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RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Sail – Everything You Need to Know

Time8 to 48 hour exam (dependant on the number of people) after a potential prep course of up to 5 days
Prerequisites50 days spent at sea
2500nm sailed, with at least 50% in tidal waters
5 days as skipper
5 x 60nm passages, 2 of them as skipper
Min. Age18
Exam8 hours to 2 days on the water
AimTo work commercially on a sailing vessel under 24m in length within 150nm of a harbour.

The RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Sail ticket is considered the most useful and credible of all sail cruising qualifications. Administered on behalf of the UK Maritime and Coastgaurd Agency by the RYA the qualification is accepted as a worldwide standard. To gain an RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Sail qualification you must sit a practical exam. 

What Does the RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Sail Allow You to Do?

Gaining an RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Sail will allow you to work commercially on sailing vessels not exceeding 200GT.

The RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Sail exam certifies that you are competent to skipper a cruising yacht on any passage that is not more than 150nm from a harbour.

How Can You Sit an RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Sail Exam?

The exam can be organised via the RYA to be done on your own vessel or via an RYA training centre, to be done on an RYA training vessel. It should be noted, that to complete the exam on your own vessel, your vessel must be up to an appropriate safety standard.

Most RYA training centres offering the RYA Cruising Scheme offer some form of pre exam preparation or coaching for those looking to take an RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Sail exam.

These courses are often referred to as ‘RYA Yachtmaster Prep’ courses. This is unique within the RYA training framework in that it does not have a fixed course syllabus, length or course completion certificate.

Who Can Do an RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Sail Exam?

The RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Sail exam is open to anyone who meets the minimum criteria, with all experience within the last 10 years.

  • 18 years of age or older
  • 50 days spent at sea
  • 2500nm sailed, with at least 50% in tidal waters
  • 5 days as skipper
  • 5 passages of over 60nm, with at least 2 as skipper

If you have skippering experience but not the required days or passages, then the RYA Yachtmaster Coastal Sail might be for you.

If you have the miles, but not the skippering experience, then again, the RYA Yachtmaster Coastal Sail might be for you.

Additionally, exam candidates must also hold a relevant GMDSS VHF certification and an RYA First Aid certificate or recognised equivalent.

Can You Go Straight to the Exam?

You can indeed jump straight into the RYA Cruising Scheme at this stage, however, it is imperative that you understand the levels that are required of you, both in your knowledge and practical skills.

It is suggested that as a minimum you have completed (and passed) the RYA Coastal Skipper and Yachtmaster Theory course as the knowledge in here is both required for you to be at the level required, but will be formally tested during your RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Sail exam, both orally and in practical applications.

What Do You Need to Know before Attending an RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Sail Course and Exam?

You, of course, need to be a suitably experienced skipper and this involves meeting the prerequisites mentioned above to be eligible. You should be able to handle your vessel competently in close quarters and at sea. You should be comfortable applying this in various day and night time passages.

As mentioned, it is strongly recommended to have completed the RYA Coastal and Yachtmaster Theory as the depth of knowledge gained from this shore based course will be tested throughout your exam. 

How Long Does a Prep Course and Exam Take?

The exam itself can take anything from 8 hours to 2 days depending on how many candidates are being examined on one vessel at a time. Up to 4 candidates can sit the exam at once and this would last for a maximum of 48 hours if so.

An RYA Yachtmaster Prep course is generally four and a half days long and is usually directly followed by the practical exam.

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Is There a Set Syllabus for the Prep Course?

No, this is the one time that while there is a recognised ‘course’, there is no syllabus. It is up to the experienced instructor on the RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Sail Prep course to tailor the learnings to your needs. This is more about refining your skills rather than teaching new ones.

You should be honest with yourself and your instructor in order for learnings throughout the week to be tailored to improve yourself on any weak areas that you may have.

What Should I Expect from an RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Sail Prep Course?

These courses run as a standalone course and while there may be students on another course, generally everyone onboard is a candidate for an RYA Yachtmaster Exam. The courses should however be run with no more than 4 students on board.

The content will depend on the needs of all students and is aimed at fine-tuning existing skills rather than teaching new ones. This will involve a lot of night time sailing and navigation, carrying out challenging boat handling while using theory knowledge and ensuring general skippering skills are up to scratch.

There is a basic syllabus that is used to help shape the exam content, but in reality, you can be tested on anything from the RYA Cruising Scheme within the exam.

Before choosing the RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Sail Prep course you need to be honest with yourself and your own abilities. While on the course you need to take on the advice and guidance given by the instructor on what areas need work. If you speak to your instructor before the course, they can tailor the instruction to your needs.

What Should I Expect on an RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Sail Exam?

On the exam, you will be given the opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge and competence. You will be expected to take full responsibility of your vessel and crew. The examiner will be looking for you to demonstrate competence and show your broad range of experience.

The exam will be an intensive experience and even when you are not the designated skipper, you will still be asked questions and observed and examined as a participant of the crew.

During the exam you will be asked to complete various tasks, ranging from leaving the dock, skippering a short passage, casualty recovery, night pilotage and even blind navigation. Additionally, you will be tested on theoretical aspects such as how to deal with an engine failure, knowledge of your vessel’s stability, meteorology and IRPCS.

As a potential RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Sail, these tasks are ones that should now be second nature to you and should take minimal time to plan while the theoretical knowledge should be able to roll off your tongue. 

yachtmaster offshore exam questions

What Is the RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Sail Exam Syllabus?

The following topics make up the basis for the RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Sail exam syllabus. IRPCS, safety, boat handling, seamanship, responsibility as skipper, navigation, meteorology and signals.

But, as mentioned above, anything from the whole RYA cruising syllabus scheme can be tested.

What Is the Cost of an RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Sail Course and Exam?

As ever, many schools differ in price. We would recommend that you take a look around at the various options and find what suits your needs the best. Cheapest is not often better.

This can range from knowing if you will have to share a cabin while onboard to whether food and berthing charges are included to how many other students you will be sharing your week with.

The exam fee is usually not included, which is currently £231.

Where Should I Do My RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Sail?

As always there are many thoughts and pros on cons on this, and as a potential RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Sail you should consider yourself experienced enough to sit the exam anywhere. However, if you choose to sit the exam in an area that you are familiar with then you will take a little bit of the stress out of learning a new area and start with a small advantage of having that all important local knowledge at your disposal.

What Happens If I Struggle on the Prep Course?

Your instructor should be able to update you on your ability levels throughout the course. They will be highly experienced and it is suggested that you listen to their advice given.

If you are learning something for the first time you should consider if you are ready for the exam. Talk to your instructor and they will be able to guide you on if you are ready for the exam, if they would advise further training or if they recommend that you aim for the RYA Yachtmaster Coastal Sail exam instead.

What Is the Pass Mark for the RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Sail Exam?

There is no pass mark as such and the examiner will be looking to see that you are a competent and complete skipper, capable of looking after both your vessel and crew in a safe manner.

Every exam is different and no examiner will be setting out to fail any candidates, but they must ensure and check that each candidate is able to demonstrate their ability, knowledge and skills in a safe and timely manner.

If you were to fail to reach the levels of an RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Sail certificate of competence then the examiner will give you a thorough debrief complete with action points to work on before you have another attempt at the exam. 

What Comes after RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Sail

After completion of the exam, you will have gained the highly sought after RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Sail certificate of competence and you can get this commercially endorsed by adding a sea survival certification, a personal medical and a PPR course, all of which, along with your GMDSS VHF and First Aid should be sent off to the RYA for certification upgrade. This will now allow the holder to skipper a vessel commercially, so long as it is less than 200 gross tonnes, up to 150nm from a harbour.

The next step is of course to get out on the water and to keep learning, keep gaining experience and keep improving on the skills and knowledge learned so far. No skipper is the finished article and we should all keep seeking to improve.

Within the RYA cruising scheme, there are a couple more steps that are possible. This is to progress and upgrade your RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Sail certificate of competence to an RYA Yachtmaster Ocean Sail certificate of competence.

To do this there is 3 main steps, first, you will need to complete an RYA Yachtmaster Ocean Theory course, where you will learn about astro navigation, ocean meteorology and ocean navigation, join the waiting list for our ocean theory course here . Next, is to complete an ocean qualifying passage that meets the necessary requirements. Finally, you will then need to complete another exam, this time an oral exam, where you will discuss your ocean qualifying passage and general ocean skippering skills.

On successful completion of this, you will be awarded the highest accolade within the RYA cruising scheme, the RYA Yachtmaster Ocean Sail certificate of competence.

One other direction of travel is to become an RYA Cruising Instructor for Sail. To do this, you will first want to consolidate your skippering skills and knowledge then look to come back and start off with an RYA Cruising Instructor course. On this course, RYA Instructor Trainers will assess and guide you through what is required and expected in order to work as an RYA Cruising Instructor for Sail.

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RYA Yachtmaster Coastal Sail – Everything You Need To Know

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RYA Yachtmaster

Online Theory Course

A challenging course which stretches you but backed up with excellent coaching and instructor support.

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Advanced training for more experienced skippers to navigate safely on coastal and offshore passages

The RYA Yachtmaster  online theory course takes your theory knowledge to the standard required for the Yachtmaster Coastal and Yachtmaster Offshore practical exams.

This course advances your skills as a skipper of a yacht or motor boat, with an emphasis on navigation and passage planning for more complex coastal or offshore passages by day and night

Includes some time for the revision of Day Skipper subjects then moves on to cover a greater depth of knowledge and more advanced skills in navigation, pilotage & meteorology.

Successfully gaining your RYA Yachtmaster theory certificate will enable you to confidently work towards your Yachtmaster Coastal or Yachtmaster Offshore practical qualification.

  • Assumed knowledge To Day Skipper theory level.
  • Minimum duration A minimum of 40 hours of course study time is specified by the RYA, plus time for exercises and exams.
  • Ability after course Theory knowledge to skipper a vessel on coastal and offshore passages by day and night.  

Simply click below to try a free lesson.

Pilotage for RYA Yachtmaster Offshore

  • Charts & Other Publications
  • Definition of Position, Time, Speed & Distance
  • The Compass (including allowance for deviation and swinging the compass)
  • Tidal Theory
  • Tidal Heights (including secondary ports)
  • Tidal Streams (including interpolation of drift)
  • Estimated Position
  • Course to Steer
  • Visual Aids to Navigation
  • Electronic Aids to Navigation
  • Passage Planning
  • Meteorology (including interpreting surface pressure charts)
  • The Collision Regulations
  • Safety & Protection of The Environment

Unlimited support from our dedicated RYA Instructors - 365 days a year via email, phone or Skype/Zoom.

14-day unconditional money-back guarantee.

17 fully-narrated online lessons including animations, videos and realistic 3D graphics.

Embedded quizzes with instant feedback in each lesson.

14 self-assessment exercises with fully worked answers.

Over 50 downloadable or linked resources.

Videos covering: updating paper charts, engine checks, dismasting, jury rig, flood control, firefighting, gas explosions, capsize, lifejacket checks, how to put on a lifejacket and what happens when it inflates, man-overboard recovery, launching and boarding a liferaft.

Free Radar course.

RYA Student Pack (including 2 training charts, training almanac & course handbook).

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Mock exams to prepare you for the real thing and give you the confidence to pass. 

3 final online exams with detailed instructor feedback and free repeat attempts if requried.

RYA Yachtmaster Shorebased Theory Course Completion Certificate.

12 months access to study with instructor support and exams - you can extend this if you want.

Lifetime access to training materials once you’ve completed the course.

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Plotter and divider You’ll need a course plotter and chart-dividers to complete the chartwork exercises - if you don’t already have these you can purchase a top quality set from us for £28 when you place your order.

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You can start studying immediately as many of the lessons don’t rely on the printed support materials.

This course is accessed online with no additional software required.

Lessons are accompanied by optional professional narration, and notes. 

