Society for the Education of American Sailors - We're All About Sailing

Skipper Certification Process

and How Authority is Granted for Skippering Specific Boats

Introduction

SEAS Monmouth owns several boats which are available for the use of the club members. In order to maximize the safety of the members - both skippers and crew - and the boats, we have created a Skipper Certification Committee (SCC), and have instituted policies and procedures for granting members the authority to skipper the boats in various sailing areas. There are two distinct things we need to evaluate:

  • An individual's skill and experience in the various sailing areas the boats operate in. There are rivers (Navesink & Shrewsbury) and bays (Sandy Hook, Raritan), and New York Harbor, as well as several bridges in the sailing area. There are six skipper "levels" described in detail below.
  • An individual's skill and experience in operating the boats the club owns, ranging from 16' daysailers through a 28' boat with an inboard diesel engine. The boats can be operated by skippers at different levels depending on the boat's location and the sailing area desired. Again, these are described in detail below.

This document describes the various skipper levels, the requirements of each level, and the process for being certified at those levels. Because the distinction is important, we reiterate that there is a difference between being certified at a skipper level and being granted the authority to operate a particular boat. The SCC focuses on evaluating an individual's application for a skipper level; the authority to operate a particular boat is determined by designated skippers (not necessarily SCC members) who take the candidate through a checkout process on the boat.

We have attempted to spell out in as much detail as possible what the requirements are for attaining each level. However, ultimately it is a judgment call that the SCC is making and they reserve the right to deny authority to any person who in their view does not have all the skills and experience necessary even if they meet the requirements "on paper". Conversely, the SCC may also waive specific requirements if they feel the candidate nevertheless has the ability to safely manage a boat and crew in the designated area. Lastly, certification is dependent on attending a Skipper Information Session in the current year. This requirement applies to all Levels of skipper and must be renewed every year.

When a person is certified at a specific level that information is provided to the Reservations Coordinator who maintains a list of skipper certifications and authorizations. The Reservations Coordinator then notifies the person of their certification and suggests scheduling an appropriate checkout. After a checkout is completed with a designated skipper that information is provided to the Reservations Coordinator who then notifies the person of his/her authority to reserve (a) specific boat(s).

There is no suggested donation to apply for certification. There are suggested donations for boat checkouts. Refer to the Suggested Donations page for current details.

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The Levels

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Daysailers

Sailing and navigating the daysailers within the Shrewsbury or Navesink Rivers, coves, and tributaries.

Requirements

  • Applicant must have taken the Basic Sailing Course or have equivalent sailing experience.
  • Applicant must demonstrate his/her ability to maneuver the boat under power and sail, including anchoring under sail, and pulling in and out of a slip.
  • On the water experience sufficient to command a boat in the Shrewsbury River or Navesink River is required.
  • At least one member of the SEAS Monmouth Skipper Certification Committee will have to personally vouch for the skipper applicant, based on firsthand sailing experience with the applicant.

Process

Getting certified on the daysailers is the first step in the skipper certification process. This is not an arduous or difficult process; after you have been out on the boats a few times and are comfortable handling them under sail and power, ask one of the Small Boat organizers (currently Greg White []) whether they feel you are ready to be certified. They may ask you to take the boat out with them as crew, if they haven't already sailed with you; and they may suggest that you practice one or more skills and techniques. Once they are comfortable with your skills and abilities in handling the boat (including taking it in and out of the slip where it is kept) and managing the crew, they will certify you.

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Level I, River

Sailing and navigating within the confines of the

  • Navesink River, between the Oceanic bridge and Oyster Point
  • Shrewsbury River, upriver of the Sea Bright-Rumson bridge

and excluding passing under any bridges.

Requirements

  • Applicant must have taken the Basic Sailing Course or must have equivalent sailing experience.
  • Applicant must demonstrate his/her ability to maneuver the boat under power and sail, including anchoring under sail, and pulling in and out of a slip.
  • On the water experience sufficient to command a boat in the Shrewsbury River or Navesink River is required.
  • Proficiency in picking up a mooring must be demonstrated to use boats kept on moorings.
  • At least one member of the SEAS Monmouth Skipper Certification Committee will have to personally vouch for the skipper applicant, based on firsthand sailing experience with the applicant.

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Level I, Bay

Sailing and navigating in Sandy Hook Bay between the Navy Pier, Sandy Hook and the Highlands bridge. This level EXCLUDES:

  • going past a line drawn from the Navy Pier to the tip of Sandy Hook/li>
  • passing under the Highlands bridge into the Shrewsbury and Navesink Rivers
  • anchoring out overnight.

