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Requirements For The Yachtmaster Offshore Exam

There is some confusion around the requirements for the RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Coastal or Offshore exam. We hope this guide helps explain these requirements.

Requirements for the Yachtmaster Offshore exam

To sit the  RYA Yachtmaster offshore exam you are required to have, as a minimum, the following experience. All completed within the last 10 years:

  1. 50 days and a minimum of 2,500 miles logged before you sit the exam. At least half the sea time must be in tidal waters
  2. During this time you would have completed five passages of over 60 miles**. Two of these passages would have been at night and two acting as skipper.
  3. Five days experience as skipper
  4. GMDSS short-range radio certificate (VHF)
  5. A valid first aid certificate
  6. You must be 18 years old to sit the Yachtmaster Offshore exam, 17 for Yachtmaster Coastal

** All 5 qualifying passages must have been on a vessel between 7 and 24m in length.

Yachtmaster Offshore Prep course

What if all my sea time has been on Superyachts?

Candidates who have worked on vessels, say over 50m, will generally not has the opportunity to take charge of the vessel. It is unlikely to have gained any boat-handling or mooring practice.

It’s not all bad news, the RYA recognise that the experienced gained on larger yachts does go some way towards the 2,500 miles required for the Yachtmaster Offshore exam. Therefore, 50% of the qualifying sea time gained on a vessel over 24m can be used towards the Yachtmaster exam. A testimonial or Discharge book will be required to confirm sea time.

The other 50% of the qualifying sea time must have been completed on vessels between 7 and 24 meters in length. Some Superyachts have large tenders and chase boats, in this case, any miles gained at the helm goes some way to 1,250 sea miles.

How is sea time recorded for the RYA Yachtmaster exam?

The miles that you have gained during your time at sea can be recorded in either the RYA’s G158 logbook, a CV or even an Excel spreadsheet. When recording sea time make sure you detail: dates, name, and type of vessel, details of the passages, miles sailed, any night hours and the number of days onboard. Your experience would have been built up over a period of time on various types of yachts.

Please use our template below to record your sea time accrued on vessels less than 24m in length.

Superyacht Deckhands

Should I choose Yachtmaster power or sail?

The RYA offer two practical schemes depending on whether you like Power or Sail. Both Power and Sail schemes lead to the RYA/MCA Yachmaster Offshore Certificate of Competence. The requirements for the Yachtmaster Offshore power or sail qualification are the same. If you intend to work on a Motorboat then choose Yachtmaster Power and vice versa.

Commercial endorsement

Many choose to complete the RYA Yachtmaster offshore exam as it is the qualification that leads to a career as a Commercial Skipper. If this is your chosen path then in addition to the sea time requirments above you will need:

Once you have completed these three steps then you can apply for commercial endorsement through the RYA. It can take a couple of weeks for your certificate to arrive in the post, so plan ahead.

STCW Endorsement

Complete STCW Basic Safety Training then the RYA/MCA Yachtmaster Offshore certificate will be endorsed to allow the holder to skipper a commercial or privately owned vessel up to 200 gross tones, which may be greater than 24m in length.

yachtmaster Theory

Do I need RYA Yachtmaster Theory

In short, yes. To become an RYA Yachtmaster offshore then you need to be able to navigate as well as handle the boat at sea. Furthermore, holding the RYA Yachtmaster Theory as well as your Yachtmaster Offshore certificate of competence is required if your goal is the Officer of the Watch 3000GT. If you have not sat at the chart table for a while then consider a combined Yachtmaster Offshore Theory and practical prep course.

What other skills do I need before I join a prep course?

If you are considering a Yachtmaster Prep course then as well as the sea time requirements above it would help you if you did some background reading before your prep course. It would help if you had a good knowledge of the following:

  • Knowledge of I.R.P.C.S (rules of the road) and distress signals
  • Have an understanding of Weather, the passage of frontal depression, sea breeze, fog, effects of wind and tide and terminology used in a weather forecast.
  • Navigation. Have an understanding of how to calculate tidal heights, course to steer and estimated position
  • Are able to tie the basic knots
  • Have knowledge of Radar and how to use it for collision avoidance
  • Have an up to date G158 logbook (which can be purchased online)with all your sea time, skippered passages filled out. The general outline of the exam syllabus can be found on page within the G158..
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