Yachtmaster Theory Course

This is an Advanced Navigation Course. The official RYA title of the Yachtmaster Theory course is the Coastal Skipper / Yachtmaster Offshore Shorebased course.

› Why learn to sail with First Class Sailing?

During the Covid 19 pandemic we are offering an INSTRUCTOR LED ONLINE Coastal Skipper/Yachtmaster theory course on Zoom. You can see the instructor, ask him questions, see your fellow students, see the whiteboard 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 away from the nasty virus. Click the dates and availability button for more details.

This is a course in more advanced navigation techniques. It is assumed you will have done the Day Skipper theory course. The course teaches you about navigating safely on coastal and offshore passages.

If you have done an RYA Day Skipper Theory Course or owned a boat for a while and have already done a reasonable amount of navigating this shorebased Yachtmaster Theory course is the next step for you. Offering more advanced instruction in navigation and meteorology.

The Yachtmaster Theory course is all classroom based. We provide an extensive set of materials to assist you with the course. You can join one of the courses listed here or we can set a Yachtmaster Theory course up in your office for you. Click the link to find out more.

Courses are carried out over either:

  • 8 weeks (1 evening a week) and a weekend OR
  • 3 weekends.

If you enjoyed the Day Skipper theory course or have plans to progress to Coastal Skipper practical, Yachtmaster Coastal or YachtmasterOffshore then you should be taking this course.

Looking for a practical Course? Coastal Skipper Practical course, Yachtmaster Coastal or Yachtmaster Offshore practical exams.

This is a shorebased course. So all the lessons will be carried out on dry land.

The Yachtmaster Theory course is the next course on from the Day Skipper theory course. It goes into a lot more detail that which is covered in the Day Skipper theory course.

The course is an advanced course in navigation techniques. The syllabus makes some provision for the revision of subjects covered on the Day Skipper Course but those who have not acquired the knowledge set out in the Day Skipper Course are unlikely to be able to assimilate all the subjects covered in this advanced course in the time available.

Minimum Pre Course Experience: Day Skipper Shorebased Course. Although some time is devoted to revision of the basic principles, you will probably have difficulty keeping up if you haven't already mastered the subjects covered in the Day Skipper syllabus. If you have owned a boat for a while and have done some of your own navigation but have not had any formal training then you may well be able to go straight to this course without doing the Day Skipper Shorebased course.

Ability after the Course: Background knowledge to skipper a yacht on coastal passages by day and night.

Course Content: Offshore and Coastal navigation, pilotage coastal and offshore passages.

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

  • an RYA work pack of charts, tide tables, port information and practice questions,
  • a Cockpit Companion,
  • A student website with 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.
  • FCS Coastal Skipper/Yachtmaster Notes

What if I have to miss a lesson?

It is not a problem if you have to miss a lesson providing you are prepared to put some effort into catching up. We provide a comprehensive set of notes including a memory stick with the slides the instructor shows. There is a bit of homework each week and providing you do this you know you will have caught up sufficiently. Also the instructor is there half an hour before the start of each class and can often stay behind afterwards if required.

  • The first session will be a quick revision session of the Day Skipper shorebased course.
  • Fun.
  • You'll learn a lot.
  • You'll meet like minded individuals.
  • 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.

Start Times

Courses are run over 40 hours plus time for exams. 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 dates.

An advanced course in the theory of navigation and meteorology for sailors with some previous navigational experience, the course builds on basic navigation skills, developing a comprehensive depth of knowledge and understanding of navigation theories, techniques and practices. The Yachtmaster/Coastal Skipper Theory Course covers all the background knowledge needed to progress to the practical examinations for the RYA Coastal Skipper or RYA Yachtmaster Coastal/Offshore Certificates of Competence.

The course includes position fixing, magnetic compass, tides, tidal streams, buoyage, lights, pilotage, and introduction to GPS and plotters, meteorology, collision prevention regulations, safety, navigation and passage planning.


The magnetic compass


Tidal streams




GPS and chart plotters

Echo sounders

Logs (speed and distance measuring)

Deck log


Rules of the road

Safety at sea

Navigation in restricted visibility

Passage planning

Marine environment

  • Dead reckoning and estimated position
  • Satellite-derived position
  • Use of waypoints
  • Radar fixes
  • Techniques of visual fixing
  • Fixes using a mixture of position lines
  • Relative accuracy of different methods of position fixing
  • Areas of uncertainty
  • Allowance for variation
  • Change of variation with tie and position
  • Causes of deviation
  • Swing for deviation (but not correction)
  • Allowance for deviation
  • Different types of compass
  • Causes of tides - Springs and Neaps
  • Tide tables - sources
  • Tidal levels and datum
  • Standard and secondary ports
  • Tidal anomalies
  • 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
  • IALA system buoyage in Region A
  • Limitations of buoys as navigational aids
  • Characteristics
  • Ranges - visual, luminous and nominal
  • Rising and dipping distances
  • Light lists
  • Harbour regulations and control signals
  • Methods of pre-planning
  • Clearing lines
  • Use of soundings
  • Transits and leading lines
  • Principles of operation and limitations of use
  • Raster and vector charts
  • Datum
  • Importance of confirmation of position by an independent source and keeping a seperate record of position
  • Importance of paper charts
  • Principles of operation and limitations of use
  • Principles of operation and limitations of use
  • Importance of log as yachts official document
  • Layout of log, hourly and occasional entries
  • Basic terms, the Beaufort scale
  • Air masses
  • Cloud types
  • Weather patterns associated with pressure and frontal systems
  • Ability to interpret a shipping forecast, weatherfax and weather satellite information
  • Land and sea breezes
  • Sea fog
  • Use of barometer as a forecasting aid
  • A sound knowledge of the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions 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
  • Precautions to be taken in fog
  • Limitations to safe navigation imposed by fog
  • Navigation strategy in poor visibility
  • Preparation of charts and notebook for route planning and making, and use at sea
  • Custom regulations as they apply to yachts
  • Routine 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
  • Responsibility to minimise pollution and protect the marine environment

You need for the course a set of plotters and dividers. [Picture]. We can provide them for £20 and you can pick them up at the first class. 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.

If you haven't already got a logbook you should buy one. They are £7.49. The Logbook [picture] 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.

We advise bringing a briefcase or bag to transport the course materials away on the first night.

"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
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