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Requirements for Yachtmaster Offshore exam

There is some confusion around the requirements for the RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Coastal or Offshore exam. We hope this guide helps explain these requirements.

Sea time requirements for the Yachtmaster Offshore exam

To sit the RYA Yachtmaster offshore exam, you are required to have, as a minimum, the following experience. All completed within the last ten years:

  • A minimum of 2,500 miles are logged before you sit the exam. At least half the sea time must be in tidal waters.
  • 50 days at sea on yachts up to 500GT.
  • During your qualifying sea time, you would have completed five passages of over 60 miles**. Two of these passages would have been at night, and two acting as skipper. All five qualifying passages must have been on a vessel between 7 and 24m in length.
  • At least five days experience as skipper.
  • A valid First Aid Certificate.
    • Please note if you hold an STCW Elementary First Aid, then it must have been issued in the last five years.
    • For RYA First Aid, it’s three years.
  • A GMDSS short-range VHF radio certificate

Click here if you need to refresh your STCW Elementary First Aid or complete a GMDSS short-range VHF course.

Qualifying passages

To sit the Yachtmaster Offshore exam, you MUST have completed at least five passages of over 60 miles.

A 60-mile qualifying passage is defined as:

A non-stop voyage from departure port/anchorage A to departure port/anchorage B (Points A and B can not be the same place). 

The 60-mile passage must be a continuous passage. The distance, in this case 60 miles, must be measured as a straight line from port A to port B.

**Qualifying passages must be completed on a vessel less than 24 meters.

Acting as Skipper

The skipper is the person nominated and responsible for planning the passage. The skipper is not necessarily the most experienced or qualified person on board but must be the person with responsibility for the safe execution of the passage. 

If the skipper’s role is transferred to another person at any time during a passage then neither person can claim to have skippered that passage.


What if all my sea time has been on Superyachts/vessels over 24m in length?

The RYA accepts that 50% (1,250) of the qualifying sea miles gained on a vessel over 24m can be used towards the 2,500 miles required for the Yachtmaster Offshore exam.

You should provide a testimonial or Discharge book confirming 1,250 sea miles.

The other 50% of the qualifying sea time must have been completed on vessels between 7 and 24 meters in length. Some Superyachts have large tenders and chase boats. In this case, any miles gained at the helm go some way to 1,250 sea miles.


Sea time requirements for RYA Yachtmaster Coastal

  1. 30 days at sea on a vessel less than 24m in length, and a minimum of 800 miles logged before you sit the exam. At least half the sea time must be in tidal waters.
  2. Two days as skipper, on a vessel less than 24m in length.
  3. 12 night hours.
  4. Short-range radio certificate (VHF), or equivalent.
  5. A valid First Aid certificate.
  6. You must be 17 years old at the time of the exam.

If you hold the RYA Coastal Skipper course completion certificate, then the miles required for Yachtmaster Coastal are reduced to 400.


Converting from sail to power

To convert from Yachtmaster offshore sail to Offshore (Power) you must have completed, in the last 10 years:

  1. Minimum of 1,250 miles on a vessel between 7 and 24 meters in length
  2. 25 days living onboard
  3. 3 days as skipper
  4. Three passages of over 60 miles, including one overnight and one as skipper

pointing to a location on a map

How do I record my sea time for the RYA Yachtmaster exam?

The miles that you have gained on vessels between 7 and 24 meters in length in the past ten years can be recorded in either:

  1. RYA’s G158 logbook
  2. A CV detailing your sea time
  3. An Excel spreadsheet

When recording experience at sea, make sure you detail the following:

  • Dates the passage/trip took place.
  • Name and type of vessel
  • Details of the passages
  • Miles sailed on the passages
  • Night hours (if applicable)

Flying Fish has created a simple spreadsheet that you can use to record your sea miles.
Yachtmaster power personal log

What First Aid Qualification do I need for the RYA Yachtmaster Offshore?

You must have a valid, in-date first aid qualification to sit the Yachtmaster Coastal or Offshore exam. RYA first aid, STCW, Seafish first aid certificates are all accepted by the RYA.

If you hold the STCW Elementary First Aid certificate that was issued more than 5 years ago, then you will need to refresh your first aid qualification before sitting the Yachtmaster exam.

Power or sail?

The RYA offers two practical schemes depending on whether you want to skipper a Power or Sail. boat. Both schemes lead to the RYA/MCA Yachtmaster Offshore Certificate of Competence. The requirements for the Yachtmaster Offshore power or sail qualification are the same, minimum of 2,500 miles, etc.

Commercial endorsement

Many choose to commercially endorse their RYA Yachtmaster Coastal or Offshore exam qualification after completing the RYA Yachtmaster exam. If this is your chosen path, then in addition to holding a valid first aid and VHF certificate listed above, you will need the following:

  1. Either an ENG1 or ML5 medical
  2. STCW or RYA Sea survival certificate
  3. Complete the RYA’s online PPR course

Once you have completed these three steps, you can apply for commercial endorsement through the RYA.

STCW Endorsement

Complete STCW Basic Safety Training, then the RYA/MCA Yachtmaster Offshore certificate will be endorsed to allow the holder to skipper a commercial or privately owned vessel up to 200 gross tonnes, which may be greater than 24m in length.

RYA Yachtmaster Theory Course

Do I need RYA Yachtmaster Theory?

In short, yes. To become an RYA Yachtmaster offshore then, you need to be able to navigate as well as handle the boat at sea. Furthermore, holding the RYA Yachtmaster Theory as well as your Yachtmaster Offshore certificate of competence is required if your goal is the Officer of the Watch 3000GT. If you have not sat at the chart table for a while, then consider a combined Yachtmaster Offshore Theory and practical prep course.

What other skills do I need before I join a prep course?

If you are considering a Yachtmaster Prep course then Flying Fish will provide some pre-course reading. If you did some background reading before your prep course, it would help if you had a good knowledge of the following:

  • I.R.P.C.S (rules of the road) and distress signals.
  • Weather. The passage of frontal depression, sea breeze, fog, effects of wind and tide, and terminology used in a weather forecast.
  • Navigation. Understand how to calculate tidal heights, course to steer, and estimated position.
  • Ability to tie the basic knots.
  • Have knowledge of Radar, rule 19, and how to use it for collision avoidance.
  • The G158 logbook provides all sea time requirements and a section where you can record all your sea time.