Southampton Yachtmaster Coastal or Yachtmaster Offshore Practical Course (Starts evening of 1 August)

Shamrock Quay, Southampton, 2 – 6 August - Ratio 3:1

This Yachtmaster Coastal and Yachtmaster Offshore Practical Course is designed to bring experienced sailors up to speed before taking the MCA/RYA Certificate of Competence exam.

› Why learn to sail with First Class Sailing?
Shamrock Quay, Southampton
2 – 6 August - Ratio 3:1

Student Instructor Ratio - 3:1. There will be a maximum of 3 students to 1 instructor on this course. This allows for more focused and intensive instruction at the same time as offering more space on board. No one will need to share accommodation.

There's no set syllabus for the course. It is about practicing for the RYA/MCA Yachtmaster Coastal or the Yachtmaster Offshore Certificate of Competence exam, tweaking your technique and perhaps ironing out any bad habits you may have picked up. The exam will assess your boat handling and skippering skills, including navigation, sailing ability, seamanship, safety awareness, and knowledge of signals and meteorology.

An external examiner will come on board on the penultimate day of the course, and you will be examined through the evening and some of the next day. Passing the Yachtmaster Coastal Certificate of Competence exam will prove your proficiency at sailing a yacht on coastal cruises. Passing the Yachtmaster Offshore exam proves your proficiency up to 150 miles offshore. Both are recognised worldwide.

Anyone with 800 miles and 30 days of sailing under their belt (or 400 miles and 20 days if you've completed the Coastal Skipper practical course) can take the YM Coastal exam. You need 2500 miles to take the YM Offshore exam. It's also recommended that you first take the Yachtmaster Coastal Theory Course to build upon your knowledge of advanced navigation techniques.

For more information, call First Class Sailing on 0203 006 3717 today.

Looking for the theory Course? View Yachtmaster Theory Course.

Prepare and Practice for the RYA/MCA Yachtmaster Coastal and the Yachtmaster Offshore Certificate of Competence exams.

The instructor will help you to ensure you are as prepared as possible by focusing on the areas you need most improvement and ironing out any bad habits you may have. You will be pushed hard. You will enter and leave as many ports/harbours as possible. You will practice night sailing and blind navigation. You will go over all the lights shapes sound signals and collision regulations. It is not a requirement to do such a course before the exam however it is well worth doing it if only to find out your strengths and weaknesses.

A Yachtmaster Coastal has the knowledge needed to skipper a yacht on coastal cruises but does not necessarily have the experience needed to undertake longer passages.

A Yachtmaster Offshore should be able to enter any well-charted harbour for the first time, with sufficient depth, by day or night.

Minimum Pre exam experience for the Yachtmaster Coastal: To be eligible for this exam you must have at least 30 days' sea time (two as skipper), logged 800 nautical miles and 12 night hours - all within the last ten years.However, if you have completed the RYA Practical Coastal Skipper Course, you only need 20 days at sea (two as skipper), logged 400 nautical miles and 12 night hours.

Half the qualifying sea time must have been conducted in tidal waters.

Minimum Pre exam for the experience for the Yachtmaster Offshore: To be eligible for this exam you must have at least 50 days' sea time (two as skipper), logged 2500 nautical miles, 5 passages over 60nm including 2 overnight and 2 as skipper - all within the last ten years. Half the qualifying sea time must have been conducted in tidal waters.

For both Coastal & Offshore you also need:

A VHF radio licence , a first aid certificate and Sound knowledge of using a Radar with plotting sheets. These can each be obtained on a one-day course.

The Yachtmaster Coastal exam will take about 6 to 10 hours for one candidate and 8 to 14 hours for two. Candidates will be set tasks to demonstrate their ability and may also be asked questions on any part of the syllabus for all practical and shorebased courses up to Coastal Skipper.

The Yachtmaster Offshore exam will take about 8 to 12 hours for one candidate and 10 to 18 hours for two. Candidates will be set tasks to demonstrate their ability as skipper of an offshore cruising yacht and may also be asked questions on any part of the syllabus for all courses except Yachtmaster Ocean.

Examiners are independent assessors not involved in training candidates and are therefore objective when assessing ability. The RYA examines candidates on behalf of the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

The exam fee is payable direct to the examiner and is £189 for the Yachtmaster Coastal and £220 for the Yachtmaster Offshore.

The RYA examiner will meet you onboard and talk through the plan. Examiners understand you could be nervous and will do their best to allay your fears and make sure you are clear about what they want you to do. They are there to find out what you can do, not to pick holes.

There would only ever be a maximum of four yachtmaster Candidates on board.

You will be asked to undertake a short passage, but you may have to plan a longer one. In general you should skipper the yacht in your normal style.

