February 24, 2024

2 min

Skills & Seamanship

600-Mile Qualifying Passage Criteria for RYA Yachtmaster Ocean

sailor using sextant


Welcome to our comprehensive guide on the Royal Yachting Association (RYA)’s criteria for the 600-mile qualifying passage required for the Yachtmaster Ocean certification. You can read our full overview of the Yachtmaster Ocean qualification here.. A list of our qualifying passages that you can join as a watch leader is given below.

Criteria for the 600-Mile Qualifying Passage


The 600-mile qualifying passage is a significant undertaking that tests your skills and endurance. It’s designed to prove that you can confidently handle a yacht offshore for a prolonged period of time.

Specific Criteria
  1. Distance: The passage must be a non-stop journey of at least 600 nautical miles.
  2. Offshore Distance: At least 250 miles of the passage must be more than 50 nautical miles offshore. This requirement is designed to ensure that the passage includes a significant amount of open ocean sailing, testing navigational skills away from coastal landmarks.
  3. Role: You must serve as the skipper or mate of watch for the entire journey, actively involved in planning and executing the passage.

The Royal Yachting Association (RYA) has specific requirements for what a watch leader must demonstrate during a qualifying passage. The watch leader’s responsibilities and skills are critical in ensuring the safety and efficiency of the voyage. Here’s an outline of what the RYA expects a watch leader to do or show on their passage:

RYA Requirements for a Watch Leader on a Qualifying Passage

1. Leadership and Team Management

  • Effectively manage and motivate the crew.
  • Ensure clear communication and delegation of tasks.
  • Maintain a positive and safe working environment.

2. Navigation Skills

  • Plan and execute the passage route.
  • Maintain accurate navigation records, including log-keeping.
  • Utilize both traditional and modern navigational techniques if capable.

3. Safety Management

  • Enforce safety protocols and conduct regular safety checks.
  • Assist other crew with emergency procedures.
  • Ensure the readiness of safety equipment.

4. Situational Awareness

  • Continuously monitor weather conditions and sea state.
  • Adapt plans based on changing conditions.
  • Be aware of other vessels and potential hazards.

5. Decision Making

  • Make informed decisions considering the safety and efficiency of the voyage.
  • Respond effectively to unexpected situations or emergencies.

6. Technical Proficiency

  • Understand and manage the vessel’s systems and equipment.
  • Diagnose and address technical issues as they arise.

7. Environmental and Legal Compliance

  • Ensure compliance with maritime laws and regulations.
  • Promote environmentally responsible practices.

8. Record Keeping and Reporting

  • Keep accurate logs of the voyage, including navigational, technical, and crew-related aspects.
  • Prepare reports as required by the RYA or other authorities.

Additional Notes

  • Rubicon 3 runs the most rigorous passages and you will not be completing a tick box exercise as with most other operators. We can and do refuse to sign some watch leaders off. However, we do not expect you to arrive knowing everything and being able to do everything. We will teach you a great deal, but we expect you to learn and work hard to achieve the required standard. You will come out of it a much better offshore sailor.

Qualifying Passage Run by Rubicon 3

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