Essential Navigation & Seamanship – Online

Key Course Details

Duration: At your pace

Time: N/A

Group Size: N/A

Min Age: From 12

Price: From £80 to £100 (course pack included)



The RYA Essential Navigation & Seamanship Theory course aims to develop your knowledge and understanding of subjects like charts, tides, navigation and areas like safety and distress alerting. It is aimed at those boating close inshore/to their home port and is perfect for those who have just taken RYA Powerboat Level 2 or are thinking of doing so.

Course Duration

This is an online course which you can complete in your own time. Realistically, you would expect to complete it in a 6 – 10 hour period depending on how quickly you tend to work.

Instructor – student ratio

Of course it is just you with an online course (unless you can persuade the rest of the family or your friends/colleagues!) but an instructor is always available to chat through any aspect of the course that you are finding more challenging. Equally if you are local and want to pop in and discuss things over a tea/coffee then we’re always happy to do so.

Prior experience

No prior boating experience is necessary and it is a great way for those new or interested in the pastime to get a thorough grounding in many aspects of boating.

Minimum Age

We are happy for a child over 12 to undertake the course and they tend to have great fun taking it – and assisting the adults they are doing it alongside!!

Course cost

The course costs £100 or if you are an existing client it costs £80.

What do I get with the course

You get a full RYA Essential Navigation and Seamanship Theory Course pack which includes course notes and RYA Training Charts. You also get a plotter/dividers pack and course completion certificate.

Watch the introductory video for this course


Is there an end of course assessment?

No. Each module of the course divides into ‘Learn it, Practice it, Test it’ so in practice the whole course is taken and passed by means of continual assessment. If you struggle on any section you just go back and redo the module.

What’s best – doing the course online or in the classroom?

Whereas with many courses that we offer both online and in the classroom we tend to recommend the classroom version if it is feasible, with this course we actually suggest the online version is best for most people.

Our rationale is simply that the RYA have done such a great job with the online version and that the subjects covered are pretty straightforward so it is just a matter of working through the various modules.

Of course if you would prefer to undertake the course in the classroom this is no problem at all and we’d be delighted to welcome you to Poole or Lymington to do so.

I’m a sailor – is this course valid for me too?

Absolutely. The RYA Essential Navigation & Seamanship Theory course has been written to be completely relevant to both powerboats and those boating under sail.

Why choose Powerboat Training UK for your RYA Essential Navigation & Seamanship Theory course?

The simple answer is our instructors. Our instructors have current, real hands on experience of helming fast and slower power driven vessels and vessels on passage under sail all over the world and their experience of using the navigation techniques that this course covers is a key component of what makes this a great course for everyone who gets afloat.

Having such an instructor on the end of the phone during an online course is always helpful and you have the backup of a real tangible, long standing school with real classrooms and kit.

The Course

Over the duration of the course, course participants gain a thorough understanding of a variety of subject areas. The duration of the course affords far more time to cover and understand the subject matter than is possible in a course that includes practical work too – like Powerboat Level 2.

The course is really valuable for those who want to build on Powerboat Level 2 or the Motor Cruising Helmsman’s course and is a perfect way to prepare for the Intermediate Powerboat Course.

The way that the course is structured allows you to learn about a subject then consolidates what you have learnt through mini quizzes at the end of each module. The use of the RYA Training charts and Almanac make the online course very real and ensure that when you start to put the skills you have learnt into practice in the ‘real world’ you are really well placed to do so.

The modular nature of the course means that it is really easy to undertake the course in small manageable time blocks and the short quizzes at the end of each module ensure that you have understood te subject before you move on to the next module avoiding the need for an end of course test/exam.

The syllabus covers:

  • Charts and publications
  • Safety
  • Engine checks
  • Buoyage
  • Tidal awareness
  • Visual and electronic navigation
  • Pilotage
  • Rules of the road
  • Anchoring
  • Weather forecasts
  • Passage planning

No prior experience is required to attend the course.

This course is aimed at

The RYA Essential navigation and Seamanship Theory course appeals to a wide variety of individuals, these include

  • Those who have just completed a course like Powerboat Level 2 or Motor Cruising Helmsman who want to develop their knowledge on to the next level. The basic level practical courses spend the majority of their time afloat so time spent on theory is by necessity quite limited. The Essential Navigation & Seamanship course perfectly compliments them.
  • Those keen to refresh their knowledge as they have become a bit ‘rusty’ as they may not have used their charts, tides, navigation skills for a while.
  • Those starting out boating (whether sail or power)

The course is relevant whether you have your own boat or don’t ever intend owning your own craft.


Aim: To develop navigation and seamanship skills both in those starting out in boating or those who consider themselves a bit ‘rusty’.

Charts, publications and terms:

Basic terms; Chart overview; Introduction to chart datum and depths


Lateral buoys; Cardinal buoys; Where to find information


Plotting a position; Measuring distance and bearing; Position fix; Heading


Personal and boat safety equipment; Safety procedures and briefing; Communications; Engine checks; Rescue procedures


Where to anchor; How to anchor


Tidal streams; Tidal heights

Electronic navigation:

GPS terms; GPS use; Using waypoints

Rules of the road:

Risk of collision; Who gives way

Weather forecasts:

Sources of forecast; Terms used in forecasts


Harbour information; Transits; Pilotage plan

Passage planning:

SOLAS V requirements; Pre planning; Chart choice


Whatever we may think of our courses what really counts is what others think, below are a selection of comments taken directly from the Feedback Forms that we ask are filled in at the end of each course.

A great course. I was a bit unsure whether the course would build on the Level 2 that I completed last weekend but I was really pleasantly surprised. I found that the course consolidated what I had learnt by doing the Level 2 but also took me onto that next level. I feel far happier about my charts, tides and buoyage now – thanks. John who has just undertaken Level 2 on our RIBs

I’m proud to be one of the first few students to undertake the online Essential Nav course. Travelling as a much as I do it had made for a really productive few evenings in the hotel Stephen

When Stephen and I signed up for the Online course I wondered how it would work without having an Instructor in the room with me. The RYA seem to have done a good job and online support is spot on. Being able to speak to year Instructors made everything I struggled on far simpler too. James



Essential Navigation & Seamanship – Online - Book Now

This is an online course so all you need to do is to choose the courses that you want to do, pay and we will send your login details and instructions for taking the course and of course send you out your course pack. The logins will arrive the next business day as we need to manually set you up on the interactive website for this course.

We’re always really keen to chat to you when you’re booking a course as whilst we are happy to take bookings through this system for your convenience – nothing beats chatting about boats and courses!

If you would prefer to discuss or book this course by phone please do contact us, alternatively feel free to use the form below and we will respond promptly to your enquiry.

To book places please select the number of places you want and ‘Add to Marina Trolley’