They are intuitive and easy to follow, whilst more complex subjects are accompanied by interactive animations and graphics to help you gain a full knowledge of each subject in the course syllabus.

Detailed step-by-step workings for navigational or tidal calculations make it easy for you to follow along as we show you how to plot positions, make tidal height and stream calculations, etc

You can go over these again and again, and test your knowledge with regular quizzes throughout each lesson. 

At the end of each lesson there is an excercise containg similar questions to the exam, with detailed and illustrated answers sent to you immediately to confirm your progress and fully prepare you for your mock and final exams.

You can repeat entire lessons and excercises as often as you wish until you are confident that you fully understand each subject.

When you have completed the course you can request mock and then final exams.

These are assessed by our RYA Instructors and detailed feedback is provided in any areas that may require further study within the course.

If you pass the final exams you will be awarded the RYA/MCA Coastal Skipper & Yachtmaster Offshore Shorebased Course Certificate , which will be posted to you.

Additional free resits, with suitable Instructor guidance, are available if required.

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Impressively prompt and thorough feedback on all queries, tests, mock and real exams. Very high standards and you feel you have earned the Yachtmaster certificate.

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Does what it says on the tin and more. I was impressed how well the course managed to tackle teaching relatively complex skills in a logical and easy to understand way.

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I found the Yachtmaster theory course to be really well structured and covered all of the syllabus in great detail. I was impressed by how well the course managed to tackle teaching relatively complex skills in a logical and easy to understand way.

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How to Pass the Yachtmaster Exam

Yachtmaster certificate of competence exam top tips, which yachtmaster.

First we need to be clear which Yachtmaster exam we are talking about. Leaving things like the Yachtmaster Instructor and Examiner Qualifications aside there are no less than 8 separate RYA certificates that are called “Yachtmaster”. This includes the 3 independently examined levels of Yachtmaster Certificate of Competence, (coastal, offshore and ocean).

RYA MCA Coastal Skipper & Yachtmaster Offshore Shorebased Course

( Yachtmaster Offshore Shorebased for short). This is a 6 day course which includes three written papers. It is assumed knowledge for all of the certificates that follow, so we will assume for the purposes of this article that you have already completed this course.

Yachtmaster Coastal Certificate of Competence (power or sail)

This certificate follows the successful completion of a practical exam which is discussed in this article. The exam can be taken on board a sailing yacht or motor boat, (and the qualification is endorsed for the relative type of craft). The Yachtmaster Coastal CoC certifies skippers to operate  up-to 20 miles from a safe haven on board commercial vessels up-to 24m, carrying up-to 12 passengers. It can also be used as an entry requirement for super yacht Officer Training ( OOW 3000 ).

Yachtmaster Offshore Certificate of Competence (power or sail)

A higher level practical exam, also discussed in this article. This certifies skippers to operate up-to 150 miles from a safe haven on board commercial vessels up-to 2000 tonnes, (again with up-to 12 passengers). It can also be used as an entry requirement for super yacht officer training and is a requirement to progress onto Yachtmaster Ocean CoC (below) and/or  MCA Master 200 .

RYA MCA Yachtmaster Ocean Shorebased Certificate

aka Ocean Shorebased . This is a 5 day (or 40 hour online) course which includes one written paper. It is assumed knowledge for the oral exam that follows and beyond the scope of this article. You can read all about the Ocean Yachtmaster Course and Exam here .

Yachtmaster Ocean Certificate of Competence (power or sail)

An even higher level certificate that qualifies the holder to skipper beyond the 150 mile from a safe haven limit of the Yachtmaster Offshore CoC. The Yachtmaster Ocean exam is an oral exam and one of its pre requisites is the Yachtmaster Offshore CoC (above).The Yachtmaster Ocean Exam is beyond the scope of this article, but by popular request we have written a separate article about it,   MCA Yachtmaster Ocean Certificate of Competence .

RYA MCA Yachtmaster Coastal and Offshore Certificate of Competence Practical Exam

Getting back on topic this article specifically relates to the two practical exams (Coastal and Offshore), each can be taken onboard a sailing yacht or motor boat.

The exam for the Yachtmaster Coastal CoC and the Yachtmaster Offshore CoC is very similar and in fact different candidates can be examined together even if they are not taking the same level.

Exams are conducted with 1-4 candidates on board the vessel.

You can take the Yachtmaster exam on a sailing yacht or motorboat, and you will become a Sail or Power Yachtmaster as appropriate. This article covers sail and power exams as much of the advice is generic.

The RYA/MCA Yachtmaster qualification is the global standard for sailing and motor boating. The definition of a Yachtmaster Coastal/Offshore is: ‘A yachtsman or woman competent to skipper a cruising yacht on any passage that can be completed without the use of astro navigation.’

The RYA/MCA Yachtmaster Certificate of Competence remains the logical target of many a self-motivated sailor. It also represents the icing on the cake for those looking for the reassurance of an external assessment.

How long is the Yachtmaster Exam?

There can be up to 4 candidates on the boat with the examiner. A examiner will not conduct more than 4 exams at once and will not plan to examine more than 2 candidates in a 24 hour period. He/she will need to see each candidate skipper the boat underway by night.

Yachtmaster Coastal Exam Duration

  • 1 Candidate – 6 to 10 hours
  • More than one candidate  – 4 to 8 hours each

Yachtmaster Offshore Exam Duration

  • 1 Candidate – 8 to 12 hours
  • More than one candidate  – 5 to 9 hours each

For many candidates this means there will be a pause mid-exam while they and the examiner get some sleep before restarting in the morning. It is not unknown for exams to span two nights if there are 4 candidates (for example Friday evening 1800- Sunday morning 1100)

Listed below are some top tips to help you prepare for your RYA/MCA Yachtmaster exam.

Prepare early for your yachtmaster exam.

Most candidates spend some time with an Instructor, whether this is a 5-day preparation course with a sea school or some bespoke tuition on board their own boat. A half decent Yachtmaster Instructor will take you through many of the exercises that an Examiner will expect you to demonstrate and will put you in the mind-set of an exam candidate.

On the day  of the exam make sure you are ready in good time so that you aren’t involved in a last-minute faff. If you’re relaxing in the cockpit with a cup of tea when the examiner arrives, the examiner will be more impressed than if you’ve put yourself under stress attempting to work out the day’s tidal heights or secondary ports last minute!

When given a navigation task, prepare fully, make notes, prepare pilotage sketches and plan well! Nip below every so often en route to keep an eye on what’s going on in the chart department and whizz back on deck pronto to carry on skippering the boat. Don’t panic and don’t spend all your time sat behind the chart table, taking no notice of what’s going on around you, this is an obvious sign of someone who is ill prepared for the passage they are skippering.

HAVE YOUR YACHTMASTER EXAM PAPERWORK READY (and the kettle boiling)

The very first part of the exam will be paperwork. Before the examiner can proceed he/she will;

  • Ask for your completed exam application form, be sure it is completed in advance and details your qualifying sea time.
  • Ask for payment, (the examiner can not proceed if you do not pay up front)
  • Ask for sight of your Short Range Certificate , (or a pass form if you have recently taken the course and exam and are awaiting the actual certificate). Higher level GMDSS certificates are acceptable.
  • Request a passport photo of you (write your name on the back).
  • Chat with you about your yachting background and qualifying sea time
  • Outline what he/she expect from you over the coming day(s).

If you are applying for a commercial endorsement at the same time you will also require as a minimum;

  • PPR Certificate
  • Sea Survival Certificate
  • Seafarers Medical Certificate
  • Commercial endorsement form and payment

You will also need to hold an in date  First Aid Certificate .

BE TIDY AND ORGANISED THROUGHOUT YOUR YACHTMASTER EXAM

First impressions count! Make yourself presentable and ensure you’re looking professional. That’s you and the boat!

Make sure the yacht is clean, tidy and seamanlike. The waterline crisp, sail covers looking ship shape, ropes coiled neatly and carefully stowed and fenders aligned. An experienced skipper once told me, you should know your boat so well that you should be able to find anything you need at any moment in time, including at night during power failure! A tidy boat is a sure sign of a safe boat.

Yachtmaster

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT PREPARATION, FOR YOUR YACHTMASTER EXAM

Repetition, repetition, repetition. There is no point in having sailed (or motored) thousands and thousands of nautical miles if you can’t carry out Day Skipper tasks. If you can not confidently demonstrate all boat handling or seamanship skills, such as picking up a mooring buoy or putting a reef in, then you’re not ready for the exam yet!

There is nothing worse than entering or leaving a marina, wondering if you’re going to hit something. Brief your crew, make sure everyone knows what they are doing, and proceed with confidence. If the boat slides smoothly out of her berth with crew briefed and knowing what’s expected you will look good. Your calm manner, and a sensible amount of revs for power handling will immediately put the examiner’s mind at ease and give no reason for concern. If Plan A fails, take a breath, and start over. The examiner understands that mistakes can be made under exam conditions, he/she will be more impressed if you stop, recompose yourself and get the manoeuvre right, rather than continue to try and complete a bodged first attempt. There is no such things as a perfect exam, every candidate will make small mistakes, the stronger candidates will spot them, themselves and do something about them.

Without a doubt, you will be quizzed on COLREGS . There’s no reason for a candidate, not to have these regulations engrained into their brain. A good way of ensuring you have these nailed, is to study ‘A Seaman’s Guide to the Rule of the Road.’

YACHTMASTER EXAM IRPCS

There is no need to learn the collision regulation parrot fashion but you should have a working knowledge of every rule and you should be able to;

  • Identify any vessel at night by lights
  • Describe the day shape for any vessel
  • Describe the fog signal for any vessel
  • Explain any rule
  • Apply the collision regulations practically through the exam
  • Explain what actions you would take in fog if you have detected another vessel by radar alone.

Candidates who forget a particular rule such as “ what does a vessel constrained by night display at night? ” MAY still pass if they know the rest of the rules and are otherwise strong, however a candidate who fails to apply the rules correctly when he/she is skippering will fail. If a large vessel sounds 5 horns at you during your exam you are going to have to work very hard to recover! Do not put yourself in a position where this might occur.

YACHTMASTER OFFSHORE SHOREBASED KNOWLEDGE

Be ready, know your subject.

You can be quizzed on anything within the RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Shorebased Course,  you will also be expected to put the navigation, IRPCS, passage planning and forecast skills from this course into practice. If you don’t have this knowledge then you are waisting your exam fee as you will fail. You will also be tested on a basic understanding of Radar and Diesel engines . I am a strong believer that all Yachtmaster candidates as well as having passed the Yachtmaster Offshore Shorebased course should also have attended the following courses before taking their practical exam as you can be tested on any and all of these areas.

  • RYA Short Range Certificate , it is likely you will each be quizzed on VHF procedures, distress alerting, the mayday call or other calls during the exam. You may also need to make a routine call to a marina or harbour during the exam.
  • RYA Sea Survival . The safety brief that you deliver will include lots of content from this course, (i.e flares, EPIRB, life raft and life jackets), you can expect to be questioned on more detail on these and other areas.
  • RYA Diesel . Typically candidates will be examined on engine checks and they will also be given a part of the engine to talk about or a common problem to solve, for example, “ Can you talk me through how you would bleed the full system on this engine ,” or “ Show me the components of the cooling system and explain which part of it may need servicing at sea if the system has run dry for a brief period’ “
  • RYA Radar.  If the vessel is fitted with a radar you will be tested on its basic set up and use. You should be able to fix position by radar, find a spot on the chart by radar and identify when a risk of collision exists by radar. If there is not a radar set on board, any of this can be tested theoretically. All candidates should be tested on radar and motor candidate tend to be pushed a little further on this area, (while they escape the sailing part of the assessment).
  • RYA First Aid . While you are required to hold a First Aid Certificate, Yachtmaster examiners will not test First Aid beyond the treatment for hypothermia, the effects of cold shock, calling for medical assistance and discussing evacuation by helicopter.

