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Yachting - Sail Cruising, Motor Cruising, Powerboat, Navigation & Seamanship Certification,Training and Publications

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Established in 1885, the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) is the UK national body for all forms of boating, including dinghy and yacht racing, motor and sail cruising, RIBs and sports boats, powerboat racing, windsurfing, inland cruising and narrowboats, and personal watercraft.

RYA training is forward thinking and designed for whatever level of skill, professionalism and knowledge you want to achieve. RYA delivers over 100 courses to professional and recreational boaters, which are right up to date with safety issues, regulations, and emerging trends.

There are over 2,200 RYA recognized training centers in more than 44 countries; 22,000 RYA instructors across the world; 15,000 professionals working on commercial vessels using RYA Certificates of Competence; 155,000 people completing RYA courses every year.

They also have over 300,000 expert RYA publications are added each year to the personal libraries of recreational and professional boaters; and Over 100 professional and recreational courses on the water, in the classroom and online.

RYA works closely with Governments and official organizations and is given the responsibility for issuing certificates of competence by the British Government through the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), an agency of the Department of Transport.

rya boat

Training Programs

Sail Cruising

  • Start Yachting (2 days): : A short introduction to sailing for complete beginners. By the end of the course you will have experienced steering a yacht, sail handling, ropework and be aware of safety on board.
  • Competent Crew (5 days): This course is for beginners and those who would like to become active crew members rather than just passengers. 
  • Day Skipper (5 days): A course for aspiring skippers with some yachting experience and basic navigation and sailing skills. 
  • Coastal Skipper (5 days): Advanced skippering techniques for yachtsmen and women with considerable knowledge of sailing and navigation, wanting to undertake coastal passages by day and night. 
  • Yachtmaster (Certificate of Competence): An RYA Yachtmaster Certificate of Competence is often the ultimate aim of aspiring skippers. It is a well known, highly respected qualification worldwide, proving your experience and competence as a skipper. Unlike other courses in the cruising program, there is no formal training to complete in order to become a Yachtmaster. Instead, provided that you have sufficient experience and seatime, you can put yourself forward for an exam to test your skills and knowledge.
  • Sailing Skills Courses: Start Sailing and Basic Skills courses are standalone courses that complement the current practical courses of the sail cruising scheme. The Sail Cruising Start Sailing course is an entry level course which can be run in conjunction with a Basic Skills Course. The Sail Cruising Basic Skills Course builds on the skills gained during the Sail Cruising Start Sailing course, with the main focus being on the skills required to sail a cruising yacht.

Motor Cruising

  • Helmsman (2 days): A two-day course covering basic boat handling, engine checks and safety. This course is ideal for new owners conscious of the difficulty and hazards of boat handling in the marina. It is useful for crews as well as skippers. 
  • Day Skipper (4 days): This course can also help you get the best from your modern electronic aids such as GPS and radar, which are now virtually standard equipment on modern motor cruisers. 
  • Advanced Pilotage (2 days): This course is ideal for those who want to progress their night pilotage skills, but might not yet have the experience required for the Coastal Skipper course. The participant will be able to undertake more advanced passages by day and night.
  • Coastal Skipper (5 days): For the more ambitious skipper to improve their skills, take charge and learn to make full use of the boat on longer, more complex passages. Before taking this course it is virtually essential to have attended the equivalent shorebased course, to ensure that time is not wasted teaching theory on board.
  • Yachtmaster (Certificate of Competence): An RYA Yachtmaster Certificate of Competence is often the ultimate aim of aspiring skippers. It is a well known, highly respected qualification worldwide, proving your experience and competence as a skipper. 

Navigation & Seamanship Theory

  • Essential Navigation & Seamanship course: This course is for anyone interested in sailing, motor boating, sea angling or diving, and works well in complementing the on-the-water training, such as the Powerboat Level 2, Start Yachting and Helmsman courses.
  • Day Skipper: A comprehensive introduction to cruising for inexperienced skippers. This course equips you with enough knowledge to navigate around familiar waters by day. A basic knowledge of lights is also included to introduce you to night cruising. 
  • Coastal Skipper / Yachtmaster Offshore: Advanced training for more experienced skippers building on the Day Skipper course. This course equips you to navigate safely on coastal and offshore passages. It allows some time for revision of the basics and then moves on to advanced navigation techniques. 
  • Yachtmaster Ocean: This course is for those aspiring to blue water cruising and is ideal for holders of theYachtmaster Offshore certificate who are preparing for their first ocean passage. If you are working towards your Yachtmaster Ocean Certificate of Competence, completion of this shorebased course exempts you from the written exam.


