If you are considering taking to the water and launching your career as a skipper, you’re probably browsing RYA courses.
Designed to give you the skills and competencies needed to skipper a vessel alone in any situation, they are essential for anyone looking to sail professionally.
But which course is right for you?
The RYA Ocean online theory course might seem like a good place to start, but is it the right level for a novice skipper?
Does it matter which RYA course I do first?
Put simply, it absolutely does matter which RYA course you complete first because they become incrementally more advanced as the courses go on.
Each qualification also comes with an assumed level of knowledge and sailing experience – that the RYA has deemed essential to pass the course successfully within the minimum 40 hours specified.
So, in which order should the courses be completed?
- RYA Day Skipper theory – RYA Day Skipper practical course
- RYA Yachtmaster theory – RYA Yachtmaster Coastal and Yachtmaster Offshore practical courses
- RYA Ocean theory – RYA Yachtmaster Ocean practical course
These courses are followed by a practical test, denoted in italics next to each theory course.
1. RYA Day Skipper theory course
Designed to give an introductory level of understanding of chartwork, navigation, meteorology, and the basics of seamanship for inexperienced but aspiring skippers.
It assumes students have some practical experience on the water and upon completion, trainees should be able to skipper a small yacht in familiar waters by day.
It includes the most essential topics, including tidal heights and streams, chart familiarisation, the compass, electronic navigation, the Collision Regulations, and the safety and protection of the environment among others.
The RYA Day Skipper theory course is therefore designed for beginners and should be the first theory course undertaken – followed by the RYA Day Skipper practical course.
2. RYA Yachtmaster theory course
The second theory course learners complete is the RYA Yachtmaster theory, which is designed to build on the knowledge gained in the RYA Day Skipper and advance your training.
Upon completion of this course and the RYA Yachtmaster Coastal and Yachtmaster Offshore practical exams, skippers will be able to navigate safely on coastal and offshore packages by day and by night – vastly expanding your permitted sailing territory.
Although it does touch on some of the topics covered in the RYA Day Skipper, the course is more advanced and includes topics such as estimated positions, visual and electronic aids of navigation, meteorology, and passage planning.
- RYA Ocean theory course
The most rigorous of the theory training courses, the RYA Yachtmaster Ocean theory course should only be completed by those who have already completed the RYA Yachtmaster theory.
Designed for those preparing for their first ocean passage or commercial Skippers or Mates planning on working more than 150 nautical miles from a safe haven, this qualification will give you everything you need to skipper the oceans with confidence.
The syllabus includes essential skills for astro-navigation, the use of a sextant, position fixing by the sun and stars, calculating latitude by Polaris, ocean weather, and tropical storms.
Start studying for your RYA Yachtmaster Ocean course – if you’re ready for it!
Depending on where you are up to in your skippering journey, you may or may not be ready to begin your RYA Yachtmaster Ocean theory course.
But don’t despair, as we have seen, there are many theory courses designed for newbies as well as more experienced Skippers – so you can always find a course designed to stretch and develop your seamanship skills for the better.
Whichever course you start – we wish you fair winds and following seas!