Bareboat Charter Rank Requires Experience

Here is a great question from one of our students to one of our Vancouver based instructors at Vancouver Sailing School regarding experience and Rank advancement

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How Can I Rise In Rank To Charter With Out Master of the Boat Experience?


I had assumed that with the courses for Bareboat Charter Master Rank completed and the days authenticated I would see the certificate. I was wrong. It turns out that some of the experience must be as Master of the Vessel. I had put all my experience with you on our cruise and learn outings as crew, not master.

Would it be reasonable to claim that on those days that you assign a student as skipper, that student is for all intents and purposes the master of the vessel for the day? If not I will never get certified until I buy my own boat or do many charters on my own, not as a student. That may be impossible because I may not be able to charter without the BBMC designation.

What do you think? Can I legitimately edit some of my days to reflect Master for the day rather than crew?


And here is our answer to the student and the instructor

GS, Carl,

Great Question.

When we set  out the certification it was based on what the Charter Companies were wanting with some safety logic thrown in as well.

In this case they would not want to charter a boat to someone who has not been master of a vessel.

Akin to giving the keys of a car to a teen ager who has been passenger plenty of times.

Yet we see your dilemma. But charterers want skipper experienced people. If any resume submitted showed no master of the vessel time the client would not be allowed to take the vessel out. We guarantee this, if you show up with a NauticEd BBCM Rank Resume you will be authorized to charter a boat. There are many certifications issued by associations who hand out Bareboat Certificates that are not worth anything. Proof? You can get one with no Master of the vessel experience in 2 weekends. Thus giving a student a massive disappointment with wrong expectations but also giving the student a false sense of security for venturing out to sea. This is irresponsible.

Our Skipper Rank designation exempts Master time to level 1 by having 4 days of instruction. This is fair under your chicken/egg request. However for chartering in unfamiliar waters and big crushing boats and with navigation and tidal issues, and being far from base and shore, there simply and logically MUST be skipper experience.

Under the strict rules then of logic in your scenario – the Instructor would have to say to a student – You are Master of the vessel today and that student would have to for all intents and purposes be Master. The instructor would be there on an advisory basis. Other ways to gain Master experience is to go on friends boats but ask to be Master for that day.

I hope this clears this up.

Be also advised that a charter company may (I believe wrongly) take a student on with out the full certification. They will look for some skipper experience. It is up to them. Our advice however from what we have seen is that we provide a good guide to safety by requesting at least 25 days as the designated master – things happen. Almost every charter trip we take – something happens where by I know a rookie would never figure it out properly. There are too many what if scenarios.

Thanks again for a great question. It is relevant and right on topic. I’ve included our Resume vs a Sailing Certification video here to help understand the logic also.

Very sincerely,

Grant Headifen
Director of Education



  • Grant Headifen

    My vision for NauticEd is to provide the highest quality sailing and boating education available - and deliver competence wherever sailors live and go.

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Last updated on July 5th, 2022