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Old 21-05-2020, 11:51   #1
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SBF-See as a non-German

Just curious to know how you guys coped with the language and so on. My wife and I have been thinking about learning how to sail and Iíve been a little bit put off because of the extra effort doing it in German would entail.

I can speak German, but struggle a bit with the ďbureaucraticĒ German that textbooks tend to use. Iíve also done quite a bit of reading on the theory side of things(in English), so I donít know if Iíve shot myself in the foot by learning conflicting info that will confuse me or preprepared.

If you did take the course as a non-German, I was just looking into some insights, tips and so on. Am I overthinking it?
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Old 25-05-2020, 13:24   #2
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Re: SBF-See as a non-German

Hi jsal,
what do you want to achieve with the SBF See?
If you want to have the right to drive a motorized vessel (with or without sails) with more than 15 HP at the German coast (given you are a German resident) you will need the license.
If you want to learn how to sail it won't help you at all since it is not about sailing.
The theoretical test is multiple choice with answers that look almost the same - just a word or two different. Which you can use to your advantage. You need to memorize the right key words to find the right answer. There are apps that help you with that.
Not sure if that helps?

Cheers Patrick

PS: I struggled through the SBF See - it was a pain in the bum - as native German speaker
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Old 25-05-2020, 13:52   #3
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Re: SBF-See as a non-German

Quote:
Originally Posted by UYA View Post
Hi jsal,
what do you want to achieve with the SBF See?
Hey Patrick,

Cheers for getting back with all that info!

The ultimate goal is to buy our own boat, sail the Med and possibly cross the Atlantic when I have the time, resources and experience. For now though, I've never sailed before and I want to get started to at least see if I enjoy it, maybe bareboat charter and have a sailing adventure, try various boats and meet interesting people on the way (whose boats I would also gladly explore - for research, of course ). Both my wife and I have been talking about doing this for years now, but life sort of got in the way. Now feels like the time.


Quote:
If you want to have the right to drive a motorized vessel (with or without sails) with more than 15 HP at the German coast (given you are a German resident) you will need the license.
If you want to learn how to sail it won't help you at all since it is not about sailing.
I have heard this was the case with the sailing, but it is a pre-requisite to getting the SKS, which I hear does have something to do with sailing - or am I mistaken? It is also how one could attain their ICC, at least if I understand that correctly. This may come in handy if we do want to charter sometime.

Quote:
The theoretical test is multiple choice with answers that look almost the same - just a word or two different. Which you can use to your advantage. You need to memorize the right key words to find the right answer. There are apps that help you with that.
Not sure if that helps?
Sounds like the theory tests for your Driver's license! It does make it a bit less daunting, so yes, that helps!

I have been wondering if I should just go with the RYA, but since we are German residents (my wife being a national), I worry that that might open up some bureaucratic hurdles down the road - especially if we do end up buying a boat and choose to have it registered here. Feels like it may make more sense to just bite the bullet, suck it up and get with the program.

Thanks again for the info, Patrick!

- Josh
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Old 25-05-2020, 15:03   #4
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Re: SBF-See as a non-German

Hi Josh,

Quote:
The ultimate goal is to buy our own boat, sail the Med and possibly cross the Atlantic when I have the time, resources and experience. For now though, I've never sailed before and I want to get started to at least see if I enjoy it, maybe bareboat charter and have a sailing adventure, try various boats and meet interesting people on the way (whose boats I would also gladly explore - for research, of course ). Both my wife and I have been talking about doing this for years now, but life sort of got in the way. Now feels like the time.
Sounds like a good plan :-) There is worse you can do with your life :-D

What helped us to get started was to set a date and then to plan backwards. We broke it down into steps and checked in after each step if the road we were on was still the right one for us (and adjusted the plan if necessary). The first baby steps were on a lake in Germany, now we are plotting the Pacific ocean :-)

Regarding the license: I would separate the license from learning how to sail (and equally important how to maintain a boat and live on it). The license is a legal requirement and the other is what keeps you afloat. In my experience both have only so much in common.
We decided to have the minimum legal requirement (in my case the SBF See and the short range radio license) and learn as much as I can. I learn a lot by observing other people. Watching what they do, talking to them, evaluating and then try myself.

I guess the biggest lesson is: you are on your own. No license, no insurance, no youtube video will take the burden of your shoulders. Once you are out you at sea you are alone and self reliant. Once you are at anchor you will usually find a lot of helpful other cruisers and locals...


It will be a fun journey! :-)
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Old 25-05-2020, 16:02   #5
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Re: SBF-See as a non-German

SBF See is the basic drivers license and legal requirement for operating any boat that has an engine >15hp on sea waterways. That includes even modest sailboats and larger dinghies

As mentioned its multiple choice and a quick driving test on a boat: drive around the harbour basin, a MOB maneuver with a buoy, docking. Then a few knots, a bit of generic seamanship, ...
Nothing about sailing at all.
Took me two weekends and a few evenings learning at home, plus an hour on the boating school boat the day before the exam.


