Safety Training Workshops

SFYC Safety at Sea Training Courses are designed for racers and cruisers alike. This training is full of important curriculum including Basic Navigation, Weather, Celestial Navigation and Sea Survival. Sea Survival will be required for 30% of all offshore racers from 2018, including skippers. Classes are taught by Paul Cunningham who teaches at SFYC twice a year. Paul is a highly experienced captain with decades of worldwide experience.  

Questions? Email

Spring 2020 Courses 

US Sailing Sanctioned International Offshore Safety at Sea - Spring 2020 Course #1 (May 8-9)
2-day course
Friday 8:30am-6:00pm and Saturday 8:30am-6:00pm
Register here          Current Registrants (16 max; fees must be paid to show on this list)
No refunds after April 24

US Sailing Sanctioned International Offshore Safety at Sea - Spring 2020 Course #2 (May 10-11)

2-day course
Sunday 8:30am-6:00pm and Monday 8:30am-6:00pm.
Register here           Current Registrants (16 max; fees must be paid to show on this list)
No refunds after April 24  

1-Day Refresher for US Sailing Sanctioned International Offshore Safety at Sea - Spring 2020 (May 7)

1-day refresher course. $160.
Register Here         Current Registrants (16 max; fees must be paid to show on this list)
Additional refresher course information
No refunds after April 24

Regular Course Information

Joining Instructions (REQUIRED READING)
Video of ISAF Sea Survival in the water portion at SFYC

Syllabus Medical Form (must be printed & Signed)
Course Docs  & Videos  

Fee: $300 (includes new book) 

In 2003 ISAF introduced a standard basic syllabus for the training of safety courses in order to establish an internationally recognized qualification. The training requirements form part of the ISAF Offshore Special Regulation. These courses are run and established by ISAF Member National Authorities (MNAs) and conform to ISAF minimum standards. This certification will be required for 30% of all offshore racers, including skippers, starting in 2018.

Course topics include:

  • Emergency procedures

  • Liferaft operation and in-the-water training

  • Flare use and training

  • Fire extinguisher training

  • Preventative maintenance checklists

  • Coast Guard communications


The following courses are not currently offered. Stay tuned for more training opportunities.

  • International Certificate of Competence
    • Not Currently Offered

      Dates and Times 
      April 10th 5:00 – 9:00pm 
      April 15th 9:00am - 5:00pm
      April 16th On-the-water assessment from 9:00am - 5:00pm

      Register Here      Registrant List (paid)
      (Each course is limited to 5 participants)

      Course Info Doc

      Fees: $150 plus
      45GBP licensing fee (paid during first day of class)

      No refunds after March 20.

      Considering chartering a bareboat in Europe like one of our Club Members did last year? If you are chartering a vessel abroad, you will generally need evidence of your competence. It is a requirement in most European countries that boaters hold the International Certificate of Competence, (or the ICC as it is more commonly known), when using both the coastal and inland waterways. The unnamed Club Member didn’t know that until a few days before leaving.

      The ICC is the nearest we have to an international driving license for boaters. In very general terms an ICC is required for the inland waterways of Europe and for the inland and coastal waters of Mediterranean countries. The unnamed club member didn’t have one and his honeymoon was at risk as a result. Be prepared sign up and get your ICC at The San Francisco Yacht Club. This is not a training course more of an assessment of what you already know. You will no doubt learn a lot in the process however, you should already be competent in boat handling and navigation.

  • VHF Certification

      Register Here Syllabus Course Docs & Videos

      Fees: $120 plus $90 licensing fee (the licensing exam must be taken at a later date in late May or June)
      (no refunds after February 3, 2015)

      The Short Range Certificate is the minimum qualification required by law to control the operation of VHF and VHF Digital Selective Calling (DSC) equipment fitted with a radio. This includes both fixed and hand held equipment using International channels outside US territorial waters.

      A radio is an important piece of safety equipment on board and it is vital to understand the correct procedures. Unnecessary transmissions could block out a Mayday distress call. All new VHF sets are either fitted, or can be interfaced, with DSC allowing calls to specific vessels.

      Course topics include:

      • Basics of radio operation

      • Correct frequencies (channels) to be used

      • Distress, emergency and medical assistance procedures

      • Making ship to shore telephone calls

      • Digital Selective Calling (DSC) using simulators

      • Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS)

      • Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRB)

      • Search and Rescue (SART)

      The course will be taught using radio simulators.

