Day Skipper Course - Shore based and Practical

Combined RYA Day Skipper Theory and Practical Course

The RYA Day Skipper theory and practical course run over 9 days  is ideal for those with limited time who are looking for a convenient way of to achieve the full Day Skipper qualification, as quickly as possible. This course runs from a Saturday through to the following Sunday. By utilising both weekends, it is possible to complete both the Day Skipper theory and  the Day Skipper practical course with just 5 days off work! The first 4 days are spent in the classroom where you will concentrate on learning  the RYA Day Skipper shore based syllabus. This Day Skipper Shore Based Courseis immediately followed by a 5 day practical sea phase.

During the sea phase you will put into practice all that theory you have learned in the classroom. Each student is given the opportunity to navigate and take control of the yacht on short inshore or coastal passages. Your instructor is there to ensure that your first, perhaps hesitant steps as skipper are taken in safety. There will be plenty of opportunity to practice your boat handling in a variety of mooring situations, and whilst at sea your instructor will cover subjects such as watch keeping, deck work, sail trim and how to cope in emergency situations.

A skipper is totally responsible for the management of a yacht, so the course also includes meteorology, basic engine checks, passage planning, preparing the yacht for sea, and rules of the road. Night sailing is also undertaken to give you a taste of pilotage in the dark. By the end of this course the successful RYA Day Skipper will be able to undertake short coastal passages by day, in both tidal and non-tidal waters. Successful completion of this course means that you can charter one of our yachts. Perhaps the one you trained on!

Accommodation onboard is only included for the 5 day practical sea phase of the course. Whilst you are shore based, you will need to stay in local accommodation. A full list of accommodation options can be found on our website, under Contact BOSS/ Joining Details.

Pre-course experience:

5 days, 100 nautical miles and 4 night hours on board a cruising yacht

Minimum age: 16

Teaching ratio on board 5:1

Not included in the course fee:  The theory part of the course is non residential , so local accommodation will be required.

Although accommodation is provided onboard for the practical element of the course, the mooring fees are split between the students. Wet weather jackets & salopettes are available to hire for £7.50 per day. A selection of accompanying course books & logbooks are available to purchase.

Students should allow for one evening meal ashore on a five day course. All other catering including three evening meals are provided onboard. 




rya teaching establishment

RYA Combined Day Skipper Theory & Practical - Typical 9 Day Course Itinerary

Day 1

08:45 Arrive at Hamble - Check in at School reception, tea & coffee. Introduction to your shore based course instructor and fellow students.  

09:00 Chart familiarisation and symbols, plotting instruments, latitude & longitude, the nautical mile, projections, true bearings and distance, deduced reckoning (DR) 

12:30 Lunch

13:15 Nautical publications, the nautical almanac and commercial charts. The magnetic compass, deviation and variation. Sighting of the steering compass, use of the hand bearing compass; sources of position line and position fixing.

18:00 Home work issued 


Day 2

08:50 tea & coffee. Recap and run through of home work 

09:15 Rules of the Road-Steering rules, sound signals. The causes of tide, Tidal streams, Position fixing & Sources of Position Line, Estimated position, Leeway & set. 

12:30 Lunch

 13:15 Pilotage, IALA buoyage system, use of transits, leading lines and clearing lines. Pilot books and sailing directions. Rules of the Road-Sailing rules. Anchors and anchoring.

18:00 Home work issued 


Day 3

08:50 tea & coffee. Recap and run through of home work 

09:15 Tide tables. Tidal heights, predicting heights for a standard port and basic secondary height predictions. Course shaping - concept. Rules of the Road-lights and shape. 

12:30 Lunch

13:15 Introduction to Meteorology. Sources of weather forecast and Forecasts and interpretation.

18:00 Home work set


Day 4

08:50 tea & coffee. Recap and run through of home work 

09:15 Chart work practise. Passage planning. Electronic aids to navigation. Chart plotters. 

12:30 Lunch

 13:15 Meteorology recap.

14:00 Navigation assessment paper.

16:00 General Seamanship assessment paper.



Day 5 
Move onto practical course yacht. Introduction to practical instructor and settle in. Instructors safety briefing and yacht familiarisation talk - explain where everything is. Parts of the boat & terminology. Tea/Safety discussion. Passage planning overview for the week.

Weather forecast.

On deck - Introduction to ropes and rigging, preparation of the yacht for sea. Engine start controls, sea cocks and bilge pumps.

Practice manoeuvring under power. Coming alongside pontoons, the use of warps and fenders. 

Lunch on board at anchor or tied to a mooring buoy.

Weather forecast.

Manoeuvring under sail, reefing and headsail changes

Man overboard , the correct response as the skipper.

19:00 Enter Solent harbour. Stow sails and tidy up on deck. Discuss the days events.

