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We constantly receive questions from clients asking about what is needed for proof of competence abroad to be a charter captain. It’s very confusing and we are more than happy to answer any specific question you have.
Recently a new organization called www.americanyachting.org popped up with the sole purpose to issue fake sailing certificates. So with so much confusion out there about what is accepted here is a short overview of what the real requirements are and what we tell our North American clients.
In the Caribbean, you can book a charter based solely on your sailing resume. You are mostly picking up moorings balls and this is rather easy and can be done proficiently with minimal training. However if you book a yacht over 50ft your resume will be more heavily scrutinized.
In the Mediterranean you are mostly docking each night so the risk of yacht damage is greater, and they request proof of skill such as a sailing certificate or sailing license. You can see in the attached photo taking in Corsica, France, boats are everywhere and no one is telling you where to go and lots of expensive boats to hit. Everywhere else in the world, like Tahiti, Thailand, Australia, Seychelles, etc. the requirements vary depending on whether you’re mostly picking up mooring balls or docking.
All this confusion is exactly why clients find it so useful to use brokers like LateSail that book high volume worldwide, (over 1000 charters booked in the Mediterranean this year) to give them accurate advice so they don’t get a surprise like having their certificates rejected upon arrival and being forced to hire a skipper for the week.
Regarding the Mediterranean:
Croatia is the only place you really “need” a license, here it’s checked by the port authorities and strictly enforced. Since Croatia is an up-and-coming destination they want to ensure they continue to attract large yachts to the area, ensuring everyone on the water is skilled (and less likely to crash into your 5 million dollar super yacht) is their approach to attracting tourism with uniform standards.
Everywhere else such as Italy and Greece we say that they like to “make up requirements that they don’t enforce”. Or they are not uniformly enforced between regions and charter fleets.
They ask for 2 sailors to be on board in Greece and 1 to be certified/licensed, the other can be anyone who has stepped on a sailboat before. However this is not checked by the local authorities so enforcement really varies between companies. And it doesn’t mean it’s the bad companies that don’t enforce the requirement; plenty of very good companies will accept a letter of reference from a yacht club.
So if you are a lifelong sailor and book with LateSail, we can make sure that we book you with one of the 70 charter companies in Greece that we receive good customer feedback from that will accept a lesser qualification like a letter of reference.
Here are the two sailing certificates we recommend for sailing in European Waters:
We suggest contacting a local sailing school and asking if you can do a one-day lesson to “test-out” of the course if you don’t have the certificate needed.
US Sailing might be a little easier to work with, especially if you tell them you have taken classes previously, even if they were a long time ago.
Canadian clients can obtain an International Certificate of Competency through International Yacht Training Worldwide (IYT), more info is here http://www.iytworld.com/courses/recreational/international-certificate-of-competency-icc
You must have a VHF operators endorsement for Croatia as well. The International Proficiency Certificates above specifically mention VHF, so they are best, but you need to request this enforcement. In Europe a VHF certification means you have to take a one-day class learning how to properly hail the coast guard and other yachts, “push the button when you talk, then release it to listen” type of stuff, basically how not to clog up the airwaves.
However if you have a bareboat certificate only you’ll need an additional radio operators permit to meet the requirements. The best thing we have found is the Restricted Radiotelephone Operator Permit from the FCC, which you can order here for $60. Just fill out the paperwork online and send the money, nothing more is need.