The Call of the Sea 01872 580022

RYA Yachtmaster Exam Preparation Course

yachtmaster course cornwall on pilot cutter Eve of St Mawes

RYA/MCA Yachtmaster Offshore or Yachtmaster Coastal Certificate of Competency - Preparation Course (exam optional)

Internationally Recognised Qualifications

An RYA Yachtmaster Offshore certificate of competence is often the ultimate aim of aspiring skippers. It is a well known, highly respected qualification worldwide, proving your experience and competence as a skipper, whether you want it for leisure or for a sailing career.

If you are not quite ready for a Yachtmaster Offshore exam you can use the same preparation course before being examined for Yachtmaster Coastal Certificate of Competency.  The pre requisites and breadth of experience for this course are less.

Why do a Yachtmaster Preparation Course ?

Unlike other courses in the cruising programme, there is no formal training to complete in order to become  a Yachtmaster Offshore. Instead, provided that you have sufficient experience and seatime (see pre requisites), you can put yourself forward for an exam to test your skills and knowledge. This exam takes place on an approved yacht with an external RYA examiner testing both your practical skills and your theoretical knowledge over 5-9 hours per candidate, or slightly longer if you are the only candidate being examined.

The vast majority of Yachtmaster candidates choose to book a Preparation course with a RYA training centre like Classic Sailing for some tailor-made tuition to prepare them for the exam, but this is not compulsory. Our Yachtmaster Prep course has a generous 6 days (more than most schools) and 2 days set aside after the course for those that feel ready to take the exam.

Next Yachtmaster Preparation Course (exam at end optional) - dates in 2015

Yachtmaster Exam on a Classic Boat

At Classic Sailing our teaching boat is a 38ft pilot cutter with a traditional gaff rig, bowsprit and blocks and tackles. We have been teaching up to day skipper on Eve of St Mawes for 10 years, so we know she is a well behaved teaching boat for a long keeled vessel, with a engine propeller on the centre line. To meet a demand from those who generally sail traditional craft and want to take their yachtmaster exam on something similar - we have introduced a unique RYA Yachtmaster Prep course on our classic boat. If you feel happier taking the exam on a heavy displacement yacht, or want your qualification to look that bit different when you apply for jobs then this could be the course for you.

If you have ambitions to work on classic yachts, sail training vessels or super yachts over 50ft then using a Yachtmaster Prep course on 14 ton pilot cutter Eve (with a sparred length of 51ft) for a bit of intensive practice would also be a useful addition to your CV.

Yachtmaster Instructors on Eve

Classic Sailing has two Yachtmaster Instructors Debbie Purser and James MacKenzie who will work on your strengths & weaknesses covering passage planning, man overboard recovery, close quarters handling, skippering techniques, knowledge of the International Collision Regulations along with navigation in restricted visibility and day & night time pilotage.

James was 38ft Eve of St Mawes full time skipper in 2012. He is now owner and skipper of Eda Frandsen and has previously skippered much larger  Brixham Sailing Trawlers like Leader and Provident. He is an Ocean Yachtmaster with his own steel 40ft boat and has sailed her 3 times across the Atlantic, and raced many classic and modern yachts. James still loves teaching on smaller boats so returns as guest instructor to teach advanced courses on Eve.

Debbie has been skippering Eve for 15 years teaching Competent Crew and Day Skipper courses and is a Yachtmaster Instructor. Debbie has recently taken over as Principal of our RYA Recognised Training Centre. With a wealth of experience in a range of traditional boats, she will now be developing Skipper refresher courses on Eve.

Bench Mark for a Successful Exam Pass

If you have not completed a shorebased Coastal skipper / Yachtmaster theory course then please check the syllabus to make sure you are confident with your theoretical knowledge (especially Rules of the Road IRPCS)  and the practical application of navigational skills.

A RYA Yachtmaster Coastal (formerly Coastal Skipper) should have the knowledge to skipper a yacht on coastal cruises but does not necessarily have the experience needed to undertake longer passages.

A RYA Yachtmaster Offshore should be able to enter any well-charted harbour for the first time, with sufficient depth, by day or night. The only way to gain confidence is by practice, particularly at night when skill is required in picking out navigation lights and buoys against a background of shore lights. (If you have colour blindness please talk to us before booking)

With a course over 6 days, your fully qualified instructor will be able to devote plenty of time to your individual needs with regular debriefings and coaching aimed at helping you to raise your standards.