20:00 Supper

Day 6

Weather Forecast, clean up and prepare for sea. 
Tide tables, the tidal stream atlas. Pilotage techniques. 
Practice pile moorings or mooring buoys. Set off on short passage 
Weather forecast 
Sail off to anchorage - steering a compass course 
Whilst at anchor cover rules of road, buoyage and position fixing
18:3 Supper 
20:00 Depart on night sail (weather permitting)

Day 7

08:00 Breakfast. Passage planning 
Depart to sail on passage. 
During the day : points of sail, passage making decisions, Discussion of emergency situations. 
Dinghy drills. 
20:00 Supper (spare evening for night sail)

Day 8

By 08:30 Weather Forecast, breakfast, clean yacht and prepare for sea.
09:00 Pontoon moorings, further practice.
Depart to practice entry to as many ports as possible, more points of sailing practice.
19.00 Arrive at a port for evening.

Day 9

By 08:30 Weather forecast, breakfast, and preparation for sea.
0Sailing in the Solent - practice all aspects 
15:00 Return to Hamble Point. Clean up yacht, return oilskins etc.
16:00 Finish course, debrief, sign logbooks, depart

Day Skipper Shorebased Course Syllabus

A comprehensive introduction to chart work, navigation, meteorology and the basics of seamanship for Competent Crew and Helmsmen. You will find this course invaluable if you want to learn how to start making decisions on board. 

1 Nautical terms

  •           Parts of a boat and hull
  •           General nautical terminology 

2. Ropework

  •           Knowledge of the properties of synthetic ropes in common use 

3. Anchorwork

  •           Characteristics of different types of anchor
  •           Considerations to be taken into account when anchoring 

4. Safety

  •           Knowledge of the safety equipment to be carried, its stowage and use (see RYA Boat Safety Handbook, C8)
  •           Fire precautions and fire fighting
  •           Use of personal safety equipment harnesses and lifejackets
  •           Ability to send a distress signal by VHF radiotelephone
  •           Basic knowledge of rescue procedures including helicopter rescue 

5. International regulations for preventing collisions at sea

  •           Steering and sailing rules (5, 7. 8, 9. 10 and 12-19)
  •           General rules (all other rules) 

6. Definition of position, course and speed

  •           Latitude and longitude
  •           Knowledge of standard navigational terms
  •           True bearings and courses
  •           The knot 

7. Navigational charts and publications

  •           Information shown on charts, chart symbols and representation of direction and distance
  •           Navigational publications in common use
  •           Chart correction 

8. Navigational drawing instruments

  •           Use of parallel rulers. dividers and proprietary plotting instruments 

9. Compass

  •           Application of variation
  •           Awareness of deviation and its causes
  •           Use of hand-bearing compass 


  •           Dead reckoning and estimated position including an awareness of leeway
  •           Techniques of visual fixing
  •           Satellite - derived positions
  •           Use of waypoints to fix position
  •           Course to steer 

11.Tides and tidal streams

  •           Tidal definitions, levels and datum


Day Skipper and Watch Leader Practical Course Syllabus - Tidal

Section A

All candidates

1. Preparation for sea

  •           Is able to prepare a yacht for sea, including engine checks, selection of sails, securing and stowage of all gear on deck and below. 

2. Deck work

  •           Can reef, shake out reefs and change sails to suit prevailing conditions
  •           Can prepare an anchor, mooring warps and take charge on deck when mooring alongside, coming to a buoy, anchoring, weighing anchor and slipping    from a buoy or an alongside berth 

3. Navigation

Is proficient in chart work and routine navigational duties on passage including:

  •           Taking and plotting visual fixes
  •           Use of electronic navigation equipment for position fixing
  •           Use of waypoints
  •           Working up DR and EP
  •           Estimating tidal heights and tidal streams
  •           Working out course to steer to allow for tidal stream, leeway and drift
  •           Knowledge of IALA buoyage
  •           Maintenance of navigational records
  •           Use of echo sounder and lead line 

4. Pilotage

  •           Can prepare and execute a pilotage plan for entry into, or departure from, harbour
  •           Understands the use of leading and clearing lines.
  •           Use of transits and soundings as aids to pilotage 

5. Meteorology

  •           Knows sources of forecast information
  •           Can interpret shipping forecasts and use a barometer as a forecasting aid 

6. Rule of the road

  •           Has a working knowledge of the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea

7. Maintenance and repair work

  •           Understands and is able to carry out maintenance tasks
  •           Knows the properties and uses of common synthetic fibre ropes 

8. Engines

  •           Knows how to change fuel and water filters, pump impeller and to bleed the fuel system

9. Victualling

  •           Understands how to victual a yacht

10. Emergency situations

  •           Is able to take correct action as skipper for recovery of man overboard
  •           Understands distress flares and how to use a liferaft
  •           Can operate a radiotelephone in an emergency and send a distress message
  •           Understands how to secure a tow
  •           Understands rescue procedures including helicopter rescue 

Section B

Sail Training Candidates only - Watch Leader 

11. General organization

  •          Understands the organisation and is fully competent to take charge of a watch at sea and in harbour

Section C

Yachting Candidates only - Day Skipper 

12. Yacht handling under power

      ·       Can bring a boat safely to and from an alongside berth, mooring buoy and anchor under various conditions of wind and tide

13. Yacht handling under sail

  •        Can bring a boat safely to and from a mooring buoy and anchor under various conditions of wind and tide
  •        Can steer and trim sails effectively on all points of sailing 

14. Passage making

  •      Can plan and make a coastal passage, taking account of relevant navigational hazards and limitations imposed by the type of boat and the strength of the crew


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