RYA Day Skipper Theory

This intensive five-day theory course is a comprehensive introduction to cruising, intended for inexperienced or aspiring skippers who have some practical experience of sailing or motor cruising. The course equips you with enough knowledge to navigate around familiar waters by day. It is also the prelude to the RYA Day Skipper practical course.

Course topics include:-
• The basics of Seamanship
• The essentials of coastal navigation and pilotage
• Chartwork
• Position Fixing
• Plotting a course to steer
• Weather forecasting and meteorology
• Tides
• Collision Regulations
• Construction, parts and equipment of a cruising boat
• Emergency and safety procedures including distress calls, use of flares, safety harnesses, lifejackets and liferafts

There will be some work to be completed in the evenings and at the end of the course there will be two examination papers to complete.

If you are looking for a brush-up or a good introduction to navigation, this is an ideal course. If you are a crew member or partner who doesn’t usually sail or navigate, but would like to learn, this is a great starting point.

Nautical terms

  • Parts of a boat and hull
  • General nautical terms


  • Knowledge of the properties of synthetic ropes in common use


  • Characteristics of different types of anchor
  • Considerations to be taken into account when anchoring


  • Knowledge of the safety equiptment to be carried, its stowage and use
  • Fire precautions and fire fighting
  • Use of personal safety equipment, harnesses and lifejackets
  • Ability to send a distress signal by VHF radiotelephone
  • Basic knowledge of rescue procedures including helicopter rescue

International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea

  • Steering and sailing rules
  • General rules

Definition of position, course and speed

  • Latitude and longitude
  • Knowledge of standard navigation terms
  • True bearings and courses
  • The knot

Navigational charts and publications

  • Information shown on charts, chart symbols and representation of direction and distance
  • Navigational publications in common use
  • Chart correction

Navigational drawing instruments

  • Use of parallel rulers, dividers and proprietary plotting instruments


  • Application of variation
  • Awareness of deviation and its courses
  • Use of hand bearing courses


  • Dead reckoning and estimated position including an awareness of leeway
  • Techniques of visual fixing
  • Satellite-derived positions
  • Use of waypoints to fix position
  • Course to steer

Tides and tidal streams

  • Tidal definitions, levels and datum
  • Tide tables
  • Use of Admiralty method of determining tidal height at standard port and awareness of corrections for secondary ports
  • Use of tidal diamonds and tidal stream atlases for chartwork

Visual aids to navigation

  • Lighthouses and beacons, light characteristics


  • Sources of broadcast meteorological information
  • Knowledge of terms used in shipping forecasts, including the Beaufort scale, and their significance to small craft
  • Basic knowledge of highs, lows and fronts

Passage planning

  • Preparation of navigational plan for short coastal passages
  • Meteorological considerations in planning short coastal passages
  • Use of waypoints on passage
  • Importance of confirmation of position by an independent source
  • Keeping a navigational record

Navigation in restricting visability

  • Precautions to be taken in, and limitations imposed by, fog


  • Use of transits, leading lines and clearing lines
  • IALA system of buoyage for Region A
  • Use of sailing directions
  • Pilotage plans and harbour entry

Marine Environment

  • Responsibility for avoiding pollution and protecting the marine environment

08-12th January 2024

04th -08th  March 2024: Cancelled

5 days


RYA Day Skipper Theory course notes.

Morning and afternoon tea and coffee.

Free parking.

There are no additional course costs.

Please note this course is non-residential. For details of accommodation nearby, click here.

Ability after course

This course will give inexperienced skippers a comprehensive introduction to cruising.

This course equips you with enough knowledge to navigate around familiar waters by day. A basic knowledge of lights is also included to introduce you to night cruising.

Pre-course experience:  no prior knowledge required.