TAKE CHARGE DURING YOUR YACHTMASTER EXAM

One of the key things an examiner is looking for, is to see how good the candidates are at taking charge. This is more than just a sailing (or motoring) exam it is a skippering exam. Can you manage your boat? Can you manage your crew? Clear, decisive and safe briefings followed by ongoing directions to the crew are required.

Good leadership and seamanship alike, do not involve barking orders, it is about being in control in a calm, effective and efficient manner while showing you can skipper (lead). Demonstrate your organisational and methodical thinking.

Play to your strengths. There is no definitive way to be a skipper, so don’t change your tried and tested methods to try and impress. Stick with what you know and carry them out smoothly and confidently. Don’t rush and panic. “Go slow like a pro.”

YACHMASTER EXAM MAN OVERBOARD

It is almost a, “dead cert,” that each candidate will be asked to demonstrate a MOB drill at some point during the exam. This is typically done using a fender or similar attached to a small weight, (never a real person). There is a myth that Yachtmaster Examiners expect the drill to be carried out by the “RYA method,” and this is true, what is not true however is the various myths of what constitutes the RYA method!

Yachtmaster Exam – Man Overboard RYA Method

Your examiner will expect you to a take charge, not to loose sight of the MOB (fender), to get back to it safely without endangering other crew and to get the boat stopped alongside the casualty with the casualty somewhere safe (i.e near the leeward shroud on a sail boat and not too close to the props on a motor exam), ready for pick up back on board.

Man Overboard Exam Tips

If you are training with other candidates agree a method that works for all of you. When you are the skipper under assessment you want your crew to react and know what is expected of them. If each candidate on the same boat opts for a different MOB method it can lead to confusion.

Along the way you should simulate/say everything relevant to the casualties survival (mention throwing the MOB gear overboard, appoint a spotter, press the MOB function on the GPS, tell the examiner you would assign a crew members to issue a distress alert and Mayday call).

Man Overboard Exam Tips (for sail candidates)

In addition to the tick list in the above paragraph, use the engine! The exact drill of how you reach/tack, slow down, speed up etc. will vary from candidate to candidate and boat to boat. The important thing is that the method you opt to use works and is safe. I advise against gybing during your MOB drill in medium and stronger winds.

A sail candidate who opts to approach the casualty from upwind (where the mainsail will be filled as you sail or motor downwind) would be demonstrating a gross misunderstanding of how to control speed and how to stop a sailing yacht.

Man Overboard Exam Tips (for power candidates)

In addition to the tick list two paragraphs above be mindful of the rest of the crew. If at high speed when the MOB occurs, don’t turn suddenly, instead slow the boat down and ensure crew know if you intend to make a sharp turn. We don’t want  a crew ember (or the examiner) to fall over or worse overboard! On many boats in light and moderate conditions you can turn the boat and follow your wake to return to the MOB, in rougher sea states this might not work. There are basically three steps.

  • Dont loose the MOB’s position
  • Get back to the MOB
  • Get alongside the MOB for pick up, without running him over

On many motor boats having got the boat back to the vicinity of the MOB, it pays to orientate yourself beam onto the wind and upwind of the MOB and allow the vessel to be blown sideways towards the MOB, this protects him/her from the risk of the bow and engine and is often referred to as the drift down method. As with sailing there are lost of variations on this method and what is important is the method that you use is safe and that it works.

YACHMASTER EXAM SAILING MANOUVERS

It is likely that you will be asked to either sail onto or sail off a swinging mooring (mooring bouy), an anchor or a pontoon. Make sure you are comfortable and competent at all before your exam. By way of example I will focus here on the mooring buoy. In non tidal waters the boat will lie on the mooring head to wind so the approach will be on a close reach under mainsail. In tidal waters certain combination of wind against tide may dictate an approach under headsail on a different point of sail.

The examiner will expect to see you;

  • Brief the crew on how the manoeuvre will be performed
  • Helm throughout the manoeuvre
  • Prepare the boat for the manoeuvre (using the crew)
  • Select the correct direction and angle of approach
  • Select the correct sail combination for this approach
  • Control the boat speed on the approach bringing the boat to a stop in a controlled manner
  • Picking up and secure to the mooring bouy safely

If at any point the manoeuvre is not working the examiner will expect you to make the decision to bail-out and to have an escape plan in mind. Remember it will be your call to bail out not his.

YACHTMASTER EXAM, BOAT HANDLING UNDER POWER

During the exam you will have to demonstrate some boat handling under power. This may be a natural part of a passage you are skippering (i.e. at the start and end of the passage) or may be a specific boat handling session. Most candidates will demonstrate they can moor up, depart a berth and turn the boat in a confined space. You may be asked to demonstrate more than one berth so the examiner can see how you respond to different states of wind and tide. Some times an examiner will be specific (for example ask you to berth starboard side to, stern first on pontoon XYZ), other times he will leave some of the decision making to you and simply say berth on pontoon ABC. In the second  example he will expect to see you make a sensible decision as to whether to moor bow or stern first and from where to approach. If you are asked to repeat a manoeuvre performed by another candidate do not make the mistake of blindly copying the last candidate, take a minute to consider if they did it well or if an alternative approach would work better. Every boat manouvers differently but there are some givens for close quarter handling;

  • Slow is Pro!
  • Approaching down forces i.e. down tide (or down wind if no tide) is poor seamanship if you have the option not to
  • Using excessive engine revs in confined space demonstrates a lack of experience and control
  • Turning against prop walk should be avoided if possible.
  • Using wind, tide, pivot points, momentum and prop walk to assist you will all make your manoeuvring easier and, “score you points” in the examiner’s mind.

If the manoeuvre is not working, bailing out safely is far better than perceiving trying to a make the best of a bad job. I can assure you that if you are half way through a manoeuvre and suddenly realise you have selected the wrong approach the examiner has spotted this several minutes earlier. He/she will be quietly hoping you opt to rectify the error rather than compounding it by continuing. Don’t disappoint him by continuing an approach that is clearly too fast or not going to work.

Just like the sailing manoeuvres described above you need to helm the boat through these manoeuvres, brief the crew and perform the manoeuvre well. You should not rely on crew jumping ashore with lines to stop the boat, you as helm should stop the boat so that crew can step ashore safely. If a spring line is appropriate to depart a berth then use it, but don’t over complicate things. It is quite embarrassing when a candidate opts to “spring off” a “wind off” berth when they could have simply just let the lines go. If manoeuvring in close quarters still phases you then you are not ready for the Yachtmaster exam and need some more boat handling practice first.

YACHTMASTER EXAM SUMMARY

There are many more components to the exam (pilotage, blind pilotage, voyage planning etc.) and the above is just a taster. If I have not scared you off yet, you have your own boat and require bespoke training (power or sail) I can be contacted through this site.

Yachtmaster Instructor

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Yachtmaster Theory Quiz

Test your knowledge with these 10 theory questions. The quiz is aimed at those planning to join us for a Yachtmaster Coastal or Offshore preparation week. This is NOT an admission test, but it is meant for you to check your theory knowledge and identify any gaps, so they can be filled before you join us for the practical week. Remember, whilst we will also review your theory notions, there will be no time to actually study them if you don’t know them already. And these are only a small sample of what the Yachtmaster examiner may be asking! If your score is not good, please consider signing up for the Yachtmaster Shorebased theory course. Fill in your name and email and click on Start. Select your answer and move onto the next question. At the end of the quiz you will see how you scored and you will be able to review the correct answers.

Yachtmaster - pre test

Test your knowledge with these 10 theory questions. The quiz is aimed at aspiring RYA Yachtmaster Coastal or Offshore. Select your answer and move onto the next question. At the end of the quiz you will see how you scored and you will be able to review the correct answers.

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RYA Yachtmaster Offshore. How to pass the practical exam.

square Sunset Sailing

  • 5th September 2022
  • by Pete Green

How to pass the RYA Yachtmaster Offshore practical sailing exam:  Here are our top tips!

RYA Yachtmaster or Higher

Why take the RYA Yachtmaster Exam?

Several organisations around the world offer professional sailing qualifications. One of the most renowned, and the oldest, is the Royal Yachting Association Yachtmaster Offshore qualification. This recognises that the holder is competent to skipper a sailing yacht on a passage 150 miles from a safe haven. There are plenty of excellent and accomplished sailors on the oceans who do not wish to acquire ‘tickets’, but many boaters do sign up for exams each year, so why bother? Courses can teach you the core skills that a modern sailor should have at their fingertips. Sailing with people from diverse backgrounds and with knowledge of different cruising areas helps you realise where the gaps in your own knowledge are and can inspire you to learn new ways of tackling fundamental skills. Most yachting establishments require their employees to have a recognised professional qualification. Without one, sailors will find it difficult to gain work as an instructor, yacht delivery skipper or find employment on a charter vessel.

Sailors at the mast

RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Practical Exam and pre-course requirements.

The practical exam usually takes 8-12 hours for one candidate and 4-9 hours per candidate where more than one person is being examined. Sailors can be asked questions about any part of the RYA syllabus including areas such as: boat handling, navigation, man overboard, safety, meteorology, adverse weather conditions, long passages, and general boat husbandry. There are also pre-exam requirements. A candidate must hold a Radio Operators Certificate and a valid and acceptable First Aid qualification.

Potential Yachtmasters must have spent a minimum of 50 days at sea with 2,500 miles in their logbooks, including at least five passages over sixty miles. Two of these should have been as skipper and two completed with night passages. Half the sea time must be in tidal waters in a vessel less than 24m. Several sailing schools around the UK offer to arrange exams and assessors; often there is an option to spend a prep week beforehand on the vessel that will be used in the exam.

Beneteau Oceanis  Plymouth to Lisbon

Halcyon Yachts Top Tips for a successful RYA Yachtmaster exam:

Some sailors breeze through the exam, enjoying the experience and remaining calm and confident throughout. Most people though find the whole thing nerve-wracking and uncomfortable. So, what can you do to make the experience a positive one, how best to prepare and how should you present yourself to the best advantage? We asked some leading Yachtmaster Instructors and Assessors for their top tips: here are our favourites.

  • “Practise sailing onto moorings at every opportunity as this makes you more confident for MOB under sail and sailing onto the anchor. Remember, the examiner wants you to pass, it is an opportunity to show off.”
  • “Remain calm and focused, things go wrong during exams, they are long, and something is bound to go less than perfectly. It is often one small mistake that that becomes a small incident that becomes a major error that a candidate cannot recover from that leads to a sailor having to retake their exam.”
  • “Know your weather and collision regulations. A candidate’s knowledge of Colregs instantly tells an examiner if the candidate is serious or not. It is an element that can be learnt long before the exam, there is no excuse not to know them. I tell my students knowing them can be a big ‘get out of jail free’ card during the exam if things are not going well.”
  • “Give your crew clear, concise instructions using sailing language, practise ‘command and control.’ Tell your crew members what you would like them to do, give them time and space to do it, and then respectfully check they have completed the task.” There is no point in rushing the crew and adding stress to the exam, there is nothing wrong with taking a little time and having some finesse to your manoeuvre.”
  • “Teamwork: collaborating with your crew to make sure you are all in best form and working towards a common goal, if you help the other candidates, they will help you when it is your turn to be the skipper. An examiner will soon spot a candidate who is trying to make himself or herself look better to the detriment of other sailors.”
  • “Show the examiner that you care about the boat, coil down properly, close locker lids gently, show good seamanship and boat husbandry skills. Set lines and fenders correctly and efficiently, move around the boat with quiet confidence and authority.”
  • “Do not try and make excuses or blag your way out of bad situations, your examiner will see straight through you. Be honest, if you make a mistake, admit it, and ask for another opportunity to complete a task.”
  • “Sailing for the exam is not a race, it is not looking at how fast you can go, how hard you can push the boat to its limits. It is a cruise, a slow gentle sail to show you can be safe and in control. Put a reef in a little bit before you would normally, keep the boat flat, comfortable, and stable.”
  • “Take your time, The YM exam is a snapshot of what you can do. It is a small window into your sailing life. There is no rush to do anything, it is better to do it once and controlled than to do it several times hurried.”
  • “A good skipper does not spend ages down below ‘over navigating.’ Have your passage plan prepared, know where you are and where you are going, and become familiar with the navigation equipment on board. You then have plenty of time to run the yacht proficiently and look after the crew. The only time you should be down below constantly navigating is during the ‘Blind Nav’ assessment. Prepare for and master this tricky task”!
  • “Practise entering and leaving unfamiliar harbours using charts, pilot books and almanacs. Become familiar with interpreting 2D images on a page into the 3D reality on the water. Do this at night as well when there are lights flashing all around you and you must pick out marks against harbour lights.”
  • “The sanity check, this is my favourite thing to do, it is the checking over your task to make sure you have covered every base and have not missed anything out. It is the equivalent of the pilot’s check list.”
  • “Know your skills, make sure that you have had lots of practice before going into a prep week and get your theory up to scratch. It is not something that a candidate should take lightly, and you need to make sure you are comfortable in your own skin doing the skills. Do not think the prep week will give you the skills you need to do the exam. It is a polishing week, designed to just finesse your abilities and plug the little holes in your base knowledge.”
  • “Paperwork! Make sure you have all the appropriate paperwork neatly packed up and ready to hand to your examiner. It is not the training centres job to make sure you have done the correct eligibility tasks; it is purely yours. Ensure you have all the necessary certificates with you and that your logbook is relevant and current.”
  • “Remember that the examiner is also a very experienced instructor. They love to teach. The RYA Yachtmaster exam is another valuable opportunity to learn from a very knowledgeable skipper. If you embrace this opportunity with a positive attitude then they will likely turn what you perceive as a mistake into a learning opportunity. The best skippers never stop learning!”

