RYA Yachtmaster Coastal Course

Coastal Skipper Exam Preparation Courses


This course is suitable for those looking to gain an RYA/ MCA certification. It is the next logical step for those have completed the RYA Coastal Skipper practical course or have the equivalent amount of sailing experience. This Solent based course is run over 7 days. The first 5 days are spent on-board with an experienced Yachtmaster Instructor, where we run through various scenarios that are likely to come up during the examination. At the end of the 5 day course, and independent RYA examiner joins the yacht for the weekend to assess the candidates on-board.

Although there is no RYA syllabus for this course, during the week we will cover man overboard drills, navigating in restricted visibility, engine failures as well as passage planning and sailing manoeuvres such as sailing on and off mooring buoys and pontoons. At this level we assume that you already have the required theory knowledge, mileage and 2 days as skipper. During the course there is ample opportunity to practice pilotage - with plenty of entries by both night and day, into the numerous ports, harbours and anchorages of the Solent. Each night is spent in a different port, ensuring you become familiar with the local sailing area and can feel confident during the examination.

Throughout your course, you will receive regular debriefs and constructive feedback from the instructor. A fair and honest assessment of your ability early on in the course, will enable you to work on any identified weaknesses during the week.

At Yachtmaster level, there are 2 levels of certification - Yachtmaster Coastal and the higher level, Yachtmaster Offshore. Regardless of which level you are hoping to attain, candidates take the course and examination together on the same yacht. During the exam, Yachtmaster Coastal candidates with less practical experience and sea time - will not be expected to demonstrate such a high level of skill as a more experienced sailor at Offshore level.

On successfully passing the exam, you will receive the RYA/ MCA Yachtmaster Coastal Certificate of Competence.

Pre- exam requisites: 

30 days, 2 days as skipper, 800 nautical miles and 12 night hours on board a cruising yacht. All qualifying sea time must have taken place within the last 10 years.

 (if you hold the Coastal Skipper practical course completion certificate this is reduced to 20 days, 2 days as skipper, 400 miles, 12 night hours).

Half of the qualifying sea time must have been logged in tidal waters.

Theoretical knowledge and certificates: 

You should possess a good theoretical knowledge to the level of the RYA Yachtmaster shore based course. This includes a thorough knowledge of the IRPCS & radar. Candidates are required to hold an in date First Aid certificate (valid for three years from date of issue) and hold a VHF licence or Short Range Certificate - SRC 

click here for a list of acceptable first aid certificates.

Minimum age: 17

Teaching ratio on board 4:1

Not included in the course fee:  Although accommodation is provided onboard, 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.

The RYA exam fee is not included and is payable prior to the exam, via the RYA online payment scheme. The exam fee is currently £208.00.

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




RYA Yachtmaster Coastal Exam Certificate of Competence

Syllabus - Yachtmaster Coastal Exam Syllabi - Candidates may be given the opportunity to demonstrate knowledge or competence in the areas listed below

In each section the examiner will expect to see the candidate take full responsibility for the management of the yacht and crew. The candidate will be expected to demonstrate an understanding, but may not have had the opportunity to practise all aspects of the syllabus under a range of different weather conditions.  

All candidates must be familiar with:

International Regulations for preventing Collisions at Sea

Questions will be confirmed to the International Regulations and although 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)


Coastal Skipper 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 
• Lifejackets 
• Distress flares 
• Fire prevention and fighting 
• Liferafts 
• Knowledge of rescue procedures. Helicopter rescue.

Boat Handling

Candidates for Coastal skipper examinations will l be expected to answer questions or demonstrate ability in simple situations only: 

• 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 & Maintenance

• Properties, use and care of synthetic fibre ropes 
• Knots 
• General deck-work, at sea and in harbour 
• Engine operations and routine checks 
• Improvisation of jury rigs following gear failure

Responsibilities of 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 Coastal Skipper exam must hold the Short Range Certificate (SRC), Restricted (VHF only) Certificate of Competence in radiotelephony or a higher grade of certificate in radiotelephony.

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7 Days RYA Yachtmaster Coastal Course