Navigation & seamanship courses


RYA Yachtmaster Offshore and

Coastal Skipper Theory

Course joining instructions

The fee includes: RYA course pack and certificate

The venue: Heysham High School – Important - a map & directions to reach the classroom will be attached to your booking email.

Start time: 0930hrs   Lunch: 1230hrs

Please bring the following with you;
1) Pen & paper.
2) 4B pencil and rubber.
3) Course plotter and dividers.
4) Calculator.
5) Bring your own lunch.

Tea and coffee will be provided throughout the day.

RYA Yachtmaster Ocean

Course joining instructions

The fee includes: RYA course pack and certificate

The venue: Heysham High School – Important - a map & directions to reach the classroom will be attached to your booking email.

Start time: 0930hrs   Lunch: 1230hrs

Please bring the following with you;
1) Pen & paper.
2) 4B pencil and rubber.
3) Course plotter and dividers.
4) Calculator.
5) Sextant (not essential).
6) Bring your own lunch.

Tea and coffee will be provided throughout the day.

Day Skipper Theory

'Live' Instruction via Zoom

Doing chartwork

Tuesday evenings & all day Saturdays.

Starts February 1st - ends March 5th.

Cost £345 includes RYA course pack

Scroll down for dates and times

This course covers the background theory knowledge required before doing a day skipper practical course.  It's aimed at beginners but some prior boating experience is helpful.  If you've struggled to complete a self-study, distance-learning course, join John on zoom to get that important face to face help when required. 

  • Study in your own home but 'live' with John, RYA Instructor of the Year
  • Regular sessions to keep you motivated  
  • Work together in small groups just like a classroom course
  • Ask questions as they crop up instead of hitting that brick wall!

The course ends with two assessment papers which draw together everything you've learnt during the course.  You'll be amazed how much that is!  Some private study time is expected between each zoom session.  If you practice each of the new skills while they're still fresh in your mind you'll be ready for the next layer of understanding & get the most value from your course.

Please get in touch if you're interested but want more information. All dates are listed below. 

Useful Note: if you do the optional RYA online Essential Navigation & Seamanship introductory course first, that RYA course pack includes a plotter and dividers.  But for the day skipper course you have to provide your own plotter and dividers.  

"What an amazing course and instructor...
John Parlane thank you for sharing your expertise and for your patience." Justine 

What Do I Need?
The RYA course pack and certificate of completion is included in the course price. You'll need to provide your own writing equipment, notebook, pair of dividers & Portland course plotter. Scroll to the bottom of this page for links to buy the plotter and divider kit. Once payment is confirmed we'll post the RYA course pack to you.

How Does Zoom Work?
We'll provide full joining instructions with information about how to access the sessions and navigate around John's extra course exercises, notes and helpful videos.  If you're unsure about the technology part you can connect with us by zoom before committing to the course.  We'll send you a link by email which you simply click to 'join the meeting' at the agreed time. We can then talk you through how video-conferencing works. 

Short Introduction
In the meantime we recommend you take advantage of an excellent short course called Essential Navigation and Seamanship.  The RYA themselves created this excellent self-study online course.  It's a great way to prepare for your day skipper theory course.  And, you get a free set of dividers and plotter with this course pack!  The first few zoom sessions of the Day Skipper course cover similar material but in more detail.  It's entirely up to you whether you take advantage of this excellent head-start or not.  Take a look at a short video snippet from the Essential Navigation & Seamanship course.

More About The Course 
Day Skipper theory course involves 40 hours of tuition. It covers the basic theory you need to know to navigate safely on short tidal passages by day. It's the required level of theory knowledge to undertake the 5-day, Day Skipper practical course.

What's Special About Bay Sea School?
The course is delivered by RYA 'Instructor of the Year' John. He's no ordinary theory instructor but a Yachtmaster Instructor and Examiner. So if experience, quality instruction and depth of knowledge are important to you, don't miss John's next Day Skipper theory course. 

When you choose Bay Sea School you'll have access to John's unique online study features. There are explanatory videos and slide shows to remind you of what you've learnt each week and you'll have access to extra exercises for more practice if you want.  John's also available during the week by phone and email to answer any questions during your course. 

Day Skipper course pack

Day Skipper course topics include:
Use of both traditional and electronic navigation, position fixing, estimated position, planning a course to steer, tidal streams & tidal heights, weather, navigation buoys, collision regulations, emergency & safety equipment, making a VHF distress call on real radios, flares, life-jackets, life-rafts and much more!

Want a Day Skipper refresher?
"Use it or lose it!" Most people benefit from a refresher, particularly right now after such a long gap from sailing.  You can do the course again or join one of our zoom workshops. 

Coastal Skipper and Yachtmaster Offshore Theory
You can move straight on with this more advanced theory course before doing a Day Skipper practical course.  Day Skipper theory is a beginner level course so it doesn't cover everything you need to know. The Coastal Skipper and Yachtmaster Offshore theory course completes your essential knowledge for tidal cruising. It's another 40 hour course. You use your day skipper theory techniques to plan longer passages by night & day. If you're sailing in UK waters, you'll definitely need this level of knowledge to stay safe!  Our Day Skippers frequently ask questions about longer passages and tides that fall between the averages. These are some of the gaps to fill in on the Coastal Skipper and Yachtmaster Offshore theory course.

