Which Is the Best Online RYA Day Skipper Theory Course?

An online RYA Day Skipper theory course is considerably cheaper than a classroom course, however, they still cost a few hundred pounds so choosing which one is a decision you want to get right. After all, these are long courses (40-50 hours) and picking the right course could be the difference between enjoyment and understanding, or boredom and frustration.

Who Are The Providers

There are currently 4 major providers of the RYA day skipper theory course online.  These are:

These are the 4 providers we will compare.

How Are We Comparing Them

To make any kind of fair comparison, we first need to set some parameters. We will be looking at:

In any self-study course, the most important aspect will be the course content. How is the content delivered? Is it video, text, interactive? Is the course easy to follow and has diligence been paid to the grammar? You will need to be happy with the course content as you are going to be spending a lot of time reading/watching it.

We don’t have full access to every course so will be looking at the sample content available before purchase. This is likely to have been selected as the provider’s best or most impressive content.

Who wrote the course and who will be on the end of the phone when you need help? How often are they accessible and what is their response time? You are buying access to instructors, not just the course content. The quality of, and access to, the instructors will make a huge difference to your experience.

To complete an RYA Day Skipper Theory course you will need some physical materials to accompany the course. You can’t learn to use paper charts or plotting tools on a computer screen so the training centre will post you some physical materials. But what is the value of the tools you are receiving and how much does the postage cost?

How much does the course cost? We will include any openly advertised discounts on the providers own website.


Course Content

(as sampled in previews/free trials)

ProviderCourse ContentImages
(6 months access)
Link to free trial
It’s not a great start with the first sentence so poorly constructed and with numerous grammatical errors. In fact, this is a trend for the entire free trial. It also reads like a hard sales pitch, something I tend to be wary of.
The trial shows us a few snapshots of interactive elements but everything is cherry-picked and out of place with only a couple of examples of teaching. The teaching comes in the form of basic animations with a voiceover (think PowerPoint, not Pixar). Some of their animations and interactive elements are good, but some are lacking inaccuracy (for example, the distances to the AIS targets), features (you cannot adjust the range on the radar), and some are simply marked ‘under construction’ (so not in the course?). The depth of explanation is also hard to gauge out of context. Finally, it is hard to know if the voiceover is a human reading a script or computer-generated and I find this surprisingly frustrating to listen to.
Not a great start for Navathome.
Skippers Online
(12 months access)
Link to free trial
This is a complete lesson from the day skipper course on dead reckoning and estimated position and so should be easier to review than Navathomes compilation of elements. This lesson is presented as a basic animation with a voiceover (once again, think PowerPoint, not Pixar).
The voiceover is definitely not computer generated and much easier to listen to than Navatahome’s, but unfortunately, there is no other easy way to follow the lesson than by listening to the voiceover. Not great if you prefer to read the information rather than listen to it.
Overall, if you like the voiceover animation style, the lesson is easy to follow and well explained.
Sailing Course Online
(8 months access)
Link to free trial
(scroll down to where it says Free Trial and click ‘fill out this form’).
Sailing Course Online provides full access to their online Day Skipper theory course for 24 hours. This is great as it gives us a chance to see all their lessons in context and the progression from one lesson to the next.

First impressions are good, the platform is modern and the course appears to be laid out nicely. However, when digging into the course, there is a slight lack of direction. I found myself asking: Which module should I do next?
The lessons also feel like the bare minimum amount of information and so a good bit of background knowledge may be required. However, some of the chartwork lessons are backed up with a video which is a great help.

Finally, there is an out of date module titled ‘RYA training chart plotter’ which left me wondering why it was there. It is in fact almost 2 years out of date at the time of writing this so I am left wondering if the course hasn’t been updated since then.

It’s certainly a good alternative to Navathome and Skippers Online but definitely worth checking out the free trial first.
Ardent Training
(12 months access)
Link to free trial
At Ardent Training, we also offer full access to our entire day skipper online theory course with a 24 hours free trial. We want you to know exactly what you are paying for and we have nothing to hide. Access is instant and if 24 hours access isn’t enough, simply get in touch and we can arrange an extension.

Our course is provided in detailed text and diagrams so you can truly follow at your own pace, and also fully supported in video aboard our sailing yacht ‘Mipha’ in the Hebrides. The entire course is in two formats so you can choose what’s best for you. You can also switch at any time between the two as they are always kept in sync, so if you didn’t quite grasp something, switch and try it in a different format.

Further to this, we are continuously updating our courses to remove any sources of frustration or confusion. Every time a student gets in touch with a query, we make a note and see how we can improve our course to save any future struggles. Sailing is an evolving industry and our courses evolve with it.

Finally, through our full access free trial you can also try out all our interactive elements, quizzes, and module assessments, which are spread throughout the course. The ‘knowledge check’ quizzes are randomly generated, informal, automatically marked questions that allow you to monitor your own progress with no stress. The module assessments are designed specifically to prepare you for the RYA exam and reviewed by instructors so we can help keep you on track. You will be perfectly prepared by the time the RYA exam comes.

