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RYA Day Skipper Motor Practical Course Syllabus

Minimum age 16

Recommended pre-course experience

5 days at sea, 100 miles, 4 night hours
Navigation to Day Skipper shorebased standard

Course Duration

The course takes place over 5 days either Monday – Friday, Saturday - Wednesday, Wednesday - Sunday or a three and two day weekend. During the course you will be provided with accommodation onboard our sailing yacht Nomad I from the evening before the course starts, pillows included.

Course Content

The Day Skipper course is designed to teach you to Skipper a boat safely and with confidence. As with your previous courses you will live aboard with a crew of others for the duration of the course.

As the skipper of a motor yacht you are responsible for the safety, well being and enjoyment of all your crew and for the well being of the vessel. The Day Skipper Course will ensure you know where to obtain weather forecasts and understand what they mean, are able to carry out engine checks, victual the yacht, plot and navigate courses, pilot the yacht into harbours and other anchorages. 

As mariners, we are very dependent on wind and tide and as a result the itinerary is changeable, you will visit a number of different ports and harbours in and around the Solent and experience at least 4 hours of sailing at night. As potential Day Skippers you will be involved in planning the passages during the week and deciding where we go and when. There will be plenty of opportunity to practise mooring in different harbours, to mooring buoys and anchoring. 
By the end of the 5 days you will be a competent Day Skipper with the confidence to skipper a cruising motor boat on short passages by day. 

Nomad Sailing and Haslar Sea school are a brother and sister operation and it is likely you will be taught by either Jim or Lou Barden on your Day Skipper course. We are both passionate about sailing and having fun whilst learning valuable skills. We also have a small number of instructors who are equally passionate about what they do. To book onto one of our courses visit our Course Dates page or contact Jim on 07931940277 or Lou on 07917573772

Day Skipper Practical Syllabus

Preparation for Sea

  • Knowledge of basic stability and buoyancy for small vessels
  • Is able to prepare a cruising vessel for sea, including engine checks, securing and stowage of all gear on deck and below.

Deck Work

  • Can prepare an anchor, mooring warps and take charge on deck when mooring alongside, coming to a buoy, anchoring, weighing anchor and slipping from a buoy or an alongside berth.


  • Is proficient in chartwork and routine navigational duties on passage including:
  • Knowledge of the uses and limitations of AIS
  • Understands working up Dead Reckoning (DR) and Estimated Position (EP)
  • Use of a lead line, or similar
  • How to work out a course to steerto allow for set, drift and leeway
  • Taking and plotting visual fixes.
  • Use of electronic navigation equipment for position fixing
  • Use secondary means of position fixing
  • Use of waypoints and routes
  • Estimating tidal heights and tidal streams
  • Knowledge of IALA buoyage
  • Maintenance of navigational records


  • Can prepare and execute a pilotage plan for entry into, or departure from,
  • Understands the use of leading and clearing lines.
  • Use of transits and soundings as aids to pilotage.


  • Knows sources of forecast information.
  • Can interpret shipping forecasts and use a barometer as a forecasting aid.

Rules of the Road

  • Has a working knowledge of the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (IRPCS)
  • Demonstarte suitable awareness of other water users both at sea and in close-quarter manoeuvring

Maintenance and Repair work

  • Understands and is able to carry out maintenance tasks.
  • Knows the properties and uses of common synthetic fibre ropes.


  • Understands the need for periodic maintenance checks on engines and electrical installations.
  • Understands the requirements for tool kits, spares and lubricants and coolant.
  • Knows how to change fuel and water filters, pump impellor and bleed the fuel system.
  • Can carry out checks before starting, during running and after stopping engine.
  • Tension of drive belts and how to adjust or replace them.
  • Estimate fuel consumption at various speeds and the effects of fouling.
  • Carry out basic trouble shooting.


  • Understands how to victual a yacht appropriately for the planned passage.

Emergency Situations

  • Is able to take the correct action as skipper for the recovery of man overboard.
  • Understands distress flares and how to use a liferaft.
  • How to issue distress signals by all available means, including distress flares and a VHF radio, in an emergency.
  • Understands how to secure a tow.
  • Understands rescue procedures including helicopter rescue.
  • The effects of cold-water shock on a casualty in the water.
  • The aftercare requirements of a casualty who has been in the water.

Handling Under Power

  • Knowledge of the effects of waves on boat handling and crew comfort
  • Understands differing styles of hull and propulsion systems
  • How to moor and leave a bow/stern-to mooring
  • Can bring a boat safely to and from an alongside berth, mooring buoy and anchor under various conditions of wind and tide.
  • Can steer a straight course
  • Turn in a confined space
  • Anchor in a pre-determined position
  • Use power and trim tabs correctly

Passage Making

  • Can plan and make a coastal passage, taking account of relevant navigational hazards and limitations imposed by the type of boat and strength of the crew.
  • Knowledge of marina locks
  • Understands the practical benefits and limitations of a chart plotter or GNSS

Night Cruising

  • Has experienced cruising at night, including leaving and entering harbour
  • Understands the special considerations for pilotage plans, keeping a lookout and identifying marks by night


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