How to Pass Your Yachtmaster Exam

How To Pass Your Yachtmaster Exam

The RYA / MCA Yachtmaster Certificate of Competence qualification is considered the pinnacle for many recreational sailors, as well as being globally recognised and a pre-requisite for some commercial sailors.

The exam assess both your theoretical and practical knowledge, as well as your skippering technique. You can choose to be examiner to either Coastal or Offshore standard – both are valid Yachtmaster standards, but the pre-requisites vary.

Safe & Capable

Both Yachtmaster Offshore and Yachtmaster Coastal candidates will need to demonstrate that they are safe, knowledgable and capable skippers, can sail a boat confidently in unfamiliar waters and enter and leave an unfamiliar harbour/marina.

Taking your RYA/MCA Yachtmaster exam can be a daunting experience, but here are Vortec Marine’s Top 5 tips to help you pass.

1.  Have the Qualifying Miles properly logged

No-one likes paper work, and if you are rumaging amongst tatty scraps of paper you are not creating the right impression.  Make sure you have logged evidence of your sailing experience which shows that you meet (or exceed) the pre-requisites.

(see our Yachtmaster webpage for details of the pre-requisites)

The RYA logbook is designed for this purpose, but a tidy table with the dates, yacht type, route, weather, mileage and your role (crew / skipper) will be quite acceptable.

If you are struggling to demonstrate enough qualifying sea-time for the RYA Yachtmaster Offshore, you should apply for the RYA Yachtmaster Coastal.  Make sure you have completed your application form, have passport photos, First Aid and VHF certificates and a cheque for the exam fee (payable to the RYA) ready.

2.  Ensure your theory and navigational skills are up to date and fresh

Yachtmaster Theory nav lights

Before your exam, make sure you are familiar with the IRPCS and can recognise even the most obscure lights, day shapes, sound signals and navigational markers.  

Practice your tidal calculations and secondary port adjustments. During the exam, you won’t have time to be sat at the nav table trying to remember how to work out at what time there will be sufficient clearance for a secondary port.  You will be allowed time to plan your route, but you will also be expected to be keeping an eye on your crew on deck.

3.  Use the prep week to become familiar with the boat as well as the sailing area

During the Yacht master exam you will be expected to know how to handle the boat under both power and sail, including berthing or manoeuvring the boat in a confined space. Use the prep week to become familiar with the yacht’s prop kick, her turning circle, how quickly she responds and how much throttle you need to use. You should also know if the depth reading is adjusted for the keel, how to set up or calibrate the instruments, where the battery switches are etc.

You will make short passages during the exam and will need to know your position reasonably accurately at any time.  Use the prep week to familiarise yourself with helpful transits and useful fix-points.  You should also make sure that the charts you are using have all the recent Notice to Mariners updates applied so you don’t get caught out by any navigational marks which might have moved.

Whilst the pre-exam prep week is optional, it is highly recommended as it increases your confidence on board which will help you relax and focus on your skippering technique.

Yacht sailing skipper

 4.  Be Tidy and Organised

Having the fenders at the same height, ropes nicely coiled and sail properly flaked doesn’t just look nice and tidy, but it shows a seamanlike respect for the yacht.

If a skipper doesn’t seem to care about the sails or the odd scratch on the hull, the examiner will start to wonder what else they don’t care about – like safety equipment.

A tidy boat is also a safe boat, ensuring everything is stowed properly prevents accidents and damage. 

5.  Don’t try to show off, but do make sure the examiner can see your thought processes

Just because you can lasso a mooring cleat from 10 meters does’t mean you should! There is no need to over complicate manoeuvres to show off – using the right sail and controlling boat speed, whilst ensuring your crew know what you expect from them will impress the examiner far more.

Equally, you may have practiced a manoeuvre with the same crew in the prep week and you all know what to do – but the examiner doesn’t know that, so make sure the examiner can see that you do have a plan, possibly re-iterating it to your crew for the examiners benefit.

Finally, try to relax and enjoy the experience!

If you are ready to take your RYA/MCA Yachtmaster exam please contact Vortec Marine on 01489 854850 or Contact Us for our course options and availability.

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