If you wish to work on board a small commercial vessel, operating under the MCA codes of practice, you will need to obtain the Advanced Powerboat Certificate of Competence and get this commercially endorsed. This will then enable you to skipper commercial power-driven vessels up to 24m in length, operating in category 3, 4, 5 and 6 waters – that is up to 20 miles from a safe haven.


The Certificate of Competence can only be obtained by undertaking a separate exam with an independent RYA/MCA examiner. Depending on the experience of the candidate, this may or may not be preceded by the 2-day Advanced Powerboat course. The exam will thoroughly test the candidate’s background knowledge, boat handling skills and ability to skipper passages by both day and night.

There are a number of pre-requisites (see below) that must be met before a candidate presents themselves for examination. In order to be successful, significant personal powerboating experience is required, as is thorough preparation. We offer an optional half-day pre-exam preparation, which allows candidates to familiarise themselves with the training vessel and operating area, as well as brush up on some key skills.

*For holders of the Advanced Powerboat course completion certificate this is reduced to 20 days, 2 days as skipper, 400 miles, 12 night hours

1 candidate: 4 – 5 hours

2 candidates: 5 – 6 hours

3 candidates: 6 – 7 hours

Please note, start and finish times will vary depending on the number of candidates and time of year. The requirement to conduct a night pilotage exercise may necessitate a late finish.

The course will run from Cromarty Harbour, on the Black Isle (approx. 40mins drive from Inverness).

  • Use of XS 6.5m RIB training vessel, with 150hp engine
  • Use of 150N auto-inflate lifejacket
  • Use of charts, nautical publications, plotting instruments etc. for passage planning
  • A comfortable shore base for theory sessions
  • Tea, coffee & biscuits
  • Waterproof jacket and trousers
  • Warm layers (bring spares, as you may get wet)
  • Lightweight, quick-drying trousers (no jeans please)
  • Wellington boots and warm socks
  • Warm hat and gloves
  • Sunscreen and sunglasses
  • Headtorch
  • Any medication required
  • Food/snacks (the exam will be conducted in the afternoon/evening and may finish late)
  • Evidence of your experience/relevant certificates
  • Necessary documents for commercial endorsement (if applicable)

Detailed information on what to bring, including relevant paperwork, will be provided in the joining instructions. 

  • Preparation for sea
  • Boat handling
  • Awareness of the effects of wind and tide when manoeuvring
  • Responsibilities of skipper
  • Passage making and pilotage
  • Meteorology
  • Rules of the road
  • Safety

More detailed information regarding the content of the exam is available in the RYA Powerboat Scheme Syllabus and Logbook

The exam will consist of the three parts:

  1. Classroom assessment, including passage planning for night exercise
  2. Boat handling in daylight
  3. Night boat handling and navigation exercise

The classroom assessment consists of an oral and written test on chart work, tides, weather, passage planning, the collision regulations and safety.

The daylight practical elements of the exam will include boat handling manoeuvres, pilotage, man overboard and general seamanship. The night time element will test the ability to execute a night pilotage plan and successfully find lit and unlit marks.

If you don’t already have a copy of it, we would recommend the following book to assist in your preparation:

RYA Advanced Powerboat Handbook

In addition, the following books will be very beneficial and if you’ve attended the Coastal Skipper/Yachtmaster theory course, you will probably have some of these already:

RYA Navigation Handbook

RYA International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea

RYA Weather Handbook

RYA Advanced Powerboat Exam Fee 2020 (payable to the RYA): £193pp

Charter of training centre vessel for exam (inc. fuel):

1 candidate: £200pp | 2 candidates: £120pp | 3 candidates: £80pp

Optional ½ day of pre-exam preparation/boat familiarisation/bespoke tuition: £100pp

Exams are run on demand. We will organise an RYA/MCA examiner on behalf of the candidate(s) and facilitate all elements of the exam.

Due to the requirement for night pilotage and the length of daylight during the summer months in the North of Scotland, exams are only run from September – April.

Please contact us to discuss your requirements.

On completion of the exam, candidates will be thoroughly de-briefed by the examiner.

If they have been successful, the examiner will record this as a pass and submit the relevant paperwork to the RYA (along with a commercial endorsement application if applicable). The Certificate of Competence will then be forwarded to the candidate by the RYA. This qualifies the holder to skipper commercial power-driven vessels up to 24m in length, operating in category 3, 4, 5 and 6 waters – that is up to 20 miles from a safe haven.

If the examiner identifies a small area of weakness in the candidate’s skills, they may offer a partial re-sit, at a mutually agreeable time. If the candidate has weaknesses in a number of significant areas, they will need to re-sit a full exam, with a different examiner.

On successfully passing the RYA/MCA Advanced Powerboat exam and receiving your commercially endorsed Certificate of Competence, you can now begin to work on commercial power-driven vessels.

It’s important to consolidate what you have learnt and put the skills into practice. Continued professional development is an important part of being a commercial skipper and you should record the experience you accumulate in readiness for a commercial endorsement re-validation (due every five years).

Please contact us to book and pay.

Please note, the separate RYA exam fee (£193 in 2020) is payable to the RYA on the day of the exam.

A 20% deposit is required to secure a place and the full balance of payment will be required no later than 4 weeks prior to the commencement of the course. On receipt of full payment, we will provide you with joining instructions.