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RYA Yachtmaster Coastal and Offshore Exam Syllabus

Candidates will be given the opportunity to demonstrate knowledge and competence in many of the areas listed below. In each section the Examiner will expect to see the candidate take full responsibility for the management of the yacht and crew.

In RYA Yachtmaster Offshore exams the candidate will be expected to demonstrate competence based on broad experience.

In RYA Yachtmaster Coastal exams the candidate will be expected to demonstrate understanding but may not have had the opportunity to practise all aspects of the syllabus under a range of different weather conditions.

International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea

Questions will be confined to the International Regulations and, although candidates must be aware of the existence of local regulations, they will not be expected to memorise specific local ones.

  • General rules (1-3)
  • Steering and sailing rules (4-9)
  • Lights and shapes (20-31)
  • Sound and light signals (32-37)
  • Signals for vessels fishing in close proximity (Annex ll)
  • Distress signals (Annex IV)


Candidates will be expected to know what safety equipment should be carried on board a sailing yacht or motor vessel, based either on the recommendations in the RYA Boat Safety Handbook (G103), the ISAF Special Regulations or the Codes of Practise for the Safety of Small Commercial Vessels. In particular, candidates must know the responsibilities of a skipper in relation to:

  • The safety briefing
  • Safety harnesses
  • Life jackets
  • Distress signalling (flares and electronic means)
  • Stability
  • Fire prevention and fighting
  • Life rafts
  • Knowledge of rescue procedures
  • Helicopter rescue

Boat Handling

Candidates for RYA Yachtmaster Coastal examinations will be expected to answer questions or demonstrate ability in less-complex situations only. Candidates for Yachtmaster Offshore will be expected to answer questions or demonstrate ability in more complex situations and will also be expected to show a higher level of expertise:

  • Coming to and weighing anchor under power or sail in various conditions of wind and tide
  • In all berthing and unberthing situations in various conditions of wind and tide
  • In recovery of man overboard and being able to describe the effects of cold-water shock and the aftercare requirements of a casualty who has been in the water
  • When towing under open-sea conditions and in confined areas
  • In boat handling in confined areas under sail
  • In boat handling in heavy weather
  • When using helmsmanship and sail trim to sail to best advantage
  • Using warps for securing in an alongside berth and for shifting berth or winding

General Seamanship, Including Maintenance

  • Properties, use and car of synthetic-fibre ropes
  • Knots
  • General deck work at sea and in harbour
  • Engine operations, routine checks and troubleshooting
  • Improvisation of jury rigs following gear failure

Responsibility of the Skipper

  • Can skipper a yacht and manage the crew
  • Communication with the crew
  • Delegation of responsibility and watchkeeping organisation
  • Preparing the yacht for sea and for adverse weather conditions
  • Tactics for heavy weather and restricted visibility
  • Emergency and distress situations
  • Victualling for a cruise and feeding at sea
  • Customs procedures
  • Standards of behaviour and courtesy
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