Fee's for Yachtmaster Certificate preparation

£750 for full 6 days (or 8 days if you go on to do the exam)
Examination fee payable to the examiner / RYA - price in 2014 was £205 for Yachtmaster Offshore and £177 for Yachtmaster Coastal.

Classic Sailing voyage fees include: 6 days tuition, freshly cooked meals, Musto waterproofs, mooring fees, fuel and all incidental expenses except Exam fees, water taxi's and meals & drinks taken ashore by choice. The price also includes use of Eve of St Mawes for up to 2 days for the exam (with the examiner in overall charge of the vessel. Your instructor will not be on board).

Yachtmaster Coastal Pre Exam Requirements

Radio Operators Certificate - for example (restricted) VHF Radio Operators Certificate or a GMDSS Short Range Certification or higher grade marine radio qualification.

Valid First Aid Certificate - First Aid certificates held by police / fire or armed services are also acceptable.

Seatime - 800 miles logged within 10 years of the examination. 30 days on board. 2 days as skipper and 12 night hours. (half the qualifying seatime must have been conducted in tidal waters)

Yachtmaster Offshore Pre Exam Requirements

Radio Operators Certificate - for example (restricted) VHF Radio Operators Certificate or a GMDSS Short Range Certification or higher grade marine radio qualification.

Valid First Aid Certificate - First Aid certificates held by police / fire or armed services are also acceptable.

Seatime - 2500 miles. 50 days on board. At least 5 passages over 60 miles and acting as skipper for at least 2 of these passages and including two which have involved overnight passages.

Skipper experience - at least 5 days as skipper. (Half the qualifying seatime must have been conducted in tidal waters)

50 Days seatime & 5 days as skipper - 2500 miles logged - 5 passages over 60 miles -including 2 overnight and 2 as skipper.  Qualifying passages must be over 60 miles non stop by the most direct route and involve no change of skipper during the passage.

Bring with you to the exam

RYA logbook or evidence of your sailing experience and qualifying passages

Passport photo & Exam fee payable to the RYA (currently £205.00 ).
Over 18 years of age & qualifying experience gained over the age of 15.

Certification required before the examination:
VHF Radio Operators Certificate - First Aid Certificate


The Next Step in Your Career

The only RYA qualifications beyond this level are:

Commercially endorse your certificate to be able to skipper commercial sailing vessels upto 24m (see below for details how to do this). This would be a typical requirement to gain employment as a charter skipper, sail training mate or skipper on vessels upto 200 ton.

Becoming a RYA Instructor

See the RYA website for how to become a RYA Cruising Instructor. This enables you to teach upto RYA Day Skipper Practical. The next level up is RYA Yachtmaster Instructor.  Qualifying courses levels for both involve an intensive 5 day course with continuous assessment by a RYA examiner.  It is a good idea to get some practice in teaching sailing and navigation on board yachts or sail training vessels. Many Sail Training Organisations have volunteer positions e.g. bosun, watch leaders, trainee mate, second mate, first mate working with young people.  For a foot in the door and chance to be assessed as potential volunteer sea staff your best bets in our fleet are Stavros, Lord Nelson, Tenacious, Leader, Golden Vanity and Provident as all have volunteer positions.  For yachts try a local RYA Training Establishment to see if they need any help or ASTO Association of Sail Training Organisations (job page).

RYA Ocean Yachtmaster Theory Certificate -  This is a Ocean navigation theory course to master astro navigation and other ocean passage planning skills. We now offer Yachtmaster Ocean as an online distance learning course. Please ring for more information 01872 580022 or Ask a Skipper

RYA Yachtmaster Ocean Certificate of Competency. This is about putting your astro nav and voyage planning skills into action and actually helping prepare a vessel for an ocean passage, actually sail an ocean passage in a capacity where you are involved in the navigation, including using astro navigation for a number of days over 60 miles from land.  Classic Sailing has many vessels sailing on ocean passages, but you do need to be more than a charter guest, so these places are limited. If you want a bit of astro nav tuition too then you need to give us plenty of time to arrange a suitable berth/ extra instructor.


 RYA Yachtmaster course onboard Eve of St Mawes

Further Reading

Another excellent way of learning is through reading. The RYA have a wide range of books covering all aspects of sailing and navigation, as well as useful learning tools to help you along the way. 

Sail Cruise Books

Navigation Books

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