Coastal Skipper (sail)

When is the course available?

We offer the RYA Coastal Skipper Practical course every week of the year from our base in the Canaries - so just let us know which boat type or week suits you best.

Pre-course experience

The RYA recommends that you have been on a sailing yacht for 15 days, with 2 days as skipper. During this time you should have sailed over 300 nm, and completed over 8 night hours. You should also have the knowledge of theory to Coastal Skipper / Yachtmaster level.

If you haven't got the miles and night hours please get in touch for guidance.

Assumed knowledge:

  • Boat handling to the standard of the Day Skipper practical sail cruising course
  • Navigation to the standard of the Coastal Skipper / Yachtmaster Theory course.

We can offer the Coastal Skipper / Yachtmaster Theory course either on line or in our classroom – please have a look at our Coastal Skipper / Yachtmaster Theory course syllabus for more details.

If you are not sure if you are ready to do the Coastal Skipper course have a look at Andy's great article comparing the difference between Day Skipper and Coastal Skipper

Books to compliment the Coastal Skipper course

RYA Yachtmaster Scheme Syllabus and Logbook

RYA Yachtmaster Scheme Syllabus and Logbook Includes comprehensive information on the contents and structure of the sail and motor cruising RYA courses that make up the Yachtmaster courses.

Also included are details of the Day Skipper and Coastal Skipper / Yachtmaster theory and also the one-day courses (VHF (SRC), Diesel Engine, First Aid, RADAR, Sea Survival and ISAF which are all available from Club Yachting).

This book informs you of what to expect when taking any RYA sail or motor cruising course and also provides pages for you to log your progress and keep your certificates. Your personal boating experience, from starting out up to RYA Yachtmaster Ocean, will be enhanced by this book.

This book effectively combines, updates and replaces RYA Sail Cruising & Yachtmaster Scheme Syllabus and Logbook (G15) and RYA Motor Cruising & Yachtmaster Scheme Syllabus and Logbook (G18). It also introduces new courses and clarifies pre-exam requirements for all RYA Yachtmaster exams.

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RYA Passage Planning G69

RYA Passage Planning G69 This book is a great refresher on passage planning. Under SOLAS all voyages on boats of more than 7.5m need a passage plan - it does not matter if you are sailing for fun or commercially, or if the trip is long or short.

RYA Passage Planning includes examples of passages, as well as guidance on what to include as guidance on putting the plan into practice.

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Reeds Skippers Handbook

Reeds Skippers Handbook The pocket sized Reed's Skipper's Handbook is our top recommended book.

The book is full of information and a great summary of everything a sailor needs to know at sea.

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Minimum duration

The RYA recommends a minimum of 5 days for this course, but with Club Yachting you have 6 days tuition and 7 nights on board to give extra time to complete this demanding syllabus.

Course content

Club Yachting runs RYA Coastal Skipper Sail courses in Tidal waters - so your course completion certificate not only international recognised, but is valid to sail all over the world (non-tidal certificates are limited to the Mediterranean)

The Coastal Skipper Practical course is very much hands-on with little time to teach navigation or other theoretical subjects. It is therefore recommended that you take the RYA Coastal Skipper / Yachtmaster Theory course in our classroom (or if you prefer we also offer an on-line option)prior to your practical course so you can put those skills into practice on the water.

This is very much a hands-on course - introducing new skills to enable you to handle a yacht more confidently.

Passage planning

An important part of sailing and at this level you need to be able to plan a coastal passage. You will need to be able to include things like:

  • The vessel - its capability, whether it is fouled, and how much fuel it will use
  • Which charts, pilot books and almanacs are needed, and also what other documentation
  • Navigation - tidal height calculations, tidal streams including Course to Steer and Predicted EPs across a Traffic Separation Scheme
  • Ports of refuge and the strategy for the trip

Your plan should also include how you are going to monitor your plan and adjust it as you put the plan into practise.


During the week you will be asked to plan a number of pilotage exercises, by both day and night, like anchoring on a contour line. You will need to think about:

  • Tidal effects and tidal heights including Soundings
  • Transits and clearing bearings
  • Buoyage
  • Port and harbour regulations and restrictions (for example you are not allowed to anchor in the port of los Christianos)

Passage making and skippering ability

During the week you will take charge of the yacht and direct the crew on a number of passages. Tasks will include:

  • Organising the crew including deck work, navigation, and domestic duties
  • Monitoring the weather and looking for trends
  • Looking after crew welfare

Use of electronic navigation equipment including chartplotters, AIS and RADAR

Emergency situations

  • Know what to do if abandoning to a liferaft, evacuated by a helicopter
  • Be able to recover a man over board under various points of sail, and under power
  • Understand cold water shock

