Instructor guide to competence assessments

On this page:

1.       Introduction

2.       PL Procedures

3.       Base and Boat familiarity 

4.       Navigation and seamanship

5.       On the water

6.       Assessment report

1. Introduction

Competence management is a key part of the operation of the Pure Latitude Membership model. The purpose of this document is to guide the assessor through the process to ensure consistency in delivery every time.

The assessment will often be combined with some training but note it may, for suitably experienced candidates, be undertaken with no prior training, in which case it should last no more than 90 mins.

The assessment is broader than just boat handling and includes awareness of PL procedures, base familiarity, boat familiarity and navigation.  The PL procedures, Base guides and Boat guides are here. It is also broader than just the boat being used for the assessment. A competence result is required for all boats in the class.

Importantly, members need to have self inducted on the PL procedures and base / boat they are being assessed on. This can be completed immediately before the assessment or separately in advance. In order to conduct the assessment, instructors must know the same content.

The process should be relaxed and include guidance, but the necessary skills must be demonstrated by the end of the session.

2. Pure Latitude Procedures

These are essential for new members but less important for existing members who have successfully passed an assessment on another class of boat already, but no harm in testing a few areas. Eg fuel, water, tying up, leaving boat. Include these elements at the appropriate stage e.g. cover packing the boat down at the end.

Pure Latitude Member Info Hub
Members need to know the relevant content so check familiarity and push this as the primary resource for all questions. It is essential they know the relevant Base Guide and Boat Guide. Establish what they have understood/read. Demonstrate how to bookmark on their device.

Competence and Induction Process
Ensure they know where this is in the info hub, understand the process and confirm the outline of the assessment session.

Must Know Procedures
The ‘Must Know’ Procedures are just that! Remind/check knowledge of:
Joining and leaving the boat
What to bring
Refuelling and gas
Incidents and faults

Fuel and engine charges
Ensure members understand fuel procedures and engine charges. Key points:
Charges for engine hours run on all boats.
Fuel is charged on the seagoing motor boats (but covered in riverboat engine charge).
The boat must be returned at least half full – note fuel berth restrictions and covid procedures.
Each UK base had a fuel account in the marina the boat is berthed.

If the case of any contact with the dock or another boat then advise PL as soon as possible. When in marina, also advise marina office. Explain the importance and the fact that report is as much to protect PL, members and instructors.

Checking on and check off
Make sure the member competes the checking on and off at the specified time.

How to leave/cleaning/sanitising/securing
Explain the importance of arriving back with an hour to pack the boat down properly and have the boat ready for the next member by 19:00. Ensure understanding of cleaning procedure, sanitising and tying up.

3. Base and Boat Familiarity

Assessors need to check that the member understands the workings of the base (essential for new members but existing members should know). Always check local mooring considerations understood. They must be able to demonstrate how to operate the systems onboard the boat and this is a good test of whether they have read the relevant guides. A few related questions would be:

• Have you read the base and boat guides? (This simple question tells you a lot, but you need to also test their understanding)

• How many seacocks are onboard and can you tell me where they are?

• Where is the link switch, what does it do and how do you operate it?

• Do you know where the anchor windlass breaker is?

• Where are the first aid kits?

• Do you know where all the fire extinguishers are?

• Where is the liferaft and how to you get it ready?

• How many lifejackets are onboard and where are they?

• Show me how to check the engine and run through a start up, manual stop

• Do you understand how the reefing system works?

You’ll get a general feeling of how well they have picked up and understood the information on the boat as well as their general experience level, but with some you will need to ask detailed questions to fully ascertain their level of understanding.

Make sure they are aware that understanding how the boat works is an important part of being a competent skipper and facilitates hassle free days on the water.

4. Navigation and seamanship

Ensuring that the member knows how to navigate safely and shows appropriate caution/diligence in passage planning, is a key part of the competency assessment. Members should be familiar with all areas of the RYA day skipper syllabus. Relevant questions would be:

• Have you checked the weather and tide for today?

• Do you know the Hamble river tidal curve and how would you use it?

• Where would you head to on a day trip today. What would be a good plan with these conditions and what are the hazards to consider?

• Given the forecast, describe any boat preparation you feel is sensible before setting off today.

5. Boat Handling

Assess the standard seamanship requirements such as tide/wind awareness, contingency planning, throttle style, etc. taking into account the characteristics of the boat. Members need to demonstrate clear boat management and communication with crew for all handling requirements. Close quarter marina situations are a key component in the competence assessment. Areas to cover include:

• Crew brief and depart from pontoon taking into account wind and tide – Can they do this sensibly without any guidance and with good awareness of the wind and tide? – using lines and springs appropriately.

• 180° turn in confined space – Get them to come straight back into the marina turn the boat around then head back out. Did they take into the account wind and tide and turn into the strongest element?

• Coming alongside a pontoon – Try to go through a few examples of berthing. But at least one forward and one astern. Did they move fenders around depending on parking forward or reverse? Did they brief on lines and where crew should be?


6. Assessment Outcome and Reporting

Following completion of the assessment you need to fill out an instructor report form (available via 1. Quick Links on the main instructor page). You are under no pressure to pass the member as competent – but we do need honest and accurate feedback detailing their strengths and weaknesses. You will witness a wide range of skills but as far as possible we want to classify members as either:

• Competent – approved to take boats

Please include guidance notes including the boats or boat types they are competent on or advice on the type of trips they should be thinking about e.g. boats to focus on,

• Training required

Please detail the specific training requirements, guidance on events to join, etc.

In exceptional circumstances you can classify as conditionally competent and state the conditions e.g. fair weather, slack tide berthing, nav limitations, low experience. This class means they can book boats but have to discuss their plan before they go. It is intended as a temporary state and, whilst it might be tempting to class many this way, we simply can’t have everyone checking plans with us. Try very hard to pass/fail.

Always use the form for reporting:

Return to the main instructor information hub