There’s nothing to prevent you from doing this however we can see how many times you access individual lessons and if we believe someone is abusing the system we will contact you to suggest that you might pay an additional fee of £150 to cover the other person’s use.
What about supporting books?
You shouldn't really need anything else however, if you do want a text-book to support your learning, we recommend: Reeds Skipper’s Handbook by Malcolm Pearson and The Complete (Yachtmaster/Day Skipper) by Tom Cunliffe. You might also wish to purchase a print copy of Admiralty Chart 5011 (Symbols & Abbreviations) rather than use the free US Chart 5011 provided with your course. All are available from Amazon.
How much time will I need to spend studying?
Most students need 40-50 hours in total and the RYA mandates a minimum of 40 hours. Remember with eLearning you can study any-time, anywhere for a few minute at a time if you wish or, at the other end of the spectrum, take a week off and take the entire course.
What if I need more than 12 months to complete the course?
If you find you need more time we can provide a 3 month extension for £50.
How can I run lessons offline?
Most lessons run perfectly offline however bear in mind that we do use some Internet resources in our teaching, such as YouTube videos, and these won't be available offline. These are mainly in the lessons on safety.
If you're lucky enough to have an iPad or Android tablet you can optionally install the iSpring Viewer app which will enable you to download any or all lessons onto you device so that you can run it offline. Search the Apple or Google Play app store for “iSpring” or go to iSpring for iPad or iSpring for Android as appropriate.
If you’re running on a Windows PC or a Mac you have a couple of options:
- you can load a lesson whilst connected to the Internet, and, as long as you keep the window open, you can disconnect and take it with you. Just make sure you remain connected long enough for the lesson to fully download. - yr you can download the Bluestacks Android simulator for Windows from and then install the iSpring viewer app for Android Bluestacks is free if you accept them installing various trial versions of games or $2 per month. Be aware though that, whilst most of our lessons run perfectly using Bluestacks, some quizzes don't run perfectly on the current version.
How are quizzes and the course exercises assessed and marked?
Quizzes present questions from within lessons. You get immediate feedback on your answer and the chance to re-try the question or re-take the quiz as many times as you wish. We’re not looking over your shoulder.
The mandatory exercises typically including plotting on your RYA training charts, detailed workings and narrative. You can take them online or print them out to work offline. You mark them yourself, in exactly the same manner as you would if you attended conventional classroom training. Once you’ve competed an exercise you have online access to not only the answers but also all the detailed workings and explanations as to how to get them. If you really can’t follow our explanation you can ask for help, sending us a scan or photograph of your work.
What about the RYA Chart Plotter?
The RYA a training chart-plotter and you will find instructions on how to download it from the RYA web-site in your student pack. However it doesn't function in a manner similar to the sort of chart plotter you're likely to encounter in real life so I have elected not to use it in my online training and it is not required for the exam. You should ensure that whichever sea-school you choose provides a chart plotter on the training vessel they intend using for your practical course.
How do the exams work?
All exams are taken online with questions presented in a similar format to those you've become accustomed to when completing the various exercises during your study. You will use the same training charts and almanac. As well as entering your answers online you will be asked to attach scans or photographs of your charts and workings to your submission. This is optional however if you do I can usually award partial marks if your method appears to be correct even if you made some small mistakes along the way.
For Day Skipper there are 2 exam papers: General Questions (90mins) and Chartwork(90mins).
For Coastal Skipper / Yachtmaster, there are 3 exam papers: Chartwork (2hrs); Meteorology (2hrs); IRPCS (90mins).
You can attempt the exams in any order but most Day Skipper students take the General Assessment followed by the Chartwork.
It's entirely up to you whether you sit one exam at a time or attempt them all on the same day however, especially with Coastal Skipper / Yachtmaster, many students find themselves exhausted after taking more than one at a time and I recommend that you space them out over a few days.
As regards pre-exam revision, at both levels you should ensure that you're rock solid on fixes, estimated positions, course to steer and tidal heights. Pay special attention to correctly establishing tidal set and drift for any hour using both the tidal atlas and the tables on the charts and remember, when calculating tidal streams the mantra is "Victoria, Victoria, Victoria, always Victoria". Because knowledge of the Collision Regulations is so important you should swat up on these immediately before your exam and Coastal Skipper / Yachtmaster students need to be confident that they understand how weather and cloud types evolve around a low-pressure system.
The pass mark for the Coastal Skipper / Yachtmaster IRPCS (Collision Regulations) paper is 80%. In all other papers you must demonstrate that your have sufficient understanding of the subject, even if your answers do contain some errors. You are allowed a reasonable degree of tolerance in answers expressed as bearings, courses, distances and times in order to allow small differences between your plots and the model answers.
When you feel ready to take your exams, let me know. You can either request all your exams in one go or individually.
24hrs is generally sufficient notice but, perhaps if it's the weekend, I might be sailing and off email so a little more notice would be helpful. I'll then send you links to the appropriate papers. You can open the links anytime in order to view and download the exam instructions before you begin however once you start the exam it must be completed in one sitting and within the stated time-limit.
Exams must be undertaken under "exam conditions" which means without seeking assistance from anyone else or referring to your notes, online learning materials or text books. You will be required to confirm that you have abided by these rules before you submit your answers.
Invigilation is optional however, if you choose not to be invigilated, your certificate will be marked as "not invigilated" and, if your're studying at Yachtmaster level, cannot be used to support your application for a STCW Master 200 oral exam. If you do elect for invigilation, your invigilator must be an independent professional person such as might witness a passport application (see here for examples) and they will be required to confirm that you have abided by the rules before you submit your answers.
Once you have submitted your exam paper you will get an email confirmation back including all your answers.
Normally I mark papers within 24hrs and let you know the outcome immediately however I do receive them in waves so occasionally it might take me a little longer.
If you pass I'll ask you to complete my Customer Satisfaction Survey (which I need for the RYA) and to confirm the postal address you wish me to send your certificate to. Once I have this, I'll email it out First Class or by Airmail as appropriate.
If you fail one of the papers, I'll recommend some additional study and then might either set you a whole new paper or just one or a few questions in the area(s) you struggled with. Please understand that I don't just keep sending you exam papers until you manage to pass them. I need to see evidence of additional study before I'll send you another paper and the amount of study I require will be proportionate to you performance in the earlier paper(s). In practice you should allow a minimum of one week between attempts.
What about practical training?
We focus solely on developing and supporting training by way of eLearning, so, once you’ve passed your theory course you can book practical training with any other RYA Sea School.