rya day skipper nauticed

  • Powerboat Level 1 (1 day): This course is an introduction to boating techniques for launching and recovering a boat from a road trailer, everyday boat handling and the use of safety equipment. 
  • Powerboat Level 2 (2 days): This two-day course provides the skills and background knowledge needed to drive a powerboat and is the basis of the International Certificate of Competence
  • Powerboat Intermediate (2 days): This course covers the practical use of pilotage and passage planning by day on coastal waters using both traditional and electronic navigational techniques. 
  • Powerboat Advanced (2 days including at least 1 night navigation exercise): This course is for leisure and professional boaters wanting to undertake more adventurous trips. It includes navigation by day and night, weather and other aspects of skippering a small boat on more challenging passages in coastal waters.
  • Safety Boat (2 days): This two-day course provides the skills required when acting as an escort craft, safety boat or coach boat for a fleet of dinghies, windsurfers or canoes, or for racing or training activities. It includes rescue techniques and elements of race management and mark laying.
  • Tender Operator Course: Designed in conjunction with the Professional Yachting Association (PYA) this course is intended to build upon a candidate's basic powerboating knowledge and skills. Attendees will gain confidence in their ability to maneuver a powerboat more smoothly but the real benefit is the emphasis on learning important skills in pilotage, both day and night, and passenger carriage and management.

Specialist Short Courses

  • Diesel Engine (1 day): A one-day beginners’ course to help you prevent and solve diesel engine failure. This course teaches you how your engine works, how to keep it healthy by using basic checks and maintenance procedures, and how to get it started again in the event of a breakdown.
  • Marine Radio Short Range Certificate (1 day): A one-day course for anyone who owns a fixed or hand-held marine VHF radio. The Short Range Certificate is the minimum qualification required by law to control the operation of VHF and VHF Digital Selective Calling (DSC) equipment on any British flagged vessel voluntarily fitted with a radio. This includes both fixed and hand held equipment using International channels.
  • Online SRC course taster
  • Radar (1 day): A one-day course giving you an understanding of radar as an aid to navigation and collision avoidance. Cruising boats increasingly have radar on board. The International Regulations for the Prevention of Collisions at Sea state that if you have a radar, you must know how to use it.
  • Sea Survival (1 day): A one-day course for anyone going to sea, providing an understanding of how to use the safety equipment on board your boat. 
  • Offshore Safety : Training for recreational and racing skippers and crews who encounter rough weather and problems at sea. 
  • First Aid (1 day): The one-day course covers all the usual first aid subjects, but from a boating perspective. It is aimed at anyone who goes afloat, whether on inland waters, rivers, estuaries or on cross channel passages.
  • Professional Practices and Responsibilities: A compulsory online course for RYA Commercial Endorsement holders.

Inland Waterways

  • Inland Waterways Crew Course (1 day): This course is ideal for introducing friends or family members to crewing a vessel on the inland waterways, and for giving them an understanding of how they can assist the helm.
  • Inland Waterways Helmsman's Course (1 or 2 days): This course is for anyone wanting to cruise the UK's inland waterways or Europe's extensive network of lakes, rivers and canals. It deals specifically with the requirements of the inland boater, whether they be a narrow boat owner or cruiser enthusiast.

Instructor Training

  • Dinghy, keelboat and multihull instructors
  • Powerboat instructors
  • Windsurfing instructors
  • Cruising and Yachtmaster Instructors
  • Inland Waterways instructor
  • Personal Watercraft instructors
  • Shorebased Navigation Instructor
  • Shorebased specialist short courses instructor

Race Coaches

  • Racing Coach Level 2
  • Racing Coach Level 3

RYA Qualifications and Yacht Careers

RYA qualifications open doors for everyone from sailing and motor cruising instructors to superyacht captains and military personnel. These training courses are completed by professionals across the world.

