RYA Qualification Offshore

The RYA, Royal Yachting Association, is the English and worldwide standard for international recognition. The Dutch Offshore Sailing Academy / Zeezeilers is a RYA Training Centre based in the Netherlands.

Qualification as a Yachtmaster™ Offshore is the ultimate aim of many skippers, both professional and recreational. We offer several RYA courses for different levels of experience.

Curious about where you are in the scheme? Please contact us for advise.

RYA Course De Zeezeilers

Competent Crew Course (5 days practical)
This course is for beginners who would like to become active crew members rather than just passengers. Dates and Prices >
Additionally you can choose for a jump start in navigation with the RYA's Essential Navigation online. More information >

Day Skipper Course (5 days practical)
A course for aspiring skippers with some yachting experience and basic navigation and sailing skills. Dates and Prices >
We strongly advise to do a Day Skipper online theory course beforehand. More information >

  • Qualifying Miles (6-14 days practical)
    Routinate your skills by building miles. Gain more experience before the next step. Dates and Prices >

Coastal Skipper Course (5 days practical)
Advanced skippering techniques for yachtsmen and women with considerable knowledge of sailing and navigation. Dates and Prices >
You must have your theory up to speed on a Coastal Skipper / YM Offshore level beforehand. More information >

  • Qualifying Miles (30-40 days sailing + training)
    Milesbuilders and training challenging passages and pilotage to apply knowledge.Dates and Prices >
    In these variety of trips are at least 5 x 60 qualifying miles. For these we advise to obtain a Coastal Skipper certificate first.

Yachtmaster Offshore Prep & Exam (5+2 days)
Preparation Course prior to the exam. The final exam takes 2 days. Dates and Prices >

RYA VHF Short Range Certificate (online + practical assessment) Qualification required to operate marine VHF radio equipment. More information >

RYA First Aid (1 day) Highly recommended for all sailors and mandatory for aspiring Yachtmasters. More information >

What is a Yachtmaster™ Offshore?

A RYA Yachtmaster Offshore is competent to skipper a cruising yacht on any passage during which the yacht is no more than 150 miles from harbour. A RYA Yachtmaster™ needs a wealth of knowledge, not only to cope with plain sailing or motor cruising, but also to be able to manage demanding situations. Qualification as a RYA Yachtmaster™ is the ultimate aim of many skippers, both professional and recreational.

The RYA Yachtmaster certificate does not only display your level as a sailor, it is also one of the sailing documents recognized throughout the world. The exam will include an assessment of your skippering skills, boat handling, general seamanship, navigation, safety awareness and knowledge of the IRPCS, meteorology and signals.

Yachtmaster™ Offshore exam

Minimum seatime

50 days, 2,500 miles including at least 5 passages over 60 miles of which 2 overnight and 2 as the skipper.

Form of exam Practical

A GMDSS Short Range Certificate (SRC) or
higher grade of marine radio certificate.

A valid First Aid certificate

Minimum exam
8-12 hours for 1 candidate, 10-18 hours for
2 candidates. No more than two candidates
can be examined in 24 hours and no more
than four candidates can be examined in one
2 day session.
Minimum age 18


What does it mean to be commercially endorsed?

If you need a Yachtmaster™ Offshore Certificate of Competence in order to work on board a commercial craft, subject to the MCA's codes of practice, you will need to get it commercially endorsed.
You can then work as a Master of commercial vessels of up to 200gt in category 1 to 6 waters - that is up to 150 miles from a safe harbour.

For a commercial endorsement, in addition to your practical certificate of competence you will need:

The next step: RYA Yachtmaster Ocean

For Ocean passages the following definition will apply. “Throughout the passage the candidate must have acted in a responsible capacity either in sole charge of a watch or as a skipper”. The examiner will determine whether the candidate is competent at astro navigation.
Candidates must have successfully navigated a yacht at sea by astro navigation. As a minimum this should include the planning, reduction, and plotting of a sun-run-meridian altitude or sun-run-sun sight and a compass check carried out using the bearing of the sun, moon, a star or planet. Yachtmaster Ocean Shorebased Course

More about 'qualifying passages'
After every practical course you need to consolidate your acquired skills. Build miles and broaden your experience in a variety of areas and in different circumstances.

For Yachtmaster Offshore you need at least 5 qualifying passages as a bare minimum:
1) Over 60 nm non-stop by the shortest navigable route with no change of skipper. Passages such as recognised races which may not comply exactly with these requirements may be submitted to the RYA for approval.
2) Trainee skippers undertaking 60 mile passages are strongly advised to obtain a Coastal Skipper qualification first!
3) Supporting testimonials or a Seaman’s Discharge book

  • Skipper: The skipper is the person nominated and responsible for the planning and execution of a passage including vessel and watch management. The skipper is not necessarily the most experienced or qualified person on board, but must be the person with responsibility for the safe execution of the passage. If the skipper's role is transferred to another person at any time during a passage then neither person can claim to have skippered that passage.
  • Mate: For the purpose of qualifying passages, a mate is any person on board who has sole responsibility for managing a navigational watch during a passage. They must be actively engaged in the planning and execution of a passage.
  • Tidal: An area is deemed tidal if published stream, current or tidal range data is available, the influence of which is significant enough to require the effects to be taken into account to plan and execute a safe and efficient passage.
  • Days on board:A day on board or as skipper is a period of eight consecutive hours living on board, the majority of which the vessel should have been at sea. Periods of less than eight hours cannot be aggregated to make up eight hours. Only one eight-hour period may be counted in any 24 hour period.