At Southern Cross Yachting we offer a variety of sailing theory courses that can be completed at home in your own pace, or in a classroom at our sailing training centre with those also aiming to gain similar qualifications. Some of our theory courses can be completed either online or in person, while others are delivered in person only. If you are interested in embarking on a bareboat charter holiday or considering buying your own boat, a sailing theory course from Southern Cross Yachting is the best first step you can take in ensuring your safety and enjoyment when out on the water.

We are passionate about sharing our knowledge and experience with the sailing and boating community, which is why we offer a wide range of sailing theory courses ranging from beginner to expert. Whether you’re looking to learn the basics of sailing, or gain your qualifications to skipper large yachts in open water, we have a course that suits your needs.

Continue reading to browse our full range of courses, or feel free to contact us if you have questions about any of our courses.

RYA Essential Navigation and Seamanship Course (online)

The Essential Navigation and Seamanship sailing theory course is aimed at anyone new to sailing, motor boating, sea fishing, sea kayaking and diving as well as experienced dinghy and keelboat sailors and inshore racers. This is an introduction to the basic skills required before taking a small boat to sea or taking an active part in running a boat.

You will spend approximately 16 hours learning about:

  • Charts and publications
  • Safety
  • Engine checks
  • Buoyage
  • Tidal awareness
  • Visual and electronic navigation
  • Pilotage
  • Rules of the road
  • Anchoring
  • Weather forecasts
  • Passage planning

This course is the perfect stepping stone to the more in-depth Day Skipper shorebased course or to courses on the water such as the Start Yachting, Competent Crew and Day Skipper courses.  The sailing theory course pack includes course handbook, CD, RYA Bretton plotter, dividers and training charts.

RYA Day Skipper Theory (online and classroom)

This course introduces the aspiring skipper to the wide range of sailing theory needed to take a cruising yacht to sea. Through the online modules you will work through a student pack which includes course notes, exercises, practice charts and almanac. Alternatively, 40 hours classroom time, or similar time self-guided through online resources, you will be taught the basics of coastal navigation and pilotage covering chart work, position fixing, plotting a course to steer, weather forecasting, tides and the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea.  Also covered is the construction, parts and equipment of a yacht, emergency and safety equipment and procedures (such as distress calls, use of flares, safety harnesses, and life jackets)

This course gives students sufficient knowledge to undertake the RYA Day Skipper practical course and assessment.

You will be awarded the RYA Day Skipper Shorebased certificate on completion of your course.  Some practical experience is desirable but not essential.

RYA Coastal Skipper Theory & Yachtmaster Offshore Theory (online and classroom)

The Coastal Skipper/Yachtmaster theory is an advanced sailing theory course for those that have completed the RYA Day Skipper shore based or similar (some practical experience is necessary before undertaking this course) and wish to skipper a yacht on longer coastal passages or for students working towards the RYA Yachtmaster qualification.  Anyone who cruises in open waters or races offshore owes it to their crew to have the knowledge this training covers.

Approximately 40 hours of this intensive online course covers advanced coastal navigation techniques including:

  • Position fixing
  • Course shaping and plotting
  • Tidal knowledge and use of charts and other navigational publications
  • The correct and safe use of the GPS
  • The meteorology tuition includes the taking and interpretation of forecasts, plotting of weather systems and weather prediction using barometers and by observation.

Students are shown how to use this information when planning and executing passage plans.  Other subjects covered in detail include – safety, yacht construction and maintenance and the collision regulations.

VHF/Marine Radio

The RYA Radar course was developed to help small boat operators, both power and sail, to get better use of their radar.

Through the use of a simulator, students will gain confidence in setting up the radar unit, optimising its display and understanding the image for the purpose of collision avoidance and navigation.

Diesel Engine Course

Mechanical failure is the main cause of rescue boat callouts to yachts. The day includes basic maintenance and engine care, which will prevent most cases of engine failure.

The aim of these sailing theory courses is to give you an awareness of the main systems of a marine diesel engine and the ability to take simple measures to prevent mechanical breakdown at sea and rectify defects which do not require workshop support

Radar Course

Our RYA Radar sailing theory courses were developed to help small boat operators, both power and sail, to get better use of their radar.

Through the use of a simulator, students will gain confidence in setting up the radar unit, optimising its display and understanding the image for the purpose of collision avoidance and navigation.

Ocean Yachtmaster Theory Course

The RYA Ocean Yachtmaster sailing theory course is for those who have a passion for sailing and navigation. It is a wonderful course that will keep you occupied for hours on end.

It is not just about finding position from stars and planets, it covers weather, passage planning, watch keeping and much more.