square Sunset Sailing

Many thanks to those who helped with this article.

Phil Somerville, author of “The Practical Guide to Celestial Navigation” – buy your copy here:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Practical-Guide-Celestial-Navigation-Step/dp/1472987586

Mark Treacher, Yacht Delivery Skipper and  RYA Sailing Instructor.

Mike Sharland, RYA Yachtmaster Instructor at “Scot Sail”. https://www.scotsail.co.uk/

Tomos Price, Chief Instructor and co-owner of “Commodore Yachting”.   https://www.commodore-yachting.com/

Pete Green, Yachtmaster  Instructor and Managing Director at “Halcyon Yachts”.   https://halcyonyachts.com/

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Fantastic read and top tips!… look forward to sailing with you again soon I hope!

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The Boy Scouts motto ‘Be Prepared’ is a valuable one when considering the YM, think ahead.

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Yachtmaster Past Papers

  • Thread starter plumrock
  • Start date 22 Dec 2015
  • 22 Dec 2015

Hi, I can see this topic has been broached a few times before... I've been hunting all over the web for a series of Yachtmaster past papers . Does anyone have a handy link - or even better - a batch of pdf's. Thanks, Pip Thornton - (North Cornwall)  

Well-known member

Active member.

Suspect You run into RYA copyright challenges I suspect, though I trust we are talking about YM Theory papers? However, you can buy the mock charts and question book from RYA  

  • 23 Dec 2015

RichardS

prv said: It's a practical exam http://www.rya.org.uk/coursestraining/exams/Pages/howtopassyourexam.aspx Pete Click to expand...

duncan99210

duncan99210

I've always understood that there's the shore based Yachtmaster theory course, which ends in a written examination and the Yachtmaster practical examination which is conducted afloat by a RYA appointed examiner. No matter what the Croatian authorities may or may not accept, it is the paractical examination which leads to the Yachtmaster qualification not simply passing the theory exam. There was a thread recently started by someone complaining that the RYA wouldn't give him an ICC on the strength of his theory certificate: it was pointed out that this was because whilst he had demonstrated his ability to sit in a classroom and regurgitate knowledge, he hadn't shown anyone he could actually handle a boat at sea.  

At the end of the Theory courses (DS, YM(Coastal and Offshore) you finish up with a course completion certificate, not a certificate of competence  

Its amazing what a simple question stirs up... I think it is obvious to ALL - that the YM Theory course doesn't make you a Yachtmaster... OF COURSE there is a practical element. I was just asking for some Past Papers to help self study for the theory prior to sitting an exam at a recognized ctr (to enable commercial accreditation). The RYA have been running courses for decades - so there will be loads of interesting questions lying around. In the RYA's typically 'stuffy' approach to learning (our way or no way) they don't make them available. I've just helped my sons through 'A' Level Maths... with loads of practice (past) papers EASILY available.  

RichardS said: It's the same qualification that the Croatians accept as equivalent to ICC (as discussed on the other thread) Click to expand...

Ceirwan

RichardS said: I'm not sure why you say that. I've a certificate which says "RYA Yachtmaster" and I didn't have to go anywhere near a boat to pass that examination, just spend 100 hours sitting in a classroom and doing homework questions. Click to expand...
Gladys said: At the end of the Theory courses (DS, YM(Coastal and Offshore) you finish up with a course completion certificate, not a certificate of competence Click to expand...

rogerthebodger

plumrock said: you don't say... Just seems strange that the RYA don't have a supply of past papers (must have years and years of them). Would greatly help with self study for the theory ... Click to expand...
  • 24 Dec 2015

NickRobinson

NickRobinson

Rogershaw said: Our examining agency have 4 different exam papers that they randomly select so will not allow you to keep then otherwise they will have to keep on setting new exam papers which means work !!! Could RYA operate in a similar way hence no past papers available Click to expand...
NickRobinson said: 5/6/8+ years ago now but my RYA DS and then YM Coastal exams ended with the instructor/invigilator collecting in the papers and declining a request by one student to keep it, so yes. Click to expand...

Birdseye

RichardS said: One gets you a certificate as Yactmaster (Theory) and the other gets you a certificate as Yachtmaster (Practical), although neither of them specifically say this on the certificate. The Theory was far more valuable for me as I could have easily obtained a Day Skipper, Yachtmaster or ICC based on my practical experience. However, I could never have passed the Yachtmaster Theory as that required a much deeper level of knowledge of so many nautical subjects. However, this is merely re-hashing the previous thread where I listed the Yachtmaster areas of knowledge. Richard Click to expand...
RichardS said: I'm not sure why you say that. I've a certificate which says "RYA Yachtmaster" and I didn't have to go anywhere near a boat to pass that examination, just spend 100 hours sitting in a classroom and doing homework questions. It's the same qualification that the Croatians accept as equivalent to ICC (as discussed on the other thread) Having a boat certainly helped though! Richard PS I don't think I've any of the papers but I'll look later. In the meantime the attached might be helpful https://www.dropbox.com/sh/nt1h29mji9gxgbm/AABjzUaRH0rR6gZVyautfWNfa?dl=0 I wrote the three spreadsheets during the course of my Yachtmaster to help me understand the theory and have something potentially useful. The ColRegs chart was written by another Forumite. Click to expand...
  • 25 Dec 2015

YM Theory is three assessment papers now, Chartwork, General and Col Regs. The reason the papers aren't available is that questions are recycled between the years. It took a couple of years to sort out the 2007-15 papers, the syllabus changes from Jan 1, as DS changed last year to introduce more use of electronics - I believe (I haven't taught the latest syllabus yet) that candidates are able to use the new RYA Plotter to do their chart work, although they still have to answer certain questions in pencil on the chart.  

Blue Sunray

Blue Sunray

  • 26 Dec 2015

IMHO not been able to review the exam papers both question and answer after marking prevents the you from determining what you did wrong in the answers that were marked wrong. I have always found this very usefull as I tend to remember the answers I failed on than the ones I got correct. There was a question asking to describe the isolated danger buoy which I got wrong, but will never forget now.  

Elecglitch said: Thank you those look useful. Nice to see someone helping out rather than point scoring. Click to expand...

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RYA Yachtmaster Coastal / Yachtmaster Offshore Prep & Exam

Preparation course overview.

The RYA Yachtmaster Coastal / Yachtmaster Offshore Preparation course enables those who hold the required prerequisite experience to sit the RYA Yachtmaster Coastal or RYA Yachtmaster Offshore exam to fine tune their existing skills prior to sitting the practical exam.

A female student holding 2 fenders

About the course

The preparation course is run over 5 days and designed to assess your level of competency against the RYA Yachtmaster Coastal or RYA Yachtmaster Offshore exam syllabus found in the RYA Yachtmaster Scheme Syllabus and Logbook (G158/15) and is intended to fine tune your existing skills and polish any areas of weakness prior to the exam. The subsequent exam is then run over two days, following the preparation course.

Prior the prep course, we advise that you read the exam syllabus and give yourself an honest appraisal of your strengths and weaknesses. Try to address any shortfalls beforehand and then during the preparation course be open with your instructor about your abilities and what you need to work on in the run up to your exam.

During the prep course your instructor will frequently update you on your progress and ability and recommend which exam you should aim for – whether Coastal or Offshore.

The syllabus is taught in a ratio of (4:1) students to instructor.

Please follow the link if you are looking for the RYA yachtmaster offshore professional course

Prerequisites

Rya yachtmaster coastal exam (sail).

Candidates must be aged 17 or over and require;

  • A Radio Operators Qualification – A GMDSS Short Range Certificate (SRC) or higher grade of marine radio certificate
  • A valid first aid certificate
  • Seatime – 800 miles logged within 10 years prior to examination, 30 days living on board, two days as skipper and 12 night hours.

For holders of the RYA Coastal Skipper Practical course completion certificate, the seatime requirement is reduced to 400 miles, 2 days living on board, 12 night hours, two days as skipper.

Half of the qualifying seatime must have been gained in tidal waters. For sizes of vessel please refer to page 73 in the RYA Yachtmaster Scheme Syllabus and Logbook (G158/15).

RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Exam (Sail)

Candidates must be aged 18 or over and require;

  • Seatime – 50 days, 2,500 miles, including at least five passages over 60 miles, acting as skipper for at least two of these passages and including two which have involved overnight passages. Five days’ experience as skipper.

At least half of the qualifying seatime must have been accrued in tidal waters. For sizes of vessel please refer to page 73 in the RYA Yachtmaster Scheme Syllabus and Logbook (G158/15).

Full details and definitions on qualifying passages can be found here .

Exam overviews

The exam will include an assessment of your skippering skills, boat handling, general seamanship, navigation, safety awareness and knowledge of the IRPCS (collision regulations), meteorology and signals. You will be set tasks to demonstrate your ability and may also be asked questions on any part of the syllabus for all practical and shorebased courses up to Yachtmaster Coastal level.

The exam will include an assessment of your skippering skills, boat handling, general seamanship, navigation, safety awareness and knowledge of the IRPCS, meteorology and signals, with particular emphasis on command skills, boat handling under sail and power in confined spaces, plus navigation and pilotage techniques in daylight, at night and in reduced visibility. Adverse weather conditions and coping with emergencies are also covered.

The examiner will set tasks to enable you to demonstrate your ability as skipper and may also ask questions on any part of the syllabus for all practical and shorebased courses up to RYA Yachtmaster Offshore.

Exam Duration 

The exam will take around 8-12 hours per candidate candidate. No more than two candidates can be examined in 24 hours. Whilst one candidate is being examined the remaining candidates will act as crew.

Qualifications

RYA Yachtmaster Coastal Certification of Competence.

RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Certificate of Competence.

Dates and pricing

Course From To All-inc
RYA Yachtmaster Coastal / RYA Offshore Preparation and Exam (sail) 20/07/2024 26/07/2024
RYA Yachtmaster Coastal / RYA Offshore Preparation and Exam (sail) 14/11/2024 20/11/2024
RYA Yachtmaster Coastal / RYA Offshore Preparation and Exam (sail) 08/12/2024 14/12/2024

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  • RYA Yachtmaster Offshore exam

RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Exam

Full details of the exam syllabus and requirements are shown in the RYA Yachtmaster Scheme Syllabus and Logbook (G158) available from the webshop (see right).

