Select Page
IRPCS ColRegs Rules of the Road at Sea and Yachtmaster

The IRPCS ColRegs

IRPCS ColRegs Rules of the Road at Sea and Yachtmaster

Learning, understanding and remembering the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (IRPCS ColRegs) is essential if you’re seeking to get your YachtmasterCoxswain or Master of Yachts certificate of competency, which is is often the ultimate aim of aspiring skippers. These are well known, highly respected seafaring qualifications worldwide, proving your experience and competence as a skipper.

Unlike other courses in the international cruising programme, there is no formal training to complete in order to become a Yachtmaster. Instead, provided that you have sufficient experience and seafaring time, you can put yourself forward for an exam to test your skills and knowledge.

How do you obtain a Yachtmaster certificate? 

Preparation is the key. In fact, any instructor will tell you, the main reason for failure is a lack of preparation and poor knowledge. So, it’s a simple as that, you have to know your syllabus and be able to answer the questions to get your Yachtmaster certificate.

What’s the best way to prepare for your Yachtmaster exam ?

People have different ways of learning the ColRegs, but a common mistake is to try to remember the ColRegs without having understood and interpreted the rules first. So, you need to find materials that will help you with your own learning style. Visualising the rules and potential hazards and collision will often help people understand the rules and their application. That’s why, with permission from IRPCS, we developed series of graphically-led mobile applications to help people understand and interpret the ColRegs on their iPhone, iPad or Android devices.

Our ColRegs Nav Lights and Rules of the Road at Sea apps provide skippers with what they need to interpret what other vessels are doing, who has right of way and what action they should take to prevent a collision, as specified by the IRPCS ColRegs. Every rule and definition is available at the touch of a finger, each scenario expertly drawn for quick reference.

Why are the ColRegs so hard to learn? 

They are complex and can take years to learn properly, so begin as soon as you can. Finding every opportunity for practice and revision can help. That’s why having the ColRegs Nav Lights and ColRegs Rules of the Road apps on your smartphone, tablet or other mobile device can be helpful. Particularly for the “dead time” you can spend sitting on a platform or commuter train, or in a doctor’s surgery; all opportunities when you could be revising the rules of the road at sea, and checking and testing your ColRegs knowledge on your app. Users of our ColRegs apps have often alluded to these reasons for liking the apps in their endorsements and feedback.

What are Yachtmaster examiners looking for? 

Your accuracy in interpreting and applying the Colregs are the examiners best indication of your knowledge and awareness of your responsibilities, and your ability to conduct safe passage when things get hot and you’re close to another vessel. So you need to do everything you can to improve your knowledge of the regulations, an show more than just a basic understanding of the rules. So, be focused on understanding the ColRegs and fully applying yourself to learning and applying them in your seamanship.

Learning and practice 

The Yachtmaster course is designed to formalise what you have experienced and combine it with what you have studied. That’s as true for practical boat handling as it is for navigation, so don’t wait until the week before your exam to brush up on the ColRegs, or to learn to use a compass and charts.

What is the mark of good Yachtmaster? 

Finally, it is worth remembering that what often separates a good skipper from a bad one is not just having the skill to overcome risk, but exercising the judgment to avoid risk altogether. This comes with experience as well as training, you simply never stop learning. So, if you pass the exam and become a ‘Master of Yachts’ or ‘Yachtmaster,’ remember the real learning has just begun. And remember to take your ColRegs Nav Lights and Rule of the Road at Sea apps with you, just in case you need to revise the

VHF DSC radio – how best to communicate at sea

There are many ways to communicate with others at sea. What makes the VHF DSC radio the best form of short range...

Steel hull maintenance

A steel boat owner’s biggest enemy is corrosion. You don’t have to worry about osmosis or rotting timbers, instead rust is the number one issue that will keep you awake at night.

Winch Servicing

It is not essential to service the winches when a boat is ashore, but if time allows I prefer to do this maintenance job when the boat...

