RYA Yachtmaster Offshore

The RYA Yachtmaster Offshore is one of the most highly respected and prestigious sailing qualifications in the world and we pride ourselves on training many high calibre Yachtmaster Candidates.
Exam Preparation Courses are delivered by one of our fully qualified and extremely experienced RYA Yachtmaster Instructors.

Please see our details notes on The Yachtmaster exam here.

The week starts with an assessment day, when the instructor will gauge your strengths and weaknesses. The rest of the time will be spent improving weak areas in order to prepare you for the exam.
You will take command of the yacht on short passages, by day and night. You will be required to navigate in a seamanlike manner, with both efficiency and safety. Your instructor will give you guidance and coaching on boat handling techniques both at sea and in a confined space.

Examiners expect a high level of expertise, particularly in safety critical exercises such as man overboard, or sailing down wind. Your instructor will also ensure that the theory subjects, in particular meteorology, IRPCS, buoyage and passage planning are not new to you.  At the end of the week, you will be given an honest debrief, leaving you confident in your own ability, taking the exam if you feel ready to do so.

At the end of the preparation course, the instructor will leave the process and an Independent RYA Examiner will come aboard to conduct the exam. Every student will be examined on how they skipper the yacht on short passages and complete various other tasks.

Although this is a sailing exam, you will be expected to be familiar with all the vessels systems which includes knowledge of engines to at least the level of the one-day RYA Diesel Engine Maintenance course.

A knowledge of the operation of radar and GPS is also expected.

The examiner will want to see you dock the boat under engine in a variety of circumstances possibly alongside and stern-to. He/she may set you a challenge to dock in a particular place or ask you to choose. He/she will also expect you to be able to handle and turn the vessel in a confined space with awareness of the effects of the prevailing conditions. You will also be expected to be able to handle the vessel under sail in a confined space and this may include sailing on and/or off a mooring, your anchor or a dock. The examiner is looking for good boat control, use of crew, wind awareness and a good lookout for other vessels in the area. Once at sea it is a legal requirement to keep a log. This doesn’t have to be detailed but the examiner will want to see that you know where you are at all times. Don’t be afraid to reef, we are cruising not racing, but at the same time make sure you have enough sail up to keep the vessel going. Also make sure you have practiced your classic navigation as fixing your position, CTS and EP may all come into the exam. Also be comfortable with tidal problems and operation of the GPS, specifically the one on the exam vessel.

Cost is $1695 plus RYA Exam fee of around $300 [depends on exchange rate]. Please click on the 'Training Dates & Booking' button on the right to check available dates.

RYA Day Skipper Sail

RYA Day Skipper Course

The RYA Day Skipper Practical is an introduction to taking charge onboard a yacht, allowing you to put your basic navigation, pilotage, and sailing skills into practice. It will provide you with an opportunity to take command, and to develop your leadership skills onboard, under the guidance of an experienced and friendly instructor. It is a very useful and popular Captains license for those looking to charter a yacht.

It includes 4 nights on board and food for Day 1. After that students are encouraged to take part in the provisioning and planning for the week.

Upon successful completion of the RYA Day Skipper Practical Course, you will be able to navigate and skipper a small yacht in familiar waters by day. This qualification is usually accepted when chartering a yacht as skipper anywhere in the world. Holders of the RYA Day Skipper Practical qualification can apply to the RYA for and receive an International Certificate of Competence (ICC) for a small charge.

In many places it is also a legal requirement to complete the VHF/SRC Radio course as well. You can do this online with us before arriving and sit the assessment before or after your course.

You are strongly advised to be comfortable with Day Skipper Theory before attending this course and we often run the theory course just before the practical or you can do this online before coming. In addition we find that even Day Skipper candidates can benefit from some dinghy sailing to improve wind awareness, and dinghies can be rented with or without an instructor at the National Sailing Academy.

This course can also be done on your own vessel.

It is also a good course for friends and families to sail together privately, either all doing Day Skipper or with Competent Crew candidates.

The cost is US $1195 - please click the 'Training Dates & Booking' button to the right, to check available dates.

