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RYA Coastal and Offshore Yachtmaster Exams


Examination for Certificate of Competence

An Offshore Yachtmaster needs a wealth of knowledge and skills - not only to cope with plain sailing but also to be able to cope when things go wrong. This experience is not gained only by sailing thousands of miles on passage, but more importantly by skippering yachts close to land, by day and night and in poor visibility; dealing with complex situations such as boat handling at close quarters, navigation in shoal waters in and out of harbour - and the negotiation of busy shipping channels. The RYA exams will test not only your practical sailing ability but ensure that your understanding of safety, seamanship, navigation and passage planning is of the highest level.

Should I take pre-exam training?
Before attempting the exam, even if you have worked through the RYA courses, it is often worth receiving tuition to find your strengths and weaknesses. It is recommended that you have completed the Coastal Skipper / Yachtmaster shorebased course as you will have time to put the theory into practice with passage planning and chartwork. We would be happy to discuss your requirements.

What happens during an exam?
All exams are nerve-racking, even for highly experienced or professional skippers. Talking to the examiner prior to the assessment and making sure that you understand what is required will help. You will be asked to undertake a short passage, although you may have to plan a longer one. You will be put under pressure with decisions about sail changes, man overboard etc. Discuss with the examiner what you are being asked to do. In general, you should skipper the yacht in your normal style.

Ability as skipper:
The most important assessment on the day is whether you are fully in command of the yacht. Being in charge is not about shouting or giving a stream of commands. It is about leading the crew, communicating with them, making sure that they understand what is going on and listening to them when they have something to tell you. It is a quality sensed by the crew when they feel safe and confident that the correct decisions are being made. Even the best skippers make mistakes, but the overall impression is one of quiet competence. The examiner is looking for this ability, which is based on experience and knowledge; hence the requirement for skippered passages before taking the exam.

Exam standards:
The RYA ensures that a consistent exam standard is maintained across the world. This is achieved by:

Rigorous training and careful selection of examiners - Examiners are hand-picked yachtsmen or women who have usually had extensive instructional and commercial experience. Each examiner must undergo a selection and training course and their appointment as an examiner will be reviewed every five years by means of a practical re-assessment.

Independence - RYA examiners are effectively "outside assessors". An examiner may not examine a candidate that he has taught, examined previously, or is a personal friend. Examiners are appointed and paid by the RYA - not EastSail.

Quality Assurance measures - An independent company is commissioned by the RYA to conduct QA, where candidates are telephoned and asked a series of questions about their training and examination. This information is sent to the MCA as part of the RYA's commitment to the audit process.

Do I need a yacht for the exam?

The exam can be completed on your own yacht or you can charter one of our Beneteau 40.7 yachts.  The duration of the exam is between 6 and 24 hours depending on the number and the assessment level of the candidates.

Pre-requisites for Offshore Yachtmaster Certificate:

  • Minimum sea time requirement 50 days sailing including 5 days as skipper     
  • 2500 miles, at least 5 passages over 60 miles where you were skipper for at least 2 passages, and at least 2 passages involved overnight sailing.  
  • First Aid Certificate
  • Restricted Radio Operators License (VHF only)    
Pre-requisites for Coastal Yachtmaster Certificate:
  • Minimum 800 miles logged at sea within the last 10 years     
  • 30 days living aboard, 2 days as skipper and 12 night hours
  • For holders of the Coastal Skipper Practical Course Completion Certificate the seatime is reduced to 400 miles, 20 days living aboard, 2 days as skipper and 12 night hours.
  • First Aid Certificate
  • Restricted Radio Operators License (VHF only)   RYA-yachtmaster


  • Safety & Sea Survival certificate (required for commercial endorsement)
  • Completed medical form (required for commercial endorsement)
  • PPR course (required for commercial endorsement)
  • RYA Diesel Engine Certificate
  • RYA Radar Certificate
  • RYA Coastal / Offshore Yachtmaster Shorebased 5 day Course
  • RYA Coastal / Offshore Yachtmaster Practical 5 day course
Documentation for the exam:
  • Completed application form.
  • Log book with qualifying passages signed off
  • Copy of first aid & radio certificates
  • A recent passport photograph
  • Identification and exam fee
To organise your exam: Exams must be arranged through a RYA school. EastSail charges an administration fee of $50 to arrange an exam.
Price guide:

Exam fees can be found on the RYA Yachtmaster application form. You will need to supply a yacht, or charter an EastSail Beneteau 40. Depending on the number of candidates being examined you may also need to supply a crew member. Discount given to EastSail graduates. The yacht will need to have full safety equipment and victualing for all aboard, including the examiner.

After scheduling an examination date the examiner will ask for your sailing CV and send you details of a passage and pilotage plan to be prepared and presented on the day.  See RYA log book for full syllabus.
Click here for the application form.

Commercial capability:

From July 1, 2014, holders of the RYA Coastal or Offshore Yachtmaster who also have current first aid and safety & sea survival certificates and a radio license are able to work commercially skippering yachts up to 12m in waters <15M offshore. Ask for more details.

Eastsail also offers the
Professional Practices and Responsibilities (PPR ) course - which is a compulsory online course for new and revalidating RYA Commercial Endorsement holders.
The cost is $55.00, you can contact Bryony to set you up. Then log in onto http://www.ryainteractive.org/login/index.php

For more information on our RYA sailing and training courses and being able to work as a charter skipper or sailing instructor please call Bryony on 02 93271166 or training@eastsail.com.au 

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