Boat Skipper

What is a Boat Skipper?

Imagine the wind in your hair and the taste of salt water on your lips.  Imagine cutting through waves in a boat, visiting exotic places or fishing on the big open and rough sea.  If this gets you all excited, then maybe a life as Skipper is the career path for you.
A Skipper is in charge of a boat (floating vessel).  He/she ‘drives’ the boat and is also responsible for all other aspects related to it.
You are required by law to hold an appropriate Certificate of Competence to skipper a sailing boat over 9m, in South Africa.

Here are the 6 Certificates of Competence for qualified Skippers:

  • Inland Waters Skipper:  Permitted to sail, day or night, on inland waters only. 
  • Day Skipper:  Permitted to sail in local sea waters from sunrise to sunset. Local waters are defined as 15 nautical miles from home  port, or 25 miles from his home but no more than 15 nautical miles from an approved safe haven. 
  • Local Waters Skipper:  Permitted to sail as per Day Skipper but includes sailing at night. 
  • Coastal Skipper:  Permitted to sail within 40 nautical miles of the coast by day or by night. 
  • Yachtmaster Offshore:  Permitted to sail vessel on any ocean passage. 
  • Yachtmaster Ocean:  Shows that this Skipper has mastered celestial navigation.

Once qualified, a Skipper may work in many different fields of boating.  They could work for themselves and have their own boat or work for someone else.  All forms of floating vessels from fishing boats, tugs, pleasure boats and cruises, private yachts, commercial vessels, security boats etc need a Skipper.

What does a Boat Skipper do?

  • planning the voyages with regard to route and provisions
  • recommending new places to visit
  • navigating the vessel safely through the waters
  • keeping up to date with the weather conditions
  • checking, servicing and maintaining the all the equipment
  • taking care of the safety of vessel and crew
  • managing vessel and crew
  • following the regulations and maritime laws
  • being responsible at all times

Are you … ?

  • interested at being at sea?
  • a person who loves boats?
  • responsible?
  • mechanically minded?
  • good and reading and writing?
  • a peoples’ person?
  • a leader?
  • a person who suffers from motion sickness?  If yes, being a skipper is NOT a good career choice for you!
  • able to work in extreme weather conditions?

How do I become a Boat Skipper?

To start off, you need to get a STCW 95 Safety Certificate.  It’s a compulsory license which permits you to work on any vessel at sea.

Minimum requirements:  In most cases, these are the 3 items you will require before starting a Skipper’s certification course.  Check with institution first what their requirements are.
• be 16 years +
• valid identity document
• doctor’s certificate

Here are some training schools that you can attend to get a Skippers Certificate:


Offers the STCW95 certificate, Day Skipper and many other boating certifications. 


Offers Skipper courses.  The theory part of the courses is done in Cape Town while the practical side of the course is done in Langebaan.


Offers a Day Skipper, Day Skipper (local waters) and a SA Coastal Skippers certificate.


Offers many Skipper certification courses

  • AQUA ACADEMY(Pietermaritzurg)

Offers many Skipper courses.


Offers a Day/Coastal Skipper and Yacht Hand Course.
They also offer Learnerships. Skipper.html


Is becoming a Boat Skipper the right career choice for me?

See below for more info.