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Yachtmaster Offshore: When, Why, and How

Yachtmaster Offshore: When, Why, and How

In a seafarer’s career, there comes the time when Yachtmaster ticket becomes either a necessity, or the next logical step in professional development. No matter what the reason for the course is, Yachtmaster Offshore requires a thorough preparation and planning as well as some prior knowledge and experience.

  • When am I ready to take the course?

The candidate’s eligibility for Yachtmaster Offshore program is defined by a number of requirements. First and foremost, the logged sea time must show a minimum of 2500 nautical miles, about half of which should be in tidal waters. There is a huge debate as to what tidal waters are, and the RYA leaves it to the Yachtmaster candidate to decide whether the passage they undertook happened in a tidal area. The definition offered by the RYA is as follows:

An area is deemed tidal if published stream, current or tidal range data is available, the influence of which is significant enough to require the effects to be taken into account to plan and execute a safe and efficient passage.

But even if the decision to call experience tidal is the candidate’s, the RYA wisely warns that the final judgement will be made by the examiner and recommends to list only those miles that can be backed up with evidence. The qualifying sea time should be gained on motor vessels if the candidate applies for Yachtmaster Offshore Motor license. Sail miles do not count.

The RYA also sets a requirement as to the number of qualifying passages. As defined by the Association, ‘a passage is a non-stop voyage from a departure port / safe haven to a destination port / safe haven’. For the Yachtmaster Offshore, there must be a minimum of 5 passages over 60 nm each; 2 of those passages should be overnight and 2 when the candidate acted as a skipper. The skipper, as understood by the RYA, is a person nominated and responsible for the planning and execution of a passage including vessel and watch management. It’s important that throughout the 60-mile passage there occurs no change of skippers; otherwise, the passage cannot be deemed as qualifying.

Proper understanding of the skipper’s role is vital for ticking the box of another requirement – 5 days on board acting as a skipper. A day in this case is a period of 8 consecutive hours, and the majority of them should be at sea. In every 24 hours, Yachtmaster candidate can have only one qualifying day onboard.

Last but not least, the RYA’s Yachtmaster Offshore exam pre-requisites put some restrictions as to the tonnage and length: days on board and miles should be gained on vessels up to 500 gt and less than 24 meters LOA.

  • When is the best time to take the RYA Yachtmaster Offshore course?

The full program – RYA Yachtmaster Offshore theory and RYA Yachtmaster Practical – takes 10 days to complete; the exam is usually scheduled right after, and candidates need to allow 2 days for it. With the sea, winds, and weather being unpredictable, to the candidates coming from abroad we advise to add an extra day before taking flights back home. Thus, the course is quite a commitment, and most seafarers take it during low Med season. Our Yachtmaster Offshore course is scheduled every month from December throughout April to give options to potential candidates.

  • Why take the RYA Yachtmaster Offshore?

Yachtmaster is not for beginners. Commercially endorsed Yachtmaster Offshore Certificate of Competence entitles its holder to master a yacht of up to 200 gt, and that is a big responsibility. That said, one of the reasons to get Yachtmaster is to advance the qualifications from entry to higher level including MCA Officer of the Watch (OOW) or Chief Mate, for which Yachtmaster Offshore CoC is among the required documents. Yachtmaster Offshore Shore-based (theory) certificate is another pre-requisite to apply for the OOW, and it has to be sent along with STCW and other records as a part of the Notice of Eligibility.

 In a scheme of RYA training, Yachtmaster Offshore is preceded by RYA Day Skipper and Coastal Skipper, which allow to navigate 20 and 60 nautical miles offshore accordingly. With Yachtmaster Offshore qualifications, it is possible to skipper a cruising yacht up to 150 miles from harbour, so recreational boaters can have larger areas to explore and longer distances to cover.

  • How to apply for Yachtmaster Offshore Program?

If you believe you are ready and meet the pre-requisites mentioned above and outlined on our website, your first step is to get in touch with us by email, phone, or through contact form. Once we receive your enquiry, we will email to you Sea Time Summary and Self-Evaluation forms to fill out, which we will then forward to our instructor to confirm your eligibility. If you are eligible for the course, we will proceed with course booking and securing your place on the training.

Some important things to remember: the candidates for the training should hold a valid Elementary First Aid certificate. For the STCW EFA, it should be issued within the last 5 years, for the RYA First Aid - within the last 3 years. VHF Marine Radio certificate can be offered as a part of Yachtmaster Offshore package, but if you already hold the certificate, we can offer a 100 euros reduction.

Our next Yachtmaster Offshore session starts on the 6th of December. Click here for more dates.

More questions about Yachtmaster? Let us know!

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