ – make sure you do understand what you’re required to do. The skipper should also explain to you, that throwing raft into the water just as it is, may not be the best idea, as raft will go its direction whilst yacht would remain where it was.

Helicopter rescue

It is a matter of the utmost importance to memorize one thing: do not touch any object attached to a helicopter, which has not touched the water before. Helicopter generates a huge charge of static electricity. You don’t want to be the conductor for it to ground.

Use of toilet and other organizational things

Toilet on board of a vessel for God only knows what reason is called ‘head’. There are two things you need to know about the use of it: how to flush it – it is not that straightforward as one may think. Still, on a vessel, it is easier to use than in a submarine. Another important thing is sewage pipes. They’re VERY thin. It means that whatever you drop into the toilet bowl may very efficiently clog it. And unclogging isn’t a job you’d wish to anyone. The rule is: whatever went through your digestive system, this or another way can go into the toilet. The rest of it needs to be disposed of elsewhere. If you ask yourself if you’re allowed to throw in toilet paper, the answer is yes. Under that condition that you eat it first.

On sailboats running training or adventure scheme – everyone participates in navigating the boat. It is called ‘watch’. Make sure you know when is your turn and don’t come late.


It will be very difficult in such a short article to even touch on all of the most important things about life and safety onboard a small vessel. I hope that this blogpost will somehow make it closer to you. I hope as well, that you’ll never need to use the knowledge which I tried to pass on to you. Except for the use of toilets, of course.

How does sailing improve your dating rating

This may be a bit controversial article, but yes, sailing can increase your chances in finding your second half, or at least improve your dating rating. As it is a Valentine Day today – let me try to explain you why:

1. You’ll do something very different than majority of the people.

Something that in general perception is dangerous and extreme (which in most of the cases isn’t). You’ll be perceived as adventurous, and full of passion. 

2. You’ll have plenty of stories to tell

And with a little bit of storytelling gift – you can easily talk for three – four hours about one week trip. I’ve personally heard someone who described his sailing journey for five consecutive days. Continuously. You can make two hours out of it. At least.

3. You’ll gain self confidence

Especially boosted when you sail through the night in conditions which are just a bit more rough than calm. Especially, that during sailing adventures, you’re just forced to get out of your comfort zone. Space is limited, people you usually don’t know, they occasionally represent view of the world which is totally strange to you. Take it as it is, express yourself and embrace it all. Also, completion of a long passage will give you feeling of accomplishment of something remarkable. You’ll feel awesome and let yourself shine.

4. You’ll lose some weight

But, you need to spend some time on the boat to see the effect of it. It probably works this way, that as a boat constantly and so does your body trying to compensate for this movement. It isn’t cardio training, but continuous motion day and night. Additionally: you’ll usually eat very regularly, and if you sail on a cold seas it is chilly, so your body uses more calories. If it can be scientifically proven -no clue. But if you look at Trautman brothers, famous for sailing for over a decade onboard of Delos – there has to be something in it.

5. You’ll have tan like never before

You’ll have the most amazing tan you can imagine. UV rays reflected by the sea give tan which cannot be compared to any other. See yourself on Tinder? Slim and tanned?

6. It is opportunity to get to know well other singles

There are plenty of singles on sailing adventures – you increase your chance to meet someone onboard without this weird feeling and anxiety on how to make a first move, how to approach, what to say. You just say: ‘Hi, my name is… It’s a pleasure that we’ll spend the next week together’. Should it happen it is someone you like: perfect! You’ll have all week (or more) long to talk, get to know each other in the middle of the ocean, without phones distracting you. It is a great opportunity to open up. On top of that imagine: short stay in the harbor, great weather, you on one boat, some beauty of the opposite (or the same) gender on the other. Deep look in the eyes. Sense of urgency, rush of blood… you feel me?

And they lived happily…

So let’s say you found him or her. And you lived happily ever after, but everyday routine kicks in, and you’re not sure what to do, to keep this other half with you. Answer for that doubt is even simpler:

Go sailing again, alone.


If you go alone on the trip and your wife / girfriend / boyfriend / husband stay at home, they’ll become jealous a bit, but will also miss you a lot, and will be  so happy once you’re finally back home.. Even in the best relationships it is necessary to miss someone from time to time.

Happy Valentines!

How sailing can boost your career

It is a well known fact, that travelling and the way you spend your time somehow define you as a person. Going on holiday to a resort which looks the same as taken straight from the city center of town, chilling by the swimming pool and occasionally going to the beach or some organized tours will be for sure relaxing, but will it help you grow?

