RYA Coastal Skipper Practical Course

The RYA Coastal Skipper Practical course teaches advanced skippering techniques for those wanting to undertake coastal passages by day and night.

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The Practical Coastal Skipper Course is your next step after the Day Skipper Practical Course. It covers the more refined skippering techniques required for sailing in coastal and offshore waters.

In moving to this more advanced level, it is assumed you have navigation skills to the same standard as the Coastal Skipper/Yachtmaster Shorebased Course, and sailing training and experience to the previous course level.

Accommodation and food are on board and you will visit a different marina, harbour or anchorage each evening.

There are options to book courses with 2,3, or 4 students on board, or you can take the whole boat with up to 4 friends plus yourself. We typically welcome a mix of people attending both alone and with friends or a partner.

On successful completion of the course you will be awarded a Coastal Skipper Course Completion Certificate.

If someone you know wants to do the Competent Crew Course, they can do it at the same time as you do your Coastal Skipper Course, on the same boat as yourself.

Looking for the theory Course? View Coastal Skipper Yachtmaster Theory Course.

In addition to learning loads expect to have quality time out from your normal life. Having already done a fair bit of sailing you will be all too familiar with the holiday break that going sailing gives you.

Like the Day Skipper course the Coastal Skipper course consists of skippered passages in a variety of situations however there is more emphasis on passage making. It is a satisfying and intense week. You can use this qualification to obtain an International Certificate of Competence (ICC) by sending the certificate to the RYA with an application form.

The RYA Coastal Skipper Course lasts for five days. As emphasis is placed on passage making it is the one course that has to be carried out over 5 consecutive days.

Minimum Pre Course Experience: 15 days (2 as skipper), 300 miles, 8 night hours. Your level of experience will already be approaching that required for the Yachtmaster Coastal Certificate of Competence.

Recommended Knowledge: It is assumed you are up to Day Skipper Practical standard and have navigation skills to the same level as the Coastal Skipper/Yachtmaster Shorebased course. There is insufficient time on the course to teach the basic skills of seamanship, helmsmanship and navigation, as well as teach how these skills should be applied by the skipper of a yacht.

Course Content: Skippering techniques for coastal and offshore passages.

Ability after the Course: You will be able to skipper a yacht on coastal passages by day and night. On successful completion of the course you will be awarded a Coastal Skipper Course Completion Certificate.

A relatively tough week! You will be pushed and may well do a fair amount of night sailing. You will be assessed during the course and certificates of satisfactory completion will not be awarded to those who:

Are adversely affected by sea sickness to the extent that their ability to skipper a yacht is reduced to a dangerously low level.

Are unable to demonstrate sufficient ability in basic seamanship, navigation and yacht handling to appreciate the techniques and skills required of a yacht skipper.

Demonstrate a lack of understanding of any part of the syllabus to the extent that it would be dangerous for them to go to sea as the skipper of a yacht.

You will sail and around the Solent. Here is a map of the Solent. As this course is about passage making you will probably venture further a field as well. Perhaps Weymouth, Brighton, maybe even across to France or the Channel Islands if the weather is favourable. So pack your passport!

The Solent is a great place to learn to sail and get qualified. There are numerous harbours, bays, creeks, rivers, marinas and anchorages making it ideal to practice a whole range of yachting skills. Because of the large volume of other boats and busy shipping activity, the Solent is always fun and interesting.

The Isle of Wight provides some protection from the worst of the Channel weather, meaning the sea within the Solent can stay relatively flat compared with conditions in the open sea. But at the same time the tides in the Solent provide students with a challenge to their seamanship and navigational skills.

Accommodation during a sailing course is on board the yacht. There are almost always three double cabins and two single berths in the saloon which is a large airy space. This provides accommodation for eight people. However, there would only ever be a maximum of 4 students on board, plus the instructor for this course.

You will get your own sleeping space be this a cabin or the saloon. If you have booked as a couple/with a friend you will share a cabin.


There are showers on board, but most nights you will be in a marina with good hot showers and shoreside facilities.

Except for supper on the evening you join the boat, we cater on board for all meals. We provide food that is healthy and nutritious, including salads, vegetables, white and wholemeal bread, chicken, lean minced beef, salmon, muesli, cereal and yoghurt. In fact, just the kind of food that you might buy yourself. For snacks there is plenty of fruit, but also a supply of chocolate and biscuits.

If you have any special dietary requirements, be it vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, gluten free, or allergies, we can normally accommodate these. Just let us know when you fill out your booking form.

Our courses run from Shamrock Quay in Southampton on the South Coast.

**Getting to Shamrock Quay:**

Shamrock Quay is about an 8 minute taxi ride from Southampton Central Station, or 15 minutes from Southampton Airport if you’re flying. If you arrive by car there is plenty of free parking and 24/7 security.

Occasionally a course may start on one of our boats when it is not at Shamrock Quay. It may be very close to Shamrock Quay or in Hamble. We will give you plenty of notice when this is the case.

