The RYA Training Almanac

RYA Training Almanac

Screen Shot 2016-01-03 at 17.13.21To finish this module we will look at the RYA training Almanac (Fig 2.67). This Training Almanac, like the training chart , its fictitious and in no way should be used for Navigation. This training Almanac has most of the contents that you would find in the real thing. They compliment the training charts perfectly.

Screen Shot 2016-01-03 at 17.13.30This section is not a full synopsis of what is in the Almanac but covers some of its major features. The training almanac has a copy of RYA Training Chart 3 on the inside of the front cover that may be useful as a quick reference and to find the main harbours. Please notice that the sections in the almanac are colour coded (Fig 2.68). All these features will help you locate what you are looking for a little quicker without too much fuss.


International port traffic signals

Screen Shot 2016-01-03 at 17.13.45The International Port Traffic Signals function in harbours where there is lots of traffic and a system needs to be put in place to manage this traffic effectively (Fig 2.69). These signals work somewhat like traffic lights do on the road. The thing to remember that whenever you come across these signals in the real world, you know you can open the almanac and the information should be available to you.

If you see three vertical disposed lights, whether they are flashing or not, you must not proceed.

If you see three vertical green lights or 2 greens over a white it means that you may proceed.

3 greens means one way traffic and boats coming the other way would have 3 reds.

2 greens over 1 white mean two-way traffic and therefore you must keep to the starboard of the channel on your approach, unless the approach notes in the almanac say otherwise.

If you see two greens and a white between them, permission must be granted from the port authority before you proceed into the harbour.

A yellow added to the left of 3 vertical reds, or to the left of 2 greens with a white between them, means that small craft may proceed so long as they stay outside the main channel.

As you can see there is a lot of information contained graphically on the page, and if planning a passage you must determine if you will encounter port traffic signals and plan accordingly.

Distress and life saving signals

Screen Shot 2016-01-03 at 17.13.57Pages 4&5 give a brief reminder of distress and life saving signals (Fig 2.70 & Fig 271), We will cover these distress signals in greater detail in future module. All vessels are required under international maritime law (SOLAS) to carry this information on their vessel.


Screen Shot 2016-01-03 at 17.14.15Pages 6&7 provides