Offshore Personal Safety Course (a.k.a. Safety at Sea - Sea Survival)
The Offshore Personal Safety Course is for experienced sailors who are participating in distance and offshore races and passages. The course includes classroom and practical sessions. Topics covered include safety equipment, storm sails, weather forecasts, heavy weather, man overboard, emergency signals and communications. Practical sessions include inflating and using lifejackets, life rafts and other safety equipment in a pool environment. The course is Sail Canada - World Sailing Approved. Participants who successfully complete the course receive an Offshore Personal Safety Course certificate, valid for five years.
Sailors around the world take offshore personal safety training to prepare themselves and their boats for distance and offshore sailing. Offshore personal safety programs are offered for sailors in many countries, including Australia, Canada, France, Italy, New Zealand, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States. Some sailing event organizers recommend or require offshore personal safety training for participating crews. World Sailing (formerly ISAF - the International Sailing Federation) specifies offshore personal safety training requirements in section 6 of the Offshore Special Regulations, and outlines a model course in Appendix G of those regulations.
In British Columbia, the Vic-Maui International Yacht Race, the Van Isle 360 International Yacht Race, and the Southern Straits Yacht Race require offshore personal safety training for some members of each crew, and the Swiftsure International Yacht Race recommends it.
Before registering, please review the "Student Requirements and Advance Information", below.
The Offshore Personal Safety course has been offered in BC for over five years. Certificates are valid for five years from the class date. We do not currently offer a specialized course specifically for renewals. The standard course evolves and participant memory changes over time. Live flare training has been added, some classes now include live fire extinguisher training, the rig cutting and pool drills have evolved, and refined/new content has been incorporated. Knowledge and skills need to be refreshed and practiced to be useful when needed most. People whose training was several years ago, and/or whose certificates are expiring, should consider taking the training again. Starting with the Fall 2016 classes, participants who have previously taken this training in BC are eligible for a 25% reduction in the registration price. Have your expired/expiring certificate number ready when registering, as you will need it to select this option.
Calendar / Classes
The classes are popular and tend to fill up quickly. We use an online registration system and we announce (here, please check back periodically) the date and time when registration will open. Generally, advance registration opens about 60 days prior to a class, and general registration opens about 45 days prior to a class.
Advance registration: Through the skippers of boats sailing in events that require this type of training, we offer advance registration. This includes Vic-Maui, Southern Straits, Van Isle 360. Please ask your skipper.
General registration: In every class, there is space available when general registration opens. Links to the online registration system will be provided here when general registration opens.
Classes are usually scheduled into the October – April time-frame in order to minimize schedule conflicts with sailing events.
January - April 2017 schedule:
- Safety at Sea Half-Day Seminar (1/2 day, 2017 Straits Race)
March 30, 2017 (West Vancouver)
Click here for information and registration (opens November 1 at 7:00 am)
- Offshore Personal Safety Course (2 day, Sail Canada - World Sailing Approved)
April 23-24, 2017 (Vancouver)
Click here for general registration (opens February 6 at 7:00 am)
Please check back here occasionally for updates.
- March 19-20, 2017 (West Vancouver)
- March 17-18, 2017 (West Vancouver)
- March 11, 2017 (Sidney) Half-Day Seminar
- January 13-14, 2017 (Victoria)
- November 20-21, 2016 (Vancouver)
- October 14-15, 2016 (Vancouver)
- April 17-18, 2016 (Vancouver)
- April 15-16, 2016 (Vancouver)
- February 28-29, 2016 (West Vancouver)
- February 26-27, 2016 (West Vancouver)
- January 17-18, 2016 (Victoria)
- January 15-16, 2016 (Victoria)
- December 6-7, 2015 (Vancouver)
- November 15-16, 2015 (Vancouver)
- November 13-14, 2015 (Vancouver)
- March 1-2, 2015 (West Vancouver & Vancouver)
- February 27-28, 2015 (West Vancouver & Vancouver)
- January 11-12, 2015 (West Vancouver & Vancouver)
- January 9-10, 2015 (West Vancouver & Vancouver)
- November 16-17, 2014 (Vancouver)
- November 14-15, 2014 (Vancouver)
- October 17-18, 2014 (Victoria)
Royal Vancouver Yacht Club
3811 Point Grey Road
Vancouver, BC V6R 1B3
RVYC Location Map - click here
Free Parking - Request Parking Pass at Club
UBC Aquatic Centre
6121 University Blvd
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z1
UBC Aquatic Centre Location Map - click here
UBC Aquatic Centre annotated access map - December 2015 - click here
Pay Parking - North Parkade, access from Student Union Boulevard
West Vancouver Yacht Club
5854 Marine Drive
West Vancouver, BC V7W 2S2
WVYC Location Map - click here
