RYA Yachtmaster Prep and Exam

The Yachtmaster Coastal and Offshore  exams are truly prestigious and while they are tough there are many great Yachtmaster preparation courses available. These courses are designed specifically to help you work towards the goal of passing one of sailings most gruelling exams.

During the week or weekend training courses you will cover everything that is needed to pass the Yachtmaster exam. You will cover Passage Planning, Skippering Techniques, Man-overboard Recovery, Meteorology, Close Quarters Handling and Pilotage in Restricted Visibility (commonly known as blind navigation).


* Build confidence in your skills,

* Work on weaknesses with an experienced and qualified skipper

* Build experience and knowledge of the test boat, crew and sailing area


Yachtmaster Coastal Exam Pre-Requisites

Yachtmaster™ Coastal exam pre-requisites
Minimum seatime 30 days, 2 days as skipper, 800 miles, 12 night hours (if you hold the Coastal Skipper course certificate this is reduced to 20 days, 2 days as skipper, 400 miles, 12 night hours). Half the qualifying sea time must be conducted in tidal waters.
Form of exam Practical
Certification required A GMDSS Short Range Certificate (SRC) or higher grade of marine radio certificate. A valid first aid certificate – click here for a list of acceptable first aid certificates.
Minimum exam duration 6-10 hours for 1 candidate, 8-14 hours for 2 candidates
Minimum age 17


Yachtmaster Offshore Exam Pre-Requisites

Yachtmaster™ Offshore exam pre-requisites
Minimum seatime 50 days, 2,500 miles including at least 5 passages over 60 miles measured along the rhumb line from the port of departure to the destination, acting as skipper for at least two of these passages and including two which have involved overnight passages. 5 days experience as skipper. At least half this mileage and passages must be in tidal waters. All qualifying seatime must be within 10 years prior to the exam.
Form of exam  Practical
Certification required A GMDSS Short Range Certificate (SRC) or higher grade of marine radio certificate. A valid first aid certificate – click here for a list of acceptable first aid certificates.
Minimum exam duration 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.
Minimum age 18


Offshore Exam Syllabus

This is the syllabus for the Yachtmaster Offshore exam, the Coastal exam is slightly different and upon request we can send this to you. Simply click on the titles to get more information about them:

International Regulations for preventing Collisions at Sea

Questions will be confirmed to the International Regulations and although Yachtmaster candidates must be aware of the existence of Local Regulations they will not be expected to memorise specific local regulations:

General rules (1-3)

Steering and sailing rules (4-19)

Lights and shapes (20-31)

Sound and light signals (32-37)

Signals for vessels fishing in close proximity (Annex II)

Distress signals (Annex IV)


Yachtmaster Candidates will be expected to know what safety equipment should be carried on board a yacht, based either on the recommendations in RYA booklet C8, the Special Regulations of the ORC or the Codes of Practice for the Safety of Small Commercial Vessels. In particular, candidates must know the responsibilities of a skipper in relation to:

Safety harnesses


Distress flares

Fire prevention and fighting


Knowledge of rescue procedures including helicopter rescue.

Boat Handling

Candidates for Yachtmaster Offshore exam will be expected to answer questions or demonstrate ability in more complex situations and will also be expected to show a higher level of expertise:

Coming to and weighing anchor, under power or sail in various conditions of wind and tide

All berthing and unberthing situations in various conditions of wind and tide

Recovery of man overboard

Towing, under open sea conditions and in confined areas

Boat handling in confined areas under sail

Boat handling in heavy weather Helmsmanship and sail trim to sail to best advantage Use of warps for securing in an alongside berth and for shifting berth or winding

General Seamanship and Maintenance

Properties, use and care of synthetic fibre ropes


General deck-work, at sea and in harbour

Engine operations and routine checks

Improvisation of jury rigs following gear failure

Responsibilities as Skipper

Can skipper a yacht and manage the crew

Communication with crew

Delegation of responsibility and watch-keeping organisation

Preparing yacht for sea and for adverse weather

Tactics for heavy weather and restricted visibility

Emergency and distress situations

Victualling for a cruise and feeding at sea

Customs procedures

Standards of behaviour and courtesy


Charts, navigational publications and sources of navigational information

Chartwork, including position fixing and shaping course to allow for tidal stream and leeway

Tide and tidal stream calculations

Buoyage and visual aids to navigation

Instruments, including compasses, logs, echo sounders, radio navaids and chartwork instruments

Passage planning and navigational tactics

Pilotage techniques

Navigational records

Limits of navigational accuracy and margins of safety

Lee shore dangers

Use of electronic navigation aids for passage planning and passage navigation

Use of waypoints and electronic routeing


Definition of terms

Sources of weather forecasts

Weather systems and local weather effects

Interpretation of weather forecasts, barometric trends and visible phenomena

Ability to make passage planning decisions based on forecast information


Candidates for Yachtmaster Offshore exam must hold the Short Range Certificate (SRC), Restricted (VHF only) Certificate of Competence in radiotelephony or a higher grade of certificate in radiotelephony.


Next Step

After the prep course we recommend taking the Yachtmaster exam straight away. But once you’ve completed this there is only one more course to take, the Ocean Yachtmaster theory.



You can do your RYA Yachtmaster Coastal and Offshore exam in a range of destinations. The UK is the closest, with both Gibraltar and the Canaries offering great conditions. For those looking for a bit of travelling you can head over to Thailand and Malaysia.