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Skipper? Mate? Afterguard? What does it all mean?

The afterguard is the team of volunteers on board the vessel that are there to help you get the most out of your trip and teach you how to sail the boats. There are always at least two - a skipper and mate - but on long trips (and some weekends) there is also a second mate.

All of the afterguard hold a variety of qualifications appropriate to their role. In addition to the formal qualifications required by law, before sailing as a member of afterguard with Adventures Offshore, all volunteers undergo familiarisation training on our boats and are assessed by our RYA Principal to ensure that they are suitable for the role. They also have to go through the Scout Association appointment process, which includes undergoing a CRB check and child protection training.

Skipper

The skipper is in command of the vessel at all times and legally responsible for the safety of the boat and everyone on board. He/she is responsible for the safe operation and navigation of the vessel, making important decisions such as where to go based on weather, tide and other factors.

Adventures Offshore skippers are all volunteers, giving up their time for free, but are highly experienced sailors holding professional qualifications. Your skipper will have a minimum of RYA/MCA Yachtmaster Offshore with Commercial Endorsement, or Yachtmaster Ocean for ocean passages. He/she has passed a medical examination and also completed other qualifications and training courses including VHF radio, sea survival and first aid, as well as training specific to our own boats and procedures.

On long trips, the skipper may lead one of the watches that enable the boat to sail 24 hours a day.

First mate

The first mate is second in command and assists in supervising the day to day running of the boat under the direction of the skipper. If anything were to happen to the skipper, then the first mate takes over command of the vessel and therefore also needs to be an experienced, qualified sailor.

Adventures Offshore mates are all volunteers, giving up their time for free, but are experienced sailors holding professional qualifications. Your first mate will have a minimum of RYA/MCA Yachtmaster Coastal with Commercial Endorsement, or Yachtmaster Offshore for ocean passages. He/she has passed a medical examination and also completed other qualifications and training courses including VHF radio, sea survival and first aid, as well as training specific to our own boats and procedures.

The first mate will take charge of the vessel when the skipper is off duty and on longer trips the first mate will lead one of the watches that enable the boat to sail 24 hours a day.

Second mate

The second mate is the third in command and assists the skipper and mate in supervising the day to day running of the boat. On short voyages, this position is often allocated to a trainee who has passed the initial ScoutA trainee gets involved in navigation Association appointment process but is still building their experience and working towards qualifications to enable them to progress to the status of fully qualified first mate. Many of our trainee mates first sailed with us as crew.

More about the trainee mate scheme >>

On longer trips, the second mate will be a qualified first mate in their own right and lead one of the watches that enable the boat to sail 24 hours a day.

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