Duration:  5 Days usually 9am Mon- 5 pm Fri with 4 nights on board Max students : 5
Previous Experience: 5 Days onboard but would recommend 10 plus, 100 logged miles and 4 night hours.Basic knowledge of navigation and sailing ability. Candidates should have completed RYA Day Skipper Theory or similar Minimum Age: 16
Locations: Antigua. Caribbean Dates: All year

RYA Yachtmaster Ocean Theory

RYA Yachtmaster Ocean Theory & Oral Exam

Ondeck provide a comprehensive, professional training curriculum, covering all aspects of Ocean Sailing from the RYA Yachtmaster Ocean Theory course to the qualifying Ocean Passage and Oral Exam.

The Yachtmaster Ocean Theory course is run over 5 days and covers astro-navigation and worldwide meteorology. You will learn the art of using a sextant as well as what to do in heavy weather and hurricane situations. Passage planning is also covered as part of this course and you will be ask to consider everything from your choice of yacht to victualling and fuel management and much much more.
The usual sequence is to complete the theory and exam papers; follow this with a 650 nm qualifying passage during which you should take sights and then arrange for the oral exam. There are some allowed variations to this so please call for more information.

We have prepared some notes which cover the Ocean exam pre-requisites, including certification required, minimum seatime and more. Please click here for the qualifying passage RYA requirements.

Students wanting to complete the Yachtmaster Ocean Exam will need to hold a Yachtmaster Offshore Certificate of Competence.

Classroom $1250usd pp - Oral exam only $150usd pp. Please click on the 'Training Dates & Booking' button on the right to check available dates.

Yachtmaster Offshore Fast Track Programmes


2nd January 2017 – 15th April 2017 and 4th September 2017 – 22nd December 2017

Ondeck’s Fast Track course is built to take sailing novices through to Yacht Master Offshore with STCW & Engineering Qualifications – ideal as a stepping-stone for a career in the sailing industry.

We are based in the Caribbean on the beautiful island of Antigua, a unique place to do our Fast Track programme, as it is a hub for super yachts looking for skilled & qualified crew.  Antigua & Barbuda is one of the principal yachting & sailing centres in the Caribbean. 

Our Ondeck Maritime Training Centre offers the complete STCW 2010 course curriculum, while the new engineering training centre offers engineering and yacht maintenance qualifications. Our programme also involves visits to other islands/countries so not only interesting but invaluable in terms of learning customs and immigration procedures for yachts 

We have a flotilla of modern 40 ft yachts plus a 65 ft training vessel – ideal for training & building your experience before working on larger private yachts. Our crew house is available to rent for the shore base courses.  We also offer dinghy sailing level 1 & 2 at Sailing Academy in Falmouth, which can be taken ahead of the Fast Track course to help develop basic sailing skills & wind awareness.

The course culminates in the Yachtmaster Offshore Exam by an independent RYA Yachtmaster Examiner. This is a 10 hour practical and oral examination on all aspects of sailing a yacht in difficult circumstances.  With your hard working & our experienced instructors, you can be fully prepared and confident of passing the exam.

After the course we offer agency help in finding work in the sailing industry.

These courses are timed to finish at the end of the 2017 season in April which means that delivery jobs back to Europe or North America will be plentiful. The second courses starting in September 2017 will finish in time for candidates looking for work in the Caribbean at the beginning of the busy season there.


Before arriving in Antigua, suggest you have the following:

> ENG 1 or equivalent Medical which is a requirement for working on many yachts 

> B1/B2 Visa for the USA. This allows you to sail into the US and so opens up more work opportunities 

> Dinghy course – if no previous sailing experience.  This can be booked at the Sailing Academy in Antigua ahead of the start of the Fast Track Course.

Course Details

Module 1 – builds a strong foundation, introducing novices to the theoretical & practical side of sailing. Acquire the qualifications & licenses to run a yacht with confidence & pursue a profession in the sailing industry.