Instructor Support

ProviderStatsInstructor Support
NavathomeAvailability: 0900-1900, 7 days
Response Time: 30 mins
Method: email, phone
Instructor CV’s: no
Navathome’s instructors are available 0900-1900 (UK time), 7 days a week. Support is reached via a phone number or email address listed on their website. Their response times are fast (expect a response within 30 minutes) but their responses can be brief. Navathomes instructors are listed on their website and they appear to have a few, however, no introductions or CV’s are provided.
Skippers OnlineAvailability: 7 days
Response Time: not stated
Method: email, phone, video call
Instructor CV’s: Short intros
Skippers Online’s instructors are quoted as being available 7 days a week via email, telephone or video calls. The video call is a nice touch which wasn’t mentioned by Navathome, however, response times are quoted as “a few hours”.
The instructors do have short bios on the website and it’s nice to see who will be providing the instructor support but they appear to be retired from various other careers as opposed to dedicated sailing professionals.
Sailing Course OnlineAvailability: 5 days
Response Time: 24 hours
Method: email with potential to arrange a video call
Instructor CV’s: no
Sailing Course Online states that their office is staffed from 0900-1730 on weekdays only, this is disappointing compared to the support provided elsewhere. However, they do state that all queries will be answered within 24 hours so someone must be checking the emails at weekends too.
They also say that in the case of ‘very urgent’ queries you can call them on the phone. I wonder what is considered very urgent?
Finally, elsewhere on the website they mention that you can also arrange a skype or facetime call, but only after contacting them via email.
The instructors are not listed so we have no idea who will be providing the support.
Ardent TrainingAvailability: 0800-2000, 7 days
Response Time: 4 minutes
Method: built-in IM, email, phone, SMS, WhatsApp, video call, any way you like.
Instructor CV’s: Complete
At Ardent Training, we know the importance of quick and casual interactions with your instructors. In a classroom, you wouldn’t think twice about quickly asking for clarification from an instructor or raising a discussion with the class. On our platform, you can reach your instructors between 0800 and 2000, no matter the question, without even pausing the lesson. We also want you to know who you are talking to, that’s why we have published extensive profiles for each of our instructors on our website. Get to know who we are, where we like sailing, and what our experience is. We can be reached via our built-in instant messenger, email, phone, video call, WhatsApp, facetime, or however you like! Our response time is usually 3-4 minutes (though we are sometimes even quicker than this). We also offer a discussion feature and community area enabling students to interact with each other should they wish. We are doing everything we can to bring the benefits of the classroom into our online platform.

Student Pack (included in base price)

ProviderContentsDescriptionEstimated Value Of Pack (RRP)
NavathomeRYA required course materials
Plotter and dividers
Navathome only provides one extra with their RYA materials and it comes in the form of a cheap set of plotter and dividers. Adequate for the course but not really suitable for use at sea. Also, their international postage is not included and varies depending on your location.£59.27
UK postage: Free
International: Not declared
Skippers OnlineRYA required course materials
Skippers Online provide the bare minimum with their course, only that which is required by the RYA. You will need to invest in a plotter and dividers before being able to complete the course which they offer at £28 for a professional quality set.  International postage is not included but at least they are upfront about the cost.£44.27
UK postage: Free
International: £20
Sailing Course OnlineRYA required course materials
Plotter and dividers
Sailing Course Online provides a good set of plotter and dividers. Something in between Navathomes budget option and the professional Blundell Harling set used by professionals. They also provide a small promotional bag to keep your equipment in and free postage.£73.79
UK postage: Free
International: Free
Ardent Training RYA required course materials
Professional quality portland plotter and dividers
2B mechanical chartwork pencil
2x lengths of rope
Proformas and ‘handy hints bookmark’.
We want to set you up for success. That is why we provide the professional industry-standard set of plotter and dividers at no extra cost, alongside a dedicated chartwork pencil which will help keep your charts in good condition. Part of the day skipper course also includes ropework so we have included two lengths of rope, of differing construction, to aid in your knot practice. In addition, we have also added some handy printouts which can be used with the course, and out on the water. And finally, there’s a bag to keep all your equipment in and we will deliver it all anywhere in the world free of charge.
We hate hidden costs!
UK postage: Free
International: Free


ProviderAccessSupportStudent Pack ValuePrice
(including current discounts)
Navathome6 monthsHours: 0900-1900
Days/week: 7
Response Time: 30 mins
£59.27£245.00UK postage: Free
International: Not declared
Skippers Online12 monthsHours: Not sated
Days/week: 7
Response Time: A few hours
£44.27£245.00UK postage: Free
International: £20
Sailing Course Online8 monthsHours: not stated
Days/week: 5
Response Time: 24 hours
£73.79£229.99UK postage: Free
International: Free
Ardent Training12 monthsHours: 0800-2000
Days/week: 7
Response Time: 3-4 minutes
£81.13£295.00UK postage: Free
International: Free


Everyone will have different priorities when choosing which online RYA Day Skipper theory course to take. This might be price, instructor support, or style of explanations. It’s impossible to crown one course ‘the best online day skipper course’, however, it’s worth thinking about your priorities and which provider will support your learning the most.

To get the best insight on the providers available we’d recommend taking a few free trials to see which course best suits your needs. We do, of course, hope you will consider Ardent Training but we know that everybody learns differently, and so ultimately we hope our guide here helps you find the provider that will work best for you.

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