RYA Day Skipper Theory Courses

Learn how to navigate on this shorebased Day Skipper Theory course. Courses on Zoom or in the classroom in London or Southampton.

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The Day Skipper shorebased course is for those that have done little or no actual navigation, regardless of whether you have a lot of sailing experience or none.

The course includes learning lots about navigation (including use of GPS and electronic charts), meteorology, collision regulations and safety procedures.

Looking for the Practical Course? View Day Skipper Practical Course.

We offer a variety of different ways to take the Day Skipper theory course.

  • On Zoom. These are very popular. Interactive. Fun. Just like being in a class with fellow students but in your own home.
  • In the classroom. In London or Southampton. Classes are held over 8 weeks (1 evening a week) and a weekend OR over 2 and 1/2 weekends and sometimes over 5 consecutive days.
  • Online. This version of the course is purely online. You can work through it at your own pace as and when you choose.

Ideally the Day Skipper theory course should be followed by a Day Skipper practical course. On completion of the practical course you will be qualified to charter and skipper a yacht. Depending on how much sailing you have previously done you may need to take a practical Competent Crew course before taking the Day Skipper Practical Course. These 'on the water courses' are held from Southampton.

This is a shore based course. So there is no requirement of you to give up days/evenings/nights work to go sailing.

The course equips you with enough knowledge to navigate around familiar waters by day. A basic knowledge of lights is also included to introduce you to night cruising.

Minimum Pre Course Experience: Great if you have done some sailing before but doesn't matter if you haven't.

Ability after the Course: Background knowledge to skipper a small yacht in familiar waters by day.

Course Content: Navigation, meteorology, rules of the road, safety.

To allow for different lifestyles and learning preferences we have a variety of different ways that you can take the Day Skipper shorebased course.

  • On Zoom. These are very popular. You can see, interact with and ask questions of the instructor, see your fellow students, see the whitebaord and any slides the instructor shows. It's just like being in the classroom apart from you are sat in the comfort of your own home.
  • In the classroom. Classroom Day Skipper theory courses are in London in various locations and reasonably regularly in Limehouse. We also run them in our classrooms in Southampton. Classes are usually held over 8 weeks (1 evening a week) and a weekend. All in a classroom. We also run them over 2 and 1/2 weekends and sometimes over 5 consecutive days. If you would like us to hold one in your office let us know. This is something we have specialised in for over 20 years. Click this link to find out more: Set up a Day Skipper Theory course up in your office.
  • Online. This version of the course is purely online. You get given login details to a RYA approved interactive and engaging online course and all the course materials that you would on a Zoom or Classroom course. You can work through it at your own pace as and when you choose. All you need is an internet connection. Instructor help is available via phone and email.

We provide a comprehensive set of materials to assist you with the course including:

  • Standard RYA pack with practice charts and questions
  • An edition of The RYA Navigation Handbook by Tim Bartlett– contains everything you need to know and a source of reference for years to come.
  • A student website with lots of useful links and copies of the course slides available on line - very useful if you miss a lesson or would like to see what is coming up in the next lesson or wish to refresh your memory.
  • A special First Class Sailing edition Cockpit Companion – a great aide memoire designed to take with you when you go on the water.
  • A piece of rope to practice your knot tying skills
  • Enthusiastic and dedicated First Class Sailing instructors who will go the extra mile
  • Wonderful customer service support team from the First Class Sailing office
  • RYA Day Skipper Shorebased Certificate at the end
  • Unlimited ongoing support and advice on matters nautical
  • Fun.
  • You'll learn a lot.
  • You'll meet like minded individuals in the Zoom or classroom sessions.
  • You'll get as much or as little help from your instructor as you need.
  • An instructor who loves teaching you.
  • An excellent selection of course materials.

It is not a problem if you have to miss a lesson providing you are prepared to put some effort into catching up. If you are on a Zoom course the sessions are recorded to watch later in the week. If you are on a classroom course we provide a comprehensive set of materials including an area on our website where you can access the slides the instructor shows. There is a bit of homework each session and providing you do this you know you will have caught up sufficiently. Also the instructor is available on phone/email in between sessions.

Start Times

Courses are run over 40 hours plus time for exams. Times vary but generally evening classroom classes start at 6.00pm with the instructor being available from 5.30pm. Weekend classes start at 9am.

Zoom class timings vary and you should check the timings of the specific course dates that you are interested in.

The link below will take you to the different Classroom and Zoom dates.

Nautical terms


Anchor work


International regulations for preventing collisions at sea

Definition of position, course and speed

Navigational charts and publications



Tides and tidal streams

Visual aids to navigation


Passage planning

Navigation in restricted visibility


Marine Environment

  • 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 life jackets
  • Ability to send a distress signal by VHF radiotelephone
  • Basic knowledge of rescue procedures including helicopter rescue
  • Steering and sailing rules (5, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 12-19)
  • General rules (all other rules)
  • Latitude and longitude
  • Knowledge of standard navigational terms
  • True bearings and courses
  • The nautical mile
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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 record
  • Precautions to be taken in, 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
  • Responsibility for avoiding pollution and protecting the marine environment

You need for the course a set of plotters and dividers. These are navigational instruments. We can provide them for £28. Alternatively you can buy them from most chandleries but they will probably be more expensive. You will be asked if you want us to supply you with this item when you book a course.

It is useful at this stage to purchase a £7.49 logbook. The Logbook is a place to record your miles and keep your certificates. It outlines the whole RYA Cruising Scheme giving the course content for each course.

"Thanks very much for your entertaining lessons, they were definitely something to look forward to during my week! This shows that people can do the course over video chat, it is actually quite easy to follow along online."

Luke A.

"What did you like most about about your course? Well-defined and beautifully balanced act between people, didactics and technology. Combo is rarely achieved successfully but it hits the bull's eye! How would you rate the support you received during your course on a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being very poor and 5 being excellent? 5 no doubt. From the first feedback onwards it's guaranteed you are not alone! I like the way anecdotes and facts are sprinkled occasionally alongside the syllabus, like recent ship wrecks in the Channel, etc. This certainly makes reading more interesting as text books tend to be somewhat drier. Please use any occasion to exploit that approach. That enriches the reader immensely as it is first-hand knowledge in its purest form, and that is certainly difficult to obtain anywhere else. Well done. "


"The Instructor was an excellent coach and really took the time with our class to ensure we all understood all aspects of the course. He was patient and prepared to take the time to ensure we all had the best knowledge transferred to us. He was an excellent instructor and had a significant amount of detailed knowledge that was most helpful to me and the rest of the class. He is passionate and fully committed to his work and goes above and beyond to ensure you are capable and have a really enjoyable experience learning with him. First Class Sailing are well organised and the logistics, course material and facilities were all top notch "

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Colin McKnight

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Ron G."The instructor was the perfect balance of show and tell mixed with letting you make your own mistakes safely. (The booking process) was all very professional and friendly. I felt the booking official actually cared about getting my booking right. Friendly, personalised, professional with out being officious. "
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Michael T,

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Hannah T.,

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Troy B.

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Robert A.

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Nick S.

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Sarah R.

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