Interested in sailing but not feeling so confident? All sailors eventually wish to set sail on ocean waters, at least once in their lifetime. But how do you prepare yourself for this moment? By taking one step at a time; by building your confidence. This is why we recommend obtaining an inland skipper’s license in South Africa.

Inland Skipper’s License in South Africa, you say?

That’s correct! In South Africa, this license is generally known as the Category R Skipper’s License. This skipper’s license is perfect for beginners to learn the ropes of boating, navigation, man overboard procedure, and more.

In South Africa, the inland skipper’s license—the Category R Skipper’s license—allows a skipper to drive or sail a boat in confined/sheltered waters such as ponds, lagoons, rivers, dam waters and so on.

While you may not need a license to ride, or more like ‘row’ one or two manned vessels such as a kayak, you definitely require a license if you are driving a vessel being 9m or less in length and having an engine of 15hp or more.

But people can easily get a Cat E license as a beginner…

Then why go for a Category R license, right? First of all, sailing on ocean waters itself is challenging. If you are someone who’s completely new to sailing or boating, a Category R license does a much better job in boosting your confidence.

Secondly, while you may argue that you can do inland boating even with a Category E license, a Category R license means you will initially start in a calming environment; unlike sea waters or shores that are often bustling with crowds and boats.

While this applies differently to each individual, as a beginner, we highly recommend getting the Category R license as your first skipper’s license.

How can I obtain an Inland Skipper’s License in South Africa?

As an aspiring, you will also have to fulfil some requirements, apart from the vessel requirements above.

To apply for the Category R skipper’s exam, you must be at least 16 years old. If you are resolved to get this skipper’s license, then head to a local clinic and get a certificate of fitness. This is a must in accordance with SAMSA‘s regulations. Also, you will need your personal identification documents.

And, as set by SAMSA rules, even the most basic skipper’s license requires some prior boating experience. This doesn’t necessarily have to be driving experience, but some form of service on a vessel, such as watchkeeping, navigational assistance etc.

There is no official course or training prior to the exam; however, almost all marine institutes in South Africa provide personalised training. So, if you are getting your license via a course provided by a training institute, then 25 hours of logged service is enough. Else, if you have served under a qualified skipper, then make it 50 hours. Or, if you have an unsupervised service record, then you need at least 100 hours of service logged.

The Category R Skipper’s License Examination

The inland skipper’s license in South Africa has an exam. As mentioned previously, there is no direct training for the Category R license. However, institutions such as Sail and Power SA do provide personalised training to help candidates pass the exam.

The examination mainly consists of a written exam. After that, you will have to undergo a short practical examination. During the exam, the examiner will check your basic knowledge regarding boating and safety. If you study your SAMSA manual well, you should not have trouble answering these questions.

Final Thoughts

The inland skipper’s license in South Africa is indeed one of the safest ways to learn the ropes around boating. South Africa has been blessed with beautiful inland waterbodies and surrounding nature. As long as you meet the criteria, we highly encourage you to get a Category R license for yourself. Passing the exam will issue you a temporary license for a limited duration before you get a permanent license.

South Africans as well as foreigners who are staying in South Africa for a long duration are required to get a skipper’s license if they want to do boating. If you wish to apply for this license or want to know more about it, feel free to connect with Sail and Power SA and we will help you out!