Preparation for the RYA Yachtmaster Coastal Exam

The RYA Yachtmaster Coastal Examination is an externally adjudicated examination, unlike the RYA Coastal Skipper Course and the RYA Day Skipper Course, both of which are courses taught and assessed by a qualified instructor employed by an accredited RYA Training Centre.

Candidates planning on taking the RYA/MCA Yachtmaster Coastal examination will need to provide a boat for use during the examination. Most candidates tend to attend an RYA School for a ‘preparation week’ before their exam date and it’s usual for schools to allow candidates the use of a yacht for their exam after their ‘prep week’ finishes.  If unsure what’s included, ask your school.

Candidates for the Yachtmaster Coastal exam will be expected to be relatively experienced and competent. To this end there are minimal requirements set by the RYA which candidates must fulfill before they may take the exam. These are;

  • 30 days, 2 days as skipper, 800 miles logged with 12 night hours. 
  • If you hold the Coastal Skipper practical course completion certificate this is reduced to 20 days, 2 days as skipper, 400 miles and 12 night hours.


Half the qualifying sea time must be conducted in tidal waters and all qualifying seatime must be within 10 years prior to the exam. 

In addition, the candidate must have at least a GMDSS Short Range Radio Certificate and a valid First Aid Certificate.

If you intend to use your own boat for the examination make sure that;

  • The boat is between 7m and 18m LOA and 
  • Be in sound, seaworthy condition, equipped to the standard set out in the RYA book Cruising Yacht Safety (code C8). 
  • The boat must be equipped with a full up to date set of charts and navigational publications and be efficiently crewed, as the examiner will not take part in the management of the boat during the exam.


The examination itself will take place over 6 - 10 hours. If there is more than one candidate it may take longer. Two candidates should expect 8 - 14 hours.

The examiner is looking for an RYA Yachtmaster Coastal candidate to have the knowledge needed to skipper a yacht on coastal cruises but does not necessarily expect them to have the experience needed to undertake longer passages.

Full details of the exam syllabus and requirements are shown in the RYA Yachtmaster Scheme and Logbook (G158)

The exam will include an assessment of your skippering skills, boat handling, general seamanship, navigation, safety awareness and knowledge of the IRPCS (collision regulations), meteorology and signals. You will be set tasks to demonstrate your ability and may also be asked questions on any part of the syllabus for all practical and shorebased courses up to Yachtmaster Coastal level.

The best way to prepare for the exam itself is to book a ‘Prep Week’ with one of our experienced Yachtmaster Instructors. They will quickly ascertain where your strengths and weaknesses lie and then work with you to improve and hone your skills before exam time.  Part of the week is likely to take the form of a sort of mock exam too, with regular feedback being given to you as you go.

For more details on our Yachtmaster Preparation Weeks contact us on 02380 970824.

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