RYA navigation courses explained

In today’s world, finding your way from point A to point B is easier than ever. On land we are deluged by signposts, largely standardised road layouts and GPS-based plotters in ours cars, our phones - and even on our watches!  

Of course, this satellite-based technology began in the marine and aviation environments where the need for it was much greater and there is no doubt that it has helped to make navigation at sea more accurate and easier for the less experienced navigator. Having said this, no responsible skipper should go to sea without a thorough knowledge of the principles of navigation and the ability to find their way to a safe port if modern navigational aids are lost.

Jolly Parrot Sailing is a recognised RYA Training Centre based in the sunny Western Mediterranean. We offer our students a wide range of RYA Day Skipper course right the way through to preparation for advanced examinations for Yachtmaster Offshore

In addition to the RYA practical courses that we conduct on board our fleet of training yachts, we also have a thriving classroom teaching our students how to safely navigate. The courses match the needs of our clients and take the novice from An Introduction to Navigation right the way through to Celestial Navigation.  

In brief, the RYA shorebased courses available are as follows;

1. Essential Navigation & Seamanship

A course for beginners and water users looking to grasp a basic understanding of how to navigate and pilot inshore waters safely, The Essential Navigation & Seamanship Course is great for novice sailors wanting to learn a little more or for divers and sportsboat owners.

Topics covered include; Charts and Publications, Safety, Engine checks, Buoyage, Tidal awareness, Visual and electronic navigation, Pilotage, Rules of the road, Anchoring, Weather forecasts and Passage planning.
You’ll receive a course pack which includes a chart, plotter, dividers, course handbook, exercises and an electronic chart plotter CD.

The course can be delivered as a series of short sessions or over two full days, taking 16 hours in total. We can also offer an online course option.

2. Day Skipper Theory

This course is generally recognised as the first in a tranche of courses aimed at yachtsmen looking to navigate their vessel safely and competently.  The Day Skipper shorebased course is delivered over 40 hours and in isolation, it is taught in a classroom over five days (or sometimes three weekends). 

At Jolly Parrot Sailing, one of our most popular courses is the combined Day Skipper Fast Track Course which includes 4 days in a classroom followed by 5 days on the water. This course allows candidates to take the course over two weekends and the weekdays in between, making it time efficient and more convenient for flights from Europe and mainland UK.

The course covers; the basics of seamanship, the essentials of coastal navigation and pilotage, chartwork electronic charts, position fixing, plotting a course to steer, weather forecasting and meteorology, tides, collision regulations, construction, parts and equipment of a cruising boat, emergency and safety procedures - including distress calls, use of flares and the use of safety harnesses, lifejackets and liferafts.

3. Coastal Skipper / Yachtmaster Offshore

Building on the knowledge included in the RYA Day Skipper Theory Course, The Coastal Skipper / Yachtmaster Offshore shorebased course assumes a certain level of knowledge.  Successful candidates are expected to be able to illustrate a deeper understanding of the subject matter and the ability to be more accurate in their workings.

The course topics include;  position fixing, course shaping and plotting, tidal knowledge and use of almanacs and admiralty publications, electronic position finding equipment, taking and interpreting forecasts, plotting weather systems, weather predictions using a barometer and by observation, collision regulations (IRPCS), customs procedures and regulations for cruising abroad.  Here at Jolly Parrot, we are well placed to put all of these things into practice on the water given our location between continental Europe and Africa, on British territory.  Customs and border procedures are a necessary part of our practical courses.

4. Yachtmaster Ocean

The Yachtmaster Ocean Certificate is the pinnacle of the RYA Training Programme. It is aimed at the experienced yachtsman and candidates must have the theoretical knowledge expected of an RYA Yachtmaster Coastal/RYA Yachtmaster Offshore.

The course is aimed at those skippers looking to sail further offshore, including ocean crossings.  The shorebased course compliments additional practical requirements and a final interview.

The shorebased course, which is by no means comprises entirely of navigation, concentrates in large part on celestial navigation.  Topics include; The earth and the celestial sphere, a practical guide to use and care of sextant at sea, meridian altitudes, Sun, star and other sights and Ocean passage planning.

The shorebased element of the course runs over 40 hours and is usually run over 5 days intensive, classroom based learning.

For further details on the shorebased RYA Sailing Courses we run and how best we can meet your individual needs, contact Jolly Parrot Sailing.