What is covered on the RYA Yachtmaster Theory course

The Yachtmaster Theory Course is one of the elements of structured shorebased learning that we recommend for candidates looking to enhance their existing knowledge, especially if they intend to continue through the RYA syllabus, perhaps to Coastal Skipper, Yachtmaster Coastal or even Yachtmaster Offshore.

The RYA Yachtmaster Theory course usually takes 6 days to complete and large parts of it will be familiar to the RYA Day Skipper. However, the need for a deeper understanding of existing knowledge and a more accurate level of calculation and chartwork make the RYA Yachtmaster Theory Course both challenging and rewarding.

The ‘Rules of the Road’ is covered again, but a detailed knowledge of the Collision Regulations including use of lights, day shapes and sound signals is required and required at a high level.

It’s expected that you already know how to use charts and the difference between True North, Magnetic North and how to apply things like variation, deviation and leeway.  You will look in more detail and pilotage techniques and passage planning and start to incorporate you theoretical and practical skills to hone your navigation skills.

For Day Skipper, your understanding of weather may have been limited to how to source and interpret a weather forecast and how to use a barometer. At Yachtmaster / Coastal theory we address weather in much more detail. You’ll learn about the planet’s weather systems, how high and low pressure systems form and how depressions are formed. 

You’ll learn how to recognise the approach of a low pressure system, predict its location and determine what is likely to happen to wind speed and direction over the coming hours using the barometer, observations of the sky and sea state and simple rules like the Buys Ballot Law.

You also need to understand how to pilot a vessel inshore and in coastal waters using all the information available to you. This means you need to understand buoyage and how navigational marks are lit and can be recognised during the day and at night. You’ll learn about clearing bearings and position lines as well as what to do if you are caught out in restricted visibility, such as fog. How to safely check a vessel and all its safety equipment and how to deal with a fire or flood are also addressed.

Your understanding of tides is tested and we address secondary port calculations in detail, meaning that, on completion, you’ll have the theoretical skills necessary to navigate a yacht safely in coastal waters and further afield. 

If you intend to take the RYA Coastal Skipper Course or apply to be examined for the RYA Yachtmaster Coastal or RYA Yachtmaster Offshore, a clear working knowledge and understanding of all elements of the RYA Yachtmaster Theory Course is expected.

For more details on the experience and qualifications required of candidates wishing to take the RYA Yachtmaster Offshore examination contact Jolly Parrot Sailing.

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