The FAA has a website to download free text books to learn all the things required to become a pilot. https://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/handbooks_manuals/aviation/

Is there a similar website for sailors? Thanks


1 Answer 1


Depending on the country rules may change but generally you only need to know navigation rules (i.e. https://www.navcen.uscg.gov/?pageName=NavRulesAmalgamated) and possibly additional rules for your region (i.e. https://boat.wa.gov/boating/the-laws/). There is basically all you are required to know.

If you have your own sail boat or use friends' boats - that's possibly it (at least in US). Depending on a region and a boat you may need some license (which go overs rules for your region, i.e. in Washington State you need license if engine is above a particular power).

If you need to rent a boat there would be some requirements by a company/club that is going to provide you a boat. Usually it means you need to have some certificate from a sailing organization in your country/region matching the type boat and duration of the rental. I.e. in US - it is either ASA (like https://asa.com/certifications/asa-101-basic-keelboat-sailing/) or US Sailing (https://www.ussailing.org/education/adult/certification-courses-endorsements/). Search for your country's sailing association to find region specific info as well as more global once like https://www.rya.org.uk/training.

Please note that while sailing and motor boating in US have far less official regulation that flying (and even less than driving) it is still a very good idea to take a lessons from a good sailing school even if you have your own boat. At very least find a friend and practice docking and MOB recovery (for you and whoever you going to sail with).

  • Thank you @AlexeiLevenkov, That is a helpful compilation of the Federal Regulations For Boaters. The same free information is provided for aircraft pilots. But as you saw from the link I posted, The FAA provides for free all the text books needed to learn the ground school portion of pilot training. I am surprised that there is nothing similar provided by the government for sailors. Sep 28, 2021 at 20:06
  • @JohnShearing there is nothing provided for "eater with a spoon" or "drinker from a cup" either :)... There is no equivalent of "ground school portion of pilot training" - in US you become "a sailor" by the fact you are on a sail boat. There is nothing more to it unlike "a pilot" that requires an official certification. Somewhat similar to naming confusion with "software engineer" (one who've seen some programming language once) and "mechanical engineer" (4+ years of education with specific certification). Sep 28, 2021 at 20:28
  • @JohnShearing maybe you are asking for some sort of official certification (like dco.uscg.mil/nmc/charter_boat_captain) - I would guess there information online to prepare for such certification. But having any of such official certification is generally not implied when one says "I want to become a sailor" (unlike "become a pilot" explicitly means obtaining at least VFR certification for a single engine plane) Sep 28, 2021 at 20:41
  • Thanks @AlexeiLevenkov, I am not thinking so much about a certification but rather freely available knowledge to stay safe. Some of the knowledge areas are very similar for both disciplines such as: Navigation, Aero Dynamics, Maneuvers, Engine operation and maintenance, Emergency procedures, Risk management, Weather theory, Weather services, Radio protocol, and so on. But this information is only freely available from our government for aviators and not for mariners. This seems odd to me because the dangers are similar even though certification is required for one and not the other. Sep 28, 2021 at 23:29
  • As a keen sailor and glider pilot, I think you are very mistaken there, John. The dangers are not similar. In any case, certification is required for various naval activities. Look up certs from Day Skipper all the way up to Ocean Yachtmaster as examples of sailboat certs. They give you guidance on all you need to study for them. There are similar sites for powered craft, as Alexei answered.
    – Rory Alsop
    Oct 1, 2021 at 12:15

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