RYA Yachtmaster Offshore practical exams can be taken under sail or power and your certificate will be endorsed accordingly. The candidate or a training centre provides the boat and the RYA provides an examiner. Note: All qualifying sea time and passages must be gained on vessels appropriate to the type of exam i.e. gained in sailing vessels for a sail exam and power vessels for a power exam.

There is no formal training course leading up to the exam, but those who have not previously taken RYA courses often find it useful to book themselves in for some informal training at an RYA centre prior to their exam. This training can be tailor-made to your specific needs and helps to fill any gaps in your knowledge that may become apparent.

The exam will include an assessment of your skippering skills, boat handling, general seamanship, navigation, safety awareness and knowledge of the IRPCS, meteorology and signals.


Documented minimum sea time completed on a seagoing sailing or motor yacht (as appropriate) in the last 10 years:

which may be reduced to 25 days if the candidate already holds an RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Certificate of Competence ; ; , which may be reduced to 1250 miles if the candidate already holds an RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Certificate of Competence if the candidate already holds an RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Certificate of Competence

At least half the qualifying sea time should be gained in tidal waters and on vessels less than 24m LOA, and all seatime must be on vessels of the same discipline as the exam to be taken, i.e. sail or power.

Contact if your sea time is on a yacht greater than 24m and 500gt.

For example, an RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Sail wishing to be examined for RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Power

Practical
.

8-12 hours for 1 candidate, 10-18 hours for 2 candidates.No more than two candidates can be examined in 24 hours and no more than four candidates can be examined in one 2 day session.
18 at the time of the exam

Boats used for exams

You may use your own boat or a boat that you have chartered or borrowed. You will be responsible for ensuring the boat is seaworthy and suitable for the area in which the exam takes place and equipped as shown below.

The boat used must be between 7m and 18m (LOA) and be in sound, seaworthy condition, equipped to the standard set out in the RYA Boat Safety Handbook 2nd Edition (code G103). The boat must be equipped with a full up to date set of charts and navigational publications along with working instruments and either plotter or GPS. In addition to the candidate there should be two crew on board as the examiner will not take part in the management of the boat during the exam.

There may be vessels that will meet the guidelines outlined above but by virtue of their layout, construction, handling characteristics or other factors may be unsuitable for use for an RYA Yachtmaster Practical examination. The RYA reserves the right to refuse an exam on a vessel that, in the view of the RYA Chief Examiner, will not allow the examiner to conduct an examination to the standard required by the RYA/MCA Yachtmaster Qualification Panel.

Before you book your exam please check that you:

  • can provide a boat
  • have completed the required mileage and experience as skipper
  • hold an SRC (Short Range Certificate) or higher level GMDSS radio operators qualification
  • hold a valid first aid certificate
  • have read the syllabus in RYA Logbook (G158)
  • have read and comply with the pre-requisites above.

Additionally if not on the boat, you will need to bring to the exam:

  • laminated or waterproof charts
  • GPS set (may be hand held)
  • tide tables
  • pilotage information for the local area, eg pilot books, port information etc
  • plotting instruments.
  • Photographic ID card or document, such as a passport or driving licence

If you need your Certificate of Competence in order to work on board a commercial craft subject the MCA's codes of practice, you will need to get it commercially endorsed .

Useful links

Arranging your exam, commercial endorsements, exam payments service, mca manning requirements, professional qualifications.

Yachting Monthly

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Tips and hints for passing your Yachtmaster practical

  • Katy Stickland
  • July 21, 2021

Having brushed up on their theory, racing turned cruising sailors Liz Rushall and her husband Mark now put it into practice and tell you how to pass your Yachtmaster Practical exam

Liz Rushall during your Yachtmaster Practical course

The humble fender and bucket, used to simulate a man overboard, is surprisingly effective in revealing things about your boat handling, leadership and decision-making skills. Credit: David Harding

Having got through her Yachtmaster Theory , Liz Rushall shares her tips and hints for the Yachtmaster Practical 

It’s not often I wish to not be aboard a boat, writes Liz Rushall .

Liz Rushall has won national dinghy and keelboat titles, but currently cruises a 28ft classic called Ragdoll

Liz Rushall has won national dinghy and keelboat titles, but currently cruises a 28ft classic called Ragdoll

But in the dead of night, stressing about to what extent should I be using the instruments, when the examiner hasn’t said you can or can’t, and not being able to ‘chat’ with my crew as I would normally, and I was well out of my comfort zone.

This was after making myself feel a complete idiot from being unable to articulate the type of diesel engine, it’s cooling system and the location of the heat exchanger on an unfamiliar boat, and getting my words impossibly muddled up about flares and liferafts.

I was a bag of nerves.

Whilst I hadn’t committed any of the instant fail sins (running aground, involuntary gybes and hitting anything), I certainly spent the first night feeling broken.

Luckily, James Pearson, our extremely patient examiner asked many ‘helpful questions’ and allowed us to correct some of our verbal gaffs over the two-day exam.

Why do a Yachtmaster exam?

Having completed, and passed the Yachtmaster exam with my husband and brother, we are still justifying to curious friends the ‘why on earth, with all your experience’ we did it.

Mark, an Olympic coach, and I have raced successfully all our lives, and more recently cruised Ragdoll , our little 28ft long-keeled classic boat some respectable distances.

However, whatever our friends kindly say, we knew that following a few cruising errors in previous seasons, it was time to hit the refresh button and fill in some knowledge gaps.

The adage that you never stop learning in sailing could not be more true.

During our training, and more so during the exam itself, we certainly discovered our fourth Johari window – the stuff ‘we didn’t know we didn’t know’.

A crew and skipper sitting in a cockpit of a Dufour

Liz and Mark did their Yachtmaster Practical and subsequent Yachtmaster Offshore exam with Universal Yachting in Hamble. Credit: David Harding

Before starting the Yachtmaster process, we knew we were coming at the exam via a slightly unusual route.

We’d never done the conventional pathway of practical Day Skipper or Coastal Skipper exams.

In fact, despite winning a number of championships, we didn’t have a sailing qualification to our name.

Due to hectic work schedules, and our perhaps ‘assumed’ experience, we were steered towards doing a three-day ‘crash’ course ahead of the exam, with Hamble- based sea school Universal Yachting.

Our three-day Yachtmaster Practical training was probably as taxing for us as for our senior instructor, Clive Vaughan.

With acres of knowledge, Clive patiently drilled us through multiple boat-handling techniques.

Universal Yachting supplied us with a brand new Dufour 412 for our Yachtmaster Practical course and exam – a completely different experience to our wooden classic, with few electronics.

Leadership style

One of the immediate ‘culture shock’ challenges we all experienced was the expected leadership style.

When we race, whether as skipper, helm or crew, it is always a collaborative set-up. Barking orders rarely wins races.

Discussing situations, sharing thinking and playing to your team’s strength does.

However, to get us ready for the exam, Clive had to actively encourage us to direct each other.

Being so used to sailing together, it felt odd having to issue instructions and to ‘tell’ rather than share thinking.

A female skipper briefing her crew

Liz is used to a more collaborative approach to sailing, so needed to adapt to a different leadership style. Credit: David Harding

The exam leads you to a scenario where individual leadership is highly valued.

However, it felt very unnatural, and not how any of us would typically operate either in racing or in business.

In my case, it definitely began to affect my decision-making capabilities and confidence in myself.

I found it best to consider the role of skipper for Yachtmaster as a more managerial position.

For this to work, planning ahead was crucial so I was prepared to give my crew specific instructions when situations arose.

Clearly, being ahead of those situations was a key as was coming up with a step-by-step plan for my crew in a variety of situations.

Berthing skills

In a short space of time Clive taught us new techniques for berthing a modern, high-sided, 40ft yacht.

With its high topsides, shallow forefoot, deep fin keel and spade rudder, it naturally seeks the wind when going astern.

Reversing up-tide and upwind into a berth is amazingly easy, and is a skill suited to this boat.

However, this manoeuvre is simply not an option in our long-keeled Ragdoll , as she exhibits very limited manouverabiility when going astern, while in the more modern, fin-keeled Dufour it was a dream.

As such, using just a stern line we could then motor forward with the engine to bring the bow in, rather than a spring.

A yacht being reversed into a berth during a Yachtmaster Practical

Liz and her husband Mark were not used to reversing into a berth but it proved a very useful technique and would be especially handy when sailing short handed. Credit: David Harding

It’s a brilliant technique if you are sailing shorthanded, but not one we had ever used before.

We practiced a lot of going astern and parking scenarios, which left me puzzling why I’d spent so much of my sailing career using springs as a sure way of getting our little boat on and off the dock.

What is obvious, however is that, once we are back onboard Ragdoll reversing onto a pontoon berth may be that much harder.

Going astern is always going to be tricky on a long-keeled yacht where prop walk has a much larger influence but there are conditions in which it will work for us and the ease of using the engine to pull the bow in will certainly make it worth the practice time.

A yacht being berthed during a Yachtmaster Practical assesment

It is easier, when shorthanded, to make off the aft mooring line and then use power ahead to hold the boat in to the berth. Credit: David Harding

As ever, we need to spend a little more time finding what works best and when.

The key is to try different options on our boat in a variety of scenarios to better understand what she will and won’t do, and how she differs to other boats.

Inevitably, you cannot simulate every scenario, and switching from training mode to exam mode was tricky too.

During the Yachtmaster Practical, one of us had to park the boat on a crowded outer hammerhead pontoon with a strong crosswind.

We’d been so drilled into our new mooring techniques, it took two failed attempts before the realisation that it was OK to do it the way we’d normally do, with a spring line!

Close-quarter manoeuvres

We’d all been advised in an exercise not to turn this boat on the spot using just small amounts of forward and astern, something we always do to turn our long-keeled boat in a tight space.

Faced with a tight turn in a marina, with cross tide, my decision making fell apart.

On a long-keeled boat that carries her way for ages, there needs to be much more momentum and water flowing over the rudder to generate the turning moment, whereas on this boat, a combination of prop wash over the rudder and lack of full keel could turn her around smartly.

Manoeuvring astern, focus will be on where you are aiming, but don't forget to check what the wind and tide are doing to your bow.

Manoeuvring astern, focus will be on where you are aiming, but don’t forget to check what the wind and tide are doing to your bow. Credit: David Harding

It was an alien experience to be relying on engine and fenders to come into a berth and stop.

I was still not used to how much quicker a light, fin keeled boat could be made to turn on the spot by putting the helm hard over and giving the engine some revs, and we tended to be too tentative applying engine power.

In hindsight, taking a break between our Yachtmaster Practical course and the exam could have given time to let new knowledge sink in, and to practise it in different scenarios.

Night passages

Both the Yachtmaster Practical training course and the exam were a brilliant way to challenge our sailing skills.

Lacking an autohelm, we don’t do many night passages.

When we do it tends to be into harbours we know.

We are very familiar with sailing racing dinghies out of strange harbours all over the world, racing in fog and some very extreme conditions.

However, it’s a very different experience when cruising.

Sailors looking at a chartplotter on board a yacht

Ahead of our night passage, looking at sources of likely light pollution was helpful for situational awareness. Credit: David Harding

Completing a number of night passages and pilotage exercises during the Yachtmaster Practical was so useful.

It’s much easier to recognise lights on vessels and buoys for real, rather than pictures on a page, but to have brushed up on the lights for fishing vessels, and commercial vessels other than the most basic – restricted in ability to manoeuvre, constrained by draught and towing – really paid dividends in making sense of what we saw on the water.

We also spotted some very curious light combinations, including sailing yachts impersonating a fishing vessel by displaying both masthead tricolour and steaming light and it was helpful to decipher what was what.

One of the biggest obstacles on a close-in night passage is light pollution.

Close to shore there were many other uncharted lights to contend with.

