Theory Courses

What are RYA Theory courses?

Girls for Sail verdict: Get the most out of your practical sailing courses by doing some pre-course theory with us! We run both classroom-based and online* course options - perfect if you want to take your time getting to grips with it!

What our girls had to say"I came after having a very upsetting experience of day skipper theory and was incredibly nervous. Everyone was lovely and made me feel very welcome, right from the initial phone call. Amazing - thank you so much! Not only have I got through the qualification, but you have helped me regain my confidence!"

On your way to becoming a skipper you have to do some theory - but fear not, it doesn't have to be as scary or daunting as it may seem!

We run RYA Essential Navigation and Seamanship, Day Skipper and Coastal Skipper and Yachtmaster Offshore theory courses - and you can choose to complete most of them in our purpose-designed classroom or online*, in the comfort of your own home.

Essential Navigation and Seamanship

This classroom-based course teaches you all the essential theory required to enhance your practical knowledge and safety onboard. It's the perfect course for anyone starting out in sailing - and forms the first part of the Day Skipper course.

With 2 days of classroom based learning you really get the chance to get to grips with the chartwork and thoroughly understand how all aspects are applied in a practical situation.  Your shorebased instructor will use a variety of interactive teaching methods.  

The RYA Essential Navigation & Seamanship shorebased course syllabus includes:

  1. Charts, publications & terms
  2. Buoyage
  3. Navigation
  4. Safety
  5. Anchoring
  6. Electronic navigation
  7. Rules of the Road
  8. Weather forecasts
  9. Pilotage
  10. Passage planning

When you arrive, you will receive a course pack which includes a chart, course handbook, exercises and an electronic chart plotter CD. You will also be given use of plotters, dividers and training almanacs so there is no need to bring any equipment of your own with you.

Learning nav theory


RYA Day Skipper Theory

What does the day skipper theory syllabus cover?

  • Chartwork
  • The Compass
  • Safety and Rules of the Road
  • Passage Planning
  • Weather
  • Tides
  • Pilotage

Option 1: Day Skipper Theory - Classroom (5 days or 2 weekends)

We offer two classroom theory course options - join us either for five consecutive days or split the course over two weekends (either 2 days + 3 days, or 3 days + 2 days). All your course materials and refreshments are included in the price - all you need to bring are yourself, a notepad, 2B pencil and rubber and a set of dividers and a chart plotter (we can sometimes loan you a plotter and dividers if you don't have a set - or you can buy them locally for around £30 - well worth buying your own set if you're serious about sailing!). Meals and accommodation are not included in the price of the course - click HERE for our list of recommended local accommodation options.

Option 2: Complete Day Skipper (theory and practical combined)

We also run Day Skipper theory courses in conjunction with the practical courses, so you would spend the first 3 days in the classroom then out on the water for 5 and finishing it off with 2 days back in the classroom. This is a great way to learn as anything you aren't quite sure of you can then go through when you're back in the classroom so you are 100% confident you know everything.

Option 3: *Online-Based Theory Courses

We also run theory courses which are online based. In short you log in and complete your course online, and at your pace with Ocean Training Online, the company we do this through - and you get to sit and have a glass of wine whilst running through your course from the comfort of your own home! 

GFS work in conjunction with Ocean training Online so if you decide to go ahead with the course then we will arrange for all the information to be sent out to you.

The RYA Day Skipper theory course is absolutely full of fantastic information from tying a knot, tidal heights, tidal streams, weather, position fixing, estimated position to plotting a full blown course to steer and passage plan.

Once you have completed the course you will be safer for yourself, your friends and your family and after completing an RYA practical course you should be well on your way to being a first class skipper!

The course is made up of detailed lessons, most of which are animated for easy learning and you will be provided with contact information for a personal tutor who is there to help you every step of the way!

One of the major advantages of using the Ocean Training Day Skipper course is that they provide a USB drive with all of the couyrse information on it. This means you can learn in areas with poor or no internet - even out at sea!

Your RYA pack will include charts, RYA almanac, RYA course notes, and course plotter, and will be posted to you once booked. The assessment and completion certificate is all included in the price. 

Please email us if you are interested in booking the online theory course!

RYA Coastal Skipper and Yachtmaster Offshore Theory

What does the Coastal and Yachtmaster Offshore theory syllabus cover?

The Coastal and Yachtmaster Offshore theory is an advanced course that builds on the knowledge you will have gained during completion of your Day Skipper theory - but goes into a lot more depth.

  • Chartwork
  • The compass
  • Safety and rules of the road
  • Passage planning
  • Weather
  • Tides
  • Pilotage
  • Safety at sea
  • Navigation in restricted availability

As with the Day Skipper theory course, this is either a shorebased five-day theory course with an instructor OR you can use the learn at home package produced in conjunction with Ocean Training Online. You will cover offshore and coastal navigation, pilotage and meteorology to a far greater degree and you'll learn the rules of the road thoroughly. There are examinations at the end of this course. 

You will also need to undertake the VHF Radio course - a one-day course leading to your VHF Restricted Operator's license. Although not mandatory until you reach this level, it's a useful course for all sailing enthusiasts and it's good fun too!  

At this level you will also need a First Aid at Sea Certificate and as with the VHF certificate, whilst this is not mandatory until you reach the higher levels, we believe it is must for all potential skippers.

Dayskipper Course


Why choose Girls for Sail for your theory course?

The assessment can be completed online in your own home, or with one of our dedicated RYA qualified instructors for the duration of the course

  • You can use our plotters and other equipment free of charge in our classroom-based courses
  • Or with our online courses you can learn from the comfort of your own home
  • And of course you are completely ready to take your pratical with either course! Plus you could navigate your way in any water! 

How do I book?

The theory courses really are the ideal way to develop your skills and confidence on the water - you wouldn't start driving a car without first reading the Highway Code and skippering a yacht is pretty much the same thing!

Want to get to grips with the theory or set out on your way to becoming a skipper? If you have any questions then please get in touch!

Call us on:
+44(0)1983 28 28 67

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