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If you are starting, partway through your career at sea then the MCA sea time requirements are something to think about.

If you are working on Superyachts and are, or are thinking of making a career in the industry then you must record your sea time. As well as Sea time are all the ancillary courses you complete as you progress through your career. Details of MCA sea time the qualifications required for OOW to Master can be found in MSN 1858.

To understand the jargon we have taken the key points from the RYA and MCA, which are highlighted below.


1. Just entered the industry as a deckhand?

Once you have gained experience as a Deckhand, the next step for you would be the RYA Yachtmaster Offshore. To progress to a Lead Deckhand or Bosun normally requires candidates to hold the Yachtmaster Offshore.

You will need to gain experience on smaller yachts, and join a Yachtmaster prep course or similar to get you ready for the exam.

To qualify as an RYA Yachtmaster, your sea time is recorded as “miles” sailed or motored.


2. How do record my sea time?


To record the miles gained on a motor or sail yacht you can record your sea time by:

  1. Buying the RYA G158 logbook
  2. Download our free logbook template which you can print off and complete.



From the day you start work on a yacht you will be gaining experience onboard. The MCA has strict protocols on how your sea time needs to be documented. After the end of each period onboard you can document your sea time.

Yachts are not always at sea, sometimes they are at anchor or in the shipyard. The MCA recognise that even though you are not at sea the experience gained counts. Therefore, the MCA came up with the following definitions:

  1. Onboard Yacht Service – is the total time served onboard a vessel
  2. Actual Sea service – is the combination of sea service, standby service and shipyard service.
  3. Watchkeeping service – is any 4 hours in 24 hours served as a watchkeeping officer.

Recording your sea service will need to be done using one of the following documents:

Before sitting your exam for Officer of the watch or Master, your sea time will need to be verified by the PYA or Nautilus.


3. MCA Sea time requirements for Officer of the Watch (Yachts)

  1. Since 16 have obtained minimum of 36 months onboard yacht service. Must include 365 days of seagoing service on vessels of 15 meters or over.
  2. Hold the RYA Yachtmaster Offshore certificate AND succesful completion of shore-based Yachtmaster theory course.

Sea service can be made up of the following:

  • A minimum of 250 days actual sea going service and 115 days of any combination fo the following:
    • Actual sea service
    • Stand-by sea service – a maximum of 14 consecutive days may be counted.
    • Yard service – up to a maximum of 90 days.
  • Complete the Training Record Book (TRB)
  • Complete all of the ancillary courses, details of which can be found below.
  • Pass the MCA Officer of the Watch oral exam.

Career pathway from Deckhand to Master 3000GT


4. Chief mate, less than 3000GT (Yachts)

There is no additional sea time required to qualify as a Chief Mate. Furthermore, You can apply for a Chief mates certificate of competence at the same time as applying for OOW, assuming you have completed all the ancillary courses detailed in the link above.

The main difference is that to apply for Chief mate, you must complete RYA Yachtmaster Ocean.


5. MCA sea time requirements for Master 500GT (Yachts)

You must hold the Officer of the watch certificate of competency, as well as the following sea time.

  • Completed 12 months onboard yacht service as a deck officer, including 120 days watchkeeping service in vessels of over 15 meters, while holding the OOW certificate.
  • Hold all the ancillary training courses as detailed in the link above.
  • Pass the MCA Master 500GT oral exam.



6. MCA sea time requirements for Master 3000GT (Yachts)

To qualify as Master 3000GT (yachts) you must have the following sea time, in addition to that of an OOW.

  1. Have completed 12 monts of onboard yacht service as a Deck Officer.
  2. Have completeted 120 days watchkeeping service in vessels of over 15 meters in length, while holding an OOW certificate.
  3. Have completed all the ancillary courses as detailed in the link above.
  4. Complete the MCA Master 3000GT Oral exam.