Day Skipper Theory



The RYA Day Skipper theory course is a comprehensive introduction to chart work, navigation, meteorology and the basics of seamanship.  You will find this course invaluable if you want to learn to start making decisions onboard.  It is an essential prerequisite before taking the RYA Day Skipper practical course.

You’ll need about 40-45 hours to complete the Day Skipper theory course plus three hours for the final assessment papers.  All this can be taken in the comfort of your own home!

The course covers:

Nautical Terms

  • Parts of a boat and hull
  • General nautical terminology



  • Knowledge of the properties of synthetic ropes in common use



  • Characteristics of different types of anchor
  • Considerations to be taken into account when anchoring



  • Knowledge of the safety equipment to be carried, its stowage and use (see RYA Boat Safety Handbook, C8)
  • Fire precautions and fire fighting
  • Use of personal safety equipment, harnesses and lifejacketsd.
  • Ability to send a distress signal by VHF radiotelephonee.
  • Basic knowledge of rescue procedures including helicopter rescue


International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea

  • Steering and sailing rules (5,7,8,9,10 and 12-19)
  • General rules (all other rules)


Definition of Position, Course and Speed

  • Latitude and longitude
  • Knowledge of standard navigational terms
  • True bearings and courses
  • The knot


Navigational Charts and Publications

  • Information shown on charts, chart symbols and representation of direction and distance
  • Navigational publications in common use
  • Chart correction


Navigational Drawing Instruments

  • Use of parallel rulers, dividers and proprietary plotting instruments



  • Application of variation
  • Awareness of deviation and its causes
  • Use of hand-bearing compass



  • Dead reckoning and estimated position including an awareness of leeway
  • Techniques of visual fixing
  • Satellite-derived positions
  • Use of waypoints to fix position
  • Course to steer


Tides and Tidal Streams

  • Tidal definitions, levels and datum
  • Tide tables
  • Use of Admiralty method of determining tidal height at standard port and awareness of corrections for secondary ports
  • Use of tidal diamonds and tidal stream atlases for chartwork


Visual Aids to Navigation

  • Lighthouses and beacons, light characteristics



  • Sources of broadcast meteorological information
  • Knowledge of terms used in shipping forecasts, including the Beaufort scale, and their significance to small craft
  • Basic knowledge of highs, lows and fronts


Passage Planning

  • Preparation of navigational plan for short coastal passages.
  • Meteorological considerations in planning short coastal passages
  • Use of waypoints on passage. Importance of confirmation of position by an independent source
  • Keeping a navigational log


Navigation in Restricted Visibility

  • Precautions to be taken and limitations imposed by fog



  • Use of transits, leading lines and clearing lines
  • IALA system of buoyage for Region A
  • Use of sailing directions
  • Pilotage plans and harbour entry


Marine Environment

  • Responsibility for avoiding pollution and protecting the marine environment


Demonstration lesson on Pilotageclick here

Demonstration lesson on Buoyageclick here


The online course :

It is as simple as filling in the online form on this page.  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)