In our eleven year circumnavigation
, I never noticed a difference between those sailors who had credentials and those who did not. It was certainly not obvious from their performance as to who carried credentials on board.
When we arrived in the Carribean at the end of the circumnavigation
, there were people with credentials everywhere. They were the charterers, and I had more near misses with charterers and their credentials in the Caribbean
than any other place in the world. Whatever they teach in sailing schools and credentialing courses, they most certainly don't teach how to safely and properly anchor
a yacht. Everytime we came into a Caribbean
anchorage, I watched the demolition derby start up when the charterers came in to anchor
just before twilight. When a squall came through, the anchors started to drag, and the VHF radio
came alive as people watched boats dragging down on them in the dark.
I was most impressed by the credentials from New Zealand
and UK, because when they carried a certificate, they generally had done some extended high lattitude sailing, and they had real experience. Their certificate really meant something. That's not to say that certificates from other countries are no good. But I would trust a NZ or UK certificate much more than those certificates carried by so many charters in the Caribbean. High lattitude sailing and difficult anchorages
really accelerates the learning
curve and generally turns out a superior product.
In my entire circumnavigation, I made it almost all the way around the world without being hit by another yacht. Unfortuantely, at the end of our circumnavigation in Bequia, a charter
yacht hit our port bow and caused $2000 worth of damage.
Too many certification
courses show you how to raise and lower sails
, back the boat into a slip, reef the sails
, how to start the engine
, and sail on different points of sail. It teaches the most basic rudiments of making a boat go while hopefully not creating a disaster. What all these courses can't do is give experience to people in a single
week long course.
Joshua Slocum said, "You must know the sea, and know that you know it, and know that it was meant to be sailed upon." The high lattitude certifications that you get in the UK and New Zealand
with their yachtmaster certificates come as close to Joshua Slocum's statement as I have seen anywhere in the world. When you have a NZ or UK yachtmaster, you not only know your yacht and how to sail it; you also know the sea and are well prepared for what it has to dish out in the high lattitudes.
In the world of certifications, not all certificates are created equal.