You must know your position reasonably accurately throughout the exam, but don't make the mistake of being so busy plotting fixes that you forget to look around. Often a quick glance on deck will confirm your position from a buoy or transit.

Make sure you know how to use a GPS, but don't over navigate with it.

You will usually be given practical problems involving tidal stream and heights. You can make life easy for yourself by looking them up beforehand - it's not cheating.

You need to know how the boat will react, it's turning circle and any predictable quirks to its handling. There will be some close quarters manoeuvring, usually in harbour, to demonstrate your skills at berthing and leaving pontoons, piles or moorings.

Your examiner isn't looking for first time every time success, but you will need to demonstrate competence and a good understanding of how the boat reacts at slow speeds.

Exams always include a Man Over Board recovery exercise. However you do it you must end up with the yacht stopped next to the man in the water.

Listen to the forecast before your exam and be prepared for questions about the current weather and how this might affect a passage plan. Understand how weather systems influence sea conditions and how to plan based on this knowledge. The type of boat and strengths of your crew can have a bearing on decisions based on the weather, so your examiner may ask you to consider various possibilities. There is rarely a definitive answer, so it is your informed opinions that are required.

Whether you are full in command of the yacht is the most important assessment that the examiner will make.

A good skipper leads the crew and communicates with them, making sure they understand what is going on and listening to them when they have something to say. They do not shout a stream of commands, leaving their crew in a quivering mess. Quiet competence instills confidence, helping your crew feel safe in the knowledge that the right decisions are being made.

RYA Certificates of Competence There are three RYA Certificates of Competence:

Yachtmaster Coastal Certificate of Competence Yachtmaster Offshore Certificate of Competence Yachtmaster Ocean Certificate of Competence The theory is the same for Yachtmaster Coastal and Yachtmaster Offshore. The difference is that less practical experience is required for the Coastal exam. The Yachtmaster Ocean involves astronavigation.

Certificates of competence are some of the most useful and credible of yachting qualifications. They thoroughly test the skipper's ability, and can therefore appear daunting to potential candidates. But well prepared skippers with the right experience needn't worry. With the practice and preparation you get from doing the prep course, you should be able to relax sufficiently to let your skills shine through any exam nerves.

You will sail mainly in the Solent and will visit as many places as possible so that you are familiar with them before the exam.

The Solent is a great place to do you Yachtmaster Coastal. The mix of interesting tides, plenty of varied traffic and number of ports and harbours means you know you will be tested thoroughly in these waters.

Accommodation Accommodation during a sailing course is on board the yacht. There are almost always three double cabins and two single berths which provide accommodation for eight people. However, there would only ever be a maximum of 3 students on board, plus the instructor.

You will get your own sleeping space be this a cabin or the saloon. You will not have to share a sleeping space with anyone else.

Showers/Facilities There are showers on board, but most nights you will be in a marina with good hot showers and shore side facilities.

Food 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 and cereal. 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.

Location Our boats are based in Shamrock Quay, Southampton. Getting to Shamrock Quay is very easy. It's about an 8 minute taxi ride from Southampton Central Station, or 15 minutes from Southampton Airport if you are coming from abroad. If you arrive by car there is plenty of free parking and there is security 24/7.

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.

Start/Finish Times 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, possibly earlier. 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.

There is no prescribed syllabus to this course. It is designed to give you practice and fine tune what you know already before an external examiner comes on board.

In Yachtmaster Offshore exams the candidate will be expected to demonstrate competence based on broad experience. In Yachtmaster Coastal exams the candidate will be expected to demonstrate understanding but may not have had the opportunity to practice all aspects of the syllabus under a range of different weather conditions.

Candidates may be given the opportunity to demonstrate knowledge or competence in the areas listed below. In each section the examiner will expect to see the candidate take full responsibility for the management of the yacht and crew.

You will practice everything in the Yachtmaster Coastal Exam syllabus which is as follows:

1. International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea

Questions will be confined to the International Regulations and although candidates must be aware of the existence of Local Regulations, they will not be expected to memorise specific local regulations.

  • General rules (1-3)
  • Steering and sailing rules (4-19)
  • Lights and shapes (20-31)
  • Sound and light signals (32-37)
  • Signals for vessels fishing in close proximity (Annex II)
  • Distress signals (Annex IV)

2. Safety

Candidates will be expected to know what safety equipment should carried on board a yacht, based either on the recommendations in the RYA Boat Safety Handbook (C8), the ISAF Special Regulations or the Codes of Practice for the Safety of Small Commercial Vessels. In particular, candidates must know the responsibilities of a skipper in relation to:

  • Safety harnesses
  • Lifejackets
  • Distress flares
  • Fire prevention and fighting
  • Liferafts
  • Knowledge of rescue procedures