West Vancouver Aquatic Centre
2121 Marine Drive
West Vancouver, BC V7V 4Y2
West Van Aquatic Centre Location Map - click here
Free parking on adjacent streets (note posted time limits)
Royal Victoria Yacht Club - Cadboro Bay
3475 Ripon Road
Victoria, BC V8R 6H1
Royal Victoria Yacht Club - Cadboro Bay Location Map - click here
University of Victoria - Strong building, room C108
3800 Finnerty Road
Victoria, BC V8P 5C2
University of Victoria - Strong building Location Map - click here
(Pay parking; use lot #4, access from McGill Road)
University of Victoria - McKinnon building (pool)
3800 Finnerty Road
Victoria, BC V8P 5C2
University of Victoria - McKinnon building (pool) Location Map - click here
(Pay parking; use lot #2, access from Gabriola Road)
Organization and Instructors
The Offshore Personal Safety Course is offered by BC Sailing and local yacht clubs. The course was developed by the Safety at Sea Working Group, comprised of representatives of four distance races and their organizing authorities:
Student Requirements and Advance Information
The Offshore Personal Safety Course includes classroom and practical sessions. Practical sessions include in-the-pool training with life rafts and lifejackets. Participants will enter the water in wet weather gear, swim with and without lifejackets, inflate, right and board life rafts, and assist other participants with the drills. The training is physically demanding, requires the ability to swim and may be stressful. It is the responsibility of participants to be fit for the training. Participants who have any doubt about their ability to participate safely should consult their doctor and obtain medical approval in advance of the course.
Liability waiver - release agreement and personal information consent forms:
Participants will be required to sign a liability waiver - release agreement prior to participation.
For the benefit of participants and event organizing authorities BC Sailing and Sail Canada may maintain a publicly-searchable database listing participant names, certificate numbers and certificate expiry dates. Participants will be requested to sign a personal information consent form.
Advance reading material:
Advance reading material will be delivered to the postal mailing address you provide during online registration. Participants are expected to review the advance material prior to the start of the course.
Clothing and personal safety equipment:
For sessions other than the in-the-water session, casual clothing is suitable. For the in-the-water session, participants are required to have a full set of wet weather gear including footwear, a functional lifejacket or PFD, and a re-arm kit (if using an inflatable PFD).
Using the same gear that you plan to sail offshore with is strongly recommended.
All clothing and gear must be clean and suitable for a public swimming pool. A change of clothing, a towel and a bag for carrying wet clothing and gear are also recommended. Rinse-down and change facilities are provided at the in-the-water session.
Refreshments and meals:
Light refreshments (water, coffee, tea, snacks) will be provided.
* On days when the class times span the noon to 1:00pm timeframe, lunch will be provided.
Participants are responsible for other meals.
Price & Registration
The Offshore Personal Survival Course is $360.00, plus taxes, in Canadian funds. Price includes advance material, course participation, refreshments and lunches*, and upon successful completion, a Sail Canada - World Sailing Approved Offshore Personal Survival Course certificate. Early bird pricing is offered for most classes.
Registration and payment are available only through the online registration system. See the link beside the class that you want to register for. Payment is made by a major credit card at the time of registration. The online registration system automatically offers early bird pricing if it is available.
Registrations are non-cancellable and non-refundable. Transfers from one person to another may be permitted under circumstances acceptable to the organizers; transfer requests should be made in writing in advance, not less than 14 days prior to the course start date.
Testimonials (from participants in 2011-2015 classes)
"Thank you so much for the certificate and for running such an informative and professional course."
"I wanted to say thank you for the excellent course. I thought the course was extremely informative and was very impressed with the way it was presented."
"Just wanted to thank you and the other instructors for an excellent course. Really well-organized and communicated. The hands-on exercises (cutting rigging, flares) and time in the pool were particularly valuable... could be lifesavers!"
"Thanks again for the excellent course. I particularly found that the real life examples drove home some messages. … Up to that point in your course I had questioned the crotch strap concept a bit as my life jacket had not ridden up in the pool. That story really hit home."
"Regarding the differences between this training and STCW / MED training … it’s not just about 'safety at sea' but 'sailing safely at sea'." (commercial ship’s officer)
Registration is available online only (see the links in Calendar / Classes section above).
For other information, please contact:
BC Sailing Safety at Sea program