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Boat license training

Training website provided free of charge by
Dominique Brun,

provided that it is not copied,
even partially or used for profit.


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Exam locations

Villeneuve  -  Clarens  -  Vevey  -  Thistle  -  Lutry  -  ouchy  -  Vidy  -  Morges  -  rolle  -  Prangins  -  Nyon  -  founex

grandson  -  Yvonand  -  Chevroux  -  Cudrefin  -  Avenches

Execution of practical boat operator examinations

Presentation on the Ordinance on inland navigation (ONI)
and guidelines 120
entered into force on 28 October 1994

  • The purpose of the examination is to establish whether the candidate is able to operate a boat in a safe manner, in accordance with traffic and signaling rules. (art 88 al 1 ONI) 

  • In normal atmospheric conditions, the maneuvers can only be repeated once. (dir 120 IV)

  • The practical test takes place on a boat of the ss category for which the candidate wishes to obtain the licence. (art 88 al 2 ONI)

  • The practical exam can only take place when the theoretical test has been passed. (art 88 al 4 ONI)

The examination is not to be performed, if

  • Candidate is not able to drive  (medicines, alcohol, drugs, etc.).

  • The navigation license is not valid

  • The boat does not comply with the requirements (on motor boats and motorized sailing boats, the helm and the various controls must be able to be operated from the cockpit).

  • The prescribed equipment is not complete

  • Visibility is not enough

  • The temperature is below 0° and if there is danger of icing

  • Storm warning lights flash on storm warning position (except on parts of canals)

Interruption by the fault of the candidate
The exam must be interrupted = fail

  • If, by his behavior, the candidate has seriously endangered other users or if such a situation could only be avoided by the intervention of the expert.

  • If the endangerment materializes (damage, injury)

  • In case of behavior without regard.

  • In case of indisposition of the candidate.

  • When the candidate requests it.

Interruption through no fault of the candidate

  • The examination will be interrupted when the candidate cannot reasonably be asked to continue the journey despite the event that has occurred (for example: accident without fault, weather influences, defective boat, etc.).

  • The exam started will be declared successful when it has lasted at least 80% of the scheduled time and all the required subjects have been covered.


If the exam must be declared as failed, it does not count and can be repeated as soon as possible.

Category A Examination Syllabus

Knowledge of the general characteristics of the boat used for the examination


Moor the boat to a cleat, cock, ring or piling

  • The boat must be stopped before mooring.

  • The candidate can choose between several knots to moor the boat.

  • If the boat remains moored for longer, fenders and risers at the bow and stern should be fitted.

  • When the boat is insured, you can stop the engine.

Knowledge of 4 nautical knots

nœud de chaise méthode 1

Knowledge of the winds and their dangers.


Kiss:  northern sector current, it blows stronger and more often than those of the southern sector. It is mainly observed in winter and spring. The north wind blows in gusts, in periods that can reach 15 consecutive days. The relief causes this north wind to turn northeast-southwest over Grand Lac and Petit Lac. In the Haut Lac, when it goes down the Veveyse valley, it pivots and weakens as it goes up towards the Rhône plain. Its average speed is generally moderate, from 10 to 15 km/h, but it can reach peaks of 120 km/h. A maximum of 140 km/h was measured in Geneva. The north wind and a fine weather wind, dry and cold. Its arrival can be preceded by a characteristic cloud cover of the Savoyard Pre-Alps. The north wind is due to the presence of an anticyclone over northwestern and northern Europe, associated with lower pressures over southern regions. In the case of an active cyclone over Sardinia and the Gulf of Genoa, it happens that the cold current is overcome above 2000m by a warm and humid wind, from the opposite direction, which darkens the sky and causes, on the Lake Geneva, abundant precipitation, rainy or snowy, it's the black wind. If the weather forecast announces a strong wind, we will avoid planning a navigation towards the French coast, at the risk of not being able to go up against the wind and the waves when the winds are established.

The wind:  is the opposite of the wind, current from south to west sector. It is caused by the passage of an Atlantic depression over Europe. It brings cloudy, mild and rainy weather. It is responsible for the heaviest rainfall. The wind blows over the whole lake, with force, when the disturbances are very active. It then reaches 55 to 90 km/h, which corresponds to high winds and storms on the scale of the navy. During the summer, in front of an oceanic depression, one observes, in a cloudless sky, a dry and hot breath, the white wind, which hastens the maturation of wheat, hence its nickname of meura bliâ en Vaud dialect.

The day:  it blows from the Jura on the western half of the lake. As a general rule, it is due, especially in winter, to the arrival of a cold front from the west to north-west sector pushing back warm air masses, or in summer, to the formation of a thunderstorm over the Jura massif. It then falls, from the steep reverse overlooking the Petit lac and the Vaud coast, to Morges. The stormy joran is the most unpredictable wind in Lake Geneva, occurring in short and very violent blasts, feared by sailors.