Module 1PracticalShorebased
Competent Crew5-days 
STCW 5-days
Weekend Off
Day Skipper Theory 5-days
Mile and Experience Builder7-days 
Weekend Off
Day Skipper Practical5-days 
SRC 1-day
Powerboat Level 22-days 

Module 2 – builds your experience & level of skills, continually broadening the conditions & circumstances in which you get to practice handling & running the boat.

Module 2PracticalShorebased
Coastal Skipper Theory 5-days
Weekend Off
Coastal Skipper Practical5-days 
Distance Sail7-days 
Weekend Off
Coastal Skipper Assessment Week5-days 
Yacht Maintenence 7-days

Module 3 – Focus is on completing the miles required for your exam & then honing you skills so you are as prepared as you can be for the exam.

Module 3PracticalShorebased
Distance Sail – 65 ft training vessel21-days 
Distance Sail7-days 
Weekend Off
Yachtmaster Prep12-days 
Yachtmaster Exam2-days 

RYA Yachtmaster Offshore/Coastal Theory

RYA Coastal/Yachtmaster Offshore Theory

The  course builds on the navigation and other theory knowledge acquired on the Day Skipper Course. It is intended for cruising yachtsmen, motor boaters, and those who are looking to undertake more complex passages, perhaps offshore or at night.

It is a demanding theory course covering advanced navigation techniques such as – Position Fixing, Course to Steer, Passage Planning, Pilotage, Meteorology, IRPCS, Stability and Buoyage. By the end of the course the successful student will have a comprehensive knowledge of what is required to navigate to Yachtmaster standard, and will have passed 3 exams on chart work, passage planning, and IRPCS.

It is highly recommended that you revise the collision regulations before attending the course and have acquired the Day Skipper Theory knowledge before doing this course, to ensure successful completion.

The course is 6 full days but candidates can choose to continue their study before taking the final exams.

If you are planning to follow this course with the Yachtmaster Coastal or Offshore practical preparation and exams do ensure that you have an acceptable First Aid and VHF certificate - if not these can be booked with Ondeck.

Online - $475usd pp - Classroom $995usd pp. Please click on the 'Training Dates & Booking' button on the right to check available dates.

Duration:  6 Days No. Students to Instructor: 6:1
Previous Experience: Day skipper theory or similar   Minimum Age: none
Locations: Antigua Dates: This course is run all year round

RYA Yachtmaster Coastal

Yachtmaster Coastal Preparation and Exam

The RYA Yachtmaster Coastal follows a very similar process to Yachtmaster Offshore in that we offer a 5-day practical preparation followed by an externally examined practical exam, usually over 2 days assuming 3 or more candidates.

The minimum seatime is less than the Yachtmaster Offshore and is detailed below.

The Yachtmaster Coastal is often a stepping stone before YM Offshore but it is not mandatory. Many people choose to continue to build experience and skip the YM Coastal and step straight into the Yachtmaster Offshore.

Please see our detailed notes on Yachtmaster Coastal exam here.

We run this concurrently with the RYA Yachtmaster Offshore so search for those dates on the booking system. Candidates can do the 5 days Preparation and then choose at the end of that period whether to aim for the YM Coastal or YM Offshore exam.

A GMDSS Short Range Certificate (SRC) or higher grade of marine radio certificate is required as is First Aid.

Course Dates and Prices $1695 + RYA Exam fee. Please click on the 'Training Dates & Booking' button on the right to check available dates.

Duration:  5 preparation + 2 Days for the exam based on 3 + students Max students 4
Previous Experience: 30 days, 2 days as skipper, 800 miles, 12 night hours (if you hold the Coastal Skipper course certificate this is reduced to 20 days, 2 days as skipper, 400 miles, 12 night hours). Half the qualifying sea time must be conducted in tidal waters.  Minimum Age: 17
Locations: Antigua Dates: All year


RYA Coastal Skipper

RYA Coastal Skipper - more advanced sailing for those with good knowledge of sailing and navigation undertaking longer passages at day and night

This course covers more advanced skippering techniques for those with a good knowledge of sailing and navigation wanting to undertake longer coastal passages at day and night. 5 days , 4 nights and food for Day 1. After that students are encouraged to take part in the provisioning and planning for the week.

