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City Sailing Paul Bew How to pass your RYA Yacht Master Exam

Updated: Jul 13, 2022

Ten pointers on how to pass your Yachtmaster Exam by RYA Examiner Paul Bew I am often asked how to pass the RYA Yachtmaster Exam and feel that it would help to let you know how this is done. Below are a few pointers that help you pass the exam. Here are my tips!

1 Get your paperwork together. Have a copy of the RYA Application AND the RYA Practical Report Form , PRE FILL IT IN all the paperwork. It is on the RYA web site. Also have your G15 Log book filled in with your 2500 milage and 5 passages of over 60 miles with 2 as skipper.  ALL this paperwork, a PHOTO,  First Aid Certificate and VHF licence should ALL be in one folder to hand to your examiner when he/she arrives.

2 Learn How to Sail  This is the biggest failure in my experience, if you can not sail you will not pass! There are a lot of people who have sailed around the world and fail to sail on their exam. This problem is never there with a dinghy sailor, if you do not dinghy sail then two weekends on a level 1 and level 2 RYA Dinghy Course is well worth the time, this is only two weekends ands a lot of fun. In London the offer this for only £170 per weekend.

3  Read the Examiner notes  The examiner will be working strictly to the notes they have from the RYA.  This gives the examiners parameters and exactly what they are looking for, I can not stress how much you should read this.

4 Know your theory  It would be a shame to pass everything and not know your theory. If you have not done this go to a school for a RYA Coastal Yachtmaster Theory Course. Also the RYA Book of Navigation Exercises is a good source of revision.  If you go to a good school they will give you a backlist of the IRPC Exam Papers, make sure you can do these to 100% without looking at the book. If you show a deep knowledge of the Theory the Examiner will not probe. In my experience people do not know the sounds and shapes on the IRPCS.  Also have an up to date forecast and a printed weather map for the duration of the assessment.

5 Do the task asked  If they ask you to go to Cowes then go to Cowes!  Sail as you would normally sail, use all the nav aids, put a waypoint in the plotter or GPS, use navionics and use the engine when required.  If the examiner wants to see you do this without they will ask.  When you do a MOB, USE THE ENGINE, think and plan how you would get the person out of the water.

6 Put yourself in the position of the examiner  There is nothing nicer than a candidate who is well prepared, can sail, is safe and can show with confidence he/she are able to skipper a vessel with novices aboard. The examiner loves sailing (that is why they do the job!) and enjoys to see people do well and enjoy their sailing. A happy boat with everyone passing well is what the examiner would like.

7 Plan the domestics NEVER let the kettle get cold, always have good food not plastic sandwiches, find out what the examiner likes- are they vegetarian. Plan time to eat, there is nothing worse than not eating and drinking as an examiner.

8 Find out before about passage plans and pre exam work Some examiners want you to plan a passage beforehand which will involve a drying secondary port, find out before hand and prep this, some will ask you to do this on the day. The examiner will be pleased if you call them up and ask them!

9 Sail the area before hand  The examiner on the day has a limited area due to time constraints, if you have time sail into every harbour day and night and make your passage plans beforehand so no passage will be a surprise to you.

10 Be ready to go There is nothing worse that getting to an exam and the people not ready to go.  As an examiner you are paid per person, so if you have to wait for the people to get ready and sort themselves out you will not be happy.  If the boat is ready, people welcome you with a cuppa, the engine is running and the lines are on slips it shows that the candidates are keen and ready to go.

One final thing, ALWAYS KNOW where you are on the chart,  NEVER spend too much time below and always delegate jobs to your crew. Contact your school and ask to join an exam as a crew so you can see the standard and watch an exam, you will be able to ask the examiner questions you would not be able to ask in the exam.

Enjoy your sailing. A sailing boat has not arrived until all the sails are set.


Paul Bew

RYA Yacht Master Examiner Power Sail and Ocean.

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