Well, it depends. Sorry for the wishy-washy answer but it is true. Some people just take longer to become competent than others as you might realize.
For example, consider if someone had no experience but wanted yo charter a catamaran in the Caribbean for a week. Not gunna happen in 5 days of training. But take an airline pilot perhaps - they usually pick up stuff pretty fast.
But here are some general guidelines below - but do not EXPECT to get automatically signed off. At the end of training (also during), your instructor assessor will give you feedback as to how you personally are doing. Your instructor assessor WILL NOT sign you off for a competency grade that you are not competent for. Perhaps you want Skipper Larger Keelboat but you may perhaps end up with a Qualified Crew Member competence grade with some guidelines given on what your needs are to strengthen your competence before you can be signed off as a skipper large keelboat. Maybe you absolutely crush it - who can say?
Here are the general guidelines of training required*
- Qualified Crew Member - probably 1 weekend
- Skipper Small Keelboat (less than 25 ft (7.5m)) - usually 1-2 weekends
- Skipper Large Keelboat (25 ft or greater) 5 - 7 days
- Bareboat Charter Master 7+ days **
- Off Shore Captain ***
*But actual experience aside from training is also required to gain rank. NauticEd's philosophy is knowledge plus skills plus experience = competence. And competence is graded and measured by the assessor who will assign the appropriate competence grade based on the results of the practical assessment.
** No charter Company will let you rent their boat without significant experience logged into your logbook. Despite if your instructor says you are good to go, without a decent amount of time skippering the boat yourself, the charter companies will decline your Bareboat request unless you hire a captain (see this article on why you should hire a captain even if you have some experience). You must have a good amount of experience in your logbook - how much? See this article on how much experience should you have. For this reason, NauticEd will not issues the BAreboat charter Master Certificate with out 50 days of previous history sailing experience. If you get a sailing certification from any other association with little to no experience, the certification will NOT qualify you to charter a boat in the eyes of the charter company.
*** Captaining a boat offshore takes a significant amount of experience. If you have to ask how much experience you need you probably won't be ready to qualify. This statement is not coined by us - it is coined separately by anyone and everyone who has sailed across an ocean.
Associated to each course is an estimated time to take the online course. e.g. below the captains bundle shows the time for each course. The skipper is 20 hours - click on the other courses under the sailing-courses link on NauticEd.org and you can see each course length.