While some people avoid or even fear the ocean, others are instinctively drawn to it and are never truly happy until they find themselves sailing across the water. At times they might even feel the need to control the vessel themselves and sail using their own skill and experience. Do you ever feel this urge? If so, you’ll be on the lookout for something called a Skipper’s Ticket (skipper’s license), but where do you find one and how can you go about getting it? How do I get a Skippers License in South Africa?

Please note, however, that these tests do not include the required hours of experience on the water that must be recorded with an authorised skipper before you can take the test.

There are many skipper schools and boating instructors around the country who provide this service so do some research and find the closest training centre near you. Just make sure that the trainers in question have been properly accredited by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).

Before we go any further, it’s important to figure out when we’ll need to have a Skipper’s Ticket.

A skipper’s ticket is needed when piloting the following vessels –

  • Pleasure sailing vessels 9 meters in length or longer
  • Commercial and pleasure motor vessels with 15HP or more

In other words, if you’ve got a sailing boat that’s smaller than 9 meters or a motor-powered one with less than 15HP you normally won’t need a Skipper’s Ticket.

Let’s assume that you’ve taken out the measuring tape and realized you need a Skipper’s Ticket. Time to go get one, right? Not so fast, you first need to figure out which one you’ll need to get.

What are the Different Types of Skipper Licenses in South Africa?

Skipper licenses are divided into categories depending on where the holder is intending to sail. Usually, the license category is determined by how many nautical miles (NM) the skipper will plan to travel offshore. The categories are as follows –

  • Category A – Vessels travelling at any distance from the shore
  • Category B – Vessels travelling 40Nm or less from the shore
  • Category C – Vessels travelling 15Nm or less from the shore
  • Category D – Vessels travelling 5Nm or less from the shore
  • Category E – Vessels travelling 1Nm or less from the shore
  • Category R – Vessels travelling only on sheltered waters

The license’s category will not only determine how far you will be able to travel but also what requirements you will need to meet as they differ slightly depending on the category in question.

The cost of a skipper’s ticket will vary based on the category in question as well as the business providing the service. The average price for a category E or R CoC should be around R1000 whereas higher categories might cost you anywhere between R2000 – R3000.

What are the Requirements for Skipper’s License in South Africa?

As mentioned, certain categories of licenses will require different things from the applicant. For example, if you want a category C license you will need a minimum of 25 hours logged on a category D license which must be signed off on by a skipper with a category C license or higher.

Simply put, you normally can’t just jump ahead in categories or apply for a higher tier category without prior experience.

All that being said, there are general requirements that are needed for licenses which will be listed below, just make sure you do the research and find out the specifics for the category you’re applying for. Some of the common requirements when obtaining a skipper ticket are –

  • 16 years of age or older
  • Copy of ID
  • 2-4 ID/Passport photos
  • Medical Certificate
  • Minimum hours logged and certified by a licensed skipper
  • Certified Copy of Skipper’s ID and license
  • A sworn statement from the skipper attesting to the validity of the hours logged
  • Pass the relevant exams

Beyond a skipper’s ticket to pilot the vessel you will also require a certificate to verify that your vessel is seaworthy.

Rev: law101.org.za