Learn the essentials of navigation

The RYA Essential Navigation & Seamanship Course is an online course aimed towards anyone new to sailing and  any sea-based activity. The course gives students an awareness and knowledge of essential navigation techniques and seamanship and covers the key areas that anyone who gets in a boat should know. This RYA course can be taken anytime, anywhere and at your own speed. All you need is a computer and the internet. The course includes:

Electronic navigation including the use of the electronic chart plotter.
Preparing a passage plan to safely navigate a daytime sail between two harbours.
Knowing states of the tide and how the buoyage system works.
Understanding weather forecasts and the weather’s effects on sailing.
The rules of addressing an on-coming vessel.
Basic Navigation
Maintaining a safe boat, including routine engine checks.
The online course takes approximately six hours to complete, and can completed at your leisure. Email support from our Chief Instructor Ben Gillett is included in the package. You will receive a course pack which includes a chart, plotter, dividers, course handbook, exercises, an electronic chart plotter CD and a training almanac.

£110 including all course materials – 2 x RYA training charts, almanac, theory book, plotter and dividers

Buy now and enroll

Pre course requirements

No previous experience.
Internet and email access.
Approximately six hours of time.
You will receive a pack with a plotter, dividers, training chart and training almanac


Course content

1. Charts, publications and terms
• Basic Terms
• Chart overview
• Introduction to chart datum and depths
2. Buoyage
• Lateral buoys
• Cardinal buoys
• Where to find information
3. Navigation
• Plotting a position
• Measuring distance and bearing
• Position fix
• Heading
4. Safety
• Personal and boat safety equipment
• Safety procedures and briefing
• Communications
• Engine checks
• Rescue procedures
5. Anchoring
• Where to anchor
• How to anchor
6. Tides
• Tidal streams
• Tidal heights
7. Electronic navigation
• GPS terms
• GPS use
• Using waypoints
8. Rules of the road
• Risk of collision
• Who gives way
9. Weather forecasts
• Sources of forecast
• Terms used in forecasts
10. Pilotage
• Harbour information
• Transits
• Pilotage plan
11. Passage planning
• SOLAS V requirements
• Pre planning
• Chart choice

Free demo here

Click on the image to try a free demo of the RYA Essential Navigation & Seamanship course:



How long will the course take to complete?
The course takes approximately six hours to complete. You can log in and sit each module at your own pace.

How much does the course cost?
The course costs £110 (concessionary rate of £100 available) and this price includes all course material and email support.

What is included in the course fee?
The price includes all course materials you need to complete the course – plotters, dividers and training charts and almanac are all provided. Email supervision/contact is available from our Chief Instructor.

What qualifications or experience do I need to complete the course?
You do not need to have any practical experience or navigational knowledge to be able to complete this course.

How quickly can I start?
Course materials and online instructions will be despatched as soon as payment has been confirmed. We can email you log in details as soon as payment is received, allowing you to get started straight away.

Are there any exams?
There are no exams. Certificates are awarded  on completion of the modules – you have two attempts to complete each test or submit your written answers for marking.

Can I do this course if I'm not a UK resident?

What qualification will I get once I have completed the course?
On successful completion of the course you will be issued with the RYA Essential Navigation & Seamanship Course Certificate.

Can I cancel once I have booked?
The pack must be complete, unopened and in an ‘as new’ condition. All materials must be returned. Access to the online course material is terminated immediately. You will not be able to claim a refund if the course material has been damaged or if you have no proof of purchase.
A refund will be made less a £30 administration fee. The cost of returning the student pack will be payable by the student.

What can I do after completing the course?
The RYA Essential Navigation and Seamanship is an ideal entry to the world of navigation. It will complement a RYA Start Yachting or Competent Crew practical course. If you wish to skipper your own boat or charter a vessel the next step would be to do the  RYA Day Skipper Theory course.

What our previous learners said

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I thought the on line theory course was excellent, all the modules worked together and built well on each other. The tests throughout each section also worked very well for me, as did the immediate response to the answers allowing me to see what I had done incorrectly and then work out were the problems were and correct them. Dhara checked in a few times with me to see how I was getting on and If I needed any help, I didn't but good to know it was there.
Overall I would rate the course highly, I now feel much more confident to tackle the practice side of the course and put what I have learnt into practice at sea and in harbour.

Neil 28th February 2019

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Thank you for arranging first aid course, I enjoyed it and found it really worthwhile... take care and best wishes

23rd May 2016

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Although I had been a bit reticent about the fact it might be quite dry and theoretical doing online study, it was actually really quite fun to do, there are lots of colourful images and things you have to click on which make things move or bring a film up. I'm a really visual learner so I found it really good and it really helped solidify lots of the navigational theory ready for the trips I want to do this year.

12th November 2015

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Sail Boat Project is amazing! I learned loads, was challenged and became confident in the skills gained! Thank you for such a safe, positive and inspiring course! On to Day Skipper innit!

12th November 2015