Use this course progression ladder as a guide to show you the progression from one course to the next.Type of course
Green are land-based theory courses, some of which can be taken on-line and others at a training centre either intensively over a week or spread over a few weekends or evening classes. Solent Sail now offer theory course through the new e-learning in partnership with the RYA.

Blue are on-water practical courses.

Red are on-water sailing exams.

Although it is recommended that you attempt each course only after you have completed those above, this is not always essential. For example, you don’t have to complete the ‘Day Skipper Theory’ course before moving to Day Skipper practical. The non-RYA courses are entirely optional and you could do them in any order.

Start Yachting and non RYA courses last a weekend, but other RYA practical courses are at least 5 days duration. For Comp Crew and Day Skipper you can split the 5 days between a weekend and a 3 days weekend (usually including the Friday).

Our RYA Courses generally run concurrently so that people of different abilities are on the same boat. This works well with for example Day Skippers and Competent Crew whose skills are complimentary to each other. It also means that members of the same family or friends at different skill levels can still sail together.

Non RYA courses are always separate.

Course completion
During each practical course you can expect to receive regular feedback from the instructor and then a final de-brief at the end. The overwhelming majority of candidates pass their course as our instructors’ aim is to make sure this happens. If you are weak on just a few areas, you can come back on a future course to spend a day or two just practising what you need.

On successful completion of RYA courses we issue you with a certificate that you can add to your logbook. The Day Skipper certificate entitles you to an International Certificate of Competence (ICC) which is recognisable around the world and that is your passport to chartering yachts on holiday abroad.


RYA Courses  Non-RYA
Duration Shore-based theory  Yacht-based practical Yacht-based practical
2 days

Start Yachting

5 days Competent Crew
16 hours Basic Navigation & Seamanship
35 hours Day Skipper Theory
5 days Day Skipper
1 day

Intn'l Cert of Competence

Boat Handling under power (optional)
35 hours Coastal Skipper & Yachtmaster Theory
Mile building trips (to 300 Nm)
Coastal Skipper
Spinnaker handling (optional)
Mile building trips (to 800 Nm)
5 days Yachtmaster Coastal Preparation
6-10 hours

Yachtmaster Coastal Exam

Heavy weather techniques (optional)
Mile building trips (to 2500 Nm)
5 days Yachtmaster Offshore Preparation
8-12 hours

Yachtmaster Offshore Exam

35 hours Yachtmaster Ocean Theory
Qualifying passage (600 Nm)

Yachtmaster Ocean Exam

Professional Practices & Responsibilities
5 days Cruising Instructor
Mile building trips (to 7000 Nm)
5 days Yachtmaster Instructor
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