Shore Based Courses

These courses will equip you with the necessary theory and knowledge to drive motor boats.

Course Journey


    Each course has individual requirements. They are all theory and entry is based on your level of knowledge.


    These courses are designed to assist and advance your knowledge so that you can become better qualified.


    Please see the tabs below to find individual course details/syllabuses.


    See course details/syllabuses for more information. All courses seek to provide you with an opportunity to specialise and advance your capabilities.


    There is only so much that you can learn in theory. Get out on the water!


Below are the courses that fall under this category. They are Day Skipper Shore Based, Coastal Skipper/Yachtmaster Offshore – Shore Based, Marine Radio Short Range Certificate and Marine Electronics.

Day Skipper Shore Based

Beginners and crew who would like to become actively involved in navigation are encouraged to attend. The syllabus arms would be skippers with enough knowledge to navigate around familiar waters by day. The course duration is 5 days. Please see the Day Skipper Theory Tab above for syllabus details.

Coastal Skipper/ Yachtmaster Offshore – Shore Based

A course for more experienced skippers which takes them up to the theory knowledge required for the Coastal Skipper and Yachtmaster Practical Examination. The course duration is 6 days. Please see the Coastal Skipper/Yachtmaster Theory Tab above for syllabus details.

Marine Radio Short Range Certificate

A one day course for the Short Range Certificate (SRC) covers all the radio procedures.

Marine Electronics

Training in the use of devices such as GPS, Radar and Fishfinders. You will also utilise integrated systems from Raymarine, Garmin, Furuno etc. The course duration is 1 day.

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Below are the syllabus topics for the theory component of this course. Please see HERE for the Day Skipper practical section.

Theory -

This course is a comprehensive introduction to chart work, navigation, meteorology and the basics of seamanship for Helmsmen. You will find this course invaluable if you want to learn how to start making decisions on board.

1. Nautical terms

• Parts of a boat and hull
• General nautical terminology

2. Ropework

• Knowledge of the properties of synthetic ropes in common use

3. Anchorwork

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

4. Safety

• Knowledge of the safety equipment to be carried, its stowage and use (see RYA Boat Safety Handbook, C8)
• 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

5. International regulations for preventing collisions at sea

• Steering and sailing rules
• General rules (all other rules)

6. Definition of position, course and speed

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

7. Navigational charts and publications

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

8. Navigational drawing instruments

• Use of parallel rulers, dividers and proprietary plotting instruments

9. Compass

• Application of variation
• Awareness of deviation and its causes
• Use of hand-bearing compass

10. Chartwork

• 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

11. 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

12. Visual aids to navigation

• Lighthouses and beacons, light characteristics

13. Meteorology

• 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

14. 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

15. Navigation in restricted visibility

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

16. Pilotage

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

17. Marine environment

• Responsibility for avoiding pollution and protecting the marine environment


Below are the syllabus topics for the theory component of this course. Please see HERE for the Coastal Skipper practical section.

Theory -

This is an advanced course in navigation and meteorology for candidates for the Coastal Skipper and Yachtmaster Offshore Certificate. The syllabus makes some provision for the revision of subjects in the Day Skipper Course but those who have not acquired the knowledge set out in the Day Skipper Course are unlikely to be able to assimilate all the subjects covered in this advanced course in the time available. The assumed level of knowledge before starting this course is the Day Skipper Shorebased Course.

1. Position

• Dead reckoning and estimated position
• Satellite-derived position
• Use of waypoints to fix position
• Radar fixes
• Techniques of visual fixing
• Fixes using a mixture of position lines
• Relative accuracy of different methods of position fixing
• Areas of uncertainty

2. The magnetic compass

• Allowance for variation
• Change of variation with time and position
• Causes of deviation
• Swing for deviation (but not correction)
• Allowance for deviation
• Different types of compass

3. Tides

• Causes of tides – Springs and Neaps
• Tide tables – sources
• Tidal levels and datum
• Standard and secondary ports
• Tidal anomalies (Solent, etc.)

4. Tidal streams

• Sources of tidal information
• Tidal stream information in sailing directions and Yachtsmen’s Almanacs
• Allowance for tidal streams in computing a course to steer
• Tide rips, overfalls and races
• Tidal observation buoys, beacons etc.

5. Buoyage

• IALA system buoyage in Region A
• Limitations of buoys as navigational aids

6. Lights

• Characteristics
• Ranges – visual, luminous and nominal
• Rising and dipping distances
• Light lists

7. Pilotage

• Harbour regulations and control signals
• Methods of pre-planning
• Clearing lines
• Use of soundings
• Transits and leading lines

8. GPS and chart plotters

• Principles of operation and limitations of use
• Raster and vector charts
• Datum
• Importance of confirmation of position by an independent source and keeping a separate record of position
• Importance of paper charts

9. Echo sounders

• Principles of operation and limitations of use

10. Logs (speed and distance measuring)

• Principles of operation and limitations of use

11. Deck log

• Importance of log as yacht’s official document
• Layout of log, hourly and occasional entries

12. Meteorology

• Basic terms, the Beaufort scale
• Air masses
• Cloud types
• Weather patterns associated with pressure and frontal systems
• Sources of weather forecasts
• Ability to interpret a shipping forecast, weatherfax and weather satellite information
• Land and sea breezes
• Sea fog
• Use of a barometer as a forecasting aid

13. Rules of the road

• A sound knowledge of the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, except Annexes 1 and 3

14. Safety at sea

• Personal safety, use of lifejackets, safety harnesses and lifelines
• Fire prevention and fire fighting
• Distress signals
• Coastguard and Boat Safety Scheme
• Preparation for heavy weather
• Liferafts and helicopter rescue
• Understanding of capabilities of vessel and basic knowledge of stability

15. Navigation in restricted visibility

• Precautions to be taken in, and limitations imposed by, fog
• Limitations to safe navigation imposed by fog
• Navigation strategy in poor visibility

16. Passage planning

• Preparation of charts and notebook for route planning and making, and use at sea
• Customs regulations as they apply to yachts
• Routine for navigating in coastal waters
• Strategy for course laying
• Use of waypoints and routes
• Use of weather forecast information for passage planning strategy
• Sources of local and national regulations

17. Marine environment

• Responsibility to minimise pollution and protect the marine environment

  • Training with Phil Jackson of Suncoast gave us the confidence to use our boat in all conditions and to cruise new areas. The teaching was highly professional and informative but also relaxed and fun! If you have a boat, or are thinking of buying one, remember to invest a bit of money in yourself. Get confident, ring Suncoast.

    Neil & Janice McLachlan
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This course is a one day introduction to power boating where you will learn essential boating techniques…


This two day course provides the skills and background knowledge needed to drive a power boat and is the basis of the International Certificate of Competence…


This two day course is ideal for new owners, covering basic boat handling, engine checks and safety…


This practical course gives you a chance to take charge on short passages under instruction with plenty of advice…


The more ambitious motor cruising skipper can improve his or her skills on a Coastal Skipper Course…


With this examination you will be set tasks to demonstrate your ability as skipper of an offshore motor yacht…


A comprehensive refresher course for those with sufficient sea miles, looking to take the Yachtmaster Offshore Practical Examination…


This course is compulsory for all RYA Commercial Endorsement holders. It allows people to professional use their RYA qualifications…

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