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Yachtmaster Offshore Certificate of Competence

Syllabus – Yachtmaster Offshore Exam Syllabi (RYA MCA) – 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. In RYA Yachtmaster Offshore exams the candidate will be expected to demonstrate competence based on broad experience.  

All candidates must be familiar with:

International Regulations for preventing Collisions at Sea

Questions will be confirmed to the International Regulations and although Yachtmaster 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)


Yachtmaster Candidates will be expected to know what safety equipment should be carried on board a yacht, based either on the recommendations in RYA booklet C8, the Special Regulations of the ORC 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. Helicopter rescue.

Boat Handling

Candidates for Yachtmaster Offshore exam 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 or sail in various conditions of wind and tide
    • All berthing and unberthing 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 under sail
    • Boat handling in heavy weather Helmsmanship and sail trim to sail to best advantage Use of warps for securing in an alongside berth and for shifting berth or winding

General Seamanship & Maintenance

  • Properties, use and care of synthetic fibre ropes
    • Knots
    • General deck-work, at sea and in harbour
    • Engine operations and routine checks
    • Improvisation of jury rigs following gear failure

Responsibilities of Skipper

  • Can skipper a yacht and manage the crew
    • Communication with crew
    • Delegation of responsibility and watch-keeping organisation
    • Preparing yacht 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


  • Charts, navigational publications and sources of navigational information
    • Chartwork, 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 routeing


  • 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


  • Candidates for Yachtmaster Offshore exam must hold the Short Range Certificate (SRC), Restricted (VHF only) Certificate of Competence in radiotelephony or a higher grade of certificate in radiotelephony.

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