Skip to main content

Syllabus - Basic Seamanship and Boat Handling


Syllabus for the course leading to a Nautical Licence
issued under the Small Ships Regulations S.L 499.52

Minimum Age


Vessel Length

Can crew any vessel under twenty-four metres of length, to be driven for pleasure, or tow any person for the purpose of water skiing.

Operating Limits

Within the territorial waters of Malta.

Minimum Training Required

Completion of an approved training course followed by an Oral and Practical examination on:

Course Content

Course content is to be based on a minimum of 24 hours tuition covering both classroom and practical training (seamanship and boat handling).

It is up to the training centre to manage and stream students undertaking the training course according to their abilities and knowledge. Tuition hours may be adjusted accordingly. Practical boat handling session is mandatory for all students.

Module 1 (Classroom)

1. Theory

  1. Types of craft: advantages and disadvantages of different hull forms with respect to sea keeping ability.
  2. Engines and drives: advantages and disadvantages of outboard, inboard and outdrive units, single and twin screws, choice and use of fuels.
  3. Siting of fuel tanks, fuel lines, batteries, wiring, fire extinguishers.
  4. Routine engine maintenance checks, basic fault diagnosis.
  5. Close down procedure.
  6. Use and limitations of GPS.
  7. Application of local regulations and interaction with commercial shipping.
  8. Sources of weather information.
  9. Awareness of other water users.
  10. Communication with other craft - hand and sound signals.
  11. Disabled craft.
  12. Emergency action, preventing sinking.
  13. Adrift - alternative means or propulsion.
  14. Towing and being towed.
  15. Safety and pollution precautions while refuelling.
  16. Single letter meaning of the International Code Flags, principally: A, B, C, F, J, N, O, V & W
  17. Rope-work.
  18. Full knowledge of the meaning and use of MAYDAY, PAN-PAN and SECURITE՛ messages and the respective calls.
  19. Sound knowledge and application of the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGS)
    1. Principally Rules 5 - 9 & 12 -19
    2. Lights and shapes
    3. Sound and light signals
    4. Annex IV – Distress Signals.

2. Basic coastal navigation

  1. Introduction to basic navigation.
  2. Charts, chart symbols, IALA Buoyage System A (day time and night time signals).
  3. Use steering and hand bearing compasses.

3. Operating vessels at high speeds

  1. Vessel operational familiarisation
  2. Boat handling and associated dangers when operating at high speeds in different weather conditions including turning and stopping
  3. Passenger care during passage and ensuring that passengers are made aware of impact on health that such operations may have
  4. Emergency man overboard procedures
  5. Application of COLREGS in relation to high speed operations

4. Basic First Aid

Basic First Aid training given by an approved first aid trainer

5. Basic Fire Fighting

Basic fire fighting training given by an approved fire fighting trainer

Note: 4 & 5 above may be substituted with valid certificates issued by recognised institutions.

Module 2 – (Practical in Water Training)

6. Launching and recovery

  1. Use of a trailer or launching trolley.
  2. Consideration of launching and sea conditions, including hazards and obstructions.
  3. Number of persons required to launch/recover.
  4. Width and condition of slipway/slippery slipways, beach launching, lee shores etc
  5. Care of trailer bearings, hitch, lashings, ties, lights and winch.
  6. Trailer parking.
  7. Prepare the boat, lines, fenders, safety equipment, fuel tanks, lines and secure gear on board.

7. Boat Handling

  1. Loading: effect on handling and performance, effect on balance and trim, CE Plate and manufacturer’s recommendation.
  2. Displacement boats: handling ahead and astern, carrying way.
  3. Crew members: minimum number in high speed craft, keeping a look-out.
  4. Awareness of other water users, including effect of wash.
  5. Steering, controls, effect of current or tidal stream.
  6. High speed manoeuvring: planing, trim tabs and power trim.
  7. Planing boats: propeller angle and immersion, shallow drive, high/low speed handling, tiller/console steering.
  8. Carry out pre-start checks, engine starting and stopping.
  9. Demonstrate the use of an appropriate length kill cord at all times.
  10. Carry out low speed manoeuvres including: turning in a confined area, effect of wind on bow and holding off.
  11. Demonstrate an awareness of the danger of flooding when going astern.
  12. Carry out high speed manoeuvres including S-turns and U-turns.

8. Securing to a Buoy

  1. Preparation of mooring warp.
  2. Use of a boat hook.
  3. Method of approach.
  4. Crew communication.
  5. Making fast.
  6. Procedure when overshooting.
  7. Approach and secure to buoy.

9. Anchoring

  1. Method of approach in various conditions and in congested waters.
  2. Taking way off.
  3. Crew communication.
  4. Check holding.
  5. Depth of water, holding ground, scope required.
  6. Types of anchor.
  7. Stowage and attachment to boat.
  8. Preparation of anchor, chain and warp.
  9. Weighing anchor.
  10. Approach and anchor correctly.
  11. Weigh anchor correctly.

10. Leaving and coming alongside

  1. Preparation and use of painter, lines and fenders, attachment to boat, stowage under way.
  2. Speed and angle of approach.
  3. Wind effect.
  4. Method of approach in tidal stream or current.
  5. Make fast alongside.
  6. Use springs.
  7. Leave - ahead or astern.

11. Man overboard

  1. Recovery of man overboard.
  2. Take immediate action.
  3. Observe the man overboard.
  4. Carry out the correct return with awareness of propeller.
  5. Approach and recover the man in the water.

To qualify:

Produce to the Authority for Transport in Malta – Ports and Yachting Directorate - the following:

  1. Completed application form.
  2. Proof of identity and age.
  3. Proof of completing the training and examination referred to above.
  4. 2 colour passport size photographs.
  5. Pay prescribed fees.