BASIC Cruising Certification Standard (RUBRIC)

Vancouver Sailing Club

Course Description

An entry level course in the VSC series of courses on sailing keelboats and on cruising. Focus is

developing the student’s ability to take command of and operate with assistance of competent crew an auxiliary

powered sailing vessel, by day, in light to moderate weather conditions.

Basic boating skills are developed under sail and power with a focus on operation of the vessel as both crew and skipper.


Individuals with minimal practical on waterexperience should consider completing the Qualified Crew standard before attending this training.

This course introduces the operation of a cruising keelboat both as a powered vessel and as a sailboat. Development of sailing terminology

used in describing the boat and on water activities is taught and used throughout the course.

Practical topics under power include simple maneuvering skills as well as departure from and return to dock. Basic sailing skills are

developed including sail selection, the use and positioning of sails to provide propulsion, and the operation of the

vessel with crew. Required and recommended safety equipment is discussed as is the handling of emergencies that

might be encountered while day sailing. The basic rules for avoiding collision with other vessels are explained and

this information is applied during the practical sessions. The meaning of weather forecasts is clarified and the impact

of weather on vessel operation, crew behavior, and on water activities is discussed. The curriculum includes an

elementary introduction to the Canadian navigation system and to the basic use of charts and tide and current tables.

The program may be offered in a day sailing or live aboard format. It is envisioned that the day sailing format will

be taught in not less than 27 hours of which at least 18 hours should be devoted to practical sessions on water. In a

live aboard format the course may be offered over a period of 4 or more days. A challenge of the standard may be

accomplished in a minimum of 4 hours afloat plus completion of the written examination.

OBJECTIVE: To be able to cruise safely in familiar waters as both skipper and crew of a sloop rigged keelboat of 6 to 10 meters

with an outboard or inboard motor in moderate wind and sea conditions by day.

PREREQUISITES: None. VSC101 Competent Crew is highly recommended for those without experience on the coastal waters

REQUIREMENTS: 18 hours minimum underway. Recommended vessel should be a 6 - 10 metre, sloop rigged keelboat with an outboard or

inboard engine.


Ashore Knowledge

Section I: Terms and Definitions

The candidate must be able to:

1. Identify and describe the following:

  1. Hull and keel
  2. Gooseneck
  3. Bow,
  4. beam and stern
  5. Boomvang and topping lift
  6. Fenders Shackles and fairleads
  7. Deck, cabin and companion way Cleats and winches
  8. Rudder and tiller/wheel Pulpit and pushpit
  9. Cockpit and self-bailing cockpit Stanchions and lifelines
  10. Gudgeons and pintles Main, jib and storm jib
  11. Mast and boom Genoa and spinnaker
  12. Spreader Head, tack and clew
  13. Shrouds and stays Luff, foot and leech
  14. Tangs and turnbuckles Battens, hanks and slides
  15. Chainplates Cringles and reef points
  16. Running rigging Standing rigging
  17. Roller and jiffy/slab reefing Sheets and halyards
  18. Telltales Outhaul and cunningham
  19. Spring and breast lines Roller furling
  20. 2. Describe the following with the aid of diagrams:
  21. Ahead, abeam and astern, forward and aft;

3. Define and be able to identify these terms from a diagram:

  1. Port
  2. Underway
  3. Starboard
  4. No way
  5. Windward
  6. In irons
  7. Leeward
  8. Beating
  9. Tacking
  10. Sailing by the lee
  11. Gybing
  12. Running
  13. Close Hauled
  14. On a tack
  15. Port tack
  16. Luffing (of sail)
  17. Starboard tack
  18. Heading up
  19. Leeway
  20. Bearing away
  21. Wash
  22. Wake
  23. Reaching (Close, beam and broad)


Section II: Gear and Equipment

The candidate must be able to:

4. List from memory:

a) Transport Canada (TC) required items for the candidate’s boat (Safe Boating Guide),

b) The rules for care of PFDs and life jackets,

c) The recommended method of testing for buoyancy in a PFD;

5. Describe:

a) The reasons for keeping gear and equipment stowed in assigned places in a cruising boat,

b) The frequency of maintenance of a recreational boat and its equipment so that it is capable of functioning at

all times,

c) The minimum items recommended for a waterproof emergency kit.

Section III: Safety is First

The candidate must be able to:

6. Safety Equipment

a) Describe the purpose of a safety harness and dangers of improper attachment in a cruising boat,

b) State the purpose of pulpits and lifelines;

7. Identify the required navigation lights for:

a) A vessel under sail, under power, and at anchor and describe the sector angle of each,

b) An unpowered vessel less than 6 meters in length;

8. Define what hypothermia is including:

a) The signs and symptoms and the major areas of heat loss to the body,

b) Steps for prevention,

c) Treatment for mild and severe hypothermia,

d) The actions to be taken by one or more individuals in cold water to increase survival time;

9. Define what cold shock is including:

a) The signs and symptoms,

b) Steps for prevention,

c) Treatment for;

10. Define what carbon monoxide poisoning is including:

a) The signs and symptoms,

b) Steps for prevention,

c) Treatment for;

