The RYA theory courses focus on navigation, though also cover topics such as weather and rules of the road (sea). The four courses, in order of increasing complexity are:
- Essential Navigation and Seamanship. This is the beginners introductory course, very much a taster.
- Day Skipper. This covers the theory needed for the practical course of the same name. Most people start with this course.
- Coastal Skipper/Yachtmaster Offshore.This covers the more advanced techniques needed for the Coastal Skipper practical course and its associated Yachtmaster Coastal exam (previously the Coastal Skipper exam).
- Yachtmaster Ocean. A study of astro navigation. With the advent of GPS, I suspect the numbers taking this course are now rather low.
The courses are examined at the end though emphasis is placed on trying to get you through so it is not unknown for examiners to assist during the navigation exams. However, there are more hard and fast parameters for the rules of the road section!
The most popular course is the Day Skipper as it provides the theoretical knowledge to back the Day Skipper practical, which is itself the ticket you need to charter!
Few overseas schools offer theory courses in summer – demand is limited and most of the staff are too busy running practical courses at that time. That said, schools are businesses and if there is a group of you wanting a course they may be prepared to lay one on.
Otherwise, if you want a theory course you have three options:
- Details of all schools offering these courses (including UK schools) can be found on the RYA website. Courses are usually run over a week.
- If you can’t make it to a school, or prefer studying on your own, on line courses are available.
- If you are not bothered about the certificate and just want the knowledge, there are a number of good books available. If you grasped simple vectors, interpolation and basic maths at school you should find it pretty straightforward, if not there are graphical solutions to avoid these!
Remember, you do not need the theory certificates to take the practical courses, only the knowledge. But however you plan to gain that knowledge, if you are thinking of taking a Day Skipper practical course in the summer, then the sooner you sort out your theory, the better.