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Old 20 June 2012, 03:03   #1
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PB2, Boat Handling, Rib Course, Powerboat Level 2, what are they all?

What is a Powerboat Level 2 course, and who needs to do it?

PB2, the National Powerboat Certificate, Level 2, Rib Handling, Boat Handling, the ICC, what does this all mean? Maybe you’ve bought a boat, you’re going to be lent a boat, you’re going to hire a boat in the UK or abroad, or you just want to do a bit more boating, you’re going to need some training. With so many different names and courses about, it can be quite difficult to know what’s what.

The Royal Yachting Association are based in the United Kingdom, and their Powerboat Level 2 Course is usually conducted over two days. This course is often considered the benchmark of entry-level training for beginners looking to develop skills in open motor craft, whether they then progress into commercial training, or leisure activities, or both.

Why Level 2, what about Level 1?

A very common question or comment from people, when advised to take a Powerboat Level 2 course, is “Why the Level 2, I haven’t even done the Level 1 yet!”, so how does this work? Well, quite simply, the Powerboat Level 2 course assumes no prior knowledge, and the syllabus encompasses base level skills, as well as slightly more advanced manoeuvres and topics.

There is a Powerboat Level 1 course, designed to run over a single day, and provide a basic introduction to Powerboating. It is, however, exactly that, an introduction.

The key really lies in the minimum age for the award – you can hold a Powerboat Level 1 certificate at the age of 8. The minimum age for a Powerboat Level 2 course, which also assumes no prior knowledge, is 12 years old, so the vast majority of Powerboat Level 1 course candidates are under 12’s who’s family own or use boats, and who need to be given a bit of coaching and some top tips away from Mum and Dad!

So, most people over the age of 12 will tend to go straight on to the Powerboat Level 2 course, as it is a more thorough grounding in boat handling and general seamanship, as well as having a range of other benefits. Despite the minimum age, the course is targeted at adults, and those between 12 and 16 on an RYA Powerboat Level 2 course will have an endorsement on their certificate.

So that’s why it’s straight in to Level 2, but what about this PB2, Boat Handling, and Rib Handling etc?

PB2 stands for Powerboat Level 2. This is also sometimes referred to as ‘RYA Powerboat’, or the National Powerboat Certificate. Some course providers will advertise this under the guise of a RIB Handling, or Boat Handling Course. The important thing to look for when booking training is that the course is two days long, and the training centre is recognised by the Royal Yachting Association (RYA).

Coastal vs. Inland, Planing vs. Displacement

It is usual for a Powerboat Level 2 course to be conducted at one venue, using one boat (occasionally two similar boats, rarely, two different boats). If you attend a course on a lake, your certificate will be endorsed ‘inland’, whereas if you complete the training at a tidal venue, it will be endorsed ‘coastal’. For those holding an inland certificate, a one-day conversion will ‘upgrade’ this to a coastal award. There is no conversion from coastal to inland, as a coastal user is automatically covered for inland. If you are likely to want a coastal certificate, it is usually cheaper both in time and money, to take the course at a coastal venue straight off.

Your certificate will also reflect the type of craft you have done your training in. Displacement boats are usually quite big and heavy, and achieve slow speeds, but often with a lot of power. Planing craft are usually lighter, and achieve higher top speeds, but will often slow down more when heavily loaded. Very rarely is any distinction made between a planing or displacement certificate. By default, the vast majority of courses are conducted on planing craft, and displacement courses are more often run on an own boat tuition or club basis.

Optional Extras

When you have successfully completed an RYA PB2 course, you are automatically eligible for the award of an International Certificate of Competence, for Powerboats up to 10m. This qualification shows your competence when you take a British Flagged vessel abroad, and many countries and organisations accept the ICC as evidence of your skills and abilities to charter or hire a small motor boat. The RYA charge a fee to issue this certificate, although it is free of charge if you are a member.
If you are going to be using a boat on an inland waterway (such as the French Canals) you may also need to complete a CEVNI (Code Européen des Voies de la Navigation Intérieure) test, which you can do online, or at a suitable RYA recognised centre. This short, multiple choice test, covers the lights and symbols used to aid navigation on European inland waters, and completion of the test will allow your ICC to be endorsed as ‘inland’. Having an Inland PB2 certificate does not replace the need to do this test, as the United Kingdom do not use the CEVNI system.

Courses with other Organisations

The Royal Yachting Association is not the only United Kingdom boating organisation that issues certificates relating to boat handling skills, but they do offer more widely recognised and general qualifications.
The British Sub Aqua Club (BSAC) run a very similar two day course, called BSAC Boat Handling, which includes diver specific content, and is aimed at divers, or those helming dive boats. The British Water Ski Federation run a two day course called the Ski Boat Driver Level 2, which includes content on helming ski boats towing water skiers or wakeboarders. These courses are quite niche market, and would only really be relevant to specific water users. As such they do often attract a price premium.

Some centres are recognised by more than one organisation, so can offer two or all of these qualifications simultaneously (with a few additional membership and test fees). Internationally, the RYA National Powerboat Certificate and International Certificate of Competence is most recognised.

So, is it for me?

Well, if you’ve never completed any formal training, or any training at all, then probably the RYA Powerboat Level 2 is the best place to start. Even experienced boaters often find that some of the close quarters handling skills take them outside of their own boat comfort zone, and that the less practiced manoeuvres such as Man Overboard Drills and other safety content is quite beneficial.

Likewise, if you’re looking for any employment in the Marine Industry, the RYA PB2 is a vital and worthwhile course.

If you’re very experienced, and confident that you can demonstrate all of the skills in the Powerboat Level 2 syllabus, you can arrange for a simple half day direct assessment test at an RYA school. Unlike the continually assessed Level 2 course, the direct assessment is a pass/fail test.

I’ve done my Powerboat Level 2 already/now, what next?

Well, the first and most important thing, is to get out there and get using it! You might then want to start considering some of the short support courses, such as the online Essential Navigation and Seamanship, Small Craft First Aid, Sea Survival/Personal Survival Techniques, or VHF Radio training. Specialist providers may offer engine maintenance and other bespoke courses.

To develop your practical skills, the next steps would be the RYA Intermediate (Coastal Cruising) Powerboat Course, and the night and day RYA Advanced Powerboat Course.

Want to find out more? Get in touch with the RYA to find a centre near you, or give Stormforce Coaching in the South a call on 02380 231122/ for more information or booking.

Stormforce Coaching ~ ~ 02380 231 122
RYA and MCA Training Courses for Leisure, Commercial, and Super Yachts
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