When you want to enjoy the South African waters but are not looking to go international, a South African SAMSA Skipper’s License would suffice. But, how easy is it to exactly obtain a Skipper’s License? What are the prerequisites? Is there any examination? Well yes, there is. In this article, we will cover a few important sample exam questions of what you may face in a SAMSA Skipper’s Exam.

What is a SAMSA Skipper’s License?

Just like how you need a license to drive a car, SAMSA’s Skipper’s ticket is something you will require to drive a boat. However, you cannot just ride a boat of any size anywhere. With the SAMSA, you can only drive a powerboat under the length of 9m, having an engine of 15hp or more. Furthermore, you also have to abide by the categories.

For more information regarding the SAMSA’s Skipper’s License, you can check out this article: Getting a Skipper License in South Africa

SAMSA Sample Exam Questions

If you are to prepare for the SAMSA exam, you have to study the following topics.

  • Seamanship
  • Buoyage and Pilotage
  • Rules of the Road
  • Electronics
  • Distress situations
  • Weather
  • Charts (maps)
  • Safety Equipment

Many of these questions will be scenario-based, prompting you to answer how you would act in such situations and why. If your answers are satisfactory, you will pass the exam and obtain your skipper’s ticket. Also, each Skipper’s category has some requirements to fulfil, including the most basic category, Category R or E.

Let us see the sort of questions you may be asked in a SAMSA exam.


  1. What type of rope is best used for anchor and mooring lines and why?
  2. Knot-related question: What is this knot and what is it used for?
  3. What is the minimum length of chain and rope you should use to anchor when the maximum depth of water at high tide will be 6.5m?
  4. Your Steering compass seems to have developed a deviation of 4 degrees in some headings. Name 3 things that could help cause this.
  5. Suggest 3 checks you should do before using your engine.
  6. How often should your engine be serviced?
  7. List 2 items for engine spares you should have on a boat.
  8. List 2 problems that will make a boat unstable.
  9. While on a passage, the visibility begins to deteriorate. List 4 actions you would take as you enter fog.

Buoyage and Pilotage:

  1. Six factors to consider when selecting where to anchor?
  2. Scenario: You are heading south when you sight the ‘X’ type of buoy ahead of you. Which side do you leave the buoy, port or starboard?
  3. What type of X buoy shows light with Y characteristics?
  4. What type of X buoy is this and what colour of light will it show?
  5. Using a back bearing if the bearing increased, would you turn port or starboard to stay on course?
  6. You have created a clearing bearing on a lighthouse to miss some rocks, are you in safe water if the bearing increases or decreases?

Safety Equipment:

  1. Suggest 5 items of safety equipment on which a skipper should brief his crew.
  2. In which situations should your life jacket be worn? When should you always wear your life jacket?
  3. What would you look for during a regular safety inspection of a life jacket?
  4. What are dan-buoys used for?


  1. Different types of fire equipment on board, and in what situation would they be used?
  2. Explain a few different ways of giving distress signals.
  3. Red hand-held flares are only recommended for use within 3 miles of a potential rescuer – why?
  4. Orange smoke should only be used in daylight to signal helicopters. Why?
  5. How should you legally dispose of the time-expired flares?
  6. On which VHF channel should a mayday by voice be sent?
  7. Distress scenario and how would you act in it?

Rules of the Road:

  1. Do the collision regulations give one vessel the right of way over another in a potential collision situation?
  2. How do you confirm a risk of collision exists with another vessel?
  3. Short and Long Blasts of the Horns, and their meanings.
  4. Short and Long Blasts of the Horns in different situations.
  5. Meaning of a particular flag a ship is displaying.
  6. Meaning of a particular symbol on the sea.
  7. What type of vessels are indicated by these lights? Type of vessel, size, and aspect. A bunch of light patterns will be shown in the question.
  8. Scenarios between vessel A and vessel B — which vessel gives way to whom?


  1. List 3 nautical publications you should carry on your boat.
  2. Meaning of various chart symbols.
  3. Meaning of various abbreviations on the chart.
  4. Where is the compass variation found on charts? How do you read it?
  5. Scenarios related to charts. E.g.: If the height of the tide is Y metres, then what is the depth in these X positions?


  1. You have 4-day weather fax but the weather does not seem as forecasted. Name 4 sources of weather information you can use to check the forecast on a small craft at sea.
  2. Suggest 4 factors that influence how rough the sea will be.
  3. Scenarios include weather, tides, and wind.


  1. Why is it recommended for boats making passages over 30 miles offshore to carry an EPIRB?
  2. How is a portable GPS useful? What can it be used for?
  3. Which of these might not be seen on the radar? (Examples/options will be given)
  4. Which would give rise to a potentially more dangerous situation? (Situations here)
  5. Advantages of fitting radar to your boat.
  6. Which type of electronic chart gives you layers? Raster Charts or Vector Charts?
  7. What do you need to consider when deciding where to put waypoints?

These practice questions were first compiled by City Sailing, a YouTube channel and they also appeared in this article. Apart from this, we would also recommend referring to the questions compiled by Skipper’s Courses. You can find their PDF here, which can help you with a better understanding of the exam itself.


Remember, Skipper’s examination may be a tough one, but that does not mean you should worry about it. Be honest and give it your best. Boating is an enjoyable experience that’s better experienced safely. Hopefully, these SAMSA sample exam questions will give you an idea of what the examination is about and give you time to prepare.

Don’t take the stress and give it your best. If you need some refresher courses or a SAMSA Skipper’s course altogether, feel free to contact us or check out our webpage for more information.

SAMSA Sample Exam Questions | SAMSA Examination