Coastal Skipper/Yachtmaster Offshore Theory

RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Theory

Ideal for serious mariners who want to navigate to a high standard and for candidates of the Coastal Skipper practical course & Yachtmaster Offshore exam. RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Theory.

The course starts with some revision of the Day Skipper shorebased course and rapidly moves on to more advanced skills in offshore & coastal navigation by day & night, pilotage & meteorology.

The “Rule of the Road” or collision regulations is covered in great detail and a high standard is required for the written paper.

Navigation techniques and practices have changed dramatically over the years and today, many sailors and motor boaters regard electronic instruments as their principal means of navigation. However, traditional methods still have an important part to play, as does knowledge of aspects such as tides, lights, buoys and beacons.

Assumed knowledge:

Knowledge to the level of Day Skipper Shorebased.

Minimum duration:

40 hours plus exam time

Minimum age:


Course content:

position fixing, course shaping and plotting, tidal knowledge, use of almanacs and admiralty publications, electronic position finding equipment, taking and interpreting forecasts, plotting weather systems, weather predictions using a barometer.
Ability after course:
Theory knowledge to skipper a yacht on coastal passages by day & night.

 The International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea 1972  – Colregs

The International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea 1972  – Colregs –  are published by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and set out, among other things, the “rules of the road” or navigation rules to be followed by ships and other vessels at sea to prevent collisions between two or more vessels.

The International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea were adopted as a convention of the International Maritime Organisation on 20 October 1972 and entered into force on 15 July 1977.

The COLREGs are derived from a multilateral treaty called the Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea.

Prior to the development of a single set of international rules and practices, there existed separate practices and various conventions and informal procedures in different parts of the world, as advanced by various maritime nations. As a result, there were inconsistencies and even contradictions that gave rise to unintended collisions. Vessel navigation lights for operating in darkness as well as navigation marks also were not standardised, giving rise to dangerous confusion and ambiguity between vessels at risk of colliding.

With the advent of steam-powered ships in the mid-19th century, conventions for sailing vessel navigation had to be supplemented with conventions for power-driven vessel navigation. Sailing vessels are limited as to their manoeuvrability in that they cannot sail directly to windward or into the eye of the wind and cannot be readily navigated in the absence of wind. On the other hand, steamships can manoeuvre in all 360 degrees of direction and can be manoeuvred irrespective of the presence or absence of wind.

Here is an example of some parts of the rules.

1. Application
(a) These rules shall apply to all vessels upon the high seas and in all waters connected therewith navigable by seagoing vessels……………..

2. Responsibility
(a) Nothing in these Rules shall exonerate any vessel, or the owner, master or crew thereof, from the consequences of any neglect to comply with these Rules or of the neglect of any precaution which may be required by the ordinary practice of seamen, or by the special circumstances of the case
(b) In construing and complying with these rules due regard shall be had to all dangers of navigation and collision and to any special circumstances, including the limitations of the vessels involved, which may make a departure from these rules necessary to avoid immediate danger

Rule 2 is sometimes referred to as the “General Prudential” rule and provides for non-conformance with stated rules to prevent a collision, because what is paramount is to avoid or minimise the damaging effects of a collision, as opposed to blindly following the rules to the letter.

The overall intent is to minimise actual collision taking place rather than rule compliance in and of itself, per se.

3. General Definitions
For the purpose of these Rules, except where the context otherwise requires:
(a) The word “vessel” includes every description of water craft, including non-displacement craft, wing-in-ground-effect (WIG) vehicle, and seaplanes, used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on water.
(b) The term “power-driven vessel” means any vessel propelled by machinery.
(c) The term “sailing vessel” means any vessel under sail provided that propelling machinery, if fitted, is not being used………………..

A full set of the rules are available here