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What is an RYA Yachtmaster?

The RYA Yachtmaster qualification is a maritime certificate of competence, a driving license so to speak. Once qualified as an RYA Yachtmaster, it allows the holder to take charge (skipper) a vessel up to 24 meters in length on a coastal, offshore or ocean passage. The RYA Yachtmaster is a highly established qualification and respected around the world.

Qualifying as a Yachtmaster is a gateway to employment as a professional skipper. It shows that you are an experienced and competent skipper.

What-is-RYA-Yachtmaster
Students passing their RYA Yachtmaster Power

The RYA is the national body for dinghy, yachting, and motor cruising as well as windsurfing and dinghy sailing. Through the RYA you are able to book your Yachtmaster exam. The RYA does everything from encouraging participation in the sport to issuing Yachtmaster Certificates of Competence.

Becoming a Yachtmaster requires no format training, provided you have the correct experience and sea time, you can put yourself forward for the exam. You will need to provide your own boat and crew of course. You can contact the RYA who can put you in touch with an RYA Yachtmaster examiner.

Taking the RYA Yachtmaster exam can be compared to taking your driving test. When I started driving it was possible to head to the driving test centre, book an exam and have a go. It’s fair to say that most of us had a few lessons before we took the test and almost all qualified Yachtmasters have completed a training course before sitting the Yachtmaster exam.

Having the Yachtmaster certificate under your belt will enable you to charter a yacht at home and abroad.

What Yachtmaster Course should I do?

The RYA has designed three qualification paths depending on whether you like to potter around the coast or sail across an ocean.

Yachtmaster Coastal Certificate

The Yachtmaster Coastal Certificate is for anyone who sail in coastal or protected waters, say no more than 20 miles from the coast. If you would like to learn more about navigation, sailing at night, rules of the road, safety, mooring, pilotage, and passage planning then the Yachtmaster Coastal is for you.

Yachtmaster Offshore Certificate

The Yachtmaster Offshore Certificate of Competence has been the certificate that most people gravitate to. A Yachtmaster Offshore will have all the knowledge of Yachtmaster Coastal but would also have extensive experience crewing and skippering offshore. Skippers who want confirmation they have the experience and competence to take a yacht offshore choose this option. Once qualified as a Yachtmaster, the certificate allows the holder to skipper a vessel up to 150 miles from shore. The Yachtmaster Offshore is the gateway to employment, most employers ask for the Offshore or Ocean qualification.

Sextant Yachtmaster Ocean
Using a Sextant for Yachtmaster Ocean

Yachtmaster Ocean Certificate

You would sit your Yachtmaster Ocean exam if you wanted to sail a yacht around the world. The main difference between Yachtmaster Offshore and Ocean is Celestial Navigation. Celestial Navigation for Yachtmaster Ocean is the knowledge to navigate by the sun and stars. The theory being, if you lose all your electronic equipment on board, you can fix your position using a sextant.

To sit the Yachtmaster Ocean oral exam you would have already passed the RYA Yachtmaster Offshore exam. In addition to the knowledge gained as a Yachtmaster Offshore you are required to complete an ocean passage of more than 600 miles. During the ocean passage will need to have the ability to use a sextant to fix your position.

Yachtmaster Power or Sail?

You can qualify as a Yachtmaster Power or Yachtmaster Sail, depending on what type of boat you like to spend your time on.

Working as a professional Yachtmaster

As mentioned above once you have qualified as an RYA Yachtmaster then you are able to seek work as a professional skipper. There are hundreds of qualified skippers out there that have turned their passion into a job.

The Yachtmaster Offshore certificate, Power or Sail is now considered necessary if you are looking for a job as a Lead Deckhand on a Superyacht.

Yachtmaster training pathways

If you are considering getting an RYA Yachtmaster Qualification and don’t know where to start then there are training courses that can help you achieve your goal.

There are fast-track and zero to hero yachtmaster courses, to get you up to the level you need to be.

The training courses offered will provide all the theory and practical experience required to qualify as an RYA Yachtmaster. Here at Flying Fish, we offer courses for a beginner Yachtmaster to Coastal, Offshore or Ocean.

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