This is how you become a skipper

Sail, sail
This is how you become a skipper

Sailing on the water on a yacht is the epitome of freedom for many people. But if you want to be free at sea, you must first study for exams. And take a boat.

Many associate yacht sailing with freedom. And it is becoming more popular. Especially since the start of the corona pandemic.

Christiane Perlewitz of the German Sailing Association (DSV) confirms this impression. Demands on sailing club memberships and interest in moorings have increased, she says. The used boat market was also sometimes empty. “Anything that is still swimming is bought and put back into shape,” say insiders.

Realistically estimate the costs of buying a boat

More than ever, interested parties should seek independent advice and have the object of their desire verified by an expert. Otherwise, the feeling of happiness when buying a boat will soon be followed by disillusionment and the repair costs will consume the savings.

In general, you should be aware that being a boat owner sounds good, but it’s not cheap fun. Because the purchase price is not enough. Mooring, maintenance, insurance and winter storage quickly absorb thousands of euros a year.

Rental as an option for occasional sailors

Many sailors therefore join together to form shipowner communities, while others prefer to charter. “Anyone who hires a boat only occasionally for holidays pays no more than a hotel with a lake or sea view,” estimates Jochen Rieker, editor-in-chief of the sailing magazine “Yacht”.

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His notebooks are filled with offers from charter companies and so-called yacht brokers such as Bavaria Yacht Broker, who, similar to rental car comparison portals, offer yachts from small charter companies around the world online. The third way to charter yachts is through large suppliers such as Sunsail, who charter their yachts all over the world.

The floating holiday home has no more expenses for sailing or anchoring in the bays, apart from the cost of diesel. Mooring rates apply in marinas and harbors, just like in campsites. In Germany it is usually less than 25 euros a day for a twelve meter long ship, but in the Mediterranean you often pay a multiple of that.

Sports boat license as an entrance ticket

Before you can make your dream of sailing your yacht come true, you must first learn how to sail. This means: reviewing the theory and passing the exams.

The sports boating license (SBF) is the entrance ticket. For inland waters the SBF Binnen is required, for the sea the SBF See if the boat has an engine with more than 15 HP.

You can prepare for exams in clubs, sailing schools or online courses. In the theory test, 30 of the 300 possible questions must be solved in a multiple choice system. This is not magic. Navigational activities on nautical charts are more difficult.

Don’t neglect hands-on training

Several maneuvers are required for the practical test. Mooring and disarming are mandatory, as well as the rescue of a person who has fallen into the sea and, for the SBF lake, guidance according to compass and bearing. Depending on the certificate, other maneuvers may include setting and retrieving sails or stopping en route.

Practical training is often overlooked, says Rieker, editor-in-chief of “Yacht”. In choosing a school, therefore, it is advisable to pay attention to how many hours of driving are guaranteed before the exam. “Sometimes it’s only 45 minutes. In our estimation, it should be five hours per person,” says Rieker.

Coastal boat license for charter often required

From a purely legal point of view, the SBF lake, which costs around 500 euros including exam fees, is enough to sail the seas in your own private yacht. However, if you wish to rent a boat, most charter companies must show you the Coastal Boatman’s License (SKS). This is not an official driving license, but the only internationally recognized proof that you can drive a yacht safely.

The exam involves more theory – such as more complex navigation, in order to plan routes if necessary without the aid of modern GPS devices – and above all more practice. “Many yachts only learn to sail in SKS courses”, says skipper Andreas Lehn, who trains sailing students on the island of Elba.

If you have also passed the SKS certificate, which costs around 500 euros with training, and you have also passed the mandatory radio certification exam for boats with radio equipment, nothing stands in the way of great freedom at sea.

However, Jochen Rieker advises caution: “Sailing is a sport of experience. In the beginning you should take it easy, complete the skipper’s training and maybe sail in the company of others, for example in guided flotillas. “

© dpa-infocom, dpa: 220328-99-704716 / 4

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