The vagabond:  arrives on the Haut Lac and the Grand Lac via the Valais to hit the Vaud coast. When it is regular it can reach 55km/h and rarely exceeds Ouchy and Morges. The vaudaire of storm can this occur 6 to 7 times per year, it is caused when a current of altitude, come from the south-west, causes the passage of a strong disturbance of Savoy in the country of Vaud. The rain cumulonimbus then descend on the lower Valais and flow suddenly over the lake. The vaudaire suddenly arrives and surprises the boats with high waves that rage for half an hour to two or three hours. It is recognizable when it enters the body of water from the Valais, causing a typical bar of foam advancing over the entire width of the Haut Lac. The violence of this wind succeeded in destroying the first port of La Pichette in April 1987. Another vaudaire is the regional branch of a characteristic alpine wind, the foehn. Twice as frequent as the vaudaire of storm, it is a very hot and dry wind in a limpid sky, of an intense blue.

The bornan:  stormy wind, descending in gusts and with great violence from the mountains of the Savoyard hinterland. Its highly harmful effects are especially felt between Rolle and Lutry. Terror of navigators, this stormy wind which can go up to 140 km/h and thus reach the threshold of a hurricane is very sudden, especially on very hot days. It falls on Lake Geneva in a south-north direction.

Preparing the boat to sail

  • Ventilate and open the engine compartment for boats using volatile fuel

  • Start the engine before casting off.

Anchor maneuver 

man in water

  • The recovery maneuver must be done without danger for the castaway, as quickly as possible (max. 1 minute), by the shortest route with a forward approach and taking into account the wind.

  • During the actual recovery, the boat must be stabilized, engine ignition off.

  • Throughout this action, the person to be rescued will be observed.

  • Exception: on running water, the ignition of the engine will not be switched off

Fall while sailing downwind:

Fall while sailing:


Fight against the fire

  • Intervene with a fire extinguisher or any other appropriate means on board

  • Depending on the origin of the disaster, cut off the fuel supply

  • As much as possible let the engine run

  • Make distress signals and call for help

  • Orient and reassure carers

  • Give instructions accordingly


  • Putting the exhaustion systems into operation

  • Blind the waterway

  • Put on life-saving devices

  • Head for the nearest port or shore

  • Make distress signals and call for help

  • Orient and reassure carers

  • Give instructions accordingly


  • Starboard and port departure and docking, forward and reverse
    The boat must be stabilized. It must be parallel to the mooring place.

  • Positioning the boat in forward and reverse direction (e.g. between boats moored to a boom or wharf).
    The boat must be stabilized parallel to the mooring place and in the middle of it.
    During the maneuver of entering and leaving the mooring place, do not touch the landing stage, nor the stakes or the boats.

Maneuver details

Note: In addition to the movements described in the following examples, the additional corrections necessary for the alignment and stabilization of the boat are accepted.





Positioning between two boats


buoy catch

Browsing in general



The anchoring maneuver can be done theoretically

On running waters:

  • Before departure, the anchor will be in position at the bow of the boat

  • Man overboard: engine ignition will not be turned off

Exam Rating


To make his decision, the expert makes a general assessment of the candidate's performance, taking into account the weather (wind, waves), the level of training (mistakes) and the degree of difficulty of the manoeuvres.



In order to arrive at an evaluation as uniform as possible, the faults have been divided into:

Serious faults, include faults that are sufficient to justify a negative decision

  • Serious non-observance of elementary rules of the road

  • Endangering people (e.g. picking up the man in the water too slowly; arriving directly at him, too close with a gear engaged)

  • Causing damage to a third party, a boat or any other installation

  • Serious collision (pontoon, boat etc.)

  • Violation of the right of way to another boat

  • Lack of respect for other users

  • Breach of speed rules

  • Expert emergency response


Medium-severity faults including faults which justify a negative decision when they are repeated.

  • Incorrect handling of the shuttle bar and lever (e.g. by reversing the position of the motor)

  • Using too much gas when maneuvering

  • Don't look back, before changing direction

  • Fail on shoals

  • Insufficient seamanship

Exam rehearsal
(Art. 89 al. 2 ONI)

The practical examination can be repeated after a period of one month at the earliest.

Out-of-township exam

Upon justified request and with the consent of the competent cantonal authority defined in Article 84, 2nd paragraph, the examination may be carried out in another canton (Art. 86 al. 2)


Theoretical exam

A new theory test is required when the candidate does not take the practical test within 18 months of passing the theory test. (Art. 87 par. 2)

This period may be extended by six months if its expiry is announced and if the practical examination cannot take place until a later date.



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