Many of us take an RYA yachting course in order to achieve a basic level of competence and to help guarantee that we have attained at least a rudimentary knowledge. Others want to continue their learning through a structured process and others still will see completing the RYA syllabi as a stepping stone to a career in the marine industry.
Anyone that has been taught by an RYA sailing school will know that their instructor (presumably paid - and therefore, a professional) is both a Yachtmaster Offshore / Ocean and also a qualified Instructor (either a Cruising Instructor or Yachtmaster Instructor). To be either, you need to hold a commercial endorsement. However, what many don’t know is that you can hold a variety of commercially endorsed RYA certificates which will enable you to legally work on British-flagged vessels in many parts of the World.
The highest RYA certification is the Yachtmaster Ocean qualification which qualifies the holder to skipper a qualifying British-flagged vessel anywhere in the World. Dependent on the area of operation, there may be other manning requirements.
For example, when in category 0 waters (more than 150 miles from a safe haven) the vessel must not only be specified to meet a Cat 0 coding (if it is to be commercially run) but the skipper must also have a second-in-command that is qualified RYA Yachtmaster Offshore. Both holders must have commercial endorsements on their certificates.
A Yachtmaster Offshore may skipper a properly coded vessel up to 150 miles from a safe haven (Cat 1 waters) or up to 60 miles from a safe haven (Cat 2 waters). A Yachtmaster Coastal may skipper a vessel in Cat 3 waters (up to 20 miles from a safe haven).
But commercially endorsed skippers are not restricted to the above areas of operation and those with less advanced qualifications may also work in the industry by obtaining a commercial endorsement. This includes;
- RYA Powerboat Certificate of Competence, which may be commercially endorsed and used to skipper qualifying vessels in Cat 3, 4, 5 and 6 waters).
- RYA Day Skipper certificates of Competence may be commercially endorsed for skippers in Cat 3, 4, 5 and 6 waters also.
For clarity, the definitions for Cat 4, 5 and 6 waters are as follows;
Category 4 Waters: Up to 20 miles from a safe haven in favourable weather and daylight.
Category 5 waters: To sea, within 20 miles from a nominated departure point in favourable weather and daylight
Category 6 Waters: To sea, within 3 miles from a nominated departure point(s) and never more than 3 miles from land, in favourable weather and daylight
The laws pertaining to the manning and operation of British-flagged ships are set down and enforced by the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA).