Changes to the RYA Short-range Certificate
January 1st 2014 marked an important date for the Royal Yachting Association and the way VHF training, known as the ‘Short-range Certificate’ was delivered in the UK. The new changes brought in by changing European legislation allow for the course to be taught online bringing the training of this course firmly into the 21st Century.
Ian Lockyer, Marketing Manager of Icom UK Ltd visited Paul Harrison of Seavoice Training, a RYA Training provider based in Preston to ask about the changes in the way the course is delivered.Paul said, ‘On January 1st 2014, the way the RYA offered the VHF (SRC) changed. Customers could either attend a classroom based course or self study online via the RYA Interactive website. The RYA stipulated that both courses should involve at least 10 hours of study and that they should be assessed by an external RYA Assessor. The examination takes the form of a question paper and then practical examination on a VHF radio, particularly involving the different message formats and their use.’ ‘The SRC course, the only course available for Marine VHF Radio is aimed at those using VHF radio with Digital Selective (DSC) calling although the course is still suitable for those still owning the older non-digital sets.’
Do you think the course format was due a change?
‘Definitely, it was seen that people came on the course and may have passed it without having to think but now they are getting trained a lot better. Students now have to read a lot more and say a lot more before they use a radio for real out at sea. The changes have also been beneficial for people who cannot make courses for genuine reason. They work away and want to do the course but cannot find the time to do it. I think it was the right time to make those changes. Course numbers have definitely been going from strength to strength in the last year.’
How important is the course?
‘If you are a Powerboater you will definitely be talking to another boat, another person or the harbour master. In a worst case scenario you might end up being in distress. How to use the radio correctly and what to press on that radio, after a day’s training, online or a day course could save your life.’
So what does the course involve?
‘The Marine Radio (SRC) course involves learning about routine calling, how to operate a radio and its full capabilities, the differences between a handheld and a fixed set, antennas and power. You will also learn about how far you will be able to transmit.With the online study course, you can study when and where you like and at your own pace. The course includes background information, the types of radios available, the different users and basic technical information about how radios work. You will get to grips with transmitting messages using the interactive radio simulators and learn to use the right language to use when communicating over the radio. You will get lots of practice in sending distress, safety and routine calls urgency and become familiar with the various procedures. The course also covers the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System, the regulations that you must abide by in using the marine radio and the requirements for licensing and operating equipment. There is a practical element both on and offline. Online there is a simulator which looks very realistic. The only difference is that you are using a mouse to operate the radio and to turn up the volume, adjust the squelch, press the PTT button. It’s not the same as a real course where you are sat in front of an assessor, where you have to physically press that microphone.’
In an ideal world, it is still preferable to train on real radios?
‘The practical, physical experience is still as important. I would still want people come to me and sit in front of me and train them from scratch and by the end of the day, they would have used it so many times they would be au fait with using a radio.’
When you have passed the course, you may be looking to purchase a radio. What advice would you give to someone?
‘You need to think about what sort of boat you will be using it on, whether you are using it on a RIB, Fishing boat, Jet Ski or Kayak. Do you need a fixed radio or a handheld radio? We always suggest that you steer clear of the cheaper types of radios not because we want to cost them money because we want to ensure that the customer gets a radio that will work in an emergency situation.’
How much does a course cost?
‘For a classroom course you are typically looking at £80 for ten hour course blended learning. For the online courses the course start at £65. The examination which is run by the RYA is £60.’
So where should someone first look to find a course?
‘The best place to find a radio course is to go on the RYA Website and do a local search for a training centre near to you and you will find a centre where you can give them a call or via email find out when they are doing their next VHF radio course. All RYA centres are accredited and checked every five years by the RYA, especially if they are teaching the VHF radio course. Make sure that the centre has the approved logo and that the certificate you gain at the end is an RYA certificate which is recognised worldwide.’
About Seavoice Training http://www.seavoice-training.co.uk
‘Seavoice Training run RYA courses in VHF, First Aid, Essential Navigation and Seamanship both in the classroom and online. Our catchment area is Merseyside and Lancashire but with the onset of the online courses we are getting out across the world to places such as the United States…the furthest students we have are both in New Zealand…the world is truly a smaller place.’