RYA Courses, Solent

Sail training courses are run on a friendly yet professional basis with experienced RYA instructors who will make your sailing lessons both fun and memorable. Own boat tuition is a speciality or book a course on one of our favourite yachts and come back and charter her afterwards to gain those valuable miles..

Working with First Class Sailing we can offer Sail training for anyone wanting to just experience the water, or obtain miles to go further and take higher qualifications or we are happy to put some specialised training together so you can just spend time practising those tricky manoeuvres as you come into dock We can configure courses with individual berths, groups of friends or just come along and meet some new fellow sailors whilst learning a new skill. Corporate groups are welcome and individuals catered for too.
We are located in the Solent and our yachts are berthed at Shamrock Quay, Southampton which has modern facilities and free parking.  

Click on the thumbnail link below for further details or just call us if you need more information.

Start Yachting Course

Competent Crew Course
Team building Yacht charter Firstaway.co.uk
Day Skipper
Day skipper Firstaway.co.uk
Coastal Skipper

Yacht Master Preparation

Why choose us?

  • Yachts that are highly maintained to a very high standard and equipped to a high specification.
  • RYA instructors picked for their passion for teaching, knowledge, endless patience and sense of humour enabling them to deliver the best sail training courses in the UK.
  • Plenty of scope to consolidate the lessons learnt on RYA sailing courses through distance cruises, discounted bareboat yacht charter or of course you can just come back for a refresher week or weekend sailing course in the Solent at any time.  


  • Instruction
  • Yacht, gas and diesel
  • Accommodation on-board
  • Breakfast and lunch, Tea and coffee, soft drinks and snacks on-board,
  • Loan of a life jacket
  • Free Parking at Shamrock Quay Marina


  • Evening Meals
  • Waterproofs - available to hire if required.
  • Mooring Fees


Space on a boat is always limited, so you should pack your clothes in a soft holdall that can be stowed away in a locker. Bags with wheels should be avoided, as these may damage the woodwork on boats. You will need:
  • Sleeping bag
  • Pillow
  • Towel and washbag
  • Warm clothing including thermals (remember that you will be outdoors most of the day. A range of sporty, layered clothing is best. Jeans are OK, but not ideal as they are hard to dry if they get wet)
  • Sailing gloves
  • A hat for cold weather
  • Sun cream, sunglasses(with strap) and sunhat
  • Non marking shoes (Trainers or deck shoes) or non-slip/non-marking waterproof sailing boots
  • Waterproof clothing (unless you have asked us to provide it for you)
  • Health insurance documentation (if applicable)
We provide all safety equipment such as lifejackets and harnesses.



These 2 day sailing courses are a relaxed introduction to yachting for beginners and are designed for those completely new to sailing. A great way to gain sailing experience; there are no prerequisites so simply come along and enjoy our Start Yachting course!

Contact us for Dates


There are no pre-requisites for this course; it is suitable for total beginners with no sailing experience at all.


2 Days


A Solent based, weekend yachting courses starting from Shamrock Quay Marina, Southampton which  includes an introduction to yachting terminology, rope work, basic sailing experience, rules of the road, meteorology, and introduction to emergency procedures, precautions and equipment. A good opportunity to try yachting for the first time under the guidance of an experienced instructor.

This course is ideal as a gift experience and  we can provide a gift voucher.



competent crew course £549

The Competent Crew course introduces the complete beginner to yachting and teaches personal safety, seamanship, helmsman ship to the level required to be a useful crew member on a sailing yacht. It also provides an opportunity to experience sailing at night, providing a totally different perspective on the tasks and hazards! Weekend or weekday training courses starting from Shamrock Quay, Southampton.

Contact us for Dates

There are no pre-requisites for this course; it is suitable for total beginners with no sailing experience at all, with no sailing experience.


5 Days – this can be split over 2 weekends if required.

If you are completely new to yachting and feel a five day course is too big a commitment, you may prefer to start with the Start Yachting course, which is a shorter (two day) introduction to sailing.


These 5 day courses are a great introduction to yachting. There are no prerequisites, simply come along, and enjoy learning to sail. Sleeping and eating on board (apart from perhaps the odd evening meal out in a pub or restaurant if you choose!) you will learn lots about sailing, life on board and how fun it is staying  at a different marina or anchorage or harbour each night.

You will have a friendly instructor keen to teach you everything you want to know and you can expect many other likeminded people having fun and enjoying the sea air. You will learn lots and go home at the end of a weekend or course feeling happy and pleasantly tired.

Each day of the course is packed with activity. No set hours as when sailing this depends on the wind and tide but at the end of the day, you will normally be in a marina ready for a hot shower and a possible trip to the pub! Sometimes you may drop anchor for the night, other times you may tie on to a buoy. On one evening of the course you will probably go sailing in the dark to see how much fun that can be.

There is no formal assessment or exam for the Competent Crew course. While our 5 day sailing course will equip students with all the necessary safety skills and build confidence in crewing techniques, it is also largely about having fun but at the end of the course you should have gained sufficient knowledge to be a useful crew member.



