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Rebecca was hard at work yesterday, attempting to resuscitate rubber dummies and patch up skeletons. Having completed a first aide course just before we set off sailing, and several other times in the past, this portion of the STCW course was relatively easy for her. That said, a refresher is always good, especially on important material such as this.

Rebecca was not the only one at school though yesterday. While she was at the university all day, I was “home schooling,” working my way through the RYA’s new compulsory Professional Practices and Responsibilities (PPR) course.

To be honest, I was not the least bit happy with having to do this online course. Not knowing anything about it, it struck me as a money grab and I assumed it would be lame like the also-compulsory Pleasure Craft Operators course that Canadian boaters now have to take. I couldn’t understand why, after taking all of the Yachtmaster classes and tests, and passing the practical exams, that I had to do another course. Now I can see why.

Introduced in April 2012, the PPR course is a requirement for all RYA license holders who wish to obtain a commercial endorsement. I spent about 8.5 hours yesterday working my way through the course material and I have to say, it was humbling. As someone who has travelled a fair distance and lives on a boat, I can see how it might be easy for cruisers to start to believe that they’re akin to a professional mariner, just like those men and women who operate large ships for a living. Sure, our boat is smaller, but it’s all the same stuff, right? Wrong. There’s quite a bit more to it, and this course highlights that extremely well.

The other thing I appreciated about the PPR course is that it’s written in a very modern format, and I don’t mean that it shows up on the computer screen in Flash. What I mean by modern is that instead of requiring a lot of memorization, it focuses on the ability to be able to locate information. Do you need to have the entire Small Vessels in Commercial Use for Sport or Pleasure, Workboats and Pilot Boats document committed to memory, or the dozens of other regulations that affect commercial boats? No, but it helps to know what you might find in those publications.

While Rebecca will be in the swimming pool today, learning sea survival strategies, I need to complete the timed exam for this course. As I understand it, there are 2 parts to the test: one that is 60 minutes long and a second that is 90 minutes long. I apparently get only one crack at the exams and must score 80% or better. Believe me when I say that I’m not entirely sure how it will go. Fingers are crossed!


  1. good luck Mike you can do it,good job rRebecca

  2. Yes Mike and Rebecca, we all have faith in you both!

  3. Keep the faith!!! We will…

  4. Thanks all. The good vibes helped.

  5. Great achievement Mike and really worth getting. I finally let my Yachtmaster Offshore Commercial endorsement go after more than 10 years as they decided that, being a wafarin user, I would have to have a medical every year, Which I guess is only fair as I`m nearing 70. Well done for taking the trouble to achieve it.

    • Thanks!

      Yes, that was one of the questions in the course. Those over 65 must have the ML5 medical done every year, as opposed to every 5 years. The ENG1 medical that I had done needs to be done every 2 years!

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