VSC321 - Advanced Coastal Skipper

Vancouver Sailing Club

Course Overview

Learn the decision making processes, sailing knowledge, seamanship and boat-handling skills to Skipper and Crew an inboard auxiliary powered cruising sailboat on offshore coastal waters less than 150 nm from shore, in all weather conditions, including all levels of visibility and all hours of the day & night. Conducted on 10-15 meter sloop-rigged cruising keelboat or catamaran with wheel steering, auxiliary diesel power, and equipment inventory to complete all required certification requirements.

Cruising stream dates are mid- September annually focused on coastal passagemaking. Racing stream dates are mid-June bi-annually focused on safe Distance Racing.


VHF, Marine First Aid, One (1) of the following:  NauticED Bareboat Charter Master, VSC204 Bareboat Charter Master, VSC205 Coastal Navigation Certification, CYA Bareboat Cruising or ASA104. ISAF Safety at Sea is recommended. Personal Ocean Class foul weather gear required.

VSC504 Competent Keelboat Racing Crew if you are taking the Racing stream 

Whats included:

Pre-study materials including NauticEd Captain Rank program, International Book of Sailing, Annapolis Book of Sailing, Radar Fundamentals

6-8 day Cruise & Learn- all-inclusive meals, non-alcoholic beverages

All navigation materials and supplies

Weather Routing  and Sat-Phone services

Seamanship and Boat-Handling Skills


  • Inspect the vessel for the proposed passage: hull, spars, deck, rigging, hardware, sails, engine, steering, internal mechanical and electrical systems, head systems, fresh water systems, navigation system, anchoring systems, galley and provisions, and stowage.
  • Check the inventory, locate and inspect all required safety and emergency equipment, tools and spare parts.
  • Perform the correct lashing of the life raft or dinghy, and other necessary equipment for deck stowage.
  • Check the inventory of sails and their condition for the proposed passage, and justify your selection based on the expected sailing conditions.

Crew Operations and Skills:

  • Demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of and correct operating procedures for VHF radio, AIS and GPS
  • Maintain a high standard  of seamanship demonstrating the proper use of equipment and safety equipment
  • Demonstrate the ability to direct the crew and make decisions to benefit the passage goals in consideration of the weather and sea conditions, crew health & welfare, proper navigation and safety.

Leaving the Dock or Mooring:

  • Develop a departure plan for the vessel and crew, and demonstrate appropriate helmsman and crew coordination and skills for leaving the dock.

Boat Handling in Confined Waters:

  • Demonstrate boat control in close quarters in adverse conditions (actual or simulated) as you leave the marina.
  • Leaving dock when boat is to windward and the wind abeam
  • returning to dock when boat is leeward of slip and wind is abeam

Coastal Navigation:

  • Demonstrate the proper use of a thoroughly documented ship’s Log Book
  • Demonstrate the use of tide and current tables
  • demonstrate how to calculate tides at secondary ports
  • Demonstrate the use of the Light List and Coast Pilot.
  • Plot danger bearings.
  • Demonstrate method of taking a running fix.
  • Successfully navigate a passage of at least 50 miles without Radar or GPS.
  • Successfully navigate a passage of at least 50 miles with Radar or GPS.
  • Demonstrate proper use of the GPS plotter, AIS, DCS use and integration with  Ships Log Book entries

Boat Control in Open Water:

  • Demonstrate leadership skills during a night passage.
  • Demonstrate command and control of the vessel under all wind and sea conditions encountered during the passage.
  • Demonstrate seamanship skills during a headsail change.

Heavy Weather Sailing:

  • Demonstrate working on deck at night ( 2 sail changes and 2 reefs)or under heavy weather conditions (actual or simulated) while using a safety harness and jacklines.
  • Demonstrate the use of a boom preventer and explain how to overcome its inherent dangers
  • Demonstrate reefing strategy and associated tactics

Overboard Rescue Methods:

  • Demonstrate the Quick-Stop, close reaching and figure 8 methods of MOB recovery, both day and night. Choose one of the above methods that is most appropriate for heavy wind and sea conditions.

Safety and Emergency Procedures:

  • Develop a plan and simulate a plan of action should your vessel be in danger due to fire, water intake, dismasting, steerage failure or other disaster. Demonstrate all safety considerations given the situation.

Anchoring Techniques:

  • Demonstrate the ability to anchor or recover anchor while the vessel is under sail.
  • Demonstrate the ability to properly execute a Mediterranean Mooring.
  • Demonstrate the use of a tripline/anchor buoy.

Returning to the Dock:

  • Develop an approach plan for the vessel and crew, and demonstrate appropriate helmsman and crew coordination and skills for returning to the dock.

Securing the Boat Properly:

  • Coordinate the crew and demonstrate the stowing of equipment and cleaning of the vessel after returning to the dock.
  • Check the vessel before leaving the dock: determine and report any required maintenance; check docklines, spring lines and fenders; check through-hull valves, electrical system, bilge pumps, and overall security of the boat.

Sailing Knowledge

Preparation to Sail:

  • Identify the sources of information required for passage planning and how to obtain local knowledge
  • Develop a detailed passage plan to include weather forecasts, tides & currents, strategies and tactics for all potential conditions, and navigation strategies.
  • Engage the crew with a watch schedule and responsibilities during the passage

Weather Forecasting:

  • Describe the progression of cloud formations, and the weather associated with each, for both a warm and a cold front.
  • Describe the function of a barometer and barograph as they relate to weather forecasting.
  • Explain how high and low pressure systems are formed, why they generate wind, and how the wind is affected by geography.
  • Describe the different factors responsible for both advection and radiation types of fog.
  • Identify at least five sources for gathering accurate weather information.

Crew Operations and Skills:

  • It is recommended that all candidates have current First Aid and CPR certifications.
  • Demonstrate a comprehensive knowledge of onboard systems and their maintenance, types of distress flares, and the contents and stowage of an abandon-ship “grab bag”. 

Navigation Rules, International-Inland:

  • Be familiar with the application of all the COLREG Navigation Rules

Boat Control in Open Water:

  • Describe your concerns about and reactions to the following issues: breaking waves in inlets, shoals, bars and lee shores.
  • Describe your concerns about and reactions sail trim for high velocity puffs and 25 degree oscillating wind shifts
  • Describe your concerns about and precautions to avoid broaches

Heavy Weather Sailing:

  • Describe the causes of and your concerns about dangerous and uncomfortable sea states.

Safety and Emergency Procedures:

  • Describe emergency procedures in the event that your vessel has been holed by a submerged object.
  • Explain the proper procedures for protection against lightning strikes.
  • Describe the procedures involved in an air rescue operation.
  • Understand the benefits and limitations of personal EPIRB’s, PLB’s and AIS transponders.

Anchoring Techniques:

  • Describe an appropriate plan of action for anchoring under high wind conditions.
  • Describe an anchor watch schedule and explain the watch’s responsibilities.

Returning to the Dock or Mooring:

  • Describe the difficulties and procedures of returning to a mooring in adverse conditions
  • Describe the difficulties and procedures of returning to a dock in adverse conditions




Course Fee is $3875 for coastal stream

Course fee is $ 4825 for offshore racing stream (VanIsle360) and includes VSC504 Competent Keelboat Racing Crew Program (10 sessions)




In the absence of VSC special promotions, credits of 5% of course fees will be provided to Member/ Student accounts for each of the following:


  • Full payment of Membership, Course and Cruise & Learn 4 months in advance
  • Booking two or more persons at same time for one or more courses
  • 90+% scores on VSC written examinations in 2015 and 2016
  • Enlisted Military UK, Canada & USA


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