Course Objectives and Outcomes

The RYA Day Skipper Theory course is an elementary course that requires no previous knowledge, but some practical experience is desirable. Completing the RYA Day Skipper shore based course is the first step towards becoming a more confident skipper.

Classroom Course

In our modern purpose built classroom, led by a Yachtmaster Instructor, you will learn the essentials of chartwork and electronic navigation, safety, pilotage, weather, rules of the road and how to plan your first passage. This course will give you all of the navigation and theoretical knowledge required moving on towards the RYA Day Skipper practical course.

Online Course

In your own time and at your own pace you will learn the same content as the classroom course with our interactive online course.

What Will I Learn? (Course Syllabus)

The RYA Day Skipper Shorebased (Theory) Course Syllabus is a comprehensive introduction to chartwork, navigation, meteorology and the basics of seamanship. You will find this course invaluable if you want to learn how to start making decisions on board.

The syllabus for this course is:

Nautical Terms

  • Parts of a boat and hull
  • General nautical terminology


  • Knowledge of the properties of synthetic ropes in common use


  • Characteristics of different types of anchor
  • Factors to take into account when anchoring


  • Knowledge of the safety equipment to be carried, its stowage and use
  • Fire precautions and firefighting
  • Use of personal safety equipment, harnesses and life jackets
  • Ability to send a distress signal by VHF radio
  • Basic knowledge of rescue procedures including helicopter rescue
  • Stability

International Regulations for Preventing Collissions at Sea

  • Steering and sailing rules (5, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 12-19)
  • General rules (all other rules)

Definition of Position, Course and Speed

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

Navigational Charts and Publications

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

Navigational Drawing Instruments

  • Use of parallel rulers, dividers and proprietary plotting instruments


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

Chartwork and Navigation – Traditional and Electronic

  • Dead reckoning and estimated position including an awareness of leeway
  • Techniques of visual fixing
  • Use of GNSS and chart plotters for position fixing
  • Use of waypoints to fix position
  • Course to steer

Tides and Tidal Streams

  • Tidal definitions, levels and datum
  • Tide tables
  • Use of Admiralty method of determining tidal height and standard port
  • Awareness of corrections for secondary ports
  • Use of tidal diamonds and tidal stream atlases for chartwork
  • Reading tidal arrows and calculating tidal set and drift

Visual Aids to Navigation

  • Lighthouses and beacons
  • Light characteristics


  • 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

Passage Planning

  • Preparation of a navigational plan for short coastal passages
  • Meteorological considerations in planning short coastal passages
  • Use of and visual confirmation of waypoints on passage
  • Importance of confirmation of position by an independent source
  • Keeping a navigational record

Navigation in Restricted Visibility

  • Precautions to be taken in, and limitations imposed by fog and other forms of restricted visibility


  • Use of transits, leading lines and clearing lines
  • IALA system of buoyage (Regions A & B)
  • Use of sailing directions
  • Pilotage plans and harbour entry

Marine Environment

  • Responsibility for avoiding pollution and protecting the marine environment

Plus much more as part of the interation between students and instructor during the course.

What Qualifications Do I Get?

The RYA Day Skipper Shorebased certificate will be issued after satisfactory completion of the course assessment, indicating that you have the level of knowledge of Day Skipper theory.

How Long Is The Course?


This is a 5-day (40 hours) theory course, starting at 9:30am on the first day, and continuing the following 4-days. This is not a liveaboard course, you will need to arrange your own accommodation.


The online course covers the same content as the classroom course option and requires a minimum commitment of approximately 40 hours. However, you can do this study at times and places that suit you.

Where Is This Held?

There are two options for taking this course:

  1. Classroom: Course starts 0930. Our office is located at The Mooloolaba Marina on Parkyn Parade, Mooloolaba just an hour north of Brisbane. There’s ample parking. Click HERE to see a map. Course location will be advised for individual courses
  2. Online: We provide you with a login to an interactive site and send you the course materials.

What is the online option?

If classroom learning is not your preferred style, sign up for our online option! Independent and completely self-paced, this option can be completed anytime within 6 months of signing up for the course.

Log in to an online interactive platform (through Navigation at Home) and go through a series of modules at your own pace. Throughout your online course, if you have any questions or need any assistance with the material, our team at Sunshine Sailing Australia is available for support and guidance.

As soon as you register, our team will provide you with online access.

What do I get with the online course?

We will send you course materials that you need to complete the course, including:

  • plotters and dividers,
  • the RYA Day Skipper handbook,
  • practice charts,
  • exercise questions,
  • an electronic navigation booklet,
  • Sunshine Sailing Australia’s expert instructors providing guidance and support if required, and
  • Sunshine Sailing Australia’s supplementary knowledge pack.

What Should I Do Prior To This Course?

Although there are no pre-requisites for this course we do recommend undertaking the Online Essential Navigation course and the RYA Competent Crew course if you have not spent any time on sail or power vessels before. This ensure that you can get the most out of your RYA Day Skipper Theory program.

What We Offer

Pro Instructors

We constantly strive to recruit and develop the most experienced and professional instructors. We expect our instructors to not only guide you through the course syllabus, but to do this in a way that meets your learning style, and to always go above the minimum requirements of the course.

Perfect Locations

Our training locations are chosen to provide you with a broad opportunity of learning experiences on the water. All of our locations have access to open ocean, busy waterways, and a range of different learning opprotunities.

Expert Advice

The team at Sunshine Sailing Australia are here to talk to you. Whether you are a recreational sailor, or someone who would like to enter the commercial superyacht industry, our team is always up for a friendly chat. We can assess your needs and will help guide you down the path that suits your experience and goals.

More Information

You are the captain of your journey, and we’re here to make that voyage as smooth sailing as possible. Our friendly team is ready at any time for a question you might have about this course, or which training plan will work best with what you want out of your time on the water. Please touch base with any questions you may have.


Andreas S. course completed 9th July 2021

I would like to thank you guys for a fantastic experience during the navigation course. It was just superburb and I learned a lot. You make a difference to future sailors.

Murray P. course completed 9th July 2021

Please thank Carl for this week, he was great and we got through a ton of information.

Matt course completed 30th May 2021

I completed the RYA DaySkipper course with Sunshine sailing. The calm, controlled and systematic approach to learning will teach newcomers good habits right from the start and help old sea dogs get rid of any bad habits. I have over 24 years of merchant seafaring experience and was delighted to learn so much from John on everyday of this course. I highly recommend Sunshine sailing to anyone who wants to develop and grow as a safe and proficient sailor.

Jim McLean course completed 1st May 2019

I found the RYA Day Skipper Course provided by John Bankart of Sunshine Sailing Australia to be of excellent practical value...John is extremely supportive and positive, adapting his instruction to individual needs and skill levels and has exceptional team building skills.