Private Day Skipper courses & coaching
These can be arranged throughout the year though are a more costly option than the class. John has more availability in the winter months. Please get in touch for more details.  

Day Skipper Theory Course Dates 2022 Start Time Places Left

Video Conferencing Course via Zoom - Cost £345 (includes RYA course pack)

Tuesdays - February 1, 8, 15, 22 & March 1st

Saturdays - February 5, 12, 19, 26 & March 5th

7-9 pm

9.30-12.30 & 1.30-4.30

Please join our mailing list to be the first to hear about new course dates. There's a sign-up form on the home page.    

Click here for course joining instructions

Planning a voyage

RYA Yachtmaster Theory Course

taught 'live' via Zoom

New dates for 2022

Wednesday evenings and all day Sundays.

Starts February 2nd - ends March 13th

Having learnt the basics of navigation on your day skipper theory course eg EP, CTS, tidal heights & tidal streams, this course is your next step in navigation.  You'll learn how to use those same techniques to plan longer passages offshore by day & night

Please note: you don't have to complete the Day Skipper practical course before learning more about navigation on this Yachtmaster theory course.

This course has several names which can be somewhat confusing! It covers the recommended level of theory knowledge for both the Coastal Skipper practical course & exam and the Yachtmaster Offshore practical exam.

New Yachtmaster Course

If you did the Coastal Skipper/ Yachtmaster Offshore theory course years ago you might want to consider refreshing your knowledge on the new course.  There's more emphasis on electronic navigation and passage planning though the standard yachtmaster topics below are still included in the course.

  • More precise secondary port calculations to anchor safely anywhere
  • Passage planning for longer trips - a must for cruising safely in the North West
  • Full knowledge of the collision regulations
  • Three assessment papers; passage planning, chartwork & collregs.

Doing a Yachtmaster theory course with Bay Sea School offers a broader learning experience than a self-study distance-learning course. John Parlane is a Yachtmaster Instructor & Examiner with over 20 years cruising experience on his own yacht which he uses to add practical context to the various theory topics.  

Private courses & 1:1 tuition can be arranged but the cost will be considerably more. Contact us for more details.

This course cost includes the RYA course pack and certificate.  You'll need to provide your own course plotter & dividers.

2022 Online Course via Zoom Start Time Places Left

Wednesdays February 2, 9, 16, 23, March 2 & 9th

Sundays February 6, 13, 20, 27th, March 6 & 13th

7 pm to 9 pm

9.30 to 12.30 & 1.30 to 4.30


Click here for course joining instructions

What the RYA say about this course

"The Coastal Skipper and Yachtmaster shorebased course is an advanced course in navigation and meteorology for candidates aiming to achieve the Coastal Skipper and Yachtmaster Offshore Certificate.  The syllabus makes some provision for the revision of subjects covered 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 RYA Day Skipper shorebased course.

Students are required to have a full knowledge of the 'International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea' before completion of the shorebased course for Coastal Skipper and Yachtmaster Offshore.  There is, however, insufficient time available in the course to teach the subject fully.  The RYA book 'International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea' (G2) is a useful book for the study of the regulations."  See the link below to get your copy now!

Dolphins in the Celtic Sea

RYA Yachtmaster Ocean 

Astronavigation Theory Course

"This is the best RYA theory course"

Sunrise, La Coruna

Perhaps GPS and chart plotters make us think it's not  necessary to learn about celestial navigation these days.  But aren't you fascinated to know how mariners of old navigated by the sun and the stars? 

Some people say: "I'm no good at maths!"  While there are a lot of calculations involved in astronavigation, you don't have to do them yourself!  It's more a matter of looking up the answers in tables.

If you can add or subtract minutes up to 60' & add or subtract up to 360°, you're good to go!

For example: Add 245° 51.7' to 120° 18'

The minutes total = 69.7' but that's more than 60 so it actually becomes 1° 9.7'

The degrees total = 365° + the extra 1° from the minutes, so that's 366°. This is 6° too many from the 360° available.

So the answer to the sum becomes 6° 9.7' and that's pretty much as hard as the maths gets! 

"John is a first class instructor who presents what at times seems daunting material in a clear & easy-to-follow way.  The online resources between Saturdays were excellent."  Dave

  • Learn about astronavigation & ocean meteorology
  • Become qualified to skipper a yacht in all parts of the world
  • Know how to navigate if your GPS fails
  • Be cool with a sextant!

The cost includes the RYA course pack and certificate.

"As always, the course was presented in very strong practical application terms.  Celestial navigation appeared daunting, but was presented in a very enjoyable and understandable manner."

5-Day Course Dates Start Time Places Left
Zoom course planned for early 2022. Dates TBC 9.30 am 12 

Click here for course joining instructions