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Safety at Sea

BC Sailing Offshore Personal Survival Course (Safety at Sea)

The BC Sailing Offshore Personal Survival Course (Safety at Sea - Sea Survival) 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 - ISAF Approved. Participants who successfully complete the course receive an Offshore Personal Survival Course certificate, valid for five years.


Sailors around the world take Safety at Sea - Sea Survival training to prepare themselves and their boats for distance and offshore sailing. Safety at Sea - Sea Survival 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 Safety at Sea - Sea Survival training for participating crews. The International Sailing Federation (ISAF) specifies personal survival 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 Swiftsure International Yacht Race recommends Safety at Sea - Sea Survival training, while the Vic-Maui International Yacht Race, the Van Isle 360 International Yacht Race, and the Southern Straits Race require it.

  • Course Syllabus
  • Calendar & Registration
    • 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 that have entered 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 generally scheduled into the October – April time-frame in order to minimize schedule conflicts.

      Spring 2018 Schedule & Registration Links
      Updated February 22, 2018. Next planned update June 30, 2018
      Please check back here occasionally for updates. 

      Offshore Personal Survival Course (2 day, Sail Canada - World Sailing Approved)
      Saturday-Sunday, February 24-25, 2018 - Royal Vancouver Yacht Club
      This class is currently full. Click here for the course page and registration link

      Safety at Sea Course (1 day, BC Sailing) 
      Saturday, March 17, 2018 - Sidney North Saanich Yacht Club
      General registration will open with a link here at 0700 PST on January 15, 2018
      Click here for the course page and registration

      Safety at Sea Course (1 day, BC Sailing)
      Saturday, March 24, 2018 - West Vancouver Yacht Club
      General registration will open with a link here at 0700 PST on January 15, 2018
      Click here for the course page and registration

      Offshore Personal Survival Course (2 day, Sail Canada - World Sailing Approved)
      Saturday-Sunday, April 28-29, 2018 - West Vancouver Yacht Club
      Advance registration for 2018 Vic-Maui crewmembers opens at 0700 PST on February 10, 2018. 
      Ask your skipper for details.  General registration opens at 0700 PST on February 24, 2018. 
      Click here for the course page and registration

      Recent classes:

      November 25-26, 2017   (Vancouver)
      October 13-14, 2017  (Vancouver)
      April 23-24, 2017 (Vancouver)
      March 30, 2017 (West Vancouver) Half-Day Seminar
      March 19-20, 2017 (West Vancouver)
      March 17-18, 2017 (West Vancouver)
      March 11, 2017 (Sidney) Half-Day Seminar
      January 13-14, 2017 (Victoria)

  • Location Information
  • Organization & Instructors
  • Student Requirements & Advance Information
    • Fitness

      The Offshore Personal Survival Training 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 and personal information consent forms

      Participants will be required to sign a liability waiver - release agreement prior to participation.

      Click here for the liability waiver - release agreement.

      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 any 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 1:00 pm time frame, lunch will be provided.

      Participants are responsible for other meals.

  • Price & Terms/Conditions & Renewals
    • The Offshore Personal Safety 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 Safety training certificate. Early bird pricing is offered for most classes.

      Registration and payment are available only though 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 by the participant 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 not less than 14 days prior to the class start date.


      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.

  • Testimonials
    • "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)
  • Contacts
    • Registration is available online only (see the links in Calendar / Classes section above).

      For other information, please contact:

      BC Sailing Safety at Sea program
      email: sas@bcsailing.bc.ca