Powerboat Advanced Course

The Royal Yachting Association RYA Powerboat Advanced Course teaches boat handling, seamanship, pilotage and navigation up to the standards required to drive a planing powerboat safely by day and night in tidal coastal waters, with which the candidate may be familiar, in more demanding conditions.

Given the nature of these passages Advanced Powerboat courses prepare you to handle powerboats of over  6 metres and an engine size sufficient to enable coastal passages at planing speed.

It is strongly recommended that candidates hold

  • a first aid certificate
  • a VHF operators certificate. 

An Advanced Powerboater should be able to enter and depart from a charted port by day or night. So we give you a pilotage exercise and ask you to explain your planning. You will need to be aware of the problems of collision avoidance and how to determine your position by night.


Topics covered during a course:

Preparation for sea

  • Preparation of vessel
  • Safety brief
  • Stowing and securing gear for coastal passages
  • Engine operations and routine checks, fuel systems, kill cord
  • Fuel system, bleeding, changing filters and impellers

Boat handling

  • Hull forms and their handling characteristics, propeller configurations.
  • Knowledge of action to be taken in rough weather
  • Significance of tidal stream on sea conditions
  • Steering and power control through waves
  • Understanding and correct use of power trim and tabs
  • Towing, under open sea conditions and in confined areas
  • Strategy up and downwind and in heavy weather
  • Awareness of the effects of wind and tide when manoeuvring, including
  • Steering to transits and in buoyed channels
  • Turning in a confined space
  • All berthing and un-berthing
  • Picking up and leaving a mooring buoy
  • Anchoring
  • Recovery of man overboard
  • Awareness of ground speed and ability to hold the boat on station

Responsibilities of skipper

  • Can skipper the vessel with effective crew communication
  • Preparing the vessel for sea and for adverse weather
  • Tactics for heavy weather and restricted visibility
  • Emergency and distress situations
  • Customs procedures
  • Courtesy to other water users

Passage making and Pilotage

  • Charts, navigational publications and sources of navigational information
  • Chart work, including position fixing and shaping course to allow for tide
  • Tidal heights and depths
  • Buoyage and visual aids to navigation
  • Instruments, including compasses, logs, echo sounders, radio navaids and chartwork instruments

Passage planning and navigational tactics

  • Importance of pre-planning
  • High speed navigation, pre-planning and execution
  • Use of electronic navigation (GPS, Radar, AIS)
  • Pilotage techniques and plans for entry into or departure from harbour
  • Use of leading and clearing lines, transits and soundings as aids to pilotage.
  • Navigational records
  • Limits of navigational accuracy and margins of safety
  • Lee shore dangers


  • Able to use weather and tidal information to predict likely sea conditions make passage planning decisions.
  • Definition of terms including the Beaufort Scale, and their significance to small craft.
  • Sources of weather forecasts
  • Weather systems and local weather effects
  • Interpretation of weather forecasts, barometric trends and visible phenomena
  • Ability to make passage planning decisions based on forecast information

Rules of the Road

  • Application of the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea.
  • Able to identify power and sailing vessels by night.
  • Identification of types of ship by night – a knowledge of the lights of tugs and trawlers.
  • Identification special operations of vessels by night – NUV, Restricted in Ability to Maneuver, Mine Hunters, Diving Operations 
  • Understand what actions to take to avoid a collision


  • what safety equipment should be carried on board the vessel
  • recommendations in RYA booklet C8
  • or the Codes of Practice for the Safety of Small Commercial Vessels.

Responsibilities of a skipper in relation to:

  • Fire prevention and fighting
  • Hull damage/watertight integrity
  • Medical emergency
  • Towing and being towed
  • VHF emergency procedures
  • Explanation of helicopter rescue procedures
  • Use of flares
  • Man overboard
  • Search patterns
  • Lifejackets
  • Life rafts


A good skipper would also have an awareness of risks to passengers and crew through shock and vibration caused by operating at speed. There should also be an awareness of strategies to mitigate risk of injury caused by shock and vibration .


Assumed knowledge:
Candidates should be competent to the level of the Intermediate Powerboat Certificate with a knowledge of the navigation and chartwork to the level of Coastal Skipper & Yachtmaster Offshore Shorebased certificate.
Minimum duration:
2 days including at least 1 night navigation exercise
Minimum age:
17 years old
Course content:
Preparation for sea, boat handling, passage making and responsibility as skipper, pilotage, meteorology, rules of the road, use of engines, emergency situations, night cruising
Ability after course:
Able to plan and execute coastal trips and return to a familiar port by night