RYA Yachtmaster Qualifications, the ultimate test of a skipper, marks a huge milestone in a Skipper’s career in South Africa. Getting this certificate is difficult yet good for your career. If you are serious about a career in the marine industry, we strongly recommend going for this certificate. In this article, we will explain the prerequisites to the Yachtmaster exam.

What is an RYA Yachtmaster Qualification in South Africa?

An RYA Yachtmaster Qualification is a Certificate of Competence originally issued by the Royal Yachting Association. This certificate allows you to handle a sailing boat or a motorboat under certain conditions.

In South Africa, this is equivalent to getting a Category A Skipper’s license. However, these Yachtmaster CoCs are recognised internationally. So if you are an international adventurer, going for the RYA Yachtmaster Qualifications will bring you a lot more opportunities.

As this is an advanced exam, it is obvious that you require some experience as a skipper firsthand. In South Africa, Skippers prefer to take this course after obtaining a Day Skipper qualification.

Let’s get to know more about the three categories of the RYA Yachtmaster Qualifications in South Africa.

a. Coastal Yachtmaster Qualification

Coastal Yachtmaster Qualification — officially known as Yachtmaster Coastal since January 2010 — allows a yacht skipper to drive their vessel up to 60nm in the sea. However, a coastal Yachtmaster may not take passages deeper than that.

Before enrolling for the practical exam, make sure you meet the prerequisites.

  • You must hold a valid certificate showing your proficiency with operating a VHF Radio on the sea or a GMDSS Short Range Certificate.
  • You should possess a valid First Aid Certificate from RYA or SAMSA Medical First Aid Certificate.
  • The candidate also has to meet the Minimum Seatime requirements. For Coastal Yachtmaster, the candidate must have logged a minimum of 30 days, 2 days as a skipper, 12 night hours, and a total of 800nm logged.
  • Minimum 17 years old.

The examination period is about 6-10 hours for 1 candidate or 8-14 hours for 2. It will cover the assessment of the candidate’s skippering skills, general seamanship, navigation, safety awareness and knowledge, boat handling etc. Candidates may also face questions regarding the syllabus during the exam.

b. Offshore Yachtmaster Qualification

The Yachtmaster Offshore expands your limit of plotting a voyage into the sea. This qualification will allow you to drive or sail up to 150nm into the sea from the harbour.

The prerequisites are similar to the previous course, however, the following things differ:

  • The sea mileage requirements are higher for this course. The candidates must have logged a minimum of 50 days in total in which, 5 days as skipper, 5 passages of over 60nm long in which 2 passages should be of overnight passages and the candidate must have at least skippered 2 passages out of five. Half of these qualifying sea miles must be conducted on the tidal waters.
  • The candidate must be of 18 years old minimum.

The examination duration is of 8-12 hours (1 candidate) or 10-18 hours (2 candidates). The syllabus and practical will involve everything from the prior course. Additionally, they may also include questions regarding safety awareness and knowledge of the ship’s construction, ballasting, radio, radar, collision regulations etc. Candidates will have to complete the set tasks in exams, answer oral questions from time to time to successfully complete the exam.

c. Ocean Certificate of Competence

The ultimate freedom of sailing your yacht all over the world comes at the cost of passing this difficult exam. This exam is a particularly tough and demanding test of a skipper’s abilities. And of course, due to the nature of this exam, the prerequisites are also harsh.

  • You MUST hold the RYA/MCA Yachtmaster Offshore Certificate of Competence.
  • You must have completed at least one qualifying ocean passage as a skipper or mate of watch. Furthermore, you must have the experience of being fully involved in plotting at least one ocean passage — this includes a selection of the route, navigation plan, checking the yacht’s safety conditions and equipment condition, spare gear storage, and organising the overwatch of the waters, and organising provisions and water for the crew.
  • A non-stop run of 600nm must be in your logs. The yacht must be at sea continuously for 96 hours, more than 50nm from a safe port of entry while sailing a distance of at least 200nm.

The examination, unlike previous COCs, is written and oral only. This will test a candidate’s knowledge of the making of an ocean passage, navigation, crew management, yacht safety and preparations, maintenance and repairs, and world meteorology.

Commercial Endorsements

Generally speaking, for the commercial endorsements, you require an ENG1 or ML5 medical fitness certificate. You will also require the RYA Basic Sea Survival Course or the STCW Personal Survival Techniques; and the RYA Professional Practices and Responsibilities Course. Sail and Power SA provides a complete STCW package, however, for Offshore and Ocean Yachtmaster, there are further endorsement options. Kindly contact us if you are looking for a commercial endorsement or STCW endorsement on your Yachtmaster qualifications.

Sail and Power’s Coastal Skipper and Yachtmaster Offshore Course.

RYA Yachtmaster Qualifications are considered formidable in South Africa and globally. They will boost your resume and career.

Sail and Power provide the Coastal Skipper and Yachtmaster Offshore courses. In these online or physical classrooms, we cover all the important topics in theory that will prepare you for the practical examinations up ahead. For more information, please visit our Yachtmaster page.

The prices of these courses vary and are subject to change. Please contact us for further information and we will be happy to assist you.