The Ocean Yachtmaster theory course requires Coastal / Yachtmaster theory course level theory.

Even with lots of sailing experience it would be difficult to complete this course without any formal theory training. Apart from a thorough knowledge of position fixing and plotting, the course requires a good understanding of latitude and longitude.

These sailing theory courses cover the traditional methods of ocean navigation and helps you to develop skills that you will enjoy throughout your sailing.

Due the widespread use of GPS for navigation at sea these days, more and more sailors are heading out to cross the world’s oceans. Even the most reliable systems require a back up and I don’t mean only a spare GPS unit.

A knowledge of astro navigation is an essential skill for those heading off to cross oceans. The RYA Yachtmaster Ocean theory course will teach you the mysteries of celestial navigation, global weather, vessel preparation and communications for ‘blue water’ voyaging. This course is a prerequisite for the Yachtmaster Ocean exam and participants require a thorough understanding of the RYA Yachtmaster Offshore shore based course before beginning the Ocean course.

The course covers the following subjects:

  • The earth and the Celestial Sphere
  • The PZX triangle
  • Use of the Sextant
  • Measurement of Time
  • Meridian altitudes
  • Taking Sun and star sights
  • Checking the Compass
  • GPS Systems
  • World Meteorology
  • Passage and route planning
  • Navigation when passage making
  • Vessel preparation
  • Communications at sea

Sea Survival

Trained crew have a greater chance of survival in emergency situations than untrained crew, making this one of the most important sailing theory courses for ocean racers and bluewater cruisers alike.  The course was developed by Australian Sailing to provide survival training for offshore sailors and is mandatory for 50% of a yacht’s crew in Category 1 Offshore Races and recommended for Category 2.

Through case studies and classroom discussions, students gain skills and knowledge to:  understand and manage risks; understand the responsibilities of owners, skippers and crew; and ultimately maximise the chances of survival during incidents and emergencies at sea. The course covers equipment, procedures and survival techniques; and students gain confidence in hands-on drills with distress flares and life raft safety equipment, reducing the uncertainty from emergency situations.

What will I learn?

  • Safety planning and my duty of care
  • Emergency planning
  • Use and maintenance of personal safety equipment
  • Yacht safety and survival equipment
  • Practical use of life rafts and flares
  • How to survive in the water when overboard
  • Global search and rescue structures
  • How to use emergency communication equipment
  • Helicopter rescue drills

The theory session in the morning is followed by the wet drills in the afternoon.

  • Methods of being rescued
  • Severe weather avoidance and meteorology
  • Heavy weather seamanship
  • Use of storm equipment
  • Damage control
  • Firefighting at sea
  • Crew overboard drills
  • Dealing with marine medical emergencies.
  • Multihull survival strategies

Day one includes classroom theory followed by wet drills (swimming pool) in the afternoon. Day two includes classroom theory followed by practical flare.

The certificate is valid for 5 years and is recognised by World Sailing.

Trusted Sailing Theory Courses

Southern Cross Yachting is your trusted name in sailing theory courses. We take great pride in seeing your skills and confidence grow as your progress through your courses, and we can’t wait to see you at one of our classes either online or in person.

If you’re still unsure about which of our RYA courses are right for you, or have any other questions at all, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our friendly team who are happy to help. Feel free to fill out our online contact form, or call our sailing centre on 07 3396 4100.

An incredible adventure! The experienced owners Carly & Jamie of SCY were fantastic in booking & organising, the instructor was incredibly knowledgeable & professional, and the boat was amazing. Can’t rate Southern Cross Yachting highly enough- I’m already planning my next lesson
Jemma - July 2023 
Jemma - July 2023

Massive thank you to Jamie and all the staff and other instructors at Southern Cross Yachting! 10/10 experience from booking to sailing to instruction to food whilst onboard.
Absolutely one of the best things I’ve ever done and now I’m addicted to sailing!


A great place to learn all things about sailing, experienced Captains who are only to happy to answer any and all questions, a great experience,

Michael MacCormack 2021
Michael MacCormack

Well organized with a wonderful team and instructors. Completed my Comp Crew and looking forward to doing the Day skipper next.

N Dashti 2020
N Dashti

We were lucky enough to spend a day with Jamie on Moreton bay and can’t speak highly enough about it. Three of us with varied previous experience of sailing joined with a father and son to share in a day of learning the ropes. The day was tailored to our varied needs and at all times we were able to ask questions and glean experience from Jamie’s wealth of knowledge. We would highly recommend signing up for a course if you’re interested in getting back on the water after a hiatus. Thanks so much guys! It was a priceless day!

Maria Bukala 2021
Maria Bukala
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