No attestation – no sailing.

It´s as easy as it sounds. Nobody would dare to question the accepted routine of first having to acquire a driver´s license and then afterwards being allowed to actually drive a car. It´s the same with boats. Understandable since boats transport people (and can harm people) as well as boats share the same “roads” with commercial ships.

So, of course: You´d have to be trained first how to steer a boat. And apart from the actual understanding of how sailing vessels work and the ability to sail it´s also from utmost importance to be trained on how traffic works on water and which rules apply here.

I am currently reading through everything I can grab - even charts of my home sailing area.
I am currently reading through everything I can grab – even charts of my home sailing area.


So I lately enrolled for the yachtmaster-certificate class. And I´m so much looking forward to two weekends in class. With likeminded people, all bow-taut und drooling and at the start at their carreers as sparetime Admirals of the Seas.

Yachtmaster Certificate in your country.

In Germany we call it the “Sportbootführerschein” and it may be acquired for sea or inshore-waterways (or both of course). In the United Kingdom the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) offers a great variety of graded certificates to make, starting at the day skipper and coastal skipper-certificates up to the yachtmaster offshore to the yachtmaster ocean at last.

RYA Certificates are generally accepted internationally and thus can be passed in many countries around the world. RYA sets the international standards for good seamanship.

Bowline hitch, figure of eight & Co: Knowing the knots.
Bowline hitch, figure of eight & Co: Knowing the knots.

My german “Sportbootführerschein” is demanded by law and mandatory in Germany for all owners of yachts and sporting-boats. This certification can be acquired after only 4 days in “school” – so they say – and since my wife already holds both documents she confirmed “it´s a no-brainer”. But is it really?

Sail well – with Well Sailing.

At first I searched the Internet again loiking out for the “best” sailing school. I´ve found about a dozen in Hamburg and the nearby cities at the Baltic shores of Northern Germany. So my selection to choose from was nearly impossible to overlook.

Prices do vary, but all in all they do even out at around 250 to 300 Euros for the class including material and stuff plus the examination fee of some 70 Euros for the state. So prices didn´t really helped me out in search for a good sailing school.

But then I´ve found out, reading myself through some forums, that there are 2 sailing schools in hamburg which mostly did get the best quotations and most people seem to have liked their education on those two schools. I ended up favouring for Well Sailing School.

Charts for practicing and improving one´s navigational skills.
Charts for practicing and improving one´s navigational skills.

I loved their philosophy, stated online, and the stor behind their boss (or may I say skipper), Richard Jeske. He himself a proven and experienced Seafarer, legally attested auditor for the German Sailing Association and – very sympathetic – a singer in a chantey-band. On the phone whilst registration I had the pleasure to speak to him and ask some questions: I instantly felt welcome and confirmed in my decision.

They do offer the Sportbootführerschein as well as all the other not mandatory nor official german certificates such as the SSS (Sportschifferschein) and SKS (Sportküstenschein) and the whole range of additional certificates from safety to radio-operating-attestations. I think I´ve made a good choice.

Legal, knots & boatspeak: Practice for my yachtmaster´s degree.

I am far from being a perfectionist, but I really like to know at least some of the stuff I´m talking about. And I am very ambitious of learning as much as I can. Besides – I love to read books. So enrolling for the yachtmaster class offered the chance to go on book-shopping again and only a few klicks and some days later delivered a package of exciting reading stuff.

I startet wird the classic “Sportbootführerschein See”, a book that comprises all of the facts I will learn in class. Starting with the whole legal part the rookie on the boat learns the basic rules of maritime traffic. Going onto the boat we learn the most common words and the where is what onboard, the names of the different parts of the rigging, the sails and the basic nautical terms.

Weather and navigation – this is where I find most pleasure with – will be only a small subject, but I instantly developed such a drive to learn more about how weather originates and how it develops over time, which phenomena point to which weather and how good seamanship is always the knowledge of atmospherical developments as well.

Various books help the would-be yachtmaster for the preparation.
Various books help the would-be yachtmaster for the preparation.

I spent hours practicing with my two charts – Carribean and North Sea – plotting courses for imaginery cruises, calculating magnetic variation and drift for my boat and connecting weather-charts and sea-charts for the best possible course. Man, I can´t wait till I can sit in front of my very own chart-table and calculating real courses!

Nearly every doorknob in my home got decorated with the different knots I have to learn. When spending time in the bathroom I refrain from reading and do one bowline hitch and eyeknot after another to be as well prepared for the class as possible.

Next step ahead: The “A-Schein”.

With my first class only weeks away I am impatiently awaiting the start of my official education. But I´m very well aware of the fact that earning this certificate won´t make me a skipper. It´s just the beginning and a slow start in the first place. Unfortunately it´s already late in the year to start with a real sailing education – all the classes for learning how to actually sail end here in Germany in these weeks.

The yawl is the traditional entry in the world of sailing. These small and agile both simple but also “complete” boats have teached thousands of sailors how a boat works, how wind and waves can be put under control and utilized for propulsion. This first “real” sailing license is called the “A-Schein” in Germany and I deeply regret not being able to acquire one in 2015. But I´m thinking of an alternative: Maybe skipping the yawl-sailing for learning yacht-sailing from scratch is another way to get all the capabilities?

Bobby Schenk´s books are the perfect inspiration.
Bobby Schenk´s books are the perfect inspiration.

Anyway: Which course I may choose, I am so much looking forward to learning how to sail, how to be safe an how to squeeze the most out of the tiniest winds. Whatever I do, the first course next year in 2016 is mine. Promised.


How did you become an “official” sailor? I´m looking forward to your comments and feedback.