CAI Members Helping Members

Qualifying for the International Certificate for Operators of Pleasure Craft (ICC)

By CAI member Des Collins, 16 February 2023

The ICC is a Certificate of Competence that is recognised by several countries and accepted by charter companies. Without the ICC, it can be difficult or impossible to charter a yacht in some countries, particularly in the Eastern Mediterranean.

In early October 2022, CAI member John Leahy proposed a process to qualify CAI members for the ICC certificate. The process would involve the co-operation of other members in supporting training and providing suitable boats through the winter.

In a short space of time there were 38 members in the WhatsApp group, and these were split into groups of those that needed an ICC for their 2023 holidays, and others who wanted to have it for the future. While I myself did not have plans to charter a boat in the near future, I was anxious to have something to prove that I can handle a boat other than my 40 years of experience.

Throughout October there were several Zoom calls in which we listened to and discussed boat handling topics, rules and regulations, and best practice. After some Zoom sessions, the first group to face the theory test gathered in the RIYC for a full day of theory training, covering navigation, rules, recognition of lights and signals etc. Anyone who has done the RYA coastal skipper training would have already covered all this content. Our CAI group was a mix of experienced sailors and newcomers, and this is where the spirit of the CAI came to the fore. As a group, there was great co-operation and teamwork. When the same group met a week later to do their theory test, being examined by a qualified examiner, everyone passed.

The first part completed, we now had to prepare for the practical test. On an ideal day in early November, a group took to the water for a full day of training. We went through all the aspects that would be covered in the practical test. Tacking and gybing, man overboard, picking up a mooring under sail, coming alongside under engine, “springing and spronging”, 360 degree turning etc. Under John Leahy’s expert tutelage, we (I) learned the differences between Prop Wash and Prop Walk, and where and when to use them. All participants were revved up and ready to go. However, reality intervened and members had to deal with the arrival of Christmas and its associated family obligations. Following some inclement weather in early January, two of the key CAI members had replacement knee surgery (Is this a common sailor’s complaint?).

By mid January we were back on track. Thanks to the generosity of Padraig O’Hiceada who made his boat Chatterbox available, a group of 6 candidates took to the sea with the examiner. With John Leahy’s coaching in our minds, we had to demonstrate that not only could we perform the manoeuvres but we could show that we were in command of the vessel and could organise the crew for each exercise. Everyone co-operated and sailed like a team. After 6 hours on the water, 6 candidates passed their tests and are now entitled to apply to the ISA for their ICC.

The whole experience has been enriching. Not only do I now have my ICC, I also have learned things that I didn’t know before, in spite of 40 years and 10,000 miles of sailing. I am very grateful to the CAI community for this opportunity and in particular John Leahy, John Murphy, and Padraig O’Hiceada who made their time and their boats available. It was a pleasure to sail with this group.

It is important to mention that there are several training organisations around the Irish coast that offer ICC training and testing services. I know from reports that they are high quality and competent organisations. For me, the difference from them is that as a community we were able to be flexible with dates and availability. We worked through the winter and achieved our goal.

At the time of writing this the next group of candidates is organising itself for training and testing. With the same spirit and support, I’m sure they will also succeed.