3. Boat Handling

Candidates for Coastal Skipper examinations will be expected to answer questions or demonstrate ability in simple situations only. Candidates for Yachtmaster Offshore will be expected to answer questions or demonstrate ability in more complex situations and will also be expected to show a higher level of expertise:

  • Coming to and weighing anchor under power in various conditions of wind and tide
  • All berthing and un-berthing situations in various conditions of wind and tide
  • Recovery of man overboard
  • Towing under open sea conditions and in confined areas
  • Boat handling in confined areas
  • Boat handling in heavy weather
  • Helmsmanship
  • Use of warps for securing in an alongside berth and for shifting berth or winding

4. General seamanship, including maintenance

  • Properties, use and care of synthetic fibre ropes
  • Knots
  • General deck work at sea and in harbour
  • Engine operations and routine checks

5. Responsibilities of Skipper

  • Can skipper a yacht and manage the crew
  • Communication with crew
  • Delegation of responsibility and watch keeping organisation
  • Preparing vessel for sea and for adverse weather
  • Tactics for heavy weather and restricted visibility
  • Emergency and distress situations
  • Victualling for a cruise and feeding at sea
  • Customs procedures
  • Standards of behaviour and courtesy

6. Navigation

  • Charts, navigational publications and sources of navigational information
  • Chart work including position fixing and shaping course to allow for tidal stream and leeway
  • Tide and tidal stream calculations
  • Buoyage and visual aids to navigation
  • Instruments including compasses, logs, echo sounders, radio navaids and chartwork instruments
  • Passage planning and navigational tactics
  • Pilotage techniques
  • Navigational records
  • Limits of navigational accuracy and margins of safety
  • Lee shore dangers
  • Use of electronic navigation aids for passage planning and passage navigation
  • Use of waypoints and electronic routing
  • Use of radar for navigation, pilotage and collision avoidance

7. Meteorology

  • Definition of terms
  • Sources of weather forecasts
  • Weather systems and local weather effects
  • Interpretation of weather forecasts, barometric trends and visible phenomena
  • Ability to make passage planning decisions based on forecast information

8. Signals

  • Candidates for Yachtmaster Offshore and Coastal Skipper must hold the Restricted (VHF only) Certificate of Competence in radiotelephony or a higher grade of certificate in radiotelephony.

"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 modern, branded 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.

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 "

David, Director

"First Class Sailing should be your only choice for embarking on any theoretical or practical learning experience you may require. Regardless of previous experience it is defiantly No1. Choice for getting the best start around your sailing experience requirements. "

David, Director

"An excellent outfit, well equipped with good boats and brilliant instructors, that is small enough to give a warm personal service but big enough to cope with the full gamut of yachting experiences"

Thomas H.,

"I am no longer scared of the engine, touching bolts etc."

Georgina, Office Manager

"Excellent instructor - gave freely of his experience - very dedicated and enormously helpful."

Colin McKnight,

"Professional and effective. Good equipment, taught by knowledgable and enthusiastic professionals."

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. "

Andy C.,

"Excellent and I highly recommend to take any of First Class Sailing's courses"

Daniel O., Senior Manager

"Best Sailing School in the UK!"

Stefano D, Director

"Don't choose courses on basis of price. All courses are not the same. Both First Class Sailing Theory and Practical courses are 'First Class'."

Michael T,

"Great practical use of equipment. Good class size. Relaxed. "

Hannah T.,

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

Neil M.,

"Hands on, excellent instructor. Very professional, excellent course, 1st Class Service. "

Julian N.,

"Clear and focused on practical needs. "

Julein Q.,

"Concise, covered all relevant and necessary material without unneeded extra time. Instructor was friendly, informative and extremely competent. "

Troy B.,

"Good level of detail and experience from instructor. "

Robert A.,

"Good entertaining tuition. Lots of anecdotes to make it interesting, great practical experience."

Nick S.,

"The booking was well handled and the confirmation emails received speedily. Very helpful to receive pre course notes. Professional, helpful, good value. "

Sarah R.,

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

Allyson F., Head if UK Retail Marketing, Henderson Global Investors
Book Here Today!
Shamrock Quay, Southampton
2 – 6 August - Ratio 3:1
Monday - Friday

RYA Practical Courses

On the water courses that teach the beginner how to be a useful crew member and the advanced how to cross oceans.

VHF Radio Course

A VHF radio is an essential piece of safety equipment and it is vital to understand the correct procedures.

RYA Theory Courses

Shorebased navigation classes that prepare you to safely find your way once afloat.

One Day RYA Courses

One day courses that broaden your knowledge and compliment the RYA practical and navigation courses.

Contact us
0203 006 3717
Our Locations

Shamrock Quay

William Street



SO14 5QL


c/o Cruising Association

CA House

1 Northey Street


E14 8BT

Partnerships with the best
accepted cards sage pay
© 2018 First Class Sailing Ltd. All Rights Reserved