  • Crewing - Yachts up to 24m in Length: In most cases no formal qualifications are required. However, many skippers will prefer to take crews who have undergone training to at least Day Skipper level.
  • Crewing - Superyachts: You may need an MCA Yacht Rating Certificate as a certain number of crew on board are required to be qualified. For this you should hold the RYA's Day Skipper or Watch Leader and Competent Crew certificates. You will also need additional STCW training in sea survival, fire fighting and prevention, first-aid, personal safety and social responsibilities.
  • Skippering Yachts (over 24m and up to 200GT): Any skipper of a British flagged private or commercial yacht of this size, operating in UK and many non-UK ports, must hold an RYA Yachtmaster Offshore or Ocean Certificate of Competence with a commercial endorsement. Additionally, to enable your qualifications to be valid worldwide and on non-British yachts, you can take three short MCA courses on fire fighting, first aid and social responsibilities to obtain an STCW endorsement on your RYA certificate of competence.
  • Skippering Superyachts (200gt to 3,000gt): There are a range of MCA qualifications up to MCA Master of Yachts 3000gt. Full details of Master of Yachts training can be found at the MCA section.
  • Delivery Skippers and Crew: You should hold at least an RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Certificate of Competence with a commercial endorsement. However, more jobs will be open to you if you hold an RYA Yachtmaster Ocean Certificate of Competence. The main requirement for crew is enthusiasm, but it often helps to have a trade such as electrician, boat builder or engineer. The RYA's sail and motor cruising courses are also useful for crew members to give them a background in seamanship and enable them to work towards qualifications to further their career.
  • Flotilla Yachts - Skippers: The usual requirement for skippers on flotilla holidays is a commercially endorsed RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Certificate of Competence. Tuition is often offered on flotilla holidays, so skippers may also need to hold the RYA Keelboat Instructor or RYA Yachtmaster Instructor qualification.
  • Flotilla Yachts - Bareboat Skippers: The usual minimum requirement for bareboat skippers is a commercially endorsed RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Certificate of Competence.
  • Flotilla Yachts - Mates: Mates should hold a commercially endorsed RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Certificate of Competence, RYA Yachtmaster Instructor or RYA Keelboat Instructor qualification.
  • Flotilla Yachts - Engineer: The role of the engineer is to familiarize clients with their boats and solve any immediate mechanical problems during the cruise, so you will need a knowledge of marine diesel engines.
  • Sail Training Vessels: Paid posts exist for holders of Coastal Skipper and above. Coastal Skippers usually sail as a mate, with skippers being required to hold a Yachtmaster Offshore Certificate of Competence or above. On larger vessels, 20m to 24m, mates may be required to hold a Yachtmaster Offshore Certificate of Competence. Vessels over 24m usually require STCW OOW (Yachts), Chief Mate (Yachts) or Master (Yachts), depending on the position in which you sail onboard.
  • Watersports Management: These include working in commercial training centers, local authority centers, charitable trusts, voluntary groups, holiday companies or sailing clubs with full time staff. All these groups will have slightly different requirements for their management staff, ranging from RYA coaching and instructing qualifications (eg. Senior Instructor, Yachtmaster Instructor or Powerboat Instructor) to a degree, youth work or teaching qualification. Others may also require specific job related experience.
  • Workboats and other Commercial Craft: RYA certificates are a nationally accepted standard and are used by charter angling boats, small passenger launches, thrill ride operators, harbor patrol launches, construction site safety boats and corporate charter vessels. In many areas they are accepted as equivalent to local boatmans licenses. Generally, there is an RYA qualification suitable for most workboats of up to 24 meters in length and carrying up to 12 passengers.

Find Books for Your Course (RYA Books & E-Books)

  • Advanced Powerboat Handbook
  • Boat Buyers' handbook G62
  • CEVNI Regulations - 2nd Edition
  • Commercial Regulations for Small Vessels
  • Competent Crew Skills (CCPCN)
  • Day Skipper Handbook - Motor
  • Day Skipper Handbook - Sail
  • Day Skipper Practical Course Notes
  • Day Skipper Shorebased Notes
  • Diesel Handbook (G25)
  • Foiling Fundamentals
  • Handy Guide to CEVNI
  • Handy Guide to Marine Radio (G22)
  • ICC Handbook (G81)
  • Inland Waterways Handbook
  • International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea: 2015
  • Introduction to Navigation
  • Introduction to Radar
  • Knots Splices and Ropework Handbook
  • National Sailing Scheme Syllabus and Logbook
  • Navigation Exercises (G7)
  • Navigation Handbook
  • Offshore Sailing
  • Passage Planning (G69)
  • Personal Logbook
  • Pocket Guide to Boating Knots (G60)
  • Power Schemes Instructor Handbook
  • Powerboat Handbook - 3rd Edition
  • Powerboat Scheme Syllabus and Logbook
  • Racing for Yachts and Keelboats
  • Rules of Sailing 2017-20
  • RYA Astro Navigation Handbook G78
  • Safety Boat Handbook (G16)
  • Sail & Power Logbook
  • Sail Trim Handbook - for Cruisers
  • Sea Survival Handbook
  • Stability & Buoyancy
  • Start Powerboating (G48)
  • Start Sailing - Beginner's Handbook (G3)
  • Training Chart 4
  • VHF Handbook
  • Weather Handbook
  • Yacht Sailing Techniques
  • Yachtmaster handbook (G70)
  • Yachtmaster Scheme Syllabus & Logbook
  • Yachtmaster Shorebased Notes
  • Youth Sailing Scheme Syllabus & Logbook - 3rd Edition