A big lesson was to look beyond the chart markings and having a sensible check of what is on the shore near where you are going to be sailing before you set off so you have a good chance to anticipate potential confusion.

Blind passages

The exercise I’d been most dreading was the blind passage making.

You are navigating from down below, relying on your crew to tell you depths, speed and log readings.

My biggest issue is doing the maths on the hoof. The contours give you one number, the depth sounder another, and the height of tide another.

Under pressure, figuring out which subtracts from which promptly turns me into a gibbering wreck.

As it happens, during Yachtmaster Practical training, I managed to navigate pretty much exactly to the desired point using a bit of dead reckoning and some bad maths, so that was a huge confidence boost.

However, this is where I do take issue with a number of the Yachtmaster course books. The authors all assume a level of maths capability.

There’s no scope for those of us who have a touch of dyscalculia, a learning difficulty associated with numeracy.

Distance may well equal speed multiplied by time.

But I also soon realised that it makes things much easier if the time segments you are working to also need to be a percentage of the hour.

So, calculating positions every six minutes in fog allows you to divide your speed neatly by 10 to give you how far you will travel in 6, 12 or 18 minutes.

Having spent hours close to tears of frustration trying to figure out these calculations, I devised my own crib sheets that meant I could read off a percentage to use against each minute of an hour.

Fifteen minutes is therefore clearly 25% of an hour, 14 minutes is 23.3% and 13 minutes is 21.7, for example.

This crib sheet and others are something I will be using on my own boat to avoid future frustrations.

Mooring under sail

Other exercises included sailing onto anchor or mooring buoys.

Doing this downwind and uptide was something we’ve never had occasion to do in a race.

It’s more normally been a case of there’s no wind so fling the kedge out.

Dropping the mainsail well out from the buoy and using the headsail to steer in offered a great deal of control.

It was also very useful making a practice approach to give a good idea of how hard the current is running and from how far out we need to start scrubbing speed.

It was also particularly useful to set up a variety of clear transits so we had a good idea of actual boat speed on the approach as the log becomes essentially useless in tide.

You may decide to moor under motor most of the time, but I found the exercise trained us to have real control of how to place and stop the boat exactly where we want it and not rely on the engine.

Man overboard

Doing hours of man overboard exercises under engine and sail during our Yachtmaster Practical was brilliant, as evidently, we all needed some practice

Since the drill involves doing three or four things instantly, we were keen to work through techniques for short-handed MOB.

It was fascinating to quick stop the Dufour.

Rather than the conventional ‘figure of eight’, we learned to throw the boat into a tack, heaving to with the wheel hard over.

A sailor lifting up a fender from a Dufour yacht

The Dufour was easy to control under sail using the fill and spill method during our Yachtmaster Practical. Credit: David Harding

She happily turned on the spot, giving you time to sort yourself out.

We’re still not sure how Ragdoll will behave, although we’ve come away with new ideas to try.

It was certainly eye-opening how quickly our recovery times came down after only a few short attempts.

Getting hove to quickly was a key so that we could remain in sight of the ‘casualty’ and it also helps slow everything down when you have a number of tasks to complete under stress.

As with manoeuvring in a marina, we also found under sail the Dufour easier to scrub speed off using the ‘fill and spill’ method than we suspect Ragdoll will be, as she both carries more way, and requires more way to maintain steerage, but we will certainly be doing some practice on her to improve our skills.

Switching between Yachtmaster Practical training and starting the exam, with just a couple of hours, was harder than I’d realised.

Suddenly, three days of Clive’s expert advice was switched off.

James explained the exam format, and how he would set us tasks, not give any feedback, just take notes. He also said we would make a lot of mistakes. And we did!

Within minutes we were on deck talking safety gear.

Despite hours successfully collecting our MOB bucket, now we weren’t just discussing recovery techniques, but demonstrating them with the examiner as our body on the dock.

It literally was in at the deep end and it continued relentlessly.

‘Question time’ highlighted that whilst I’d attended diesel maintenance and sea survival courses, clearly my memory hadn’t.

We were then into the sailing elements of the exam.

Liz Rushall on the deck of a yacht

Liz found the Yachtmaster Practical and subsequent exam stressful. Credit: David Harding

It’s a good test of practical scenarios both ashore and afloat, testing your knowledge and skills in a variety of difficult situations.

Having successfully managed to navigate our night passages, day two started early.

Whilst it was a relief to go sailing, it promptly turned into your metaphorical ‘worst ever day in the office’.

After a few straightforward exercises sailing on and off moorings, I was set the first passage from Portsmouth Harbour to Wootton Creek.

On route, the instruments ‘went down’, the MOB bucket went overboard whilst I was down below chart-plotting, then the steering cable ‘broke’.

Of course, the engine had ‘failed’ too.

It seemed endless, and hard not to wonder ‘am I doing the right thing?’

Fortunately, we sailed in with emergency tiller fitted without running aground or doing circles in front of the Wightlink ferry!

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The day continued and each one of us went through our practical exercises with yet more scenarios thrown at us on the way.

Just as you think about breathing freely, it’s time to be hauled below for more questions. Result!

My lights knowledge was better than my crewmates. But, we were all stumped by the exercise to interpret a radar chart.

We’d never used radar as we use AIS on Ragdoll instead.

In desperation, I even checked the Yachtmaster books I’d borrowed, but no joy.

At this point I was ready to volunteer to be the next MOB.

By the afternoon the breeze was pumping a good Force 6 off Cowes and my brother got his MOB exercise.

Despite being over- canvassed for the brisk conditions, the Dufour handled brilliantly, our bucket was safely retrieved with a bit of engine assistance.

But it really hit home that simply getting back to your MOB is only half the problem, and just how difficult full recovery onboard is in these conditions.

It was a huge relief to get back to Universal Yachting’s dock, and thankfully I parked the boat first time.

Looking in the mirror

We each had a really useful one-on-one feedback session with James, leaving us with a clear picture of our strengths and areas to work on.

We were seeking our knowledge gaps, and we certainly found them. Evidently for me, even having done courses like shore- based engine maintenance, how to do basic engine trouble shooting was something

I was weak on. I also found that my maths was an area that needed attention.

The experience highlighted what stress and tiredness can do to your ability to function ‘normally’.

Adapting to the pre-requisite to tell your crew what to do, and not discuss things, made if feel a bit surreal, but it does mean you can’t hide behind the knowledge of others, and is realistic if you are sailing with beginners.

Discoveries

Am I glad I did the Yachtmaster ? Absolutely. Did it achieve my goal? Yes, it did, but not in the way I expected.

Having felt complete failures at the time, however, it was amazing to pass and come away with a clear idea of our weaknesses, and ones I hadn’t been aware of before.

There’s much we want to try on Ragdoll , and have already discovered that our ‘highly recommended’ MOB ladder is impossible to use, even in a flat clam.

The learning curve continues…

4 Takeaways from the Yachtmaster Practical

  • Understand the engine: Don’t rely on having had a look at the engine manual and your notes from your diesel engine course. Make sure you know the location of the fuel dipstick and the coolant header tank, know how to tighten the alternator fan belt, where the fuel and oil filters are, how to bleed air out the fuel system and have a plan to troubleshoot if the engine stops or overheats.
  • Understand the boat: Try to do challenges regularly onboard, such as taking away instruments and engine; it’s surprising how quickly knowledge escapes you in times of stress. Take your boat out and get to know her characteristics. Find an empty marina and spend some time pontoon bashing – try coming in forward and astern. You need to know whether you have enough steerage astern and other boat-specific characteristics such as prop walk one way or another.
  • Leadership roles: Although we don’t usually sail with one person solely in charge it was interesting to have the exam take place under these conditions. It did highlight how little official pre-emptive trouble shooting we tend to do. It’s well worth having a variety of ‘what if’ scenarios pre-planned ranging from safety critical MOB drills through to more off the cuff situations. ‘What if’ plans will also be useful for night sailing where what you are faced with might look quite different to what you think you will see from your planning at the chart table.
  • Cheat sheets: Struggling through much of the maths for blind navigation forced me to create a number of cheat sheets. Even for those who do not struggle with such things, I’d strongly recommend writing some out anyway. The basic maths for tide and depth calculations might not seem that hard but when you are tired and stressed there is nothing better than having something that allows you do a quick common sense check.

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Requirements for the Yachtmaster Offshore Exam

To sit the RYA Yachtmaster offshore exam, you are required to have the following miles and experience. All completed within the last ten years:

  • A minimum of 2,500 miles are logged before you sit the exam. At least half the miles must be in tidal waters.
  • Five passages over 60 miles long** . Two of these passages must have been at night, and two acting as skipper. 
  • 50 days at sea on yachts up to 500gt.
  • At least five days experience as a skipper.
  • A valid First Aid Certificate (If STCW, completed within the last 5 years)
  • A GMDSS short-range VHF radio certificate.

** Note: All five passages must have been on a vessel between 7m and 24m in length.

Requirements for the RYA Yachtmaster Coastal exam

  • 30 days at sea on a vessel less than 24m in length, and a minimum of 800 miles logged before you sit the exam. At least half the sea time must be in tidal waters.
  • Two days as skipper, on a vessel less than 24m in length.
  • 12 night hours.
  • A valid First Aid certificate.
  • You must be 17 years old at the time of the exam.

If you hold the RYA Coastal Skipper course completion certificate, then the miles required for Yachtmaster Coastal are reduced to 400.

What is considered tidal waters?

An area is deemed tidal if published stream, current or tidal range data is available, the influence of which is significant enough to require the effects to be taken into account to plan and execute a safe and efficient passage.

But, all my sea miles has been on a vessel OVER 24m….

Good news! The RYA accepts 50% (1,250) of your qualifying sea miles gained on a vessel over 24m. 

It’s crucial to provide a Testimonial or Discharge book as proof of your 1,250 sea miles.

The other 50% (1,250 miles) must be from vessels between 7m and 24m in length.

Some Superyachts have large tenders and chase boats. In this case, any miles and qualifying passages gained at the helm go some way to 1,250 sea miles.

Do I need RYA Yachtmaster Theory?

Depends on your goal.

Technically, you don’t need it to sit your Yachtmaster Coastal or Offshore exam, however:

To become an RYA Yachtmaster, you need to be able to navigate using traditional and electronic navigation techniques. The RYA Yachtmaster Theory Course teaches you everything you need to know to navigate a yacht offshore and we recommend it to everybody thinking of sitting the RYA Yachtmaster practical exam.

RYA Yachtmaster Theory is a requirement for Officer of the Watch 3000GT.

At Flying Fish we combine both Yachtmaster Theory and a practical prep week into one course.

How do I convert from sail to power?

To convert from Yachtmaster offshore sail to power you must have completed, in the last 10 years:

  • Minimum of 1,250 miles on a vessel between 7m and 24m in length.
  • 25 days living onboard.
  • 3 days as skipper.
  • Three passages of over 60 miles, including one overnight and one as skipper.

How to record your miles.

Your experience would have been built up over some time on various types of yachts. The miles that you have gained on vessels between 7 and 24 meters in length in the  past ten years  can be recorded in either:

  • RYA’s G158 logbook
  • A CV detailing the information below
  • An Excel spreadsheet

Please note, when recording your miles and experience, make sure you detail the following:

  • Dates the passage/trip took place.
  • Name and type of vessel
  • Details of the passages
  • Miles sailed on each passage
  • Night hours

Flying Fish has created a personal log that you can use to record your sea miles.

What First Aid qualification do I need?

You must have a valid, in-date First Aid qualification to sit the RYA Yachtmaster Coastal or Offshore exam. 

The RYA, STCW, and Seafish First Aid certificates are all accepted by the RYA.

How long are certificates valid?

The RYA First Aid certificate is valid for 3-years.

STCW First Aid certificates do not have an expiry date. However, It is accepted that after 5 years, our knowledge of CPR and other life-saving techniques tends to fade.

Therefore, the RYA requires holders of STCW First Aid to refresh every 5-years from the date of issue.

