Coastal / Yachtmaster Theory

RYA Coastal/Yachtmaster Theory

Sail Grenadines offers classroom theory tuition to Yachtmaster Level from their base in Bequia. Online theory training is available through a select number of theory school operators and Sail Grenadines instructors are available to answer questions throughout the online theory course.

The prerequisite for the RYA Coastal/Yachtmaster Theory course is  RYA Day Skipper theory. It would be difficult to complete this course without having first taken the RYA Day Skipper theory course.

 Assumed pre-course knowledge:

  • Course to steer
  • Course over ground
  • Estimated position
  • Tidal heights
  • Fall of tide
  • Projected depths for anchoring
  • Clearances under bridges
  • Basic weather
  • Basic collision regulations

View our full range of RYA courses here



The Coastal/Yachtmaster theory course is the level required for RYA Yachtmaster Coastal, RYA Yachtmaster Offshore practical certificates and is a pre-course requirement for the RYA Yachtmaster Ocean theory course.

The course is made up of detailed lessons, followed by a set of questions which you can answer online. Once an answer is submitted the feedback is instant in the form of a detailed answer page. Some answers will be forwarded to your instructor who will provide personal feedback and help where required.

The online course will take around 40 hours, possibly longer, but the beauty of it is that you can work at your own pace. Like the Day Skipper online theory, you get full support from an experienced instructor.

The course covers:

  • Buoyage
    • IALA system buoyage in Region A
    • Limitations of buoys as navigational aids
  • The magnetic compass
    • Allowance for variation
    • Change of variation with time and position
    • Causes of deviation
    • Swing for deviation (but not correction)
    • Allowance for deviation
    • Different types of compass
  • Position
    • Dead reckoning and estimated position
    • Satellite-derived position
    • Use of waypoints to fix position
    • Radar fixes
    • Techniques of visual fixing
    • Fixes using a mixture of position lines
    • Relative accuracy of different methods of position fixing
    • Area of uncertainty
  •  Tides
    • Causes of tide – Springs and Neaps
    • Tide tables – sources
    • Tidal levels and datum
    • Standard and secondary ports
    • Tide anomalies (Solent, etc.)
    • Tidal Streams
    • Sources of tidal information
    • Tidal stream information in sailing directions and Yachtsmen’s Almanacs
    • Allowance for tidal streams in computing a course to steer
    • Tide rips, overfalls and races
    • Tidal observation buoys, beacons etc.
  • Lights
    • Characteristics
    • Ranges – visual, luminous and nominal
    • Rising and dipping distances
    • Light lists
  • Pilotage
    • Transits and leading lines
    • Use of soundings
    • Clearing lines
    • Methods of pre-planning
    • Harbour regulations and control signals
  •  GPS and chart plotters
    • Principles of operation and limitations of use
    • Raster and vector charts
    • Datum
    • Importance of confirmation of position by an independent source and keeping a separate record of position
    • Importance of paper charts
  • Echo sounders
    • Principles of operation and limitations of use
  • Logs (speed and distance measuring)
    • Principles of operation limitations of use
  • Deck log
    • Importance of log as yacht’s official document
    • Layout of log, hourly and occasional entries
  • Meteorology
    • Basic terms
    • the Beaufort scale
    • Air masses
    • Cloud types
    • Weather patterns associated with pressure and frontal systems
    • Sources of weather forecasts
    • Ability to interpret a shipping forecast, weatherfax and weather satellite information
    • Land and sea breezes
    • Sea fog
    • Use of barometer as a forecasting aid
  • Rules of the Road
    • A sound knowledge of the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, except Annexes 1 and 3
  • Safety at Sea
    • Personal safety, use of lifejackets, safety harnesses and lifelines
    • Fire prevention and fire fighting
    • Distress signals
    • Coastguard and Boat Safety Scheme
    • Preparation for heavy weather
    • Liferafts and helicopter rescue
    • Understanding of capabilities of vessel and basic knowledge of stability
  • Navigation in restricted visibility
    • Precautions to be taken in fog
    • Limitations to safe navigation imposed by fog
    • Navigation in poor visibility
  • Passage planning
    • Preparation of charts and notebook for route planning and making, and use at sea
    • Customs regulations as they apply to yachts
    • Routine for navigating in coastal waters
    • Strategy for course laying
    • Use of waypoints and routes
    • Use of weather forecast information for passage planning strategy
    • Sources of local and national regulations

The online course includes :

  • 6 months online access to complete the course with the option of extending this time for a small fee
  • Final assessment to complete in the comfort of your own home
  • Immediate feedback on submitted answers
  • Free postage of materials (UK only)
    • Coastal Yachtmaster pack
    • RYA almanac
  • RYA Certification on satisfactory completion of the course
  • Email and phone support from our RYA qualified instructors

The course can be completed on a PC, Mac or iPad and is modular.

An instructor will be available at all times to help answer your questions about the course.

Please contact us for more information.

What our clients have to say about about the online theory courses:

” Having just completed and passed the RYA Coastal/Yachtmaster online theory course booked via Sail Ionan, the sister company to Sail Grenadines, I have to say this is the best way, in my opinion, of studying for the qualification. The course content was very well presented, I was able to study in my own time and at my own pace and any questions I had during the course were promptly answered. I was able to access the course material on my PC, my iPad and my iPhone which meant I could study and revise whilst travelling on a daily train commute. Having acquired a new set of skills I am looking forward to putting into practice when I take my practical course later this year.” Howard