The RYA Yachtmaster Shorebased Theory course covers many different elements of offshore passage making; from meteorology / weather systems, chart work, pilotage through to time zones, international maritime law, and environmental responsibility.
It’s important to remember that Yachtmaster theory is designed to follow on from Day Skipper theory. If it’s been a while since you did Day Skipper theory then you can really make your learning experience easier by revising before beginning your Yachtmaster theory course.
If you can practise in advance some Dead Reckoning, Estimated Positions, Course to Steers and Height of Tide exercises you’ll be in an even better position to learn new things and ready to build upon your Day Skipper skills.
The RYA Navigation Exercises (https://www.rya.org.uk/shop/p/navigation/rya-navigation-exercises) book is an excellent place to start your revision. It includes RYA Charts 3 & 4 and extracts from the RYA Training Almanac to allow you practise all kinds of exercises.
The most important topic to revise and learn are the International Regulations for the Prevention of Collisions at Sea (IRPCS) also known as Col-regs.
Your understanding of the IRPCS should be good or better BEFORE you begin your theory course. Whilst there is some time dedicated to going through the rules there is no substitute to learning and remembering the finer detail of narrow channels, traffic separation schemes, towing lights and shapes, Annex 2, etc. before you arrive.
The RYA has a paper book and eBook focusing on the IRPCS that’s really good at explaining and translating the rules. The eBook is even more helpful as it has animated ships that you can rotate to view them from different aspects and change the time of day from daylight to twilight to complete darkness.
The paper and eBook versions can be found here: https://www.rya.org.uk/shop/p/navigation/rya-collision-regulations
If you have the opportunity, I also recommend investing in two more books:
- Navigation: https://www.rya.org.uk/shop/p/navigation/rya-navigation-handbook-2nd-edition
- Weather: https://www.rya.org.uk/shop/p/rya-weather-handbook
My top tips for success with Coastal Skipper & Yachtmaster Theory are:
- Study, learn and understand the IRPCS before your course starts
- Arrive with a good supply of 2B pencils, a sharpener, an eraser, and paper for making notes
- Bring a smart phone – you can use it as a calculator and online quizzes
- Practise chart work exercises and height of tide calculations before you arrive
- Invest in a tablet (you can use a smart phone or a laptop too) and eBooks – especially the IRPCS eBook