Sailing at sea or the ocean is the activity which allows you both:  to help relax and at the same time: to learn. A lot. I’ve put together 10 reasons how sailing can help you boost your career, and grow personally. Have a good read and think where would you like to sail on your next holiday.

  • If you choose the right place to start, and most importantly the right skipper to start with, you’ll probably see very interesting types of leadership. Boat captains are taught to run a happy boat but at the same time they must maintain the highest safety standards, which requires a lot of assertiveness. This is a rare blend of personal skills you’ll encounter and take an example from.
  • You’ll do something different than most of the people. Imagine office conversations about holiday, and everyone saying ‘well this Tunisia all inclusive was really shit this year, they haven’t had my most favourite Chardonnay this time’ versus yours ‘I sailed the Biscay Bay this summer’.  It makes you immediately stand out from the crowd and noticed by your colleagues and superiors.
  • You’ll learn a lot of interesting stuff if you are only willing to. Marine world is organized in a very interesting way. There are plenty of rules and regulations, plenty of techniques of staying safe at sea and not get lost. Plenty of ways of organizing life onboard the vessel. It will open a completely new world for you, and if you decide to proceed with your sailing hobby – learn a lot of new knowledge. Maybe some of the marine solutions will work for your industry? Maybe you can bring something new from your industry to sailing and boost the results of your company?
  • You’ll see on your own eyes all those theories saying about how the groups are forming. Should you join the cabin charter cruise which you’ll most likely do on the beginning, you’ll see how in the matter of hours group of people who don’t know each other at all, becomes fully efficient team cooperating towards common goal. This is fascinating observation for anyone who is leading teams at work. If you’re mindful and see this process accelerated on the yacht – you’ll probably be able to see it later on at work. 
  • You network. A lot. There are all kinds of people coming for the sailing cruises. You’re in a small space, immediately having the opportunity to interact. You’ll meet: doctors, managers, company owners, specialists of all industries. These contacts are just given to you, and may become your friendships should you decide to continue them after the cruise. They’re always very natural and close. Who knows if your new mate from the cruise will not become your co-worker, boss or subordinate one year?

  • You’re moving out of your comfort zone which helps you grow and makes you happy. Living on a confined space for few days is really helping you grow your empathy and help you reading other people and their needs much better. These soft skills are highly regarded no matter in which country or industry you work or what position you have.
  • You gain distance and confidence – and it’s ALWAYS good to develop your career. Whenever next time someone is unhappy with the excel you have prepared, you just need to recall the time when you’ve been hit by the rough weather somewhere in the North Sea. This really helps you putting the excel into the right perspective.
  • If you go on organized sea – cruise, the only thing you have to worry is how to get to the start and how to depart at the end. Rest will be taken care of by the organizer, who’ll make sure you’re safe. This is really relaxing, and you will return much more rested than from any other holiday, and getting really relaxed on holiday is a key to self – motivate you at your work. Guaranteed.
  • You get inspired by others. Like it was mentioned earlier, there are all kinds of people sailing. There are plenty of conversations and stories flying around all the time. You learn from them, you can use them for your benefit in the future.
  • If you’re in social media or influencing – I guarantee that pictures onboard the yacht or at its helm will be the ones with the most likes and comments. Unless you are aerobatic pilot.

So, where will you sail on your next holiday?

What do I need to start sailing at sea?

That’s very frequent question. Answer is very simple and straightforward. Willingness and a little bit of time.

To start sailing at sea, if you’ve never done that before, you’ll need to find:

  1. Reliable sailing cruise organizer or someone from your family having a boat. Or alternatively charter a yacht by yourself, find skipper and another six people to share the cost of charter with you.
  2. Good mood
  3. A bit of courage

Many people are concerned if they need some sophisticated equipment. Answer is yes and no and depends on your budget available.

Foul weather gear can be expensive if you go on the trip where it might be needed. Good quality clothes for beginners can cost about 200 eur if you buy them in Decathlon. There is no top limit in fact, but for occasional sailor, making 2 -3 trips annually they’re perfect, so unless you’re a fashion victim or plan working offshore – don’t go for anything more expansive.

Occasionally there are organizers who will give you weather gear, which is a very good option to start if you’re not sure if you’ll like it. Those clothes are worn on top of other clothing so they don’t maintain contact with the body of the other person who used it before you.

Another option to address this concern is coming for sailing in… skiing clothes. They’re made of the same materials, the difference is mostly in design.

Everything else you need is non – material. 

You need ability to cooperate with others, willingness to spend time with other people and desire for the adventure.

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