The Yachtmaster Offshore certificate allows a certified yacht skipper to chart a course within 150 Nautical Miles from a safe port of entry. If you have a passion for boating and exploring waters, you must aim for this certificate. In this article, we will cover the basics of getting the RYA Yachtmaster offshore certificate in South Africa.

The RYA Yachtmaster Offshore – What exactly is it?

RYA Yachtmaster Offshore is a qualification that allows a cruise yacht skipper to skip a yacht less than or equal to 500gt. To acquire this, a skipper has to pass the RYA Yachtmaster Offshore exam, which is a practical exam that may last up to 18 hours. However, not anyone can take the exam as there are some strict prerequisites to follow; which we will see shortly.

So, who should take this exam? If you have a passion for sailing and wish to explore the waters. Definitely yes. Or if you hold an RYA Yachtmaster Offshore in either sail or power, then you may want to consider getting it for the other type. Either way, it is a worthy experience to take the RYA Yachtmaster Offshore exam. It’s practical, it’s intense and most importantly, it builds up your knowledge extensively.

Prerequisites for taking the RYA Yachtmaster Exam

There is no official course prior to taking the RYA Yachtmaster Offshore exam because whoever takes the exam is expected to have prior experience with sailing. However, RYA does provide unofficial courses to brush up on your knowledge. These ‘courses’ may be tailored according to your needs.

Regarding the prerequisites, there are some intense requirements you have to fulfil; which include a fair amount of sea experience.

  • You should have 50 days of sea service logging in the last 10 years. At least half of this time should include skipping on tidal waters on a yacht/vessel of 500gt or less.
  • You should have at least 5 days of experience as a skipper skipping a vessel of less than 24m in length. 
  • You should have covered at least 2500 miles on a yacht less or equal to 500gt in the last 10 years.
  • There should be a record of you covering at least 5 passages that are 60 or more miles long. These five passages include 2 overnight passages and 2 as you being the skipper.

These requirements are halved if you already have the Yachtmaster Offshore Certificate of Competence. Also, RYA advises you to contact them ( if your sailing records were recorded on a yacht greater than 24m in length or 500gt in weight.

If you do not fulfil these requirements, don’t worry. As an accredited institute in Cape Town, South Africa, Sail and Power SA can help you with mile building. For more information, check out this webpage.

Besides, you will need the following certifications:

  • RYA SRC or higher, a GMDSS-compliant marine radio operator certificate.
  • RYA First-Aid Certificate or any other (such as STCW First-Aid course).

The RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Exam in South Africa

The RYA Yachtmaster Offshore exam is a practical one. This exam may last up to 8-12 hours for one candidate or 10-18 hours if there are two candidates present. According to the RYA standards, there should never be more than two candidates in one exam.

This exam will be conducted under the supervision of an RYA-accredited supervisor. They may ask you oral questions from time to time during the exam as you showcase your abilities to handle the boat. This vessel may be your own or a borrowed one. The only requirement is that it has to pass the RYA standard for the examination. So make sure that it is well-equipped with the latest navigation charts and that all the navigational and other instruments are in pristine condition.

Your age should be 18 minimum at the time of this examination.


Getting the RYA Yachtmaster Offshore certificate in South Africa is indeed a challenging task and an important milestone. We strongly advise you to prepare the theory (based on the RYA Logbook Syllabus G158), which will help you tackle the orals. And lastly, it is always a good idea to request a custom refresher course from RYA-accredited institutes in case you feel unconfident.

If you require this certificate for commercial purposes, then you will need to get the commercial endorsement

Sail and Power SA can help you with prepping and getting your Yachtmaster certification. Contact us today for more information.