How to Choose Right Sea School

How do you find a good yacht training institute?

When you decide to book a yacht training course in a sea school or maritime training institute, it is likely that you start to investigate the different options.

So how do you find the best training provider and course for your purposes?

Find herewith a guideline what you need to consider before you choose the right training provider.


Visit and check the office and classrooms of the training center.

  • Are the classrooms large and bright, with ample space for the course attendants?
  • Has each student a large desk for sea chart work?
  • Is water, coffee and tea provided?
  • Is the reception area nearby and a capable and friendly office team available to respond to your questions?
  • What are the opening hours? Is the office open 7 days a week?


Administration and Office Team 

The team responding to your phone calls and emails and welcoming you in the office is pivotal for a smooth booking, training and certification process. The services provided through that team shall not stop once you paid.

  • Do you get a quick response if you send an email or WhatsApp request?
  • Do you get competent and correct information and are you referred to instructors or the management if you have any special request or question?
  • Are queries solved quickly?
  • Do you feel welcome when you call or visit the office?
  • Do you get any assistance if you have further questions after your course?


Go and meet the instructors of the yacht training institute.

The instructors shall be approachable, competent, friendly, patient and ready to answer all your questions.

  • It’s your right to ask the instructor for his qualification, competence and experience.
  • Which courses is the instructor authorized to teach?
  • It is a good sign if the instructor is already several years employed in the same company and is not new to the field.
  • Has the training institute sufficient instructors?
  • How is the instructor student ratio during the practical training?

Training Boats

The practical training is extremely important to gain and enhance your boat handling skills.

But how do know which sea school offers the best hands on practical yacht training?

Go and check:

  • Which training vessels are used for the different levels of training?
  • Are detailed specifications of each boat including pictures, brand, size, engines and location published?
  • Do you find real training photos of the boats and students in the sea school's website and social media?
  • Does the training boat provide enough shade especially during the hot summer months?
  • Does the boat comply with all local and international training regulations and standards?

A good sea school and training institute has nothing to hide.

Beware if the training institute is not transparent regarding the training boats or if you find in the website photos for marketing purposes only.

The best training vessel sizes

The perfect size of the training boat depends on the course you attend and the qualification you require. 

If you are trained on a too small vessel like a small RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat) with one engine, you may be disappointed and not prepared to drive a boat with twin engines.

At the same time a too large boat above 20 meter is not recommended. Such a large yacht is not easy to handle for training purposes.

  • The ideal size for the course up to 12 meter is a boat between 9 and 12 meter with twin engines.
  • For the training up to 24 meter and above the boat should be a flybridge between 15 and 18 meter.
  • The training yacht for 24m and 200 GT should have two helm stations, 2 inboard engines, generator, 220V system, radar, GPS and chartplotter.  
  • You will never gain the skills to drive a boat up to 24 meter if you are trained on another kind of boat like a small RIB with a single engine.
  • The boat must be owned or fully managed by the training institute to guarantee safety for the students and instructors and to prevent malfunction.
  • The insurance must cover training purpose as you would not like end up paying for a damage, if the boat is not properly insured for training.

Training Association and Certificates

If you want to use your boat driving license abroad, check if the sea school is authorized by a reputed and well-known international association.

The sea school must comply with the requirements and training standards of this association.

Check before you book:

  • Is the training association of the sea school a well reputed one? You can check in the internet.
  • Are the certificates widely internationally accepted?
  • Is the association approved by a governmental authority like the British MCA?
  • Look out for the MCA logo, especially if an association pretends to issue certificates in London.
  • A transparent and reputed association has nothing to hide, so you should easily find the head quarter location in the internet.
  • If the head quarter or branch (e.g. London) is a virtual address, be careful.
  • Ask for sample certificates and check acceptance with foreign authorities or charter companies.

As a sample for reputation of IYT and relationship with MCA:

Several IYT certificates are approved by the British Maritime and Coast Guard Agency (MCA). The MCA logo is printed on these certificates. IYT is authorized to issue a British ICC on behalf of the MCA.

ICC - International Certificate for Pleasure Boat Operators

Countries who adopted the UNECE resolution 40 require a valid ICC. For example Croatia and Germany. 

The UK Government accepted the resolution 40 and has authorized IYT to issue the ICC on it's behalf:

  • It is no sign of quality if a certificate just has a compliance statement with the ICC resolution 40 printed.
  • A valid and genuine ICC must be issued on behalf of a country.
  • For example if an ICC is issued on behalf of Great Britain or issued "in London", the MCA logo must be printed, otherwise it is not valid and not compliant with UNECE resolution 40.


The United Arab Emirates has two maritime authorities:

  • The Dubai Maritime Authority (DMA - previous DMCA) is in charge for Dubai
  • The Federal Maritime Authority of U.A.E. (FMA) is in charge for the entire United Arab Emirates.

Both authorities approve training institutes, set standards and regulations and conduct audits. If a training institute complies with all requirements and passes the audit an accreditation is issued.

As a matter of fact, the more accreditations a training institute is holding, the higher are the requirements the sea school has to comply with.

As an example, if a training institute is not approved to conduct courses up to 24 meter from both authorities, it is most likely that different quality criteria are missing:

  • The boat is too small
  • The classroom has no suitable size
  • The instructors are not qualified to train such level
  • The training institute has most likely no ISO 9001:2015 accreditation from a reputed certifying body like UKAS through DNV.



The range of courses offered is a very good quality indicator. It is a big advantage if you get all courses out of one hand. If the course range is limited, you are probably not well prepared if you book the next level with another institute.

  • Which courses offers the training institutes?
  • The more maritime courses are offered the more likely you will get discounted rates once you book the next level course.
  • Has the sea school all governmental approvals for the courses?

Beware if schools pretend to conduct courses while they are not approved and send you to a third party institute. This is oftenly done with STCW Basic Safety Training.

Transparency is a good sign, ask for the governmental accreditation for the courses.


  • Ask friends, colleagues and family if they recommend any sea school
  • Check testimonials in websites and social media
  • Check if the Google reviews are not posted by the sea school's managers, employees or close friends and family
  • Check if the Google reviews have genuine comments and if the school responds to the comments.
  • The number of reviews is important too.

No shortcut (Reputation)

If you think you are too busy with limited time. You are convinced that you know already a lot or everything about boating. If you ask the training institute for a shorter course duration, the right answer must be “NO”.

Surprised? A sign of quality is that no shortcut training is offered. In order to comply with all local and international training standards, it is a MUST to attend the full course duration.

Same applies to entry standards. If you do not hold the right qualification or if you did not log sufficient days at sea and nautical miles, a good sea school will refuse your booking and suggest which alternative path you can go until you meet the entry requirements.