RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Prep + MCA/RYA Exam

RYA Sailing Courses



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Yachtmaster Offshore preparation course over 5 days, followed by two days for the practical exam.

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    5 days (Mon - Fri)

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    15 days aboard, 2 days as skipper, 300 miles logged and 8 night hours and sailing ability to RYA Day Skipper. A knowledge of navigation to RYA Coastal Skipper/Yachtmaster theory level.

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    Various - please enquire

To become an RYA/MCA Yachtmaster Offshore, candidates must successfully pass a practical examination that tests their skippering ability. A Yachtmaster is expected to have the skills to skipper a yacht on long offshore passages, both during the day and at night. They should be much more experienced than a Coastal Skipper and be able to handle the same tasks more efficiently, for longer periods, and in more challenging conditions.

At the beginning of the week, the instructor will assess each candidate’s strengths and weaknesses and provide coaching in areas that require improvement to pass the examination. Based on experience, the following areas are usually worked on: passage planning, man overboard recovery, close-quarter handling, skippering techniques, navigation in restricted visibility, pilotage, and knowledge of the International Collision Regulations. The instructor will debrief students regularly throughout the week and ensure that they get sufficient time to work on their weaker areas.

Before joining the course, candidates must have the prerequisite experience as outlined on this page, a thorough knowledge of the Collision Regulations, and navigation theory to RYA Coastal Skipper/Yachtmaster theory level. During the weekend, the examiner will ask each candidate to skipper the yacht on several short passages and complete various demonstrations of their skippering and sailing ability.

What's Included
  • All meals and snacks onboard
  • Oilskins
  • Life jackets
  • All mooring fees
What's Not Included
  • Sleeping bag
  • Waterproof boots
  • Personal sailing insurance
  • Two evening meals ashore

Course Syllabus

Candidates may be given the opportunity to demonstrate knowledge of 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. In Yachtmaster Offshore exams the candidate will be expected to demonstrate competence based on broad experience.

1. International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea

Questions will be confined to the International Regulations and although candidates must be aware of the existence of Local Regulations, they will not be expected to memorize 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)

2. Safety

Candidates will be expected to know what safety equipment should be carried on board a yacht, based either on the recommendations in the RYA Boat Safety Handbook (C8), the ISAF Special Regulations 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

3. Boat Handling

Candidates for Coastal Skipper examinations will be expected to answer questions or demonstrate ability in simple situations only. Candidates for Yachtmaster Offshore 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

4. General Seamanship, including 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

5. 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

6. Navigation

  • 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

7. Meteorology

  • Definition of terms and the Beaufort Scale.
  • 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

8. Signals

Candidates for Yachtmaster Offshore and Coastal Skipper must hold the Restricted (VHF only) Certificate of Competence in radiotelephony or a higher grade of certificate in radio telephony.

Helpful Information

  • What To Expect

    You spend the full course living on the yacht, with all meals provided. One of the expert Rubicon 3 instructors will work through the full syllabus with you, covering everything you need to know to be a competent and useful crew member on any future yachts you sail on.

    A training holiday

    Each day, you will sail to somewhere new, visiting the wonderful harbours and anchorages of the Solent. You will finish each day both on the mainland and on the Isle of Wight, and there’s usually the chance to head into one of the local pubs for a well earned beer and chat about the day’s training.

    In the best place to learn to sail

    The Solent is easily one of the best sailing grounds in the world, with its huge variety of locations, sheltered water, challenging tides, and lots of vast commercial cargo ships moving by. As we describe in our Solent overview, this really is the only place to learn to sail

  • Safety

    Safety is absolutely paramount when heading out onto the water. Rubicon 3’s heritage is in ocean sailing and expeditions to the polar regions, and we bring all that expertise to everything we do, including the RYA courses. It can mean a quite different experience to other sailing schools, many of who rarely venture out beyond their local area. You will also be training on top class yachts with the latest safety equipment, fully inspected by the maritime authorities every year.

  • Who Else Joins

    90% of crew join solo, so these are excellent courses if you are coming alone. There is nearly always a 50:50 mix of men and women, of all ages. It’s a small, fun group of like-minded people, all working toward the same goal.

    You can expect three other crew on board, giving a maximum of four. Many other sailing schools will pack five onto a boat (to maximise profits) but this has a really detrimental effect on the training. You will simply not have enough ‘wheel’ time, trimming time and such like. It’s a 25% reduction in training time and the quality of your training is greatly affected

  • FAQ

    What time does my sailing course start and finish?

    Start: 1830hrs on Friday and Sunday

    Finish: 1600hrs on Friday and Sunday (approximate time)

    Do I need insurance?

    Rubicon 3 has full public liability insurance, however we do strongly recommend that you buy additional personal insurance that covers travel, cancellation, damage to clothing or accidents. Topsail and Bishop’s Skinner are both good options.

    Where will be sail to?

    You will be sailing in the Solent, which is the best training ground available. You may visit some of the well-known harbours on the Isle of Wight such as Cowes or Yarmouth, along with Beaulieu, Lymington, Poole and Portsmouth.

    Will we get off the boat?

    Most nights you can jump off the boat for a beer ashore. Some nights we may be at anchor.

    How many students will there be on the boat?

    We take a maximum of 4 students per boat. This maximises your tuition and hands on time, versus many other schools that pack a fifth person on board.

    Will I be cooking?

    Part of learning to sail is learning how to live aboard a yacht. All chores, including cooking, are shared equally between all students and the instructor. Don’t worry – there’s a set menu and lots of help at hand!

    Will I be sharing a cabin?

    It may be necessary for you to share a cabin. Couples and friends will normally share. If you are coming on a course on your own there is a possibility you will have to share a cabin but this would only be with someone of the same sex.

    Can you cater for dietary requirements?

    We can accommodate basic dietary requirements such as vegetarians and minor food allergies. If you have any concerns, please check with us before booking.

  • Packing Check List

    • Do not go and spend lots of money on sailing clothing. Especially when you are first starting out, you really don’t need it. The main consideration is to bring layers, so that you can adjust your temperature accordingly.
    • Warm clothes including hat, scarf, gloves and thermal underwear.
    • Sleeping bag
    • Polarised sunglasses
    • Sun block
    • Wash kit
    • Towel
    • Flip flops (great for shower blocks)
    • Swimming gear
    • Phone charger
    • Sailing boots and some deck shoes or non-marking trainers

     Everything must be packed into a soft holdall that can be rolled away

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