  • Radar

      Syllabus Course Docs & Videos

      Fees: $120

      Many boats increasingly have radar on board. The International Regulations for the Prevention of Collisions at Sea state that if you have radar, you must know how to use it.


      Syllabus Course Docs & Videos

      Fees: $10

      COLREGs are published by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). Learn the “rules of the road” or navigation rules that must be followed by ships and other vessels at sea in order to prevent collisions between two or more vessels. Whether you are a cruiser or racer, you need to know these rules and follow them out on the water.

  • First Aid at Sea

      One  day course from 8:00am - 5:00pm in the Sailing Center (Eldridge Room -upstairs)  Maximum enrollment is 8.
      Course fee: $130 per person
      No refunds after October 24.

      Register here  | Registrant list (only paid registrants will be shown here)

      In a medical emergency a little first aid knowledge and immediate action can save lives, especially in remote locations. This one-day course is designed to provide a working knowledge of first aid for people using small craft and to support skippers.

      It fulfills the requirements for:

      • professional skippers of small craft working within 60 miles of a safe haven, including Boatmasters;
      • the Senior First Aid certificate needed by offshore racers subject to ISAF's regulations on first aid training (OSR 4.08.4).
      • The course is recommended by the MCA and HSE.

      The subjects specific to boating include:

      • the recovery position in a confined space
      • CPR, including the drowning protocol
      • cold shock and hypothermia from immersion and/or exposure
      • seasickness and dehydration
      • medical assistance or advice by VHF
      • helicopter rescue
  • Basic Navigation/Day Skipper
    • NOT CURRENTLY OFFERED              

      Prerequisite is the Sea Survival course. (Can be signed up to take prerequisite during the training week or can have already taken prerequisite at SFYC.)

      Register here Current Registrants (8 max)

      No refunds after February 3

      Fees: $250
      The course will be taught over four evenings. The prerequisite is the Sea Survival course. If you haven’t taken the prerequisite, you can sign up and complete it at SFYC during the training week. The first evening is on a Friday allowing people the weekend to get up to speed if they need. There are two exam papers.

      Course topics include:
      • the basics of seamanship
      • the essentials of coastal navigation and pilotage
      • chartwork
      • electronic charts
      • position fixing
      • plotting a course to steer
      • weather forecasting and meteorology ·        
      • tides         
      • collision regulations
  • Marine Weather

      5 - 9 pm each evening.

      No refunds after October 2

      Fees: $120

  • Advanced Navigation

      Register here  | Registrant list (only paid registrants will be shown here)

      Prerequisite: Basic Navigation Course
      Course fee: $350 per person (8 student maximum)
      No refunds after October 3rd.

      Advanced training for more experienced skippers building on the Basic Navigation course. This course equips you to navigate safely on coastal and offshore passages concentrating on advanced navigation skills. All students are tested and evaluated at the conclusion of the course.

      Course topics include:

      • position fixing
      • course shaping and plotting
      • tidal knowledge
      • electronic position finding equipment
      • collision regulations

      The course is taught from 5:30 - 9:30pm for four nights in the Eldridge Room in the SFYC Sailing Center.

  • Celestial Navigation

      Four day course on Saturday, March 5th - 9am - 5pm, Monday, March 7th, Tuesday, March 8th, and Wednesday, March 9th - 5:30 - 9:30pm

      Register here | Current registrants (8 max) (fees must be paid to show on this list)

      This is a course in astro-navigation revealing the mysteries of the sextant. Subjects covered include:
      1. The earth and the celestial sphere
      Using Sun to fix a position:
      " Use the Nautical Almanac and quick method tables, to fix a position line from an Altitude obtained by a sextant and time obtained from a chronometer.”
      2. The PZX Triangle
      3. The Sextant
      4. Measurement of Time
      5. Meridian Altitudes - Determining latitude by celestial means:
      " Calculate the Latitude by meridian altitude of the sun or planet.”
      " Calculate the time of meridian altitude of the sun or planet.”
      6. Sun sights

      Fee: $350
      No refunds after February 3

      Equipment required: Normal navigation plotting instruments and pencils. Note books/paper for calculating and making notes of lesson.

      Prerequisite: Have a good understanding of lat/long, 3 point fixes etc. basic navigation.

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