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

ColRegs Rule 14 – Head-on Situation

  ColRegs Rule 14: Head-on Situation (a) When two power-driven vessels are meeting on reciprocal or nearly reciprocal...

Boat gas system maintenance

There are correct types of hose for marine plumbing, sewerage, exhaust, cooling and gas and all hoses should be checked regularly for wear and deterioration.

Wooden Hulls – Part 2

It is important to ensure the essential hull maintenance of a wooden boat is done, even if you are paying others to look after your boat for you. The priority is to prevent rot from taking hold. The protective layers of paint and varnish over wood are far more critical than on GRP boats, where the topsides are painted more for cosmetic reasons.

Essential Boat Buying Tips for First-Time Boat Owners

The first question that comes to mind when thinking about buying a boat is: what type of boat? There are more than 20 different kinds, of different sizes, for different purposes, and different pockets. So, your first step is to decide your boat type.

Avoiding collisions at sea – how to stay safe on the water

Boats have many blind spots, including the headsails of sailing boats. Always keep a lookout, stay safe and remember that...

Engine failure at sea – keeping the boat safe

If the engine stops when you are underway, or your have to shut it down when a warning buzzer sounds, you also need to make sure the boat remains safe. It’s important therefore to recognise situations in which the boat would be immediately put in danger if the engine were to fail.

Safety Briefings – leave nothing to chance

Before giving your crew a safety briefing, it is worth considering the specific circumstances of the planned trip, the...

Boat Engine Safety Checks

  Boat Engine Safety Checks Every skipper needs to make regular essential boat engine safety checks. Below you will...

Stress cracks on GRP boats

It is quite common to find cracks in the gelcoat when inspecting the deck and superstructure of a GRP boat. It is important to differentiate between a gelcoat crack and a scratch.

Sailing to windward – how to take advantage of wind shifts

For most sailors, sailing upwind is the most exhilarating point of sail as you tack your way to your destination. Sailing to windward is a bit like zig-zagging your way up a mountain road through a series of hairpin bends – great fun but also calling for concentration and hard work.

Sailboat rig checks – Part 2

In part two of Sail boat rig checks we run through some useful rig maintenance tips and then finish with a brief look at what a professional rig check involves.

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.

What boating skills should you have before you buy a yacht?

Many people dream of owning a yacht and sailing off into the blue yonder. What boating skills should you have before you buy...

Rudders and steering systems – Part 1

Rudders and steering systems. A rudder is one of the most critical parts of a boat. Rudder failure is a common occurrence on neglected or overworked boats and a very unpleasant and potentially dangerous thing to happen when you are out at sea.

Jester Challenge 2022 – Sailing single handed from Plymouth UK to the Azores: Part 3 – Preparations

Jester Challenge – A modern experiment in old-fashioned self-reliance, self sufficiency, and personal responsibility. This is the third of a 10-part post where solo sailor, Bernie Branfield, shares his first hand account of his single-handed, 2022 Jester Challenge, from Plymouth, UK to the Azores, in his 26′ Invicta Mk2, Louisa.

Common medical emergencies at sea

A medical emergency aboard a boat at sea requires immediate attention to ensure the safety of the casualty and the crew in general. The skipper needs to know which crew members, if any, have had medical training or have a first aid qualification. All boats should carry first aid handbooks to help an untrained crew cope with a medical emergency.

Nautical paper charts – a reminder of the basics

The nautical chart is an indispensable tool for navigation. A chart is a graphic representation of an area of the sea which might also include coastlines, estuaries and islands. All cruising leisure boats should carry up-to-date paper charts.

Sailing at the touch of a button

Easier and more controlled sail handling can also be achieved by powering up a furling mast. I came across some interesting solutions at the Southampton Boat Show this week on the Selden Mast stand, where they were running demos of their E40i electric winch and SMF furling system.

Marine toilets – care and maintenance

There are a number of different types of marine toilet, or heads. They fall into one of three categories – manual, electric and vacuum, the most common being the manual, hand pumped type. These have double acting piston-pumps which both discharge the waste and flush the toilet with sea water.

Keeping boat records and doing checks

A boat’s records should provide information about maintenance schedules, when major work was done and when equipment was replaced or added to the boat. Without this information you are left guessing when things are likely to need replacing in the future and also what the costs are likely to be.

Keel maintenance and repair – Part 1

Keels are designed to act as underwater foils that generate lift as the boat moves through the water, counteracting the leeward force of the wind and enabling the boat to sail closer to the wind. Keel maintenance and repair is essential for the performance of your boat.

Jester Challenge 2022 – Sailing single handed from Plymouth UK to the Azores: Part 5 – Boat Management

Jester Challenge – A modern experiment in old-fashioned self-reliance, self sufficiency, and personal responsibility. This is the fifth of a 10-part post where solo sailor, Bernie Branfield, shares his first hand account of his single-handed, 2022 Jester Challenge, from Plymouth, UK to the Azores, in his 26′ Invicta Mk2, Louisa.

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...

Sail trimming for cruisers

Sail trimming tips for cruisers. Whether racing or cruising, a well tuned boat will sail faster and tend to heel less than a boat with badly adjusted sails.

How to trim a genoa sail

I recently had two new sails made by Sanders Sails, based in Lymington UK. The first to arrive was the new genoa and it took me a little while to get to know it and learn how to adjust it correctly. Here is an aide memoire for getting to know how to trim a genoa so that it will deliver the best performance.