The RYA/MCA Yachtmaster is like a driving licence for the sea. Having your RYA Yachtmaster certificate means you have the knowledge and competence to skipper a sailing yacht up to 24m in length, up to 150 miles from a safe haven.
Offshore or Ocean
The two most popular routes to achieving the RYA Yachtmaster certificate of competence are:
RYA Yachtmaster Offshore: This is the most popular route, once qualified you are able to skipper a sailing yacht up to 24 meters in length, 150 miles from a safe haven. Most employers, insurance companies and Superyachts require the Yachtmaster offshore certificate as proof of competence.
RYA Yachtmaster Ocean: Allows the holder to skipper a sailing yacht up to 24 anywhere in the world (unlimited distance from a safe haven). Taken by sailors who wish to skipper a yacht across the Atlantic or around the world. Also required for Officer of the Watch on large commercial vessels and Superyachts.
What experience do I need to get my Yachtmaster?
To sit the Yachtmaster offshore exam you are required to have, as a minimum, the following experience. All completed within the last 10 years:
- 50 days and a minimum of 2,500 miles logged before you sit the exam. At least 1,250 miles need to be in tidal waters
- 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
- Five days experience as skipper
- GMDSS short range radio certificate (VHF)
- A valid first aid certificate
- You neex to be 18 years old to sit the Yachtmaster Offshore exam. 17 years old for Yachtmaster Coastal
The last week of the Yachtmaster offshore course is the Yachmaster exam, conducted by an RYA Yachtmaster examiner. The exam lasts between 12 and 24 hours depending on the number of candidates onboard (max 4).
The RYA Yachtmaster examiner is going to look at a number of areas during the practical exam from your navigation to sailing ability, pilotage, IRPCS, seamanship skills and meteorology. The examiner will focus on your “ability as skipper” whether of not you can command the yacht in a safe and seamanlike manner. The way you communicate with your crew and your leadership skills are an important factor to being a competent Yachtmaster as navigating the boat and understanding the rules of the sea
What if I want to work as a commercial skipper?
You can also use your RYA Yachtmaster Offshore or Ocean qualification to work as a commercial skipper. If this is your goal then you will need to apply for commercial endorsement.
To commercially endorse your RYA certificate of competency you are required to hold:
- Sea survival certificate
- Complete the RYA online Professional Practices and Responsibilities course, known as PPR.
Most sailors who hold their RYA/MCA Yachmaster certificate and intend to work in the yachting industry complete STCW basic training course which includes Sea survival. Having STCW certificates allows the holder to skipper a sailing yachts up to 200 gross tonnes which could be larger than 24m in length. This qualification is called the Master of Yachts 200GT.
Once you are commercially endorsed, it opens the door to employment, whether as a Flotilla or charter skipper, an RYA instructor, world wide deliveries or Superyachts.
There are many beautiful yachts out there that are under 200 gross tonnes like sailing yacht Vargo. Nobody is going to give you the keys to Vargo after you have just passed, but it gives an idea what you could be doing in the future!
If I don’t want to work as a professional skipper
Some customers do not wish to work as a Commercial Yachtmaster, preferring to gain the qualification to further their knowledge and understanding of what it takes to be a competent skipper. In this case then you only need to complete a recognised First Aid course and a VHF radio course before sitting the Yachtmaster Offshore exam. First aid and VHF are part of our Yachtmaster Offshore or Ocean course
Do I need my Yachtmaster to work on Superyachts?
Yes and No. You don’t need to have an RYA Yachtmaster offshore certificate, however, a lot of boats are asking for the Yachtmaster Offshore certificate for Deckhand positions. If you are looking to progress up the ranks from Deckhand to Officer of the Watch (OOW) then yes, you will need your Yachtmaster offshore (limited) or Yachtmaster Ocean (unlimited) certificate.
For full information on whats required to become the Office Of the Watch on large sailing or Motor Yachts then see section 3.3 of MSN 1858.