When somebody talks about Yachtmasters, they are either talking about the Yachtmaster Courses or someone’s proficiency in handling a vessel in various sea conditions. One could say that this is the ultimate test for a skipper. As skippers climb this ladder, they can skip their vessels further into the deep oceans and under more challenging conditions. In this article, we will be talking about whether these Yachtmaster Courses are worth it or not.

Yachtmaster Courses – Are they worth it?

Yachtmaster qualifications are the certificate of competence in handling a boat in various situations. The higher your qualification is, the longer your passage will be, and the more qualified you will be for the challenges. If you are passionate about sailing or if you are looking for a captaincy-related position in the industry, we would highly recommend taking the Yachtmaster courses.

So yes, if you are an adventurer wanting to explore the waters or aim for captain-like positions in the marine industry, these Yachtmaster courses are not only worth it, but they act as one of the prominent requirements too.

In South Africa, getting a Yachtmaster qualification would be like getting a Category A Skipper’s license and beyond. These RYA Yachtmaster qualifications are valid internationally. The prerequisites for obtaining Yachtmaster qualifications can be perilous, but they are well worth it.

Let’s take a look at all three Yachtmaster qualifications in this article.

Category 1 — Coastal Skipper

Coaster Skipper, officially known as Yachtmaster Coastal since January 2010, is the first step in the ladder. While this is the most basic Yachtmaster qualification, the perk it provides is more than enough for someone like a hobbyist sailor. However, despite being the basic one, there are still prerequisites to be fulfilled.

As a Coastal Yachtmaster, you can take passages up to 60nm from the nearest shore in favourable sea conditions.

If you are taking the practical exam, you must fulfil a few prerequisites.

  • A valid certificate showing your proficiency with VHF radio or GMDSS short-range radio.
  • First aid certification from RYA or SAMSA (or this can be covered if you take the STCW course).
  • The candidate also has to meet the minimum seatime requirements. For Coastal Yachtmaster, the candidate must have logged a minimum of 30 days, which must include 2 days as a skipper, 12 night hours of skipping, and a total distance of 800nm. Only entries logged within 10 years prior to the exam date are considered valid.
  • Minimum age of 17 years.

Category 2 – Offshore Yachtmaster

An Offshore Yachtmaster qualification is an upgrade for the coastal Yachtmaster, which allows for taking even greater passages and under more challenging conditions. Since that is the case, RYA requires the candidate to have extensive knowledge about sailing, safety rules, collision regulations, ballasting, navigation, and meteorology.

This course is a challenge as they basically need a skipper to be an all-rounder, and rightfully so as they will be responsible for the lives on board and of other vessels too.

The prerequisites are more or less similar to Yachtmaster Coastal. However, a few notable differences are as followed:

  • The total sea mileage you require for taking the exam is 2500nm. In this mileage, the candidates must log a minimum of 50 days in total, which includes 5 days as a skipper, and at least 5 passages over 60nm long. Among them, at least 2 passages should be overnight passages, and the candidate must have at least skippered 2 passages out of five. Half of these qualifying sea miles must be conducted on the tidal waters.

The candidate has to be over 18 years of age to appear for this exam. Your examiner will ask you various questions regarding radio, radar, ballasting, meteorology, safety, and more. Make sure you prepare well before taking the exam.

Category 3 – Ocean Yachtmaster

Ocean Yachtmaster is a skipper’s ultimate test. This Yachtmaster category and examination will truly test your knowledge to the limits. However, if you manage to qualify, you rule the ocean i.e.you are qualified to sail the oceans as you see fit. There are no distance restrictions or any other conditions whatsoever.

The Ocean Yachtmaster exam is an interesting one, as it only consists of written and oral examinations. There is no practical. You will be extensively tested for your knowledge regarding safety, navigation, survival, crew management, planning passages, and so on.

You will have to fulfil some tough prerequisites before you can appear for the examination.

  • You have to qualify for the RYA Yachtmaster Offshore before you can consider taking the RYA Yachtmaster Ocean exam.
  • You have to qualify at least one ocean passage as a skipper or the mate of watch. Also, you must be involved in plotting at least one ocean passage in your career, which includes planning the route, navigation, checking the vessel’s safety, backup gear storage, crew staffing and management and organising provisions such as food and water from the crew.
  • A non-stop run of 600nm or more must be in your logs. During this journey, the yacht must be afloat offshore continuously for 96 hours, more than 50nm away from a safe port of entry while sailing at a distance of at least 200nm.


The Yachtmaster courses are indeed difficult. However, beyond these hardships lies a prosperous and adventurous future. This is what makes the Yachtmaster Courses worth it for us. And the good news is that there are a variety of training courses available. They prepare you for the oral examination as well as the practical examination.

One important thing to mention is that on a commercial level, you will require some commercial endorsement on your Yachtmaster qualifications. For more information, we highly advise taking a look at the Yachtmaster’s Wikipedia Page.

In South Africa, Skippers Training SA can help you with Coastal Yachtmaster and Offshore Yachtmaster. We do not actually provide the courses but we can help you with mile building so that you can fulfil the requirements, along with some basic useful tips.

Or, if you are looking for courses themselves, we can point you in the right direction. Feel free to contact us for more information.

Are Yachtmaster Courses Worth It?