SKS has some theoretical and practical exam and is much more complex. This one is free text Q&A and some multiple choice, chart navigation, course plotting, seamanship, knots, mooring techniques, weather, ...
Practical test includes a few mandatory and a few optional maneuvers (like MOB under sail and MOB under engine), where you also need to manage the crew on a somewhat larger sailboat (mine was on a 45ft Catana cat).
I prepared for the theory at home over a few weeks, and did the practical exam after a one week training trip.

After that you will know how to get out and back into port, at least in good weather without major mishaps.
Everything else is learning, reading, practicing. And of course lots of work to keep the boat afloat and functional on a long passage. You need basic experience as an electrician, plumber, electronics and computer engineer, sailmaker, refrigeration expert, rigger, and much more...



Legal requirements (AFAIK):
Your wife as German citizen with residency in germany is required to have a German license to operate a boat (SBF See minimum). If she wants to charter in other EU countries, she needs a german license.
Being a Non-EU resident in Germany you are required to get a German license to operate a boat in Germany, a license of your home country is OK for the first 6 months of residency.
If you are a EU citizen your natinal license is valid without restrictions.

SKS is optional to operate your own boat but typically the minimum requirement to charter a boat. Few charter bases will give you a sailboat if you only hold the SBF see (because they know that the SBF See is a joke).

You will also need a SRC to charter anything that has a VHF.
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Old 25-05-2020, 16:35   #6
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Re: SBF-See as a non-German

Having done the SBF as a native German speaker, I can fully understand that this is probably hell for a native English speaker, even with good German language skills. Unfortunately, for German waters the SBF is the official "driver licence" you need.

In terms of your plan to charter in the med or to go bluewater, it would be a good idea to obtain an ICC. This can also be done following the RYA stream of licenses. This would make a lot of sense, because the curriculum is mainly based on practical experience. RYA courses are offered at many German sailing schools, so please ask them.

The only thing I am not quite sure is whether you will need a German license, if you want to put a German flag on your future boat. This definitely applies to the radio certificate (you need that to get a MMSI identity). I asked the German authorities for acceptance of my Australian MROCP license a few weeks ago, but they rejected.....
For chartering in the med, you need additional to the ICC a European VHF license. Doing the SRC in Germany is not that tough, actually this is where many Germans struggle with their English language skills

Getting the SBF See would have one advantage - it includes the ICC. In this regard I follow the opinion of rabbi, it is a joke! But it is still way better than the Australian license.......

Regards,



-Richard (VK4WRS)
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Old 26-05-2020, 02:25   #7
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Re: SBF-See as a non-German

As for ICC depends what the OP wants to do.
Any non-german license is void for cruising German waters for a permanent German resident.

I am not 100% sure if a German resident can legally use a foreign ICC in other European waters. IIRC there is a rule saying that a European resident operating a boat in another European country needs the license that would required on a similar body of water in his home country.
In that case some international ICC would not be enough. Of course you will probably get away with an ICC in 99% of all cases, but not sure in case something happens.


Re flag:
Anyone with German residence can register a boat under German flag. Even if he does not have any license at all (i.e. yachts operated by hired crew).
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Old 27-05-2020, 13:39   #8
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Re: SBF-See as a non-German

Thanks heaps for the great insight, everyone. It has been really daunting, and quite honestly, something I've been dreading after having spent 3 years having to basically be "back at school," so to say, integrating, redoing a bunch of things I've already done in German because what I had wasn't valid in Germany and so on.

I guess the first steps now would be to get SBF-See certified, maybe join the local sailing club, meet like-minded folk, help them on their boats, learn a bunch from their experience, maybe go on trips with the club or some new friends we meet - at least until we can go cruising.

I forgot about VHF licenses, but it's definitely something we would want to do before we start cruising and eventually getting our own boat and so on.

Also glad to hear that you don't necessarily need to be any more certified to just get out there and sail. I always assumed that you need to go up the ladder and it's one of those things that put me off sailing for many years because I didn't think I could afford that. I mean, I probably will eventually take a yachtmaster exam at some point just so we are insured, but it's good to know that common sense and experience also counts for something.

Anyway, thanks again. This has been super helpful!
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Old 03-06-2020, 05:44   #9
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Re: SBF-See as a non-German

I am a native german speaker. Why do you want to go for the german licence if you want to use it internationally?
Go RYA if you would like to do your licence in english language?
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Old 04-06-2020, 03:40   #10
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Re: SBF-See as a non-German

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Originally Posted by huramentzefix View Post
I am a native german speaker. Why do you want to go for the german licence if you want to use it internationally?
Go RYA if you would like to do your licence in english language?
I did consider it for a while, though we'd have to travel around Germany to do it as we don't have any RYA schools nearby. I mean, it's not impossible, but definitely more convenient and a little bit cheaper to do it locally. There's also the fact that we live in Germany and may want to sail here as well, and AFAIK you need to have a german licence as a resident.

I think I may do the Licences to sail in Germany + the VHF radio certification locally and do anything more advanced with the RYA because of how widely accepted it is + english .
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