What is an RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Exam?

  • Patrick Maflin
    Patrick Maflin

The RYA Yachtmaster Certificate of Competence is a much sought after qualification for skippers.

This qualification is respected worldwide.

One will be able to acquire the RYA Yachtmaster Certificate if they are able to demonstrate that they have sufficient sea-time, experience and certification in order to sit for an exam.

There are also courses that can help one to be properly prepared for the exam.


  1. RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Course Overview
  2. FAQs
  3. Conclusion

RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Course Overview

Yacht Captain During ExamYacht Captain During Exam

Sea Time Experience

Sea time experience is one of the most important prerequisites.

You would need to have completed the following within the last ten years:

  • At least 2500 miles logged.
  • Spent 50 days at sea on yachts of up to 500GT.
  • At least half the sea time must have been spent in tidal waters.
  • Have completed five passages of over 60 miles, of which two passages were as a skipper, and two carried out at night.
  • Have at least five days experience working as a skipper.
  • Hold a valid First Aid Certificate. In the case of a STCW Elementary First Aid it needs to have been issued within the last five years, whereas in the case of an RYA First Aid it needs to be issued within the past three years.
  • Be in possession of a GMDSS short-range VHF radio certificate.

Course Duration

The course duration is generally 5 days, including the exam.

Course Content

The course content will comprise key areas that will allow one to be properly prepared for the exam.

The instructor will focus on areas where one needs to improve.

Notably, night sailing and blind navigation will be practiced.

There will be an overview of the lights, signals and collision regulations, among others.

Since different ports and harbours will be visited, you will be able to get tested in different waters, and your strengths and weaknesses will be better tackled in preparation for the exam.

The Exam

The Yachtmaster Offshore Exam itself will take anywhere between 8 to 12 hours for a single candidate, or between 10 to 18 hours for two.

Candidates will be met onboard by examiners who will outline what will happen during the test.

Tasks will be set for the candidates to demonstrate their abilities as skippers of offshore cruising yachts.

Candidates should be well prepared as questions on any part of the syllabus can be asked at any stage.

Examiners will be independent assessors who evaluate candidates on behalf of the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency.


The RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Exam Covers a Broad Range of Important Skills

Converting from Offshore Sail to Offshore Power

In order to convert from Yachtmaster offshore sail to Offshore Power the following will need to have been completed within the past 10 years:

  • At least 1250 miles on a vessel that was between 7m and 24m in length.
  • Have spent 25 days living onboard.
  • Have spent 3 days as a skipper.
  • Have carried out 3 passages exceeding 60 miles, of which one was as a skipper and one overnight.

Qualifying Passages

There are a number of rules that need to be followed when it comes to passages that can be deemed as qualifying.

An applicant will need to have completed at least five passages which exceed 60 miles.

These five passages must have been completed on a vessel that is less than 24 metres in length.

Two of these passages need to have been overnight passages.

In addition, two of them will need to have been where one acted as a skipper.

It’s important to mention that a 60 mile qualifying passage is one where the voyage has been non-stop from the departure port A to departure port B, where A and B cannot be the same place.

The 60 mile distance has to be measured as a straight line from A to B.

All My Sea Time Was on Superyachts Over 24m - Is that OK?

The RYA will accept passages that were on board yachts over 24m in length.

However, only 50% of the qualifying sea time can be derived from such passages.

Thus, not more than 2500 miles in all, and one would need to provide a testimonial or a discharge book to confirm them.

The remaining 50% of the qualifying sea time must have been carried out on vessels which ranged between 7m and 24m.

How to Log Miles for Your RYA Yachtmaster Exam

Since so much importance is placed on passages, it’s crucial to record the miles.

Recording miles can be carried out in a RYA logbook G158, or using an Excel spreadsheet.

It’s also good to have a CV detailing one’s sea time.

When logging miles it’s important to take note of key details, including the dates of the passage or trip, the miles sailed on the various passages, the name and type of vessel, and any night hours.

Do I Need Any First Aid Qualifications?

Yes, you must have a valid first aid qualification in order to sit for the Yachtmaster Coastal or Offshore exam.

There are different types of first aid qualifications that are accepted, including:

  • The RYA First Aid
  • The STCW Elementary First Aid
  • Seafish First Aid

What About Commercial Endorsement?

It’s common to choose to commercially endorse the RYA Yachtmaster Coastal or Offshore exam qualification once the exam has been successfully completed.

In this case, besides holding a valid first aid and VHF certificate, one will also need an STCW or RYA Sea Survival certificate, as well as either an ENG1 medical certificate or an ML5 medical certificate.

One will also need to complete the RYA’s online PPR course.

Subsequently, one can apply for commercial endorsement through the RYA.

STCW Basic Safety Training Endorsement

Following STCW Basic Safety Training, the RYA/MCA Yachtmaster Offshore certificate can be endorsed in order to allow the holder to be a skipper both on commercial as well as privately owned vessels.

This includes those exceeding 24m in length.

Is RYA Yachtmaster Theory Required?

Yes, in order to become an RYA Yachtmaster Offshore it is highly recommended to know specific aspects of navigation and being able to handle a vessel at sea.

Thus, following a Yachtmaster Offshore Theory course is advisable to improve one’s abilities and competence.

This will inevitably improve one’s chances of successfully achieving the RYA Yachtmaster Certificate of Competence.

How Do I Become a Yacht Captain?

Becoming a yacht captain takes several years of training, experience and qualifications.

Like many careers, you’ll need to start life on a vessel working your way up.

From humble beginnings like being a deckhand to a junior crew member, the journey towards becoming a yacht captain takes years of dedication and hard work.

Our guide to becoming a yacht captain explains this process in greater detail.

Do RYA Yachtmaster Qualified Yacht Captains Make Much Money?

Yes, the potential to make a very lucrative income is high.

A lesser experienced yacht captain can expect to make in the region of $48,000 to $98,000 per annum, whilst a more seasoned captain can make an impressive $150,000 gross per year.

So the time and effort it takes to become a skipper on a vessel has its rewards.

Furthermore, if your time at sea exceeds 183 days each calendar year, there’s the strong possibility that you could qualify for the seafarers earnings deduction which means you are not obliged to pay any income tax on your earnings.

So the above salary figures could be your final take home.


A good yacht captain will lead the crew, be a good communicator and instil confidence.

Acquiring the RYA Certificate is a demonstration that one has shown such skills along with the necessary experience.

Disclaimer: Any advice in this publication is not intended or written by Marine Accounts to be used by a client or entity for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties that may be imposed on any taxpayer or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party matters herein.