© david jerrard 2014
YACHTMASTER EXAM FAQs
What Yachtmaster certificates are there?
Yachtmaster Coastal, Yachtmaster Offshore and Yachtmaster Ocean
• Why would I want one?
It used to be a matter of personal achievement and a justifiable pride in the recognition of your skill and ability. For some it still is but there are other reasons too; you may get a reduction in your boat insurance, harbour masters might accept them as proof of competence and charter companies usually accept them gladly.
• What is a commercial endorsement?
ISA Yachtmaster certificates with a commercial endorsement are required in Ireland for use by Masters of some types of licensed passenger boats. In the UK the standard commercial endorsement allows the holder to work on British flagged vessels that are subject to the MCA's code of practice for small commercial vessels. Full details of the certificates eligible for commercial endorsement and how to obtain them can be had from the relevant authority and from the ISA and RYA.
• How do I get one?
You have to do a test at sea
• What do I need before I can do the test?
See the Yachtmaster exams page
• How do I organise the test?
Contact the ISA or RYA who will explain what you must do
• Can I organise my own examiner?
No, the examiner is allocated by the ISA or RYA
• Are the tests difficult?
The tests are supposed to test your abilities. Most candidates will find some tasks easy and some more difficult. Most people will certainly feel that they have been tested when it is all over.
• Why are there the mileage and other requirements?
The tests are intended to assess your experience; the mileage requirements are felt to be the minimum required to afford a reasonable chance of passing the test.
• What miles count and which don't?
Any cruising miles and miles during a passage count. Miles racing around the cans in you local bay don't count (although of course they are great from the handling point of view) but the miles with a navigation and pilotage element such as sailing to and from an event or regatta do count as do most offshore races.
• What counts as a day?
A day is 24 hours. A morning and afternoon on the water is not considered as a day but less than 24 hours during a cruise of a few days is taken as a day; in other words a two week cruise is 14 days even though you are not sailing all the time.
• How do I record and confirm my mileage?
In a personal log book. You record mileage, days and night hours and get the skipper to sign your log book entry. You sign off yourself for mileage that you completed as skipper. To an extent its an honour system but remember that the purpose of the mileage requirement is to reduce the chance of someone undertaking an exam that it would be difficult for them to pass. And any examiner will pretty quickly have a good idea of your level of experience.
• What are the examiners like?
ISA and RYA Yachtmaster examiners are picked from yachtsmen and women with a lot of boating experience and examining skills. They are also human and are not there to fail you.
• Can I fail?
Provided you undertake the level of exam suitable to your level of experience you should not have to use the 'F' word. In some cases the examiner may feel that you need to repeat an individual section, perhaps on the ColRegs for example.
• How does the Yachtmaster scheme work?
There are three elements to the Yacht Master Coastal scheme:
1. a shore based course,
2. a sea based course,
3. a practical exam at sea.
The shorebased course is usually run over a series of evenings and results in a shorebased course attendance certificate.
The sea based course is run at sea on a sailing or motor boat, as appropriate, and results in a practical course attendance certificate.
The YM Coastal exam takes place at sea on a sailing or motor boat, as appropriate and, if successful, the candidate is awarded the Yacht Master Coastal Certificate of Competence. Neither the shorebased course nor the sea based course are prerequisites for the exam at sea; however the shorebased course is strongly recommended before undertaking the exam.
There are two elements to the Yachtmaster Offshore scheme:
1. a shore based course,
2. a practical exam at sea.
The shorebased course is usually run over a series of evenings and results in a course attendance certificate.
There is no sea based Offshore course as the difference between Coastal and Offshore is deemed to be that of experience rather than of courses completed.
The YM Offshore exam takes place at sea on a sailing or motor boat, as appropriate and, if successful, the candidate is awarded the Yacht Master Offshore Certificate of Competence. The shorebased course is not a prerequisite for the exam at sea; however the shorebased course is strongly recommended before undertaking the exam.
The Yachtmaster Ocean exam has two elements
1. a shore based course, with written exam.
2. completion of a 600 mile passage at sea and an assessment of tasks carried out during the passage.
The shorebased course is not a prerequisite but if the candidate does not hold a YM Ocean shorebased course completion certificate he or she must undertake a written invigilated exam as part of the final assessment.