Yachtmaster Offshore Preparation Course & Examination

Key Course Details

Duration: Dependent on experience - standard course is 4 days but shorter courses may be appropriate

Time: 9am to 5pm plus 2 evenings

Group Size: 2 - 3 per boat

Min Age: From 18

Price: Dependent on days needed - Default online price shown is for 4 days £1320 plus exam fee



The RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Examination is, for many boaters, the ultimate qualification when working commercially, or for a leisure boater simply a confirmation of the level that you have attained in your boating. Passing the Yachtmaster Offshore Certificate of Competence (‘the examination’) means that you are considered competent “to skipper a motor cruiser on any passage during which the yacht is no more than 150 miles from harbour”

Pre examination requirements

To be eligible to take the practical examination candidates must be aged 18 or over and require:

  • A Radio Operator’s Qualification – A GMDSS Short Range Certificate (SRC) or higher grade of marine radio certificate.
  • A valid first aid certificate. A list of acceptable first aid certificates can be found on the RYA website
  • Seatime – 50 days, 5 days as skipper, 2500 miles, at least 5 passages over 60 miles, acting as skipper for at least two of these passages and including two of which have involved overnight passages. Five days experience as skipper. At least half the qualifying seatime must have been accrued in tidal waters.
  • Whilst not a prerequisite, it is advisable to have completed the Coastal Skipper/Yachtmaster Theory course before attending.Your level of theory knowledge needs to be at this level.

Qualifying passages for RYA Yachtmaster Offshore must be non-stop, by the shortest navigable route with no change of skipper.

Qualifying passages must be on vessels between 7m and 24m LOA and less than 80gt.

Qualifying seatime (days and miles) can either be 100% gained on vessels from 7m to 24m LOA (and less than 80gt) or can be gained from a mixture of craft with a limit that up to 50% of the qualifying seatime can be gained on vessels over 24m and less than 200gt or on a vessel of 200gt to 500gt.

If you are looking at your experience and struggling to crest the minimum requirements for the YM Offshore exam then we’d suggest that you either wait and get more experience or go for the YM Coastal exam instead.

Trainee skippers undertaking 60 mile passages are strongly advised to take a Coastal Skipper course first.

What the RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Certificate of Competence allows you to do?

Skipper a craft of up to 24m with up to 12 passengers up to 60/150 miles from a ‘safe haven’ day or night. (150 miles if undertaking a ENG1 medical lasting 2 years or 60 miles with a ML5 medical lasting 5 years). For those working commercially whilst 24m is referred to as the typical cut-off in fact you can use the Yachtmaster Offshore to work as a “Master of commercial vessels of up to 200gt”

Instructor to Student Ratio

Maximum ratio is 5 students to 1 Instructor on your craft or  4 students to 1 Instructor on our craft but we would prefer to run with a 3 to 1 ratio to give more helm time (or extend the course time as necessary). For the examination there is a maximum of 2 students per exam so if there are more than 2 attendees then the exams will run over more than one day.

Course Duration

There is no set duration for a Yachtmaster Preparation course and the length of the course will vary according to your current level of preparation and knowledge. We’d suggest that you call/email to discuss the preparation course that you should undertake. By default though we schedule the preparation courses run on our craft for 4 days with the exams starting on day 5.

Exam Duration

The exam will last approximately 8 to 12 hours for one candidate and 10 to 18 hours for two candidates.


RYA/MCA Yachtmaster Offshore Certificate of Competence is an examination rather than a course and is conducted by a RYA Yachtmaster Examiner. The examination assesses the following areas:

  • Ability as a Skipper to command a vessel, undertake comprehensive safety briefings and ensure a happy and safe crew
  • Theory – theory needs to be to the standard of RYA Yachtmaster Theory and is assessed accordingly
  • Boat handling – close quarter boat handling is assessed and you need to demonstrate a high degree of competence in marina situations and also when dealing with other tasks such as man overboard, handling a craft with one engine down.
  • Pilotage and passage planning – you prepare a plan for execution at night and are assessed on the plan and your execution of it

If you satisfy the examiner that you are competent in the above areas then he/she will recommend you as a pass to the RYA. If not it is usually recorded as a fail and you receive a debrief and letter from the RYA detailing where you need to work to improve to help you pass a retake.

Passing this examination allows you to apply for a Commercial Endorsement if you also possess the following:

  • RYA Sea Survival (1 day course) ~ or equivalent
  • ML5 Medical ~ undertaken by your GP or ENG1 Medical ~ undertaken by a MCA Doctor.
  • RYA Professional Practices & Responsibilities Course

There is a fee payable to the RYA for the exam and the Commercial Endorsement.

How to achieve the RYA/MCA Yachtmaster Offshore Certificate of Competence

You can simply book an Examination and attend without possessing any RYA theory or practical qualifications (except First aid & VHF) and indeed some do choose this path. The majority of exam attendees will tend though to follow a logical path to the exam to ensure their skills are at the right level thus enhancing their chances of success. This path is typically something like:

Supporting courses

  • RYA First Aid (1 day course)
  • RYA VHF/Short Range Certificate (1 day or online course)
  • RYA Sea Survival (1 day course)

These are taken in the run up at convenient times. The qualifications of some other bodies are accepted but not all – call/email to discuss.