11. Describe the precautions taken to prevent undue magnetic influences to the vessel’s compass;

12. Describe the common sources of fire and explosion and list the methods for preventing such occurrences and

actions to be taken in the event of an onboard fire;

13. Describe safe refueling procedures;

14. Identify the two scuba diving flags;

15. Describe/list:

a) The danger involved in re-charging batteries,

b) How to safely launch flares,

c) The types of signals used to indicate distress,

d) The actions to be taken in case of a capsize;

16. Describe the uses, capabilities and limitations of a yacht radar reflector;

17. State the dangers of overhead power lines;

18. Describe:

a) Reasons for filing a float plan and who the plan should be filed with,

b) Items of important information which should be included in a float plan,

c) Reasons for completing a pre-departure checklist.

Section IV: Rules of the Road and Canadian Regulations

The candidate must be able to:

19. Apply Rules 12 to 17 of the Collision Regulations by means of diagrams;

20. Identify and describe the following:

  1. Pleasure craft
  2. Power driven vessel
  3. Sailing vessel
  4. Recommended gross load capacity
  5. Compliance notice / Capacity plate
  6. Recommended safe limit of engine power

21. Identify:

  1. Four considerations in determining the safe speed to operate a vessel,
  2. The actions and precautions to be taken in reduced visibility,
  3. Responsibilities when operating in a commercial traffic lane;

22. Demonstrate knowledge of regulations applying to boaters as follows:

a) Identify the minimum required publications for operating a 10 meter pleasure vessel in unfamiliar waters,

b) Describe the guidelines for licensing and how a license number must be marked on a vessel,

c) Identify the principal acts and regulations that a pleasure craft operator should be knowledgeable about and

the areas covered by each including:

Canada Shipping Act (2001) Small Vessel Regulations Contraventions Act

Vessel Operation Restriction Regulations

The Criminal Code of Canada Collision Regulations

Competency of Operators of Pleasure Craft Regulations


Section V: Weather

The candidate must be able to:

23. State three sources of marine weather information;

24. Interpret the marine weather forecast applicable to the area of operation, and describe how to apply the

information as follows:

a) Determine whether it is safe to set sail in the candidate’s boat,

b) Decide what changes are forecast for the next six hours and what expect these should have on the day’s

planned activities,

c) Identify the wind speeds associated with:

Light winds Moderate winds Strong winds

Strong wind warning Gale warning Storm warning

25. Describe local weather hazards, how they can be identified, the normal warning time available, and the actions

to be taken to reduce/avoid effects.

Section VI: Duties of the Skipper and Crew

The candidate must be able to:

26. List the main responsibilities of the skipper and crew as listed below:


a) Safety of crew and boat,

b) Briefing on location and operation of lifesaving and other safety equipment prior to getting underway,

c) Assigning duties,

d) Instruction in the safe use of the boat’s equipment while underway,

e) Obligations on observing an accident or vessel in distress,

f) Actions to demonstrate respect for other boaters and other’s property,


a) Obey skipper,

b) Assist skipper.


Section VII: Seamanship

The candidate must be able to:

27. Describe the sequence of sail reduction as wind speed increases;

28. Describe the danger of a lee shore;

29. Understand the use of a Canadian Hydrographic chart of the local area as follows:


a) A chart,

b) Aids to Navigation;


a) Depth of water,

b) Distance scale,

c) Buoys and their significance,

d) Types of bottom (sand, rock, mud and clay),

e) Under water/surface hazards: kelp, cable, rock, shoals, cribs, wrecks, currents,

f) Light symbols,

g) Beacons;

30. Use of Tide and Current Tables to find:

a) Times and heights of tides at reference ports,

b) Direction and rate of current at reference stations;

31. Describe:

a) The features of a secure anchorage,

b) The holding characteristics of commonly used anchors,

c) Suitable rode makeup and handling,

d) Scope requirements when anchoring for lunch, overnight and rough weather;

32. Describe the immediate action to be taken for the following circumstances:

a) Springing a leak, 

b) Steering fails, g) Running aground,

c) Grounding at anchor, 

d) Fouled propeller, 

e) Standing rigging fails,

f) Dragging anchor,

h) Broken halyard,

i) Fire;

33. Describe the one commonly accepted use for each of the following knots, bends and hitches:

a) Figure Eight, 

b) Reef Knot, 

c) Double Sheet Bend, 

d) Bowline,

e) Clove Hitch,

f) Round Turn & Two Half Hitches;

34. Describe the use of the VHF radio for receiving weather reports and making emergency calls.


Afloat Skills

Section VIII: Preliminaries

The candidate must be able to:

1. Demonstrate on land the correct method of putting on a personal flotation device in the water;

2. Demonstrate the correct use of a heaving line;

3. Carry out a check of the vessel’s gear and equipment in accordance with the Sail Canada Cruising Boat

Checklist, and demonstrate use and care of onboard equipment;

4. Select, bend on, check and stow sails;

5. Coil a line and secure (sea coil);

6. Properly stow lines and fenders;

7. Demonstrate how to belay to a cleat;

8. Demonstrate safe winch techniques with particular emphasis on:

a) Possible high strain on sheet/halyard,

b) How to avoid riding turns (and how to clear),

c) Position of hands/fingers,

d) Fitting and removal of winch handles.