Preparation for Sea

What things are required when preparing the yacht for sea, including:

  • Safety equipment (liferaft, lifejackets etc). We encourage you to think about preparing your own safety briefing.
  • Engine checks, and what spares are needed
  • Food, water and its stowage
  • Checking the yacht before going to sea and what spares are needed
  • Crew safety and welfare including things like watches, and health

Yacht Handling under Power

As this is a tidal RYA course you will have to be able to:

  • Handle the yacht in a confined space in differing conditions of wind and tide
  • Manage to go into various berths including alongside
  • Avoid heavy use of the throttle and gears

Yacht Handling under Sail

Under sail you should be able to:

  • Use the sails to control a yacht in a confined space, i.e. sailing out of a bay
  • Anchor under sail in differing tide and wind conditions
  • Sail efficiently in all wind speeds and on all points of sail
  • Know what techniques to use to sail downwind including poling out

Heavy and adverse weather conditions

  • Before you reach heavy weather you need to be able prepare the yacht. This includes strong winds and heavy seas.
  • Adverse weather also includes restricted visibility - exercises include blind navigation and knowing the appropriate IRPCS rules.

Ability after completing all elements of the course

Skipper a yacht on coastal passages by day and night

Further details of the course contents

If you would like more details please have a look at our RYA Coastal Skipper (Sail) course syllabus


All our RYA Coastal Skipper courses are run by one of our experienced Yachtmaster Instructors.

Typical week

On Saturday morning the course proper starts at about 10:00 with a comprehensive safety briefing and familiarisation with the boat and its equipment. After lunch you will prepare the boat for sea and set sail for a refresher including reefing, man over board techniques, points of sail etc. You will often return to the base marina on the Saturday night.

During the week you will be shown and practise the elements of the syllabus identified above. The Instructor will continually assess you to make sure that he can sign off each element as being completed at the appropriate standard. The course completion certificate is awarded when you have all the elements of the syllabus signed off

On the evening of Thursday we have our end of course drinks in our classroom, with the certificate presentation. A great chance to chat over the highlights of the week!


We ask our clients to arrive on Friday. We clean our boats and do any maintenance between 10:00 and 17:00 so if you arrive earlier we will look after your bags for you. At 17:00 we invite you to get on the yachts and meet your Instructor, and at 18:30 we hold a welcome drink in our club house to introduce you to the crew on the other boats, and all our Instructors.
Notes: Because of our location you have the advantage that you normally arrive in our marina within 15 minutes of collecting your bags.

On the Friday we ask you to get off the yacht at 10:00 so we can clean her ready for the next week. If you have a later flight we can look after your bags for you – and why not think of our one day courses:
Diesel Engine ; First Aid ; RADAR ; Sea Survival and VHF (SRC) course

What is included?

  • Six days of teaching and seven nights accommodation – that extra day helps you consolidate your knowledge, and also we understand that you are on holiday and give you time to relax as well as learn;
  • a maximum of 4 persons on board (rather than the RYA recommended maximum of 5 students - who likes to be crammed in?)
  • Tuition from an experienced Instructor – we do not use instructors who have just qualified;
  • Light weight waterproof jacket – just in case of the odd wave;
  • Food and drink on board – breakfast and lunch, evening meals when sailing after 20:00 and a glass of wine, or a beer after a days sailing;
  • All mooring fees, gas and diesel – no hidden extras;
  • Your own berth – no need to share (unless you want to);
  • Freshly laundered sheets, duvets and 2 pillows and towels per person – no sleeping bags with liners or any need to bring your own (we suggest you may be able to fly with hand luggage only);

Notes: We do not include: flights, travel insurance or evening meals ashore - but we do include warm sunshine all year around when you sail the Canaries!

What do I need to bring?

Not surprisingly most people pack to much when going sailing (especially when they forget the great weather we have all year around) so Andy has put together a great sailing holiday packing list - useful for both RYA courses, flotillas and charters.

How much does the Coastal Skipper course cost?

Sailing 12m / 40' class
(i.e. Sun Odyssey 39i)
Forepeak Supplement: N/A, max. 4 students
Single occupancy supplement per cabin: 60€
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Sailing on our large 15m yachts
(Benneteau 50)
Single occupancy supplement per cabin: 80€
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What’s next?

After completing the RYA Coastal Skipper Practical course you will be competent to skipper a small yacht in up to 60 nm offshore by day and night.

This course is perfect if you are looking to charter a yacht, with your friends or family, in more challenging areas of the Mediterranean or Caribbean.