Theory knowledge

As stated there is a need to ensure that your theory knowledge is at the level of the RYA Yachtmaster Theory course although there is no requirement to hold any qualification to prove this as you will be assessed at the exam. Without question the best way to ensure this has to be simply to undertake the RYA Yachtmaster Theory Course, this is a 5 day (40+ hour) course and is certainly a logical and sound investment given your desire to succeed at the Yachtmaster Offshore exam. There are a few ways to achieve the required level of knowledge though:

  • RYA Yachtmaster Theory Course (5 days)
  • RYA Yachtmaster Theory Course (24+ weeks – evening classes)
  • RYA Yachtmaster Theory Course (self study via online learning or correspondence)
  • Self study

In our opinion if you can invest the 5 days in one hit then this is generally the best and most efficient way to ensure that you acquire the required theory knowledge. We run a number of these courses each year. We also though offer the YM Theory course online to those who either hold the RYA Dayskipper Theory qualification or can prove that they are at that level.

Boat handling

As stated you need to be a very competent boat handler as this will be tested at the exam. No training in the world can beat hands on time at the helm and this is something you need to ensure that you get. It is very obvious to examiners those who are comfortable with the tasks they are given versus those that are really having to work hard at them. Whilst there is no requirement that you undertake any training ahead of the exam we would strongly recommend that you spend time with us on a Yachtmaster Offshore Preparation course. We suggest it is considered for the following reasons:

  • It is an excellent work up to the exam itself and either works to give you additional practice and confirmation of your readiness for the exam or highlights those areas that you need to work on to develop.
  • The Yachtmaster Instructor running the course will run some elements of the course in exam format ensuring you start to work in the way that best serves you in an exam.

The preparation course typically lasts 3 – 4 days.

Why choose Powerboat Training UK for your RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Preparation Course and examination?

Our location and teaching facilities ~ Poole Harbour is a truly amazing teaching location – so much so that the RNLI and the Royal Marines base their training operations here. Our classrooms are well resourced, professional, clean and tidy.

Likewise our base in Lymington at Aquasafe Powerboat School is at Lymington Yacht Haven which like Cobbs Quay is a large marina with a huge range of craft. The Solent offers an outstanding cruising ground with a wide variety of harbours and marinas to enter.

Our Instructors ~ We ensure that our instructors are teaching 100% ‘Best Practice’ and have a process whereby we constantly review their sessions to ensure that you get the most productive experience from your time with us. All teach because they love boating and we work with them to constantly ‘upskill’ their qualifications and experience.

Our history ~ We started the school over ten years ago and have grown a reputation for delivering on our promises. Our clients range from individuals with their own craft to organisations such as Sunseeker, the RNLI and we were awarded the RYA Training contract by Dorset Police for the London 2012 Olympic events in Weymouth.

We are also very proud to have written the RYA Powerboat Handbook for the RYA and 2014 saw the launch of the RYA Advanced Powerboat Handbook.

Our craft ~ Our main training vessel is a Botnia Targa with twin 260Hp Volvo Penta engines. Targas are in wide use in a commercial environment and the Metropolitan Police use 7 of them to Police the Thames in London. Top Hat is fitted with the latest Raymarine chartplotter allowing full integration with your iPad reflecting the latest ways in navigation in such craft. It has AIS and dual Icom VHFs and is coded to Cat 2 (60 miles from a Safe Haven).

What is included in the course price? ~ When you undertake your Yachtmaster Offshore course and examination with us then the price you pay includes all fuel used, free use of waterproofs if required (often charged as an extra). The price includes VAT too – yet another common extra. You will need to pay the RYA exam fee in addition to the course fee.

Does the course price represent good value? ~ remember in life you pretty much get what you pay for. We have great facilities in large marinas offering a great all-round experience. Check out the other relevant pages on this website to see what we mean.

Course prices The price quoted in the ‘Key Course Details’ section above is the price per head for 1 person, for 2 persons the per head cost reduces by 2.5% and for three people by 5%. The price shown is inclusive of VAT.

The Course

The Yachtmaster Offshore preparation course runs over four days and focusses on checking that your skills are at the right level and then spends time practicing the core skills and improving them where necessary. Time is also spent addressing the structure of the impending exam.

Contrary to popular opinion there is actually no Yachtmaster course. The Yachtmaster (Offshore) qualification is awarded as a product of a Skipper successfully passing an Exam (The ‘Certificate of Competence’ or ‘CoC’) run by a Yachtmaster Examiner.

Many schools though (us included) run Yachtmaster Examination preparation courses in the run up to the Yachtmaster exam.  Our course will be run by a RYA Yachtmaster Instructor who over the four days will aim to cover each of the areas that will be addressed in the exam. The exam looks at your boat handling, your understanding of all aspects of boating and navigation and particularly your ability to take command of and manage the vessel and crew.

