RYA YachtMaster Offshore Pre-requisites

RYA YachtMaster Offshore Pre-requisites

The RYA YachtMaster Offshore exam should be taken by those individuals who have the knowledge and experience needed to skipper a yacht offshore within 150 miles of a safe haven or port.

The exam will take between 8 – 12 hours during which time you will be set tasks to demonstrate your ability to skipper a yacht safely.  You do not need to have completed any other RYA courses although some people would benefit from a prep course prior to the exam.

Pre-exam requirements

  • Aged 18 or over
  • VHF licence
  • First Aid
  • Sea-time – 2500 miles logged including at least 5 passages over 60 miles – acting as skipper for at least 2 of these passages-  2 must have been overnight passages. 30 days living aboard, 2 days as skipper and 12 night hours.

RYA YachtMaster Offshore Syllabus

During your exam you will be expected to demonstrate competence based on broad experience of all aspects of the syllabus under a range of different weather conditions.

International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea

Questions will be confined to the International Regulations, although you must be aware of the existence of Local Regulations.

  • General Rules (1-3)
  • Steering and sailing rules (4-19)
  • Lights and shapes (20-31)
  • Sound and light signals (32-37)
  • Signals for vessels fishing in close proximity (Annex II)
  • Distress signals (Annex IV)


You will be expected to know what safety equipment should be carried on board a yacht, either from recommendation in the RYA Boat Safety Handbook (C8), the ISAF Special Regulations or the Codes of Practice for the Safety of Small Commercial Vessels. In particular you should know the responsibilities of the skipper in relation to:

  • Safety harnesses
  • Lifejackets
  • Distress flares
  • Fire prevention and fighting
  • Liferafts
  • Knowledge of rescue procedures
  • Helicopter rescue

Boat Handling

You will be expected to answer questions or demonstrate your ability in simple situations only. For RYA YachtMaster Offshore you will be expected to answer questions or demonstrate your ability in more complex situations and will also be expected to show a higher level of expertise:

  • Coming to and weighing anchor under power or sail in various conditions of wind and tide
  • All berthing and unberthing situations in various conditions of wind and tide
  • Recovery of man overboard
  • Towing under open sea conditions and in confined areas
  • Boat handling in confined areas under sail
  • Boat handling in heavy weather
  • Helmsmanship and sail trim to sail to best advantage
  • Use of warps for securing in an alongside berth and for shifting berth

General seamanship, including maintenance

  • Properties, uses and care of synthetic fibre ropes
  • Knots
  • General deck-work at sea and in harbour
  • Engine operations and routine checks
  • Improvisation of jury rigs following gear failure

Responsibilities of skipper

  • Can skipper a yacht and manage the crew
  • Communication with crew
  • Delegation of responsibility and watch keeping organisation
  • Preparing yacht for sea and adverse weather
  • Tactics for heavy weather and restricted visibility
  • Emergency and distress situations
  • Victualling for a cruise and feeding at sea
  • Customs procedures
  • Standards of behaviour and courtesy


  • Charts, navigational publications and sources of navigational information
  • Chartwork including position fixing and shaping courses to allow for tidal stream and leeway
  • Tide and tidal stream calculations
  • Buoyage and visual aids to navigation
  • Instruments including compasses, logs, echo sounders, radio and chartwork instruments
  • Passage planning and navigational tactics
  • Pilotage techniques
  • Navigational records
  • Limits of navigational accuracy and margins of safety
  • Lee shore dangers
  • Use of electronic navigational aids for passage planning and passage navigation
  • Use of waypoints and electronic routing


  • Definition of terms
  • Sources of weather forecasts
  • Weather systems and local effects
  • Interpretation of weather forecasts, barometric trends and visible phenomena
  • Ability to make passage planning decisions based on forecast information


  • You must hold a restricted VHF certificate of competence in radiotelephony or higher

More Information

Please look at the Equinox Sailing Manual for useful worksheets.

If you need to attend a VHF course please have a look at the courses we are running.

If you are interested booking your RYA YachtMaster Offshore exam please contact us.

Further Information

Contact Us

If you have any other questions please contact us or check out our FAQ page.