We find it is better if you arrive the evening before your course starts. This way you can start getting to know the yacht, the skipper and your crew mates before the course really gets under way. If this is not possible then you need to be at the boat by 8.00am on the first day of the Sailing Course.

You can expect to get away by 5/5.30pm on the final day of your course. If you are catching a train we recommend you do not book a ticket in advance as we can’t guarantee you will get away at 5pm on the dot. It may be a bit earlier it may be a bit later.

The aim of the course is to teach the skills and techniques required to skipper a yacht safely on coastal and offshore passages by day and night.

Passage planning

Preparation for sea


Passage making and ability as skipper

Yacht handling under power

Yacht handling under sail

Adverse weather conditions

Emergency situations

  • Can plan a coastal passage including a consideration of the capabilities of the yacht, navigation, victualling, weather, ports of refuge, tidal heights and tidal streams, publications required and strategy
  • Knows customs procedures
  • Is aware of safety equipment required for offshore passages
  • Can prepare a yacht for sea including stowage, safety briefing, watch keeping, delegating responsibilities and equipment and engine checks
  • Can prepare a pilotage plan, with consideration of soundings, transits, clearing bearings, buoyage, port or harbour regulations and tidal considerations
  • Can pilot a yacht by day and night
  • Can take charge of a yacht and direct the crew
  • Can organise the navigation, deckwork and domestic duties of a yacht on passage
  • Is aware of the significance of meteorological trends
  • Is aware of crew welfare on passage
  • Can use electronic navigational equipment for planning and undertaking a passage, including the use of waypoints and routes
  • Can control the yacht effectively in a confined space under power
  • All berthing and unberthing situations in various conditions of wind and tide
  • Can use the sails to control the yacht in a confined space
  • Anchoring and mooring in various conditions of wind and tide
  • Can sail efficiently on all points of sailing
  • Preparation for heavy weather and yacht handling in strong winds
  • Navigation and general conduct in restricted visibility
  • Recovery of man overboard under power and sail
  • Understands actions to be taken when abandoning to the liferaft and during helicopter and lifeboat rescues

"There's no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing", Billy Connolly.

Whilst the weather sailing of the south coast is actually fairly mild it is important to have the correct clothing. We provide modern, branded waterproof trousers and jackets free of charge.

Space on a boat is always at a premium, so you should pack your clothes in a soft holdall that can be stowed away in a locker. Bags with wheels or metal buckles should be avoided, as these may damage the woodwork on boats. You will need:

  • Sleeping bag.
  • Pillow.
  • Towel.
  • Warm clothing. It can sometimes be considerably cooler at sea than on land.
  • Fleeces and thermals are good for chillier times of the year.
  • A sunhat/baseball cap.
  • A woolly hat for cold weather.
  • Suncream.
  • Sunglasses.
  • Retaining strap for glasses/sunglasses.
  • Sailing gloves.
  • Non marking shoes (Trainers or deck shoes)
  • Non-slip/non-marking waterproof sailing boots (not agricultural-type wellies). These can be purchased from the chandlery at Shamrock Quay for about £40.
  • Waterproof clothing (unless you have asked us to provide it for you).
  • RYA Logbook, if you have one, if not we can provide one for £7.49.
  • Current passport (if sailing holiday or trip may involve other countries)
  • European Health Insurance Card (if sailing holiday or trip involves other EU countries)
  • Health insurance documentation (if applicable)
  • For clothing, remember that you will be outdoors most of the day. A range of sporty, layered clothing is best. Jeans are OK, but not ideal as they are hard to dry if they get wet. You want to be warm, comfortable and able to move easily. We provide waterproof trousers and jackets free of charge. Just let us know your sizes on the booking form.
  • Soft bag for all your belongings (no hard suitcases please)

We provide all safety equipment such as lifejackets and harnesses.

"Good clear explanations and pragmatic approach, was very easy to follow. Excellent instructor."

Neil M

"Friendly informative courses delivered in a relaxed environment by knowledgeable instructors. "

Allyson F, Head of UK Retail Marketing, Henderson Global Investors

"I have just finished a week of the Coastal Skipper Course with FCS. Really good mix of passages, boat handling, navigation, night sailing and more… really fun crew… Have done Day Skipper with them and will come back in the future. Thank you Charlie/Harriet!"

Michal L

"I cannot fault this course - excellent instruction both theory and practical. Very intense courses but great balance of professionalism and fun. Do it!"

Julia S

"We had five great days sailing with instructor Stuart. My husband and I wanted to gain more experience as we already have Day Skipper and Competent Crew certificates, respectively. It was a great trip and we learned so much more. Our friend also joined us and got his Competent Crew certificate too. In our experience, First Class sailing have first class instructors, great yachts and we would highly recommend them."


"Good mixture of conditions gave us varied experience, good team spirit."

Geoff K
Contact us
0203 006 3717
Our Locations

Shamrock Quay

William Street



SO14 5QL


c/o Cruising Association

CA House

1 Northey Street


E14 8BT

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