Level 3 Coastal Skipper, Great Barrier


What To Expect

Our Level 3 Cruising course is a four-day course run in our or a member’s keelboat.

The course starts on a Friday, we’ll teach you how to dock in a marina and finish the day with a planning/Navigation session and safety briefing at the RNZYS.

Saturday morning we’ll cruise the 60 nautical miles from Westhaven to Great Barrier Island. Over the weekend we’ll stay on the vessel and ashore on Kaikoura Island with stunning views across Port Fitzroy. Sunday will be spent cruising around the island getting practical experience anchoring, navigating, managing water/ power consumption and also some emergency drills – rudder failure, engine failure plus a few others that we’ll keep as a suprise. You will finish the course by bringing it all back together by planning the route and sailing back to Auckland on Monday evening arriving in Auckland Tuesday morning.

This is an all-inclusive course; the fee covers food, drinks and accommodation.

What the course covers

During the Level 3 cruising course you will gain an understanding of safety on the water, navigation, tides, Identifying vessels and navigational marks, Maritime Collision avoidance rules and processes, using a VHF radio, engine maintenance and of course sailing skills – up to the required standard to apply for the ICC International Certificate of Competency (required to charter a yacht in Europe) as well as practical application of the Coastguards Boat Master course (with the intentions of improving understanding for people that have completed the Boat Master course or help prepare people to take the boat master course);

Sailing without a rudder

Recovering a person overboard at night

Hoisting and Reefing Sails

Anchoring and docking

Planning a voyage

Water and Power conservation

Collision avoidance

Vessel identification

Advanced Navigation and Chart work

What is included

At the beginning of your course you’ll receive a one-month trial membership at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron. You’ll be able to use the facilities and get a full taste of what being an active sailing member of the RNZYS is like!
The course includes all safety gear, food, drink and accommodation.

On graduation you receive a Yachting New Zealand Level 3 Coastal Skipper certificate

By the end of the course you will have an understanding and confidence to skipper a yacht to cruise around our wonderful Hauraki gulf and maybe beyond.

The Sailing Office will provide help with the next stage of your journey: crew placement, Level 2 Race Crew Training course, Level 3 Advanced Race Crew Training, advice when purchasing a yacht or even volunteering in race management.

Click on the photos to see more 🙂

Common Questions

Where do we meet?

Main foyer of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, 181 Westhaven Drive.

What should I bring?

You should pack;

  • Warm jumper. Wool is best in case of colder weather
  • Warm jacket, wind and water proof if possible
  • Thermal top and bottom if possible because of cold weather (the night sail will be cold)
  • Sun cream (SPF 30+)
  • Sun hat, Beanie, Sunglasses
  • Drink bottle
  • Sailing gloves
  • Casual (off water) clothes, any personal items and toiletries.
  • Sleeping bag and towel.

Life Jackets and harnesses are provided.

You are welcome to bring swimmers if you want to go for a swim in your down-time.

Will I get wet?

Most likely not, but it is possible.

What if it's bad weather will the course be cancelled?

If there is a very bad weather forecast we’ll be in touch and look at rescheduling the course.

Can the boats capsize?

No. Our boats are keelboats and are impossible to capsize.


How much of the course is theory versus practical?

Approximately two thirds of the time is on the water/practical, and is two thirds theory.

Are the coaches qualified?

This course will be run by our Learn to sail manager who is a qualified commercial skipper.

Does RNZYS offer RYA courses?

We run YNZ (Yachting New Zealand) courses YNZ Level1 seamanship and YNZ Level2 seamanship; RYA (Royal Yachting Association) is the British equivalent of YNZ. Both are endorsed and recognised internationally by the sailing governing body ‘World Sailing’.

Will I get a certificate after my course?

Provided you pass the course (most do) you will get a YNZ certificate which is Internationally recognised by World Sailing.

Should I do any preparation before the course?

Completion of the RNZYS level 2 cruising course is a pre-requisite to starting this course.

Will I be able to skipper a boat on my own after the course?

After this Level 3 course you will have all the information you need to skipper a boat safely yourself. We still do recommend you gain more experience and confidence as a crew before doing any long trips as a skipper.

How do I continue to sail after I finish the course

We have a lots of frequent and cruising regattas at the club and we can help place you on a RNZYS member’s boat. We can also help you if you are looking to purchase your own yacht.

Should I become a member of RNZYS?

Yes! In fact if you sign up to a course you are already a member as the course includes one month membership to the RNZYS which allows you to use all the facilities at the club. After three months you can decide if you wish to carry on the membership, which we strongly encourage you to do. As well as sailing, the RNZYS offers great dining in the member’s bars and quarterdeck restaurant, rooms for meetings, fantastic social functions, family events, use of Lidgard house at Kawau island and it is an all round great club.