During the course the Instructor will run sessions to help you to improve all of the tested areas and ensure that you are best placed to pass the exam. Some areas may simply be a refresher whereas others may brush up an area you have got quite rusty on, either way it is really key that you are at the right level for the exam before coming on this course as if there are areas that need material improvement then it is probable that you are not yet at the right level for the examination.

We are always keen to ensure that those that pay for a course are well suited to it and stand the greatest chance of passing so if you are unsure whether you are at the right level then please do not hesitate to call/email to discuss this.

Whilst for almost all candidates we undertake a preparation course, if required, we can simply facilitate the exam and can book the examiner for you, provide the craft and should you wish provide crew to ‘man’ the craft during your exam.

Your instructor will cover the following topics with you during your course:

  • Safety
  • Boat handling
  • General seamanship including maintenance
  • Responsibilities as skipper
  • Navigation
  • Meteorology
  • Lights & Signals

Additionally we’ll ensure time is spent discussing how the exam is structured and what the expectations of the examiner are likely to be. Your Instructor will structure some sessions as the Examiner will do so to help you get into the way of approaching the exam.

This course is aimed at

The Yachtmaster Offshore Examination appeals to a wide variety of individuals


  • Leisure boaters keen to achieve the ultimate qualification available to them yet who have no intention of working commercially
  • Those helming larger motor cruisers for corporate entertainment type work.
  • Boat operators keen to work in the wind farm or renewables sector helming the support vessels operating out to their operating sites
  • Those involved in construction or towing type craft and venturing offshore or on passage around the UK
  • Military or Law enforcement operators operating craft and in locations necessitating the YM Offshore qualification
  • Those seeking Boatmaster qualifcations can use the YM Offshore as a route to Boatmaster
  • Superyacht crew aiming for Master 200/500/3000 type qualifications


Candidates will be given the opportunity to demonstrate knowledge or competence in many of the areas listed below. In each section the examiner will expect to see the candidate take full responsibility for the management of the vessel and crew.

In Yachtmaster Offshore exams the candidate will be expected to demonstrate competence based on broad experience whereas in the Yachtmaster Coastal exam the candidate will be expected to demonstrate understanding but may not have had the opportunity to practice 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 and although candidates must be aware of the existence of Local Regulations, they will not be expected to memorise specific 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)


Candidates will be expected to know what safety equipment should be carried on board a motor vessel, based either on the recommendations in the RYA Boat Safety Handbook (G103), the ISAF Special Regulations or the Codes of Practice for the Safety of Small Commercial Vessels. In particular, candidates must know the responsibilities of a skipper in relation to:

  • The safety briefing
  • Safety harnesses
  • Lifejackets
  • Distress signalling (flares and electronic means)
  • Stability
  • Fire prevention and fighting
  • Liferafts
  • Knowledge of rescue procedures.
  • Helicopter rescue

Boat Handling

Candidates for RYA Yachtmaster Coastal examinations will be expected to answer questions or demonstrate ability in less complex situations only. Candidates for RYA Yachtmaster Offshore will be expected to answer questions or demonstrate ability in more complex situations and will also be expected to show a higher level of expertise:

  • Coming to and weighing anchor in various conditions of wind and tide
  • In all berthing and unberthing situations in various conditions of wind and tide
  • Recovery of man overboard and being able to describe the effects of cold water shock and the aftercare requirements of a casualty who has been in the water
  • Towing under open sea conditions and in confined areas
  • Boat handling in confined areas
  • Boat handling in heavy weather
  • Helmsmanship
  • Use of warps for securing in an alongside berth and for shifting berth or winding

General seamanship, including maintenance

  • Properties, use and care of synthetic fibre ropes
  • Knots
  • General deck-work at sea and in harbour
  • Engine operations and routine checks and troubleshooting

Responsibilities of skipper

  • Can skipper a motor cruiser and manage the crew
  • Communication with crew
  • Delegation of responsibility and watch-keeping organisation
  • Preparing vessel for sea and for 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 course 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 navaids and chartwork instruments
  • Passage planning and navigational tactics
  • Pilotage techniques
  • Navigational records
  • Limits of navigation accuracy and margins of safety
  • Lee shore dangers
  • Use of electronic navigation aids for passage planning and passage navigation
  • Use of waypoints and electronic routing
  • General understanding of AIS
  • Navigational techniques for reduced visibility


  • Definition of terms
  • 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


  • Candidates for Yachtmaster Offshore and Coastal Skipper must hold the Restricted (VHF only) Certificate of Competence in radiotelephony or a higher grade of certificate in radiotelephony.

Yachtmaster Offshore Preparation Course & Examination - Book Now

Thank you for your interest in this course.

Due to the higher level of this course and the very specific entry requirements we would always ask that we chat through the course and your experience before confirming a booking with you.

Please therefore do feel free to book using the system below which will identify when you booked but your place cannot be confirmed until we have had a conversation with you

Don’t forget too that if you are an individual or company/organisation booking a few people onto courses then we may be able to schedule dates around you. Equally, for bookings some time in the future we can usually juggle our course dates if what we have scheduled doesn’t quite work for you.

As stated above when you make a booking on this system please remember that is subject to confirmation and you will receive confirmation from us at the latest the next business day. You will not be charged until we send the confirmation.

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.

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