Requirements

  • Applicant must have taken the Basic Sailing Course, or have equivalent sailing experience.
  • Applicant must demonstrate his/her ability to maneuver the boat under power and sail including pulling in and out of a slip, anchoring in a cove and dropping an anchor under sail.
  • On the water experience sufficient to command a boat in Sandy Hook Bay is required.
  • At least one member of the SEAS Monmouth Skipper Certification Committee will have to personally vouch for the skipper applicant, based on first hand sailing experience with the applicant.

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Level II

Sailing and navigating in all of the areas in Level I plus anywhere within the confines of the Navesink and Shrewsbury Rivers.

Authority to pass under the Highlands, Sea Bright and/or Oceanic bridges into the Shrewsbury and Navesink Rivers.

Requirements

  • Must meet all Level I requirements
  • The applicant must have skippered the keelboat(s) at least 4 times as a Level I skipper before being considered for Level II. The SEAS Monmouth Skipper Certification Committee will evaluate the skipper's resume and prior sailing experience, and may waive this requirement.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of protocol for contacting Bridge operator (VHF or horn) to request opening, overhead clearance required, vessel priorities, sailing vs motoring.
  • Demonstrate ability to safely control the vessel in varying tides and currents under bridges.
  • At least one member of the SEAS Monmouth Skipper certification committee will have to personally vouch for the skipper applicant, based on firsthand sailing experience with the applicant.
  • Demonstration of sailing and anchoring skills is required, including picking up a mooring under sail, dropping anchor under sail, pulling up to a dock and pulling in and out of a slip.

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Level III

Sailing in Raritan Bay and its tributaries, the Arthur Kill and Kill Van Kull, Newark Bay, Lower New York Bay and going into Rockaway Inlet, Upper New York Bay, and the Hudson River up to the Morris Canal, Sandy Hook Bay and its tributaries.

Authority to pass under bridges.

Requirements

  • Must meet all Level II requirements
  • Completion of a navigation course by a nationally known organization is required for navigation beyond the confines of the Sandy Hook Bay and its tributaries. Courses taught by the US Power Squadron, Coast Guard Auxiliary, ASA or US Sailing are recognized. Written documentation is required.
  • On the water experience sufficient to command a boat in New York Harbor is required. This will include a written resume submitted to the SEAS Monmouth Skipper Certification Committee.
  • Demonstrated knowledge of all boat systems and basic maintenance and mechanical skills is required.
  • At least one member of the committee will have to personally vouch for the applicant, based on firsthand sailing experience with the applicant.

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Level IV

Sailing all the areas in Level III plus any navigable waterways within 150 miles of the home port and within 10 miles of land.

Authority same as Level III plus authority to make overnight reservations. This does not imply sailing or motoring at night - it means being authorized to have the boat away from its home slip overnight. Refer to Boat Usage Policy for more information about overnight reservations.

Requirements

  • Must meet all Level III requirements
  • Must have a least 1 year experience as Level III
  • Must have skippered at least 8 activity or private sails on a boat requiring Level III certification
  • Must have served as 1st mate or skipper on a multi-day excursion on a sailboat of 28' or greater
  • At least one member of the committee will have to personally vouch for the applicant, based on firsthand sailing experience with the applicant.

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Relationship Between Levels and Boats You Can Skipper

Once you have attained a specific skipper level, the next step is to get a boat checkout on the boat(s) you want to use. The Skipper Certification Committee does not administer these checkouts but will get you connected with the people who do. (As in many organizations it may turn out to be a member of the SCC, wearing a different hat.)

Level needed for each of the SEAS boats

Daysailers

  • Since these are sailed exclusively in the Shrewsbury River, a daysailer certification is sufficient

"Rhodes Less Traveled" (Rhodes 22)

  • This boat is in a slip in Atlantic Highlands, so a Level I, Bay will permit you to sail it in the Sandy Hook bay.
  • If you wish to take the boat under the Highlands, Sea Bright, or Oceanic bridges a Level II is required.
  • If you wish to take the boat outside Sandy Hook Bay (past a line drawn from the tip of the Navy Pier to the tip of Sandy Hook), a Level III or IV is required.

"SEAS Change" (Catalina 30)

  • Since this boat is in Raritan Bay, a Level III is required.
  • If you wish to take the boat overnight or beyond the specified sailing area, a Level IV is required.

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The Application Process

If you desire to become a SEAS skipper and think you qualify at a certain level after reading the requirements, send your request and any necessary documentation via email to the SCC coordinator. The coordinator will forward your request to all the committee members and will also send you an acknowledgement, which will include an anticipated timeline for a decision to be made (generally a couple of weeks or less). When the committee has made a decision you will be notified of the result, including any additional requirements the committee may have, such as the need to schedule a sail with one of the SCC members.

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