Like the Day Skipper Course, the RYA Coastal Skipper course consists of skippered passages in a variety of situations. Each trainee will skipper more challenging passages and learn more about passage planning, pilotage by day and night, boat handling, safety and emergency situations.

We would expect candidates to have completed the Coastal Skipper/Yachtmaster theory beforehand.

An RYA course brochure is available here.

Coastal Skippers should be able to undertake more difficult passages by day and night and handle the yacht in more demanding conditions. By the end of the course you should have the knowledge, if not the experience, to become a Yachtmaster™.

Partner courses to consider would be VHF SRC Radio, STCW PST - Sea Survival & Elementary First Aid

Cost is $1250usd pp. Please click on the 'Training Dates & Booking' button on the right to check available dates. Alternative dates are available for group bookings upon request, please call the office or use the enquiry form below.

Duration:  5 Days normally 9am monday to 5pm Friday Max students  5
Previous Experience: 15 days, 2 days as skipper, 300 miles, 8 night hours Minimum Age: 17
Locations: Antigua Dates: All year
Course Content: Passage planning, Preparation for sea, Pilotage, Passage making and ability as skipper, Yacht handling under power, Yacht handling under sail, Adverse weather conditions, Emergency situations,

RYA Day Skipper

RYA Day Skipper Theory

The RYA Day Skipper Theory course is an introduction to chart work, navigation, meteorology and seamanship. You will learn how to figure out tidal heights and streams and how they affect your course.

You will also learn about how to identify the ‘give way vessel’ when there is a risk of collision, ‘dead reckoning’ and ‘estimated positions’ as well as buoyage, safety equipment, passage planning and much more.

The first time you successfully navigate to a destination will give you a fantastic sense of achievement!

You can do the course in our classroom in Antigua over 5 days and we will work with you to be flexible on timings.

Alternatively you can do the RYA Day Skipper Theory online class before you arrive. This is RYA approved and truly a world class online training experience.

Before attending the RYA Day Skipper Theory course, it is useful that you have had some previous sailing or motor cruising experience.

Online $475usd pp - Classroom $850usd pp. Please click on the 'Training Dates & Booking' button on the right to check available dates.

Duration:  5 Days [40 hours plus exam times] No. Students to Instructor: 6:1
Previous Experience: None but some boating experience is useful Minimum Age: none
Locations: Antigua or online . Dates: This course is run all year round

RYA Competent Crew

RYA Competent Crew course for beginners and novices

The RYA Competent Crew is for beginners or novices looking to learn to sail and is suitable for those who have not been on the water before.

Ondeck run the RYA Competent Crew Course in Antigua most weeks of the year typically Monday to Friday. It includes 4 nights on board and food for Day 1. After that, students are encouraged to take part in the provisioning and planning for the week.

This course is aimed at beginners or occasional sailors without previous training. You will be taught elementary seamanship and become familiar with safety at sea, sail handling, rope work, steering on all points of sailing and much, much more besides.

The RYA Competent Crew Course is an excellent way for people of all ages to learn to sail. If you’re going to learn habits, why not make them good ones? It is also a good one for friends and families to sail together privately, either all doing Competent Crew or with Day Skipper candidates.

The online RYA Essential Navigation and Seamanship course is an ideal partner for this course and can be completed before you arrive to ensure you get even more from the course. In addition it may be useful to build some wind awareness sailing on dinghies. Sessions and and lessons can be booked at the National Sailing Academy

Like all of our courses this is available to join with others or to book privately.

Next Steps – Once you have completed the RYA Competent Crew Course you may wish to try your hand at learning to skipper a yacht in which case the RYA Day Skipper Theory Course and RYA Day Skipper Practical Course would be an ideal next step.

Cost is $1050 pp and is run most weeks of the year. Please click on the 'Training Dates & Booking' button on the right to check available dates.

Duration:  5 Days normally 9 am Mon to 5 pm Fri with 4 nights on board Max students 5
Previous Experience: None Minimum Age: 16 + or any age if with parent or guardian .
Locations: Antigua, Caribbean Dates: All Year