Blue Oyster Maritime Training Fast Track Information

RYA Fastrack Sailing Courses FAQ

The RYA Yachtmaster Offshore qualification is a 200 ton certificate of competency and is the starting point for most aspiring deck crew to become captains. It has become the standard watch keeping qualification in the yachting industry, despite the fact that it was never designed for that purpose and is a master’s certificate of competency.

How do you get one?

It’s simple really: Preparation. There is no short cut, no way round it you simply have to meet the standard required to be the master of a small yacht and this takes preparation. Preparation means different things and covers much but I use the phrase because many of those that fail are not stupid or incompetent or even inexperienced, but simply ill prepared.

How do you prepare?

Firstly, remember that to hold a certificate of competency, responsibility is a key factor. So, come to school with that in mind. Read as much as you can before you get here, from the COLREGS, tidal calculations and diesel engine operation to calculating a course to steer. When you get here stay focused and be prepared to fully apply yourself.

Know the syllabus!

The one week theory course does not give you the chance to learn anything from scratch. Concepts like meteorology or navigation or COLREGS should be already basically understood before you arrive for the course. The course is designed to formalize what you have experienced and combine it with what you have read. So if the first time you have heard about Tropical Revolving Storms or Tidal Set and Drift is on day two of the course, you are probably going to struggle.


Many people undertaking the course have very little experience in some of the important skills like boat handling. Now obviously you cannot simply practice handling a boat at will but you can start thinking about how they handle. Or, if you are crew on a larger boat, take an interest and ask the captain how it all works. The same goes for navigation. Don’t wait until the week before the course to learn to use a compass.

Know the Theory before you look for the short cuts!

Several students are quite surprised to find out that the regime that exists on board the yacht they work on, does not strictly speaking, use recognised methods. For example, just because the captain on the yacht you work aboard uses a button on the GPS to find the height of tide, it does not mean that you will not be expected to use the tide tables and interpolation, in order to demonstrate that you know how the theory works.

Be honest about what you don’t know

The RYA Yachtmaster course is designed to help you learn or expand on your learning. It is not a show case for your talents. If you are good at one particular element try and ensure you engage with the parts you are less skilled at and use the course to develop weak areas. Be honest about your weaknesses and work on them an examiner will spot them a mile off!

Understand the ‘Collision Regulations’

A common mistake that many candidates make is to try and memorise the ‘COLREGS’ without fully understanding them. The ‘Colregs’ provide an examiner with an easy indication of both your knowledge and your awareness of responsibilities when things get close with another vessel. If you do not have a perfect knowledge of the regulations, exhibiting a basic understanding will serve you well. The COLREGS can take years to learn properly, so start soon and while you are working at sea, keep reading and re-reading them.

Finally, it is worth keeping in mind that often what separates a good yacht captain from a bad one, is not simply having the skill to overcome risk, but to exercise the prior judgement in order to avoid risk altogether. This comes with experience as well as training, you simply never stop learning. So, if you pass the exam and become a ‘Yachtmaster,’ 'Master Of Yachts' you should be delighted, it is not easy and well earned. Always keep in mind that the real learning has just begun.

How many students on board? 

A maximum of five students on each yacht unless mile building

What does my course include?

The fee includes accommodation, log book, exam fees, bedding (sleeping bags or duvets and pillows) fuel and mooring fees. All food on board & soft beverages. 

How experienced are the instructors?

We have some of the most experienced instructors in Gibraltar with a total of nearly thirty years teaching.

Is there an assessment?

Yes, you will be assessed at the end of both theory & practical courses. The Yachtmaster assessment is conducted by an independent RYA Examiner at the end of your course.

Where do we sail?

You will sail from two of our bases Barcelona & Gibraltar taking in The Balearics, France, Spain, Gibraltar, Morocco, Portugal. In excess of 2500 miles in the Mediterranean & the Atlantic.

Who cooks on board?

We all join in. It´s not a chore. It can be fun! 

What should I bring with me?

Primarily, don't spend lots of money. Ask us first! However, good wet weather gear, hat, deck shoes, good sunglasses and normal clothes. For the theory courses, we provide everything you will need.

I want to work after my course?

The industry is expanding. If you want to teach, you will be able to apply to any RYA Sea School worldwide with our additional RYA Cruising Instructor Qualification.

The RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Certificate with Commercial Endorsement is recognized globally & we will help you to open whatever doors you need for a successful career in the sailing industry.

Why choose Blue Oyster Sailing for your Fastrack Yachtmaster Course?

Two fantastic locations, Gibraltar & Barcelona. Don't get stuck in the same marina for months on end. We have an excellent pass rate. Our students come from all around the world, which in itself opens new doors. Enjoy sailing & with your commitment, you can achieve the most coveted of sailing qualifications internationally.

Blue Oyster Gibraltar What Our Clients Say

  • Susie,

    I would like to thank you again for taking great care of us this week. You made the Day Skipper course a very pleasant and fun experience at the same time thorough teaching. I have learned a lot and I am very eager to practise now.

    As discussed, if you can recommend me an on-line Sailing theory course, I will appreciate.

    I hope to see you again on a boat or elsewhere,

    Many thanks again take care!


    RYA Day Skipper Practical Course Student March 14th 2015 photo supplied by Cedrik. Yacht moored in Llafranc Costa Brava Spain

  • Hi Susie, it's Charlie Hale, just checking in to see if you are all ok and to let you know I just got my first job as a stew, I'm starting beginning of May! Thank you for all of your advice and I'm still going for deckhand but I need to get a season of doing anything first!

    Hope everything is going well and that Harry is well to!

  • Blue Oyster Sailing School is the best intense week I've had. I paid for the prep week and offshore yacht master exam after I failed it twice already. The first day I had help getting to know my crew and the boat which was step by step instruction on how to do the stuff I got wrong on the previous 2 exams. Through the week my Instructor started getting me to understand what it takes to be a skipper and how to control and implement my crew in the best way possible. This helped me so much as this is one of the main things I needed help with. My exam was then organised and I was ready to take it.

    I had food prepared for me everyday by Susie and it was perfect as she did good quantities which meant I wasn't worried about food ever. The crew for my exam was awesome as well they were doing their different courses, like Fast Track YM and Day Skipper. This also helped as it gave me the responsibility as skipper to get my crew working the way I wanted which in turn came across on the exam. So all in all I had a fantastic week with some great people and I became a RYA Yachtmaster offshore YM also commercially endorsed (as they signed me in to get the PPR course done on the day after my YM exam as well). Can't recommend this company enough.