Extracts from an eight-part series looking at every aspect of the RYA Day Skipper course from the motorboater's point of view.

The thought of going ‘back to school’ will cause a good number of hearts to flutter but considerable gain can be achieved with relatively little pain. This month, we begin an eight-part series looking at every aspect of the RYA Day Skipper course from the motorboater’s point-of-view.

The RYA National Cruising Scheme encompasses a range of eight courses, suitable for those with little or no experience and progressing up to Yachtmaster Ocean, which entitles the holder to command a commercial vessel up to 24m (78.7ft) in length on ocean passages.

Last year, almost 15,000 people took part in RYA training, more than a third of whom started with the Day Skipper course. Training is a vitally important part of enjoying safe motor cruising, and while most shore-based teaching is based on one evening class a week, some sea schools offer complete courses over two or three intensive weekends.

This can be followed by a five-day practical course ­ in a school boat or in your own boat ­ to put all the theory into practice. Over the next eight issues, Robert Avis, DOT Yachtmaster Examiner and RYA Instructor, and MBY columnist, will guide us through the RYA Day Skipper shore-based course from a motor cruising point of view.

This will provide a comprehensive introduction to those with no experience and act as an aide-mémoire for people who have been doing it for years. Occasionally, RYA shore-based instructors are criticised because they know little about the problems facing motor cruising enthusiasts. We will try to redress the balance.

We start with nautical terms, hull shapes, and knots and ropework ­ elements that help cruising enthusiasts choose the right boat in the first place and use it safely.