RYA Yachtmaster Offshore & Coastal Scheme

Yachtmaster Offshore and Yachtmaster Coastal

RYA Yachtmaster Offshore & Coastal SchemeThe RYA Yachtmaster Scheme consists of two Certificates of Competence, they are recognised around the world as some of the most useful and credible sailing qualifications.

  • Yachtmaster Coastal
  • Yachtmaster Offshore

Assessed by independent examiners your ability as skipper will be thoroughly tested.

Whilst this can appear daunting you will have nothing to worry about if you are well prepared. For this reason most candidates choose to take a 5 day preparation course prior to the exam to ensure that they are fully prepared.

This guide will help prepare you for your RYA Yachtmaster Exam.

Click HERE For a full look at the syllabus and what you may be tested on during your RYA Yachtmaster Exam

Full details on the RYA’s Website.

Yachtmaster Coastal and Yachmaster Offshore – What’s the Difference?

The definition of a Yachtmaster is, a yachtsman or woman competent to skipper a cruising yacht on any passage that can be completed without the use of astronavigation.

A Yachtmaster Offshore candidate should be able to enter any well-charted harbour for the first time, with sufficient depth, by day or night.

A Yachtmaster Coastal candidate has the knowledge needed to skipper a yacht on coastal cruises, but does not necessarily have the experience needed to undertake longer passages.

In other words, the theory is the same for both, but less practical experience and skill is required for the Yachtmaster Coastal exam.

Yachtmaster Exam – 5 Day Preparation Course

Whilst there is no requirement for you to attend a course before your exam, most candidates do. Courses normally run Saturday to Wednesday with Thursday and Friday reserved for the exam.

5 Day Yachtmaster Preparation Courses are specifically aimed at focusing in on areas of the exam that you are going unlikely to have practised in your day to day sailing. It is an intensive course designed to prepare you in all areas before your exam.

  • Blind Navigation
  • Sailing on and off mooring buoys
  • Sailing onto pontoons
  • Night entries
  • Pilotage

Whilst there is no formal syllabus for this course your instructor will quickly the strengths and weaknesses of the group and help everyone in the specific areas where they need it.

Other advantages of joining a preparation course

  • Familiarise yourself with the yacht that you are taking the exam on
  • Explore the sailing area and likely places you will go during the exam
  • Bond with the other candidates
  • Start the exam relaxed, focused and confident in your own abilities

As with any exam, the more practice you have beforehand, the more confident you will feel and the greater your of passing.

What Happens During an RYA Yachtmaster Exam?

Firstly don’t overly worry about the examiner, they are there to assess your abilities and understand that you will be nervous. They are trained to get the best out of you, not encourage you to fail.

  • Before the examiner arrives you will be asked to prepare a short passage plan.  Be prepared to answer questions on your workings during your exam.
  • The examiner normal arrives by 5pm on Wednesday afternoon
  • After introductions you will set off immediately for some night sailing exercises
  • You will eat onboard and may overnight at anchor, on a buoy or in a marina depending on weather etc
  • Expect an early start the next day so that the examiner has chance to fully assess everyone
  • You will each take turns as skipper and when not in charge of the boat he will chat to you about your sailing experiences

How long does the Yachtmaster exam last?

  • A Yachtmaster Offshore exam will take about 8 to 12 hours for one candidate and 10 – 18 hours for two.
  • A Yachtmaster Coastal exam will take about 6 – 10 hours for one candidate and 8 – 14 hours for two.
  • No more than 4 candidates can be examined in any 48 period.

What will I be tested on?


  • You will be expect to know your location at any time but don’t get bogged down plotting fixes every 5 minutes
  • Expect to be quizzed on tidal streams and heights. It’s not cheating if you practice a few tidal calculations before the exam.

Boat Handling

  • You will be expected to confidently handle the yacht both under power and sail
  • Demonstrate your abilities to park a yacht on both upstream and downstream moorings
  • Picking up mooring buoys under sail and power

Man Overboard

  • Whether under sail or power you should be able to demonstrate your ability to stop next to the man in the water. There is no set method as long as you achieve your goal.


  • The examiner will expect you to conduct a safety brief and follow good safety practices. This might include when to wear a life jacket or harness line as well as your general awareness of the safety of your crew whilst out on the water.


  • Be prepared to answer questions on the current weather so do your home work and listen to the forecast before your exam !!
  • You will also need to know how weather systems influence sea conditions and how this can affect a passage.

Skippering Ability

This is where the examiner will focus most. He will expect to see you

  • Confidently take command of the yacht
  • Communicate well with your crew so that they understand what is being asked of them
  • Consider the safety of your crew as well as the yacht in your decisions
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Hamble, Southampton, Hampshire SO31 4HQ

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