Section IX: Maneuvering Under Power

The candidate must be able to:

9. Start auxiliary engine on vessel and as skipper and crew depart from dock observing commonly accepted

safety practices ;

10. Come to a full stop with stem (bow) one half boat length away from a buoy using reverse. (The objective of

this manoeuvre is to know how much distance is required to bring a vessel to a full stop. Vessel is to be kept on

a straight course while the manoeuvre is being carried out);

11. Manoeuvre and stop a vessel under power to a position alongside and parallel to a dock, portside-to and

starboardside-to, not more than two feet off without the aid of lines, without the stern passing a given mark at

any time during the manoeuvre;

12. Apply Rules 5 through 18 of the Collision Regulations as applied to a vessel under power;

13. Set an anchor under power in water more than three meters in depth, so as not to drag when tested under engine

power at half-throttle astern;

14. Raise anchor with the boat ready and get under way.


Section X: Handling Under Sail

The candidate must be able to:

15. Hoist the basic sails while under power, at anchor, or mooring (head to wind, hoist mainsail first), set

appropriate luff tensions, and flake halyards;

16. Apply Rules 5 through 18 of the Collision Regulations as applied to a vessel under sail;

17. Act as skipper and crew while demonstrating the proper techniques of beating, reaching and running; tacking

and gybing; heading up, bearing away, luffing and heaving to; using the following commands and responses:

Commands Responses Alert

“Head Up”

“Bear Away”

“Ease Sheets”

“Harden Sheets”

“Ready About” “Ready” “Helms-a-Lee”

“Ready to Gybe” “Ready” “Gybe-Ho”

18. Demonstrate, as skipper and crew, the management of the sail plan for different wind conditions and points of

sail while keeping the vessel under control, either at the helm or controlling the sails by:

a) Reefing and shaking out the reef in the mainsail,

b) Reefing and shaking out the reef, or changing the headsail,

c) Easing or hardening sheets to achieve sail trim appropriate for the point of sail and conditions;

19. Demonstrate the skipper and crew action/commands from the time a member of the crew falls overboard

without warning, until the crew is safely recovered. Consider the crew overboard is wearing a PFD and able to

assist him/herself. Include the following minimum actions:

a) Sound alarm “Crew Overboard!”,

b) Deploy marker and buoyant object(s),

c) Appoint and maintain a look out,

d) Triangle method of return (under sail),

e) Describe at least two methods of getting a person out of the water and back aboard;

20. In response to a Crew Overboard situation , both assisted and unassisted, bring the vessel into irons. Start the

engine, lower or furl sails as required to gain control of the vessel, ensuring on-board control of all lines, and

manoeuvre the vessel under power for a successful Crew Overboard recovery;


Note: Both Performance Objectives (PO's) 19 and 20 above must be completed in reasonable time without

losing sight of the victim or marker in the water. For these manoeuvres the crew can consist of three or more,

but the student is to describe the actions to be taken if one member of a two person crew falls overboard also,

with the vessel under sail.


21. Lower sail while under power or at anchor or a mooring.


Section XI: Making Fast and Snugging Down

The candidate must be able to:

22. Secure a vessel to a dock using appropriate dock lines to prevent excessive movement and set out fenders


23. Tie the following knots, bends and hitches within 30 seconds each:

a) Figure Eight, d) Bowline,

b) Reef Knot, e) Clove Hitch,

c) Double Sheet Bend, f) Round Turn and Two Half Hitches.

Outcomes and Evaluation

Candidates are expected to demonstrate the ability to safely operate the vessel in daytime in moderate conditions as

both skipper and crew. These capabilities will be evaluated as part of the practical sessions. Candidate theory

knowledge will be evaluated using the NauticEd web-based examination or a closed book written exam. For certification a 80% mark on this written exam is


Additional Notes:

1) This course covers an extensive suite of practical skill and theoretical knowledge. Students who have completed the

VSC101 Qualified Crew or who have previous sailing experience will find that experience

beneficial to their experience in this course. Practical sessions are typically offered on keelboats in the 6-10 metre

range. The course is typically conducted with 4 or 5 students and Instructor on board. 

2) Physical Requirements for Candidates

These training sessions will require short periods of moderate upper body exertion, and a moderate level of arm

strength. Participants will have the opportunity to experience sun, wind, spray, rain, and temperatures consistent

with the time of year they take part in this activity. When underway the vessel may exhibit irregular motion due to

wind and waves and temperatures may be cooler than on land. Participants will be expected to learn and demonstrate

skills and perform tasks while the vessel is at the dock, at anchor, and when the vessel is underway. In a day sailing

format, vessels will be underway for varying periods of time (up to 8 hours), during daylight, in light to moderate

wind and sea conditions. These sessions are suitable for most fitness levels and will provide a good body core


3) Participants taking courses in “live aboard cruise and learn” formats may also be subject to conditions normally

associated with the Intermediate Cruising standard.

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