Andy Cooper spends an intensive couple of days learning just what it takes to pilot a motor boat on the water.

Realising a lifetime’s ambition, I recently treated myself to a brand new £100,000 supercar. It’s speed and handling were different to any car I’d driven before, but that didn’t matter overly when it came to taking it out on the road for the first time.

Okay, so when I did take my shiny new motor out, I did find myself pointing the wrong direction on the highway a couple of times, and when parking up I accidentally bumped into a couple of adjacent cars, but that’s the price of supercar driving, yes?

Sounds outlandish? Indeed it does and of course it didn’t happen. But substitute the word supercar for powerboat and you have a scenario playing out on our waters every day. Motorised boats are freely available to buy or hire and you don’t need any kind of formal qualification to  pilot them. It’s a recipe for disaster.

Which is why sensible, responsible boat users do their best to undertake formal training. It benefits you, your passengers, and others on the water.

And that’s the reason I recently found myself stepping onto a rather stylish RIB on the river Hamble ahead of taking my PB2 qualification. Endorsed by the Royal Yachting Association, this qualification is for those who want to take a motorised craft out on the water. There is no previous boating experience required and it is aimed mostly at adults wishing to learn about boating, who want to achieve a recognised qualification, or are looking to a career on the water.

My partner Tanya and I had been invited to the Hampshire coast by The Premier Agapi Boat Club, who operate a boating club on the river Hamble. Keen to promote how easy it is to get on the water with them, they hooked us up with an RYA-accredited training centre to offer us the chance to take the two-day PB2 course.

Our instructor for the two days was the experienced and ebullient David Ramos – known to all as just ‘Ramos’. He was the ideal person to teach us over the two days, combining wit and clarity with the seriousness needed to take on board a lot of information in a short space of time.

From relative novices at the start of the course we both grew in confidence as it progressed. When you first take the helm of an expensive powerboat in a busy estuary, with millions of pounds’ worth of craft all around you, it certainly gets the adrenaline flowing but with Ramos’ calm instruction – both inside the classroom and on the water – we soon relaxed and enjoyed ourselves.

And the PB2 course is certainly no ‘gimme’ – it is an intensive two days of study and practicals. Key elements include mooring your craft, anchoring, turning in a confined space, knots, ropework, and a man overboard exercise. In the classroom you undertake modules on passage planning, navigation and understanding cardinal marks and signs out on the water.

I can honestly say I have not worked so hard studying for some time! Exercises were repeated until we got them right and so when the big reveal came from Ramos at the end of the course that we had both passed, it felt like justification for the effort we had put in and the progress we had made over the two days. And we feel confident about getting back out on the water soon on our own and enjoying the experience…which is the biggest recommendation I can make for taking the course.


Signing up to the Premier Agapi Boat Club is the easy way to enjoy boating at a fraction of the cost of boat ownership. Whether you are a novice or experienced, there is a membership plan to get you on the water with friends and family.

They help you become qualified to skipper the boats with RYA courses included. Individual memberships start from under £300 per month with no joining fee. Corporate memberships also available.

Boats are ready to go and conveniently based at Swanwick Marina on the River Hamble. Booking is easy via an app and you’re free to explore the Solent with free visits to Premier Marinas included. The boats available to book include a Ring 680 and numerous Agapi 800s and 950s with cabins.

As part of a wider network, members can also enjoy Agapi Boat Clubs in Finland, Greece, Malta, Sweden and Spain, including the Balearics.; Tel: 01489 884076


Aboard Boat Coaching has been running RYA Courses for many years and the firm’s instructors have a wealth of experience behind them. Aboard has chosen Universal Marina as its HQ not only because of its superb location and quick access to the ideal cruising and learning waters of the Solent, the river HambleSouthampton and the Isle of Wight, but also because of the facilities on site.;