You don’t need any previous experience to enjoy a flotilla holiday. And if you have sailed before but never got around to getting a skippers certificate or qualification, there are options for you too.
Requirements have been tightened in recent times. Usually, to sail a yacht on flotilla your skipper will need either:
- An RYA Day Skipper Practical certificate or equivalent national certificate OR
- An International Certificate of Competence (ICC)
Additionally in Croatia, one person on board must hold a VHF radio certificate, and for the Saronic and Peloponnese flotillas from Poros there must be one other person with previous sailing experience (no certificate needed).
No previous experience
If you’ve never sailed a yacht before, you won’t want to just jump on and go. A yacht weighs the same as a truck and you wouldn’t hop in one of those and drive through the town centre. Especially if, like a yacht, it had no brakes! Sailing isn’t rocket science but it helps to know who has right of way, how to navigate, how to set the sails (and reduce them if the wind picks up) and how to park.
There are several solutions:
- A skipper can be provided. You can still help sail the yacht but with the comfort of knowing there’s an expert on hand. This option is available on all flotillas.
- You can take qualifications before you go. From complete novice to skipper will take a couple of weeks.
- You can have tuition during your flotilla, or your skipper can fly out a week early and do a course beforehand. This will get you up to speed more quickly as sailing in the Mediterranean is easier than elsewhere. See the section on Learn to Sail options for more details. This option is available in Greece, on the Levkas and Ithaca flotillas, and all Peloponnese and Saronic Gulf flotillas from Poros
- Of course you’re not limited to joining a flotilla. You could take a skippered charter or join a cabin charter.
Previous experience, no qualifications
Your options will depend on the extent of your experience:
- If you have previous skippering experience, such as from previous charters, through owning your own yacht, or from club sailing, then:
- a few operators will accept you for flotillas in Greece and Turkey based on a resume of your past experience. In Greece, you may in addition be required to complete an ICC exam immediately prior to sailing.
- take an ICC before you go. This can be done in as little as a weekend at an RYA sailing school.
- If you have previously done a pre-flotilla course, even if with a different company, this is sometimes accepted for some of the easier areas in Greece & Turkey
- If you have done some yacht or dinghy sailing but little or no skippering, you can take an instructor on board and gain a qualification as you go.
- The options for those without previous experience (see above) are also available.
Note that in Croatia the authorities have now issued a list of recognised certificates (including the RYA Day Skipper and ICC). If you do not have a recognised certificate you will have to have an instructor or skipper on board. Checks are carried out and penalties for breaches are applied to both the skipper and charter company, including fines, on the spot exams, and imposition of professional skippers. So if you want to skipper yourself in Croatia, there is no solution but to get a certificate first.