This 5 day sailing course provides an introduction to skippering a sailing yacht.

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Previous practical experience to Competent Crew level and beyond is assumed and expected. Similarly, knowledge of the Day Skipper shore based syllabus (or equivalent) is required. It is also recommended that students do not attempt to complete the Day Skipper practical course without the perquisite knowledge and experience of crewing on large sailing yachts.
  • Minimum Age 16
  • 5 days on board
  • 100 miles logged
  • 4 night hours on board a sailing yacht


5 Days – this can be split over 2 weekends if required. 


The Day Skipper course is your first formal step towards learning the skills required to be a competent and safe skipper, so you can look forward to a great sense of achievement on completion!

Topics covered include pilotage, boat handling and crew organisation. The course develops personal skills such as communication and delegation and also provides an introduction to 'managing' the yacht on a day to day basis. It will teach pilotage, seamanship, weather forecasting, victualling, and engine maintenance and sail selection. You will have time to practice mooring skills and you will visit many anchorages both during day sails and night sails in order that you can practice your night pilotage and identify lights.

During the course you will have the opportunity to learn in a safe environment, to plan and make short passages, including exiting and entering new harbours and to practice close quarter boat handling.

At the end of the Day Skipper course you will be confident to skipper a cruising yacht on short passages  by day. Students who successfully complete the Day Skipper course can charter from Firstaway as we will work with you to ensure you can progress further.

This course will also enable you to apply for the ICC (International Certificate of Competence). This qualification is required by most European countries to validate your competence to own or charter a boat. The ICC will cover sailing yachts up to 24 metres in length in coastal waters. If you are looking for a commercial endorsement you will also need to complete the PPR course.



The Coastal Skipper 5 day course provides intensive instruction to develop the skills required to skipper a sailing yacht on longer passages. Practical experience to Day Skipper level and beyond is assumed and expected as a prerequisite. Similarly, good knowledge of the Coastal Skipper shore based syllabus (or equivalent) is required. It is an ideal bridge between Day Skipper course and the full MCA Yacht master Coastal examination course.
Contact us for Dates


  • 15 days on board
  • 2 days as skipper
  • 300 miles
  • 8 night hours
  • Boat handling to the standard of the Day Skipper Practical Sail Cruising Course
  • Navigation to the standard of the RYA Yacht master Shore based course
  • RYA Short Range Certificate (recommended)


The course lasts for five days and must be completed over five consecutive days. On successful completion of the course you will be awarded a Coastal Skipper Course Completion Certificate.


The Coastal Skipper course is the next step after your day skipper and develops your skills to execute more demanding pilotage and passage planning / making scenarios. It also builds your confidence by developing your sail and power close quarter boat handling skills in evermore challenging circumstances. Blind navigation and the skills to navigate safely and efficiently at night are also developed. There is significant emphasis on sailing safety and emergency procedures. The course is taken in tidal waters and your certificate will be endorsed accordingly. During the week you will skipper the yacht on a longer passage (25-50 miles), ideally in less or un-familiar waters than you already know. Our instructor will be on hand to guide you when required


The Yacht master Coastal Certificate of Competence and Yacht master Offshore Certificate of Competence are run together as they have so much in common.. While the syllabus for each is very similar, the Yacht master candidate is required to have logged more sea time and will be pushed harder in the exam. The key benefit of running the two courses in parallel is that students who are unsure which level to pitch themselves at can start the week and decide part way through which exam to go for. The external examiner will not know which exam you are each taking until he/she meets you.

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  • 30 days sail cruising
  • 800 miles logged
  • 12 night hours
  • 2 days as skipper
  • RYA Coastal Skipper / Yacht master Offshore Shore based knowledge
  • In date First Aid certificate
  • SRC or VHF Licence
  • RYA Sea Survival Course (recommended - compulsory if you are seeking a MCA/RYA Commercial Endorsement)



They are both four day preparation courses run back to back with a two day exam


There's no set syllabus for the course. It is about practicing for the RYA/MCA Yacht master Coastal or the Yacht master Offshore Certificate of Competence exam, tweaking your technique and perhaps ironing out any bad habits you may have picked up.

The instructor will help you to ensure you are as prepared as possible by focusing on the areas you need most improvement and ironing out any bad habits you may have. You will be pushed hard. You will enter and leave as many ports/harbours as possible. You will practice night sailing and blind navigation. You will go over all the lights shapes sound signals and collision regulations. It is not a requirement to do such a course before the exam however it is well worth doing it if only to find out your strengths and weaknesses. Early in the week your experienced instructor will give you an honest appraisal of your chances of success and will then address any weaknesses that may have been highlighted.

The exam will assess your boat handling and skippering skills, including navigation, sailing ability, seamanship, safety awareness, and knowledge of signals and meteorology.

An external examiner will come on board on the penultimate day of the course, and you will be examined through the evening and some of the next day. Passing the Yacht master Coastal Certificate of Competence exam will prove your proficiency at sailing up to 60 nautical miles offshore. Passing the Yacht master offshore exam proves your proficiency up to 150 miles offshore. Both are recognised worldwide.

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