RYA Yachtmaster and Coastal Theory Courses

The RYAs Coastal Yachtmaster theory course takes you deeper into the world of navigation, pilotage and seamanship. One of the largest benefits of these courses are the instructors themselves, all of whom are registered and have trained through the RYA themselves. They will guide you through this fascinating course.

It’s advised to complete the RYA Basic Navigation or Day Skipper theory first as this will form a foundation from which you can easily digest and work through the more complex Yachtmaster theory. You don’t have to be a sailor to enjoy this course, for many it provide an insight into how our exploring heroes from centuries ago navigated around the world with fairly basic equipment and tools.



* Develop a deep insight into ancient means of Navigation,

* Expert instructors on hand to guide you all the way,

* Join a 5 day cours in a classroom, over 2 weekends or learn at home online.



Simply click on the titles to get more information about them:


Dead reckoning and estimated position

Satellite-derived position

Use of waypoints to fix position

Radar fixes

Techniques of visual fixing

Fixes using a mixture of position lines

Relative accuracy of different methods of position fixing

Areas of uncertainty

Magnetic Compass

Allowance for variation

Change of variation with time and position

Causes of deviation

Swing for deviation (but not correction)

Allowance for deviation

Different types of compass


Causes of tides – Springs and Neaps

Tide tables – sources

Tidal levels and datum

Standard and secondary ports

Tidal anomalies (Solent, etc.)

Tidl Streams

Harbour regulations and control signals

Methods of pre-planning

Clearing lines

Use of soundings

Transits and leading lines

GPS Chart Plotter

Principles of operation and limitations of use

Raster and vector charts


Importance of confirmation of position by an independent source and keeping a separate record of position

Importance of paper charts

Source of Tidal Information

Tidal stream information in sailing directions and Yachtsmen’s Almanacs

Allowance for tidal streams in computing a course to steer

Tide rips, overfalls and races

Tidal observation buoys, beacons etc.


IALA system buoyage in Region A

Limitations of buoys as navigational aids



Ranges – visual, luminous and nominal

Rising and dipping distances

Light lists

Echo Sounders

Principles of operation and limitations of use

Logs (Speed and Distance)

Principles of operation and limitations of use

Deck Log

Importance of log as yacht’s official document

Layout of log, hourly and occasional entries


Basic terms, the Beaufort scale

Air masses

Cloud types

Weather patterns associated with pressure and frontal systems

Sources of weather forecasts

Ability to interpret a shipping forecast, weather-fax and weather satellite information

Land and sea breezes

Sea fog

Use of a barometer as a forecasting aid

Rules of the Road

A sound knowledge of the International Regulations for preventing Collisions at Sea, except Annexes 1 and 3

Safety at Sea

Personal safety, use of lifejackets, safety harnesses and lifelines

Fire prevention and fire fighting

Distress signals

Coastguard and Boat Safety Scheme

Preparation for heavy weather

Liferafts and helicopter rescue

Understanding of capabilities of vessel and basic knowledge of stability

Navigation in restricted visibility

Precautions to be taken in fog

Limitations to safe navigation imposed by fog

Navigation strategy in poor visibility


Next Step

Once you’re passed the Yachtmaster theory it’s worth doing the RYA Coastal Course and maybe followed by the exam. If is possible to also go straight into the Yachtmaster Offshore preperations, however the Coastal course provides a vital experience and enables you to put everything you learn t into practise in a controlled and a fairly relaxed enviroment.



You can do the theory in a range of locations from the UK to Gibraltar, Turkey, the Canaries and even as far out as Malaysia. Alternatively you can do it online.