Hull inspection – the annual checks

With the boat ashore for the winter it is time to do a hull inspection - the annual checks. Are there any scratches and chips in the...

Learn ColRegs: Traffic Separation Schemes

Learn ColRegs Rule 10: Traffic Separation Schemes. (c) A vessel shall, so far as practicable, avoid crossing traffic lanes...

Fire safety advice at sea from the Marine & Coastguard Agency

Fire safety advice for boaters Top fire safety advice at sea: 1. Fit smoke alarms, carbon monoxide and gas detectors 2. Turn...

Essential Knots: Figure of eight

Essential Knots: Figure of eight Use: Stopper knot, prevents a rope from being pulled through a hole e.g. through a block or...

How to tackle osmosis

Many owners of old GRP boats live in fear of osmosis, but what exactly is osmosis and what can be done about it? Osmosis comes about...

Avoiding personal dangers at sea

In order to stay safe at sea, we need to know the risks we are facing and to be aware of any personal dangers we could possibly encounter. Here are six of the most common potential dangers individual crew members should be aware of.

Passage Planning Advice & Safety for skippers

Passage planning helps you to: • Decide where to go • Calculate how long it will take to get there • Avoid bad weather •...

The Boatyard Book – a boat owner’s guide to yacht maintenance, repair and refitting

The Boatyard Book is a fully illustrated 224 page practical reference manual that provides advice for boat owners on planning and carrying out annual maintenance, repairs, upgrades and refits of sailing yachts and motorboats, up to 20 metres in length.

Cleaning & polishing gelcoat topsides

The gelcoat topsides of a GRP boat can be pampered and restored to their former glory relatively easily when it is ashore. Gelcoat is only a very thin outer layer of the hull, often less than 1mm thick, so you should avoid cleaning it with highly abrasive cleaners, or an-ything that could potentially damage its surface.

An explanation of the IALA maritime buoyage systems – IALA A and IALA B

What are the differences between the two IALA buoyage systems, IALA Region A and IALA Region B, and where are they used?   As recently as the 1970s...

Marine diesel exhaust checks

You should inspect the exhaust system for corrosion damage regularly, especially around the injection bend. If you have noticed the engine exhaust smoking a lot during the sailing season this can also indicate a number of potential problems.

Seasickness – how can you prevent it?

Seasickness is a common problem at sea and affects both seasoned sailors and novices. What are the causes and symptoms of seasickness?...

How to operate a winch

Winches are drum shaped mechanical devices used to handle halyards, sheets and control lines. One of the important crew...

Boat electrics

All boat owners should have a basic knowledge of electrics, both to avoid encountering electrical problems at sea and to stand a chance of solving them should they occur.

Always have an emergency grab bag to hand when at sea…

  Grab bag: In the event of having to abandon ship, it is recommended to have a designated waterproof bag to carry...

Feeling anxious at sea

  Some people feel anxious at sea. Will they be seasick? What if they get caught in a violent storm? Could the boat...

Essential Knots: Bowline

Essential Knots: Bowline Use: Making a secure eye or loop in the end of a rope. Bowlines have many uses on a boat, for example to make a...

Sail care and maintenance – Part 1

When thinking about the care, maintenance and repair of sails it helps to have some understanding of the properties of the ever growing range of modern sailcloth and the fibres they are made from, as opposed to the traditional canvas sails of the past.

Boat maintenance below decks

While most interior maintenance work can be done when a boat is afloat, some jobs such as servicing the seacocks have to be done ashore. It makes sense to do any major interior repairs and improvements with the boat hauled out in the boatyard.

Sector lights, directional lights, leading lights – how do they differ?

Sector lights, directional lights and leading lights guide vessels safely through hazardous waters or narrow channels at...

Safety Equipment Checklist for Boats

Safety Equipment Checklist for Boats   Liferaft line attached The liferaft will not work unless the trigger line is...

Safe Skipper – crew management tips

Effective crew briefings are a vital part of the good on-board communication that helps everything to run smoothly on a sailing vessel at sea, whether it is cruising or racing.