Coastal / Yachtmaster Theory

Yachtmaster Theory

Pre-requisite for RYA Coastal Skipper & Yachtmaster courses

RYA Yachtmaster theory covers advanced navigation, pilotage, meteorology & collision regulations.

We are pleased to offer through Skippers Online – a recognised RYA training centre specialising in online training, the online Coastal Yachtmaster theory course.

The prerequisite for this course is RYA Day Skipper theory.  It would be difficult to complete the Yachtmaster theory course course without having first taken the RYA Day Skipper theory course.

 Assumed Pre-course Knowledge:

  • Course to steer
  • Course over ground
  • Estimated position
  • Tidal heights
  • Fall of tide
  • Projected depths for anchoring
  • Clearances under bridges
  • Basic weather
  • Basic collision regulations




The Coastal/Yachtmaster theory course is the level required for RYA Yachtmaster Coastal, RYA Yachtmaster Offshore practical certificates and is a pre-course requirement for the RYA Yachtmaster Ocean theory course.

The course is made up of detailed lessons, followed by a set of questions which you can answer online. Once an answer is submitted the feedback is instant in the form of a detailed answer page. Some answers will be forwarded to your instructor who will provide personal feedback and help where required.

The online course will take around 40 hours, possibly longer, but the beauty of it is that you can work at your own pace. Like the Day Skipper online theory, you get full support from an experienced instructor.

The course covers:

  • Buoyage
    • IALA system buoyage in Region A
    • Limitations of buoys as navigational aids
  • The magnetic compass
    • Allowance for variation
    • Change of variation with time and position
    • Causes of deviation
    • Swing for deviation (but not correction)
    • Allowance for deviation
    • Different types of compass
  • Position
    • Dead reckoning and estimated position
    • Satellite-derived position
    • Use of waypoints to fix position
    • Radar fixes
    • Techniques of visual fixing
    • Fixes using a mixture of position lines
    • Relative accuracy of different methods of position fixing
    • Area of uncertainty
  •  Tides
    • Causes of tide – Springs and Neaps
    • Tide tables – sources
    • Tidal levels and datum
    • Standard and secondary ports
    • Tide anomalies (Solent, etc.)
    • Tidal Streams
    • Sources of tidal information
    • Tidal stream information in sailing directions and Yachtsmen’s Almanacs
    • Allowance for tidal streams in computing a course to steer
    • Tide rips, overfalls and races
    • Tidal observation buoys, beacons etc.
  • Lights
    • Characteristics
    • Ranges – visual, luminous and nominal
    • Rising and dipping distances
    • Light lists
  • Pilotage
    • Transits and leading lines
    • Use of soundings
    • Clearing lines
    • Methods of pre-planning
    • Harbour regulations and control signals
  •  GPS and chart plotters
    • Principles of operation and limitations of use
    • Raster and vector charts
    • Datum
    • Importance of confirmation of position by an independent source and keeping a separate record of position
    • Importance of paper charts
  • Echo sounders
    • Principles of operation and limitations of use
  • Logs (speed and distance measuring)
    • Principles of operation limitations of use
  • Deck log
    • Importance of log as yacht’s official document
    • Layout of log, hourly and occasional entries
  • Meteorology
    • Basic terms
    • the Beaufort scale
    • Air masses
    • Cloud types
    • Weather patterns associated with pressure and frontal systems
    • Sources of weather forecasts
    • Ability to interpret a shipping forecast, weatherfax and weather satellite information
    • Land and sea breezes
    • Sea fog
    • Use of barometer as a forecasting aid
  • Rules of the Road
    • A sound knowledge of the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, except Annexes 1 and 3
  • Safety at Sea
    • Personal safety, use of lifejackets, safety harnesses and lifelines
    • Fire prevention and fire fighting
    • Distress signals
    • Coastguard and Boat Safety Scheme
    • Preparation for heavy weather
    • Liferafts and helicopter rescue
    • Understanding of capabilities of vessel and basic knowledge of stability
  • Navigation in restricted visibility
    • Precautions to be taken in fog
    • Limitations to safe navigation imposed by fog
    • Navigation in poor visibility
  • Passage planning
    • Preparation of charts and notebook for route planning and making, and use at sea
    • Customs regulations as they apply to yachts
    • Routine for navigating in coastal waters
    • Strategy for course laying
    • Use of waypoints and routes
    • Use of weather forecast information for passage planning strategy
    • Sources of local and national regulations

Demonstration lesson on Pilotageclick here

Demonstration lesson on Buoyageclick here

The online course :

It is as simple as filling in the online form below. Enter your details, select your course, pay the fee and you are ready to study!

View the new RYA shorebased exam invigilation information here


£295 including:

    • 12 month online access to complete the course with the option of extending this time for a small fee
    • Final assessment to complete in the comfort of your own home
    • Immediate feedback on submitted answers
    • RYA Certification on satisfactory completion of the course
    • Email and phone support from RYA qualified instructors


    • Free postage of materials to the UK
    • additional £20 postage to European countries (see list below)
    • additional £40 worldwide postage
      • RYA Day Skipper pack + almanac


    The course can be completed on a PC, Mac or iPad and is modular.

    An instructor will be available at all times to help answer your questions about the course.

    Please contact us for more information.

    European countries for £20 postage cost: Albania Andorra Austria Belgium Bosnia and Herzegovina Bulgaria Croatia Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Estonia Finland France Germany Gibraltar Great Britain Greece Holy See Hungary Ireland Isle of Man Italy Kosovo Latvia Liechtenstein Luxembourg Malta Moldova Republic of Monaco Montenegro Netherlands Norway Poland Portugal Romania Serbia Slovakia (Slovak Republic) Slovenia Spain Sweden Switzerland Turkey United Kingdom Vatican City State (Holy See)