At flying Fish, we offer STCW Elementary First Aid courses that coincide with our Yachtmaster Power Theory and practical courses. If you need to update your STCW Elementary First Aid qualification, we invite you to click on the link below to book an update.

Commercial Endorsement

By commercially endorsing your Yachtmaster qualification, you not only meet the necessary requirements for taking paying passengers on a commercial vessel but also equip yourself with the confidence and readiness for professional opportunities.

Superyacht tenders are usually registered as a “tender too” the larger yacht, and in most cases, Commercial Endorsement is not required.

Many individuals choose to endorse their RYA Yachtmaster for commercial use. This endorsement prepares you for potential opportunities, such as working as a professional skipper. If this is your goal, in addition to First Aid and VHF, you will need the following:

  • Either an  ENG1 or ML5 medical
  • STCW or RYA Sea survival certificate
  • Complete the RYA’s online  PPR course

Once you have completed these three steps, you can apply for commercial endorsement through the RYA.

Upgrade to RYA Master 200 GT

Complete  STCW Basic Safety Training , then the RYA/MCA Yachtmaster Offshore certificate will be endorsed to allow the holder to skipper a commercial or privately owned vessel up to 200 gross tonnes, which may be greater than 24m in length.

What other skills do I need before I join a prep course?

If you are considering a  Yachtmaster Prep course  then Flying Fish will provide some pre-course reading. If you did some background reading before your prep course, it would help if you had a good knowledge of the following:

  • I.R.P.C.S (rules of the road) and distress signals.
  • Weather. The passage of frontal depression, sea breeze, fog, effects of wind and tide, and terminology used in a weather forecast.
  • Navigation. Understand how to calculate tidal heights, course to steer, and estimated position.
  • Ability to tie the basic knots.
  • Have knowledge of Radar, rule 19, and how to use it for collision avoidance.
  • The  G158 logbook  provides all sea time requirements and a section where you can record all your sea time.

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What is an rya yachtmaster offshore exam.

Patrick Maflin

The RYA Yachtmaster Certificate of Competence is a much sought after qualification for skippers.

This qualification is respected worldwide.

One will be able to acquire the RYA Yachtmaster Certificate if they are able to demonstrate that they have sufficient sea-time, experience and certification in order to sit for an exam.

There are also courses that can help one to be properly prepared for the exam.

Sea Time Experience

Course duration, course content, converting from offshore sail to offshore power, qualifying passages, all my sea time was on superyachts over 24m - is that ok, how to log miles for your rya yachtmaster exam, do i need any first aid qualifications, what about commercial endorsement, stcw basic safety training endorsement, is rya yachtmaster theory required, how do i become a yacht captain, do rya yachtmaster qualified yacht captains make much money, rya yachtmaster offshore course overview.

Yacht Captain During Exam

Sea time experience is one of the most important prerequisites.

You would need to have completed the following within the last ten years:

  • At least 2500 miles logged.
  • Spent 50 days at sea on yachts of up to 500GT.
  • At least half the sea time must have been spent in tidal waters.
  • Have completed five passages of over 60 miles, of which two passages were as a skipper, and two carried out at night.
  • Have at least five days experience working as a skipper.
  • Hold a valid First Aid Certificate. In the case of a STCW Elementary First Aid it needs to have been issued within the last five years, whereas in the case of an RYA First Aid it needs to be issued within the past three years.
  • Be in possession of a GMDSS short-range VHF radio certificate.

The course duration is generally 5 days, including the exam.

The course content will comprise key areas that will allow one to be properly prepared for the exam.

The instructor will focus on areas where one needs to improve.

Notably, night sailing and blind navigation will be practiced.

There will be an overview of the lights, signals and collision regulations, among others.

Since different ports and harbours will be visited, you will be able to get tested in different waters, and your strengths and weaknesses will be better tackled in preparation for the exam.

The Yachtmaster Offshore Exam itself will take anywhere between 8 to 12 hours for a single candidate, or between 10 to 18 hours for two.

Candidates will be met onboard by examiners who will outline what will happen during the test.

Tasks will be set for the candidates to demonstrate their abilities as skippers of offshore cruising yachts.

Candidates should be well prepared as questions on any part of the syllabus can be asked at any stage.

Examiners will be independent assessors who evaluate candidates on behalf of the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency .

yachtmaster offshore exam questions

In order to convert from Yachtmaster offshore sail to Offshore Power the following will need to have been completed within the past 10 years:

  • At least 1250 miles on a vessel that was between 7m and 24m in length.
  • Have spent 25 days living onboard.
  • Have spent 3 days as a skipper.
  • Have carried out 3 passages exceeding 60 miles, of which one was as a skipper and one overnight.

There are a number of rules that need to be followed when it comes to passages that can be deemed as qualifying.

An applicant will need to have completed at least five passages which exceed 60 miles.

These five passages must have been completed on a vessel that is less than 24 metres in length.

Two of these passages need to have been overnight passages.

In addition, two of them will need to have been where one acted as a skipper.

It’s important to mention that a 60 mile qualifying passage is one where the voyage has been non-stop from the departure port A to departure port B, where A and B cannot be the same place.

The 60 mile distance has to be measured as a straight line from A to B.

The RYA will accept passages that were on board yachts over 24m in length.

However, only 50% of the qualifying sea time can be derived from such passages.

Thus, not more than 2500 miles in all, and one would need to provide a testimonial or a discharge book to confirm them.

The remaining 50% of the qualifying sea time must have been carried out on vessels which ranged between 7m and 24m.

Since so much importance is placed on passages, it’s crucial to record the miles.

Recording miles can be carried out in a RYA logbook G158, or using an Excel spreadsheet.

It’s also good to have a CV detailing one’s sea time.

When logging miles it’s important to take note of key details, including the dates of the passage or trip, the miles sailed on the various passages, the name and type of vessel, and any night hours.

Yes, you must have a valid first aid qualification in order to sit for the Yachtmaster Coastal or Offshore exam.

There are different types of first aid qualifications that are accepted, including:

  • The RYA First Aid
  • The STCW Elementary First Aid
  • Seafish First Aid

It’s common to choose to commercially endorse the RYA Yachtmaster Coastal or Offshore exam qualification once the exam has been successfully completed.

In this case, besides holding a valid first aid and VHF certificate, one will also need an STCW or RYA Sea Survival certificate, as well as either an ENG1 medical certificate or an ML5 medical certificate .

One will also need to complete the RYA’s online PPR course.

Subsequently, one can apply for commercial endorsement through the RYA.

Following STCW Basic Safety Training , the RYA/MCA Yachtmaster Offshore certificate can be endorsed in order to allow the holder to be a skipper both on commercial as well as privately owned vessels.

This includes those exceeding 24m in length.

Yes, in order to become an RYA Yachtmaster Offshore it is highly recommended to know specific aspects of navigation and being able to handle a vessel at sea.

Thus, following a Yachtmaster Offshore Theory course is advisable to improve one’s abilities and competence.

This will inevitably improve one’s chances of successfully achieving the RYA Yachtmaster Certificate of Competence.

Becoming a yacht captain takes several years of training, experience and qualifications.

Like many careers, you’ll need to start life on a vessel working your way up.

From humble beginnings like being a deckhand to a junior crew member, the journey towards becoming a yacht captain takes years of dedication and hard work.

Our guide to becoming a yacht captain explains this process in greater detail.

Yes, the potential to make a very lucrative income is high.

A lesser experienced yacht captain can expect to make in the region of $48,000 to $98,000 per annum, whilst a more seasoned captain can make an impressive $150,000 gross per year.

So the time and effort it takes to become a skipper on a vessel has its rewards.

Furthermore, if your time at sea exceeds 183 days each calendar year, there’s the strong possibility that you could qualify for the seafarers earnings deduction which means you are not obliged to pay any income tax on your earnings.

So the above salary figures could be your final take home.

A good yacht captain will lead the crew, be a good communicator and instil confidence.

Acquiring the RYA Certificate is a demonstration that one has shown such skills along with the necessary experience.

Disclaimer: Any advice in this publication is not intended or written by Marine Accounts to be used by a client or entity for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties that may be imposed on any taxpayer or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party matters herein.

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How to Become a Yacht Captain

Working as a captain on a superyacht can be a very rewarding career. But how do you become a yacht captain? Our article takes a deep dive into the process.

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What is RYA Competent Crew Training?

RYA Competent Crew training is a beginners level sailing course, teaching basic knowledge and skills needed to become a competent crew member on a yacht. Read on to discover why even experienced yacht crew should consider taking this foundation course.

RYA Powerboat Level 2 Certificate - A Must for Yacht Captains

RYA Powerboat Level 2 Certificate - A Must for Yacht Captains

Gaining RYA powerboat level 2 certification is a must for any aspiring yacht captain. In our latest article, we explore what this crucial certificate is for, what you will learn, and how you go about getting one.

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Guide for Yachtmaster Offshore

Quiz Yachtmaster Offshore

Free test - simulator yachtmaster offshore.

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Yachtmaster Offshore Practice test unlocks all online simulator questions

Thank you for choosing the free version of the Yachtmaster Offshore practice test ! Further deepen your knowledge on Sailing License Simulator ; by unlocking the full version of our Yachtmaster Offshore Simulator you will be able to take tests with over 556 constantly updated questions and easily pass your exam. 98% of people pass the exam in the first attempt after preparing with our 556 questions.

What to expect from our Yachtmaster Offshore practice tests and how to prepare for any exam?

The Yachtmaster Offshore Simulator Practice Tests are part of the Sailing License Database and are the best way to prepare for any Yachtmaster Offshore exam. The Yachtmaster Offshore practice tests consist of 556 questions divided by 12 topics and are written by experts to help you and prepare you to pass the exam on the first attempt. The Yachtmaster Offshore database includes questions from previous and other exams, which means you will be able to practice simulating past and future questions. Preparation with Yachtmaster Offshore Simulator will also give you an idea of the time it will take to complete each section of the Yachtmaster Offshore practice test . It is important to note that the Yachtmaster Offshore Simulator does not replace the classic Yachtmaster Offshore study guides; however, the Simulator provides valuable insights into what to expect and how much work needs to be done to prepare for the Yachtmaster Offshore exam.

Yachtmaster Offshore Practice test therefore represents an excellent tool to prepare for the actual exam together with our Sailing License practice test . Our Yachtmaster Offshore Simulator will help you assess your level of preparation and understand your strengths and weaknesses. Below you can read all the quizzes you will find in our Yachtmaster Offshore Simulator and how our unique Yachtmaster Offshore Database made up of real questions:

  • Quiz name: Yachtmaster Offshore
  • Total number of questions: 556
  • Number of questions for the test: 90
  • Pass score: 80%
  • Number of topics: 12 Topics
  • Anchoring and mooring techniques: 45 Questions
  • Boat Handling: 46 Questions
  • Crew management and communication: 46 Questions
  • General Seamanship, including maintenance: 46 Questions
  • International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea: 45 Questions
  • Man overboard recovery techniques: 46 Questions
  • Meteorology: 47 Questions
  • Navigation: 47 Questions
  • Responsibilities of skipper: 47 Questions
  • Safety: 47 Questions
  • Signals: 47 Questions
  • Tidal calculations and effects: 47 Questions

You can prepare for the Yachtmaster Offshore exams with our mobile app. It is very easy to use and even works offline in case of network failure, with all the functions you need to study and practice with our Yachtmaster Offshore Simulator .

Use our Mobile App, available for both Android and iOS devices, with our Yachtmaster Offshore Simulator . You can use it anywhere and always remember that our mobile app is free and available on all stores.

Our Mobile App contains all Yachtmaster Offshore practice tests which consist of 556 questions that are divided by 12 topics and also provide study material to pass the final Yachtmaster Offshore exam with guaranteed success. Our Yachtmaster Offshore database contain hundreds of questions and Sailing License Tests related to Yachtmaster Offshore Exam . This way you can practice anywhere you want, even offline without the internet.

  • Yachtmaster Quiz RYA magazine Summer 2020 Questions

Melbourne Sailing School

Our first Yachtmaster Quiz copied directly the from RYA magazine Summer 2020. This magazine is free and one of the many benefits you receive when you join the RYA.

Yachtmaster Quiz – Summer 2020 – Questions

1. When trying to clear a riding turn from a winch, what is likely to be the best knot, bend or hitch to take the load off the working end of the line?

2. What is ‘tinned wire’ used for?

3. Why should diesel tanks be kept reasonably well topped up?

4. What is achieved by washing or soaking sheets and halyards in fresh water on a regular basis?

5. Name three settings for a radar screen orientation.

6. When stowing wooden bungs on board for use in an emergency, what is good practice?

7. In the context of a hurricane, cyclone or TRS, what does the term ‘dangerous semicircle’ refer to?

8. What does the term ‘bunkering’ refer to?

9. When trimming a headsail, what effect will moving the jib car aft have, and when might this be done?

10. At sea at night you spot a vessel displaying an all-round red light over an all-round green light. What does this indicate?

yachtmaster offshore exam questions

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yachtmaster offshore exam questions

Yachtmaster Quiz RYA magazine Summer 2020 Answers

yachtmaster offshore exam questions

Why the RYA?

  • Certificates of Competence

RYA Yachtmaster Coastal Exam

Full details of the exam syllabus and requirements are shown in the RYA Yachtmaster Scheme and Logbook (G158) available from the RYA webshop.

RYA Yachtmaster Coastal practical exams can be taken under sail or power and your certificate will be endorsed accordingly. You or a training centre provide the boat and the RYA provides an examiner. Note: All qualifying sea time and passages must be gained on vessels appropriate to the type of exam i.e. gained in sailing vessels for a sail exam and power vessels for a power exam.

The exam will include an assessment of your skippering skills, boat handling, general seamanship, navigation, safety awareness and knowledge of the IRPCS (collision regulations), meteorology and signals. You will be set tasks to demonstrate your ability and may also be asked questions on any part of the syllabus for all practical and shorebased courses up to RYA Yachtmaster Coastal level.

RYA Yachtmaster Coastal exam pre-requisites

Documented minimum sea time completed on a seagoing sailing or motor yacht (as appropriate) in the last 10 years:

if an RYA Coastal Skipper Practical course completion certificate or an RYA Yachtmaster Coastal Certificate of Competence is held ; if an RYA Coastal Skipper Practical course completion certificate or an RYA Yachtmaster Coastal Certificate of Competence is held ;

At least half the qualifying sea time should be gain in tidal waters.

Contact  if your sea time is on a yacht greater than 24m and 500gt.

For example, an RYA Yachtmaster Coastal Sail wishing to be examined for RYA Yachtmaster Coastal Power

Practical
.
6-10 hours for one candidate, 8-14 hours for two candidates
17 at the time of the exam.

Boats used for exams

You may use your own boat or a boat that you have chartered or borrowed. You will be responsible for ensuring the boat is seaworthy and suitable for the area in which the exam takes place and equipped as shown below.

The boat used must be between 7m and 18m LOA and be in sound, seaworthy condition, equipped to the standard set out in the RYA book Cruising Yacht Safety (code C8). The boat must be equipped with a full up to date set of charts and navigational publications and be efficiently crewed, as the examiner will not take part in the management of the boat during the exam.

Before you book your exam please check that you:

  • can provide a boat (either your own or a training centre's boat)
  • have completed the required mileage and experience as skipper
  • hold an SRC (Short Range Certificate) or higher level GMDSS radio operators qualification
  • hold a valid first aid certificate
  • have read the syllabus in the RYA Logbook (code G158)
  • have read and comply with the pre-requisites above.

Additionally if not on the boat, you will need to bring to the exam:

  • laminated or waterproof charts
  • GPS set (may be hand held)
  • tide tables
  • pilotage information for the local area, eg pilot books, port information etc
  • plotting instruments.
  • Photographic ID card or document, such as a passport or driving licence

If you need your Certificate of Competence in order to work on board a commercial craft subject the MCA's codes of practice, you will need to get it commercially endorsed .

Useful links

Arranging your exam, commercial endorsements, exam payments service, mca manning requirements, professional qualifications.

COMMENTS

  1. PDF YM Exam Preparation

    The exam will take place over a period of eight hours for the Yachtmaster Offshore and six hours for the Yachtmaster Coastal; it is bound to be a nerve-racking experience even for very experienced skippers. The Examiner is there to confirm you are at a level to be awarded the Certificate. He is not

  2. RYA Theory Quiz

    Register today and get £50 off. Enter voucher code. HOME STUDY. in the booking form. Excellent. 1,850 reviews on. Navigate. Try our RYA theory quiz to test your knowledge and see whether our Day Skipper or Yachtmaster theory course is best for you.

  3. RYA Yachtmaster Offshore exam

    RYA Yachtmaster Offshore exam pre-requisites. 5 passages over 60 miles long, which must include 2 overnight passages and 2 as skipper, which may be reduced to 3 passages including 1 overnight and 1 as skipper if the candidate already holds an RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Certificate of Competence 3. 1 At least half the qualifying sea time should be ...

  4. How to pass your Yachtmaster exam

    Courses and exams. Yachtmaster training can take place on a boat or in a classroom. ... with passage and night-hour requirements being relaxed in comparison with 'Yachtmaster Offshore', which keeps its 2,500-mile entry level. Either is a proper Yachtmaster qualification and can be described as such. ... One of the most important questions ...

  5. PDF Mendez Marine Advice on: HOW TO PREPARE FOR YOUR YACHTMASTER EXAM

    The examination is a practical exam like the Yachtmaster, but takes less time, usually around 8 - 10 hours. experience required is: - 30 days, 2 days as skipper, 800 miles & 12 night hours. If you have successfully completed an RYA Coastal Skipper Practical Course Completion Certificate, the requirements become: 20 days, 2 days as skipper, 400 ...

  6. RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Sail

    The RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Sail exam is open to anyone who meets the minimum criteria, with all experience within the last 10 years. 18 years of age or older. 50 days spent at sea. 2500nm sailed, with at least 50% in tidal waters. 5 days as skipper.

  7. PDF Yachtmaster Offshore Exam Syllabus

    In Yachtmaster Offshore exams the candidate will be expected to demonstrate competence based on broad experience. 1. International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea Questions - will be confined to the International Regulations and although candidates must be aware of the existence of Local

  8. Official Updated Yachtmaster Offshore practice test 2024

    Yachtmaster Offshore practice test simulator that contains nearly 556 exam questions and answers. All of our questions are based on the latest version of the Yachtmaster Offshore exam. The simulator presented on this website is the great option for a Yachtmaster Offshore test.

  9. RYA Yachtmaster Theory Online

    The RYA Yachtmaster online theory course takes your theory knowledge to the standard required for the Yachtmaster Coastal and Yachtmaster Offshore practical exams.. This course advances your skills as a skipper of a yacht or motor boat, with an emphasis on navigation and passage planning for more complex coastal or offshore passages by day and night

  10. How to Pass the Yachtmaster Exam

    An even higher level certificate that qualifies the holder to skipper beyond the 150 mile from a safe haven limit of the Yachtmaster Offshore CoC. The Yachtmaster Ocean exam is an oral exam and one of its pre requisites is the Yachtmaster Offshore CoC (above).The Yachtmaster Ocean Exam is beyond the scope of this article, but by popular request ...

  11. RYA Day Skipper Theory test

    Yachtmaster - pre test. Test your knowledge with these 10 theory questions. The quiz is aimed at aspiring RYA Yachtmaster Coastal or Offshore. Select your answer and move onto the next question. At the end of the quiz you will see how you scored and you will be able to review the correct answers.

  12. RYA Yachtmaster Offshore. How to pass the practical exam

    RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Practical Exam and pre-course requirements. ... Sailors can be asked questions about any part of the RYA syllabus including areas such as: boat handling, navigation, man overboard, safety, meteorology, adverse weather conditions, long passages, and general boat husbandry. ...

  13. Yachtmaster Past Papers

    I've a certificate which says "RYA Yachtmaster" and I didn't have to go anywhere near a boat to pass that examination, just spend 100 hours sitting in a classroom and doing homework questions. You maybe have the Yachtmaster Theory ticket, but you can't (or shouldn't) be able to get a full Yachtmaster ticket without a practical exam.

  14. RYA Yachtmaster Practical Coastal & Offshore Exam Courses

    The preparation course is run over 5 days and designed to assess your level of competency against the RYA Yachtmaster Coastal or RYA Yachtmaster Offshore exam syllabus found in the RYA Yachtmaster Scheme Syllabus and Logbook (G158/15) and is intended to fine tune your existing skills and polish any areas of weakness prior to the exam.

  15. Tips and hints for passing your Yachtmaster theory

    The best way to be exam-proof is to invest in A Seaman's Guide to the Rule of the Road (Morgans Technical Books Limited (£12.50), available for modest money online or in any chandlery. Place it prominently in the heads some months before the exam and devote five minutes of each day to digesting its contents.

  16. RYA Yachtmaster Offshore exam

    RYA Yachtmaster Offshore exam pre-requisites. 5 passages over 60 miles long, which must include 2 overnight passages and 2 as skipper, which may be reduced to 3 passages including 1 overnight and 1 as skipper if the candidate already holds an RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Certificate of Competence 3. 1 At least half the qualifying sea time should be ...

  17. Tips and hints for passing your Yachtmaster practical

    Having got through her Yachtmaster Theory, Liz Rushall shares her tips and hints for the Yachtmaster Practical. It's not often I wish to not be aboard a boat, writes Liz Rushall. Liz Rushall has won national dinghy and keelboat titles, but currently cruises a 28ft classic called Ragdoll. But in the dead of night, stressing about to what ...

  18. Requirements for the Yachtmaster offshore exam

    Requirements for the RYA Yachtmaster Coastal exam. 30 days at sea on a vessel less than 24m in length, and a minimum of 800 miles logged before you sit the exam. At least half the sea time must be in tidal waters. Two days as skipper, on a vessel less than 24m in length. 12 night hours.

  19. What is an RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Exam?

    The Yachtmaster Offshore Exam itself will take anywhere between 8 to 12 hours for a single candidate, or between 10 to 18 hours for two. Candidates will be met onboard by examiners who will outline what will happen during the test. Tasks will be set for the candidates to demonstrate their abilities as skippers of offshore cruising yachts.

  20. Quiz Yachtmaster Offshore

    The Yachtmaster Offshore practice tests consist of 556 questions divided by 12 topics and are written by experts to help you and prepare you to pass the exam on the first attempt. The Yachtmaster Offshore database includes questions from previous and other exams, which means you will be able to practice simulating past and future questions.

  21. RYA Yachtmaster Ocean Exam

    The RYA Yachtmaster® Ocean is experienced and competent to skipper a yacht on passages of any length in all parts of the world. Full details of the exam syllabus and requirements are shown in the RYA Yachtmaster Scheme Syllabus and Logbook (G158), which is available from the RYA webshop. The exam consists of an oral and written test.

  22. Yachtmaster Quiz RYA magazine Summer 2020 Questions

    Yachtmaster - Preparation for exam; Private tuition on your boat; Prepare to Charter; Theory Courses. Coastal Navigation; RYA Day Skipper Theory Bridging; ... Yachtmaster Quiz - Summer 2020 - Questions. 1. When trying to clear a riding turn from a winch, what is likely to be the best knot, bend or hitch to take the load off the working ...

  23. RYA Yachtmaster Coastal Exam

    Full details of the exam syllabus and requirements are shown in the RYA Yachtmaster Scheme and Logbook (G158) available from the RYA webshop. RYA Yachtmaster Coastal practical exams can be taken under sail or power and your certificate will be endorsed accordingly. You or a training centre provide the boat and the RYA provides an examiner.