What to expect from a Yachtmaster Prep Week and Exam

A Yachtmaster Prep Week is meant to assist you in brushing up your skills before the Yachtmaster Exam.

At Second Star Sailing, our Prep Week starts with an assessment day when the instructor will gauge your strengths and weaknesses. Then we adjust the coaching and training to be tailor-made to each candidate’s specific needs and help to fill any gaps in knowledge that may become apparent, both theoretical and practical.

Depending on the candidates, the Prep Week will include any or all the following:

Night navigation, maneuvers under sail and under engine, theory review, emergency procedures, safety briefs, navigation using electronic or traditional methods, Radar, crew owerboard recoveries, anchoring under engine and under sail, close quarters handling also under engine and under sail… and on and on and on….

Second Star Sailing we pride ourselves on training many high caliber Yachtmaster candidates and our preparation courses are delivered by one or more of our fully qualified and extremely experienced multi-national RYA Yachtmaster Instructors.

The RYA Yachtmaster Exam prerequisites

You can find the complete list of certification and mileage required to qualify for your chosen exam here:

Please ensure that before the examiner arrives on board you have ready a fully completed Exam Application Form with a photo attached, your logbook or listed experience in other easy viewable form, and you have all your certificates handy. This will save a lot of time and show the examiner that you are taking it seriously right from the start. The exam will not start until this has been done.

The exam headings covered by a RYA examiner are the following and you will be signed off according to them:

Prior going to sea

  • Preparations of the boat and your crew (safety briefings, division of tasks)
  • Passage planning

Leaving the harbour

  • Boat handling
  • Pilotage

At sea

  • Seamanship and boat handling (sail trimming, helming, maneuvers)
  • Navigation and chartwork (classic navigation as fixing your position, CTS and EP, tidal problems and operation of the GPS and Radar)

Specific subjects

  • IRPCS (Collision regulations, lights, shapes, signals)
  • Meteorology (knowledge of weather and the effects of vessel type and stability)

At the end of the exam the candidate should feel that whatever the outcome, they have had a full, fair, and searching test.

Minimum exam duration

  • 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.

Payment of exam fee

The exam fee is payable by the candidate directly to the RYA. Examiners may not accept any payment from candidates for expenses incurred in connection with an exam.

A last word….

Be honest with yourself with regards to your experience on small (say 10 to under 20m) yachts and the amount of skippering you have done. Read the exam requirements above. You may have thousands upon thousands of miles as a deckhand on a superyacht, and if you have only stepped on a small yacht during your prep week prior to the exam and little else, then this will become immediately obvious to the examiner soon after you take charge of the yacht. Common failures include a lack of pilotage skills especially at night, poor chart work, poor close quarters sailing skills & incompetent berthing/unberthing.

Lyssandra Barbieri, RYA/MCA Yachtmaster Instructor

Richard Knight, RYA/MCA Yachtmaster Instructor