Navigating the Seas Safely

A Guide to Boating Education

Feb 1, 2024

There's nothing quite like a day out on the water, feeling the sun on your face and the wind in your hair. But whether you're new to boating or have years of experience, it's important to prioritise safety first. That's where boating education comes in. At Coastguard Boating Education, we offer a range of courses designed to help you navigate the seas safely and with confidence. In this article, we'll explore the different pathways you can take to educate yourself and expand your boating knowledge.


For those who are new to boating, Coastguard Boating Education offers a clear pathway to get you started. This can be taken over a number of years and becomes more relevant with the experience you gain and the amount of time on the water.

New To Boating Pathway:

Beginning Boating | Day Skipper | Maritime VHF Certificate | In Water Survival 

If you are new to boating then the Beginning Boating course is the place to start. It’s a FREE online course perfect for those with little to no boating experience and covers the basics, including safety equipment, basic boating rules and trip planning. 

From there, the Day Skipper course delves deeper into boat handling techniques, navigation and weather patterns, preparing you for short day cruises and being in charge of a small vessel. The VHF Course is also critical for boaties, as it covers proper radio usage and distress signals and is a legal requirement if you wish to operate a VHF onboard your vessel. 

Once you have these three courses under your belt you can then consider taking some additional courses such as the in-water survival course which is ensures that you have the necessary skills to handle emergency situations on the water. The course helps you understand the potential risks aboard a small vessel, the best safety equipment to carry, how it functions, and how to properly use it. It also includes a fun practical, in-water component. 

For those who have experience under their belts, there's always more to learn. If you have already completed the Day Skipper course and have your VHF licence, then a typical pathway for the more experienced boatie could include:

More Experience Boating Pathway:

Boatmaster | Coastal Medic |  Inboard / Outboard Engine Maintenance 

The Boatmaster course is a comprehensive course for boaties with current knowledge and experience. It applies to a wide range of vessels including yachts, launches, and powerboats.  The material extends your knowledge in - chartwork, navigation techniques, distress signals, emergency procedures, knots, rope work, and provides a thorough understanding of the rules of the road at sea. It enables you to have the knowledge to go further afield and navigate at night.  

If you are thinking of going further afield it may be prevalent to take your Coastal Medic course which is marine specific to sailors covering emergency response to life threatening conditions. It covers primary care, medical emergencies and trauma. It is a one day course that is worth taking and could help you save a life one day.

It’s always worth having some knowledge on your engine as when it stops working at sea you may need it to get home. The engine maintenance courses are one day courses and can be for inboard or outboard engines. These courses cover identification, engine care, maintenance, and trouble-shooting.

Blue Water Offshore Sailing Pathway

Boatmaster | Offshore Medic | Advanced Sea Survival | MRROC or MSROC | Radar

If you're interested in offshore sailing, the Category 1 certification is a must-have. This certification means you have met the requirements for offshore sailing, including having certain qualifications for sea survival and first-aid. All of these qualifications can be obtained through Coastguard Boating Education courses, such as the Offshore Medic course, which covers offshore medical skills, emergency response plans, and search and rescue techniques and the Advanced Sea Survival course. 

Other courses that are very helpful when thinking about blue water sailing are the MRROC (Maritime Restricted Radiotelephone Operator Certificate) which covers SSB radio and MSROC (Maritime Short Range Operator’s Certificate) which is a requirement for anyone wishing to operate a digital VHF radio in Europe and Australasia, and a prerequisite for the RYA Yachtmaster Certificates of Competence. If you do these two courses together there is a discounted rate. There is also the radar course which is very helpful should you have one on board. Achieving Category 1 certification opens up new possibilities for bluewater sailing adventures, giving you the skills and knowledge to tackle a range of offshore situations.

Boating education is crucial for anyone who spends time on the water. Whether you're a seasoned sailor or just starting out, there's always something new to learn. Coastguard Boating Education offers a variety of courses designed to help you navigate the seas safely and confidently. From the Beginning Boating course to the Category 1 certification, there's a pathway for everyone to expand their boating knowledge. By investing in education, you'll be better equipped to handle emergencies, understand navigation, and enjoy your time on the water to the fullest. So, what are you waiting for? Let's set sail!

Navigating the Seas Safely

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New Member Day Skipper Course $100 discount:
To use your National Coastguard NZ new member discount for $100 off a Day Skipper course, please in put your membership number in the Discount Code field below (e.g. 123456). This discount code may not be used in conjunction with any other offer, and can only be redeemed once. 

10% Membership discount:
To use your National Coastguard NZ 10% membership discount on other selected Home Study courses, input "CGM" and your Coastguard membership number (e.g. CGM78091) into the  "Discount Code" field below. This discount code may not be used in conjunction with any other offer. The courses included in this discount offer are: Day Skipper (Not to be used in conjunction with $100 discount), Boatmaster, Maritime VHF Radio Operator Certificate, Inboard Engine Maintenance, Outboard Engine Maintenance and GPS Operator.

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