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What’s the Coastal thingy between Day Skipper and Yachtmaster?

This is one of the most asked questions we receive at Sailing Logic HQ.

Everyone knows you start with RYA Competent Crew, on to your RYA Day Skipper, then you do some stuff yourself and take your Yachtmaster. If you’re not good enough you do the Coastal - right?

Erm, actually no.

The RYA Coastal Skipper and RYA/MCA Yachtmaster Coastal elements of the programme are generally the least understood. So let’s get it straight once and for all.

There are 3 taught practical RYA courses: RYA Competent Crew, Day Skipper and Coastal Skipper

The RYA Competent Crew is a 5-day course for beginners of any age. Yup – we all agree on that.

The RYA Day Skipper is the intermediate level course (minimum age 16). It’s a two-part course consisting of theory (classroom navigation) and practical (boat based) elements. This is usually the minimum qualification needed for chartering a yacht.

The RYA Coastal Skipper is a 5-day advanced level taught course (minimum age 17). Like the Day Skipper, it is continual assessment, there’s no scary exam. The Day Skipper qualification prepares you to skipper a yacht by day in familiar waters – whereas the Coastal Skipper qualification prepares you to skipper a yacht on coastal and offshore passages by day or overnight.

You should really take the RYA Coastal/Yachtmaster Theory before this course, and some of the advanced navigation techniques will be put into practice.

You’ll learn more advanced practical techniques such as mooring under sail, or getting into (and out of) the tricky spots that you’d avoid at Day Skipper level, as well as how to manage a crew on longer and overnight passages.

The pre-requisites for the RYA Coastal Skipper are greater than the experience you would accrue by only completing the Comp Crew and Day Skipper courses – so you do need some additional personal experience.  See our blog on gaining additional sailing experience.

Minimum Pre-requisites: 15 days sea-time (2 of which as skipper), 300NM and 8 night hours.


Now let’s look at the exams.

There are 3 RYA/MCA Yachtmaster exams: Yachtmaster Coastal, Offshore and Ocean.

Unless you are intending to work commercially as a skipper, there is no need to take an exam – by the time you have passed the RYA Coastal Skipper you are already at an advanced and capable level. The Yachtmaster exams are challenging, and have therefore earned worldwide respect, so becoming a Yachtmaster is something to be rightly proud of.

The biggest difference between the Yachtmaster levels is how far you can sail from a safe haven and each level requires different experience and skill levels.

RYA/MCA Yachtmaster Coastal. Successful completion of this 6-10 hour practical exam demonstrates an ability to skipper a yacht up to 24 metres on coastal passages within 60 NM of a safe haven.

Sailing pre-requisites: 30 days (2 as skipper), 800NM, 12 night hours. Although if you complete the RYA Coastal Skipper course, the pre-requisites are reduced to 20 days seatime (2 as skipper), 400NM and 12 night hours.

RYA/MCA Yachtmaster OffshoreSuccessful completion of this 8-12 hour practical exam demonstrates an ability to skipper a yacht up to 24m on any passage up to 150NM offshore.

Sailing pre-requisites: 50 days, 2,500NM to include at least 5 qualifying passages* over 60NM (2 of which as skipper and 2 of which must have been overnight), 5-days as skipper and at least 50% of the miles logged must have been tidal. (Further restrictions apply, see the RYA website for full criteria).

For both Yachtmaster Coastal and Offshore, the practical exam will require you to demonstrate excellent boat handling ability and good crew control, therefore it is most common to complete a prep-week before the exam on the same yacht to ensure you are familiar how the yacht responds as well as with the sailing area.

RYA/MCA Yachtmaster Ocean.Successful completion of this oral exam demonstrates an ability to skipper a yacht on passages of any length, anywhere is the world.

Sailing pre-requisites: Successfully passed the RYA/MCA Yachtmaster Offshore and completed a qualifying ocean passage*. An Ocean theory course (the one with the sextant) must also be completed.

(* please refer to the RYA for definitions of a qualifying passage).

So now you know!

Mac, Sailing Logic’s chief instructor comments “For me, offshore sailing is the last great adventure.  Being awarded the Coastal Skipper course completion certificate enables a skipper to make passages, breaking free from the restricted waters of the Day Skipper qualification.  Covering advanced sailing skills and techniques, the Coastal Skipper course is a real “must” in developing the adventure - safely and competently.   

Day Skippers...I look forward to seeing you back soon when we will start our adventure by breaking out of the Solent!”

So if you are keen to take your sailing adventure to the next level, call us on 023 8033 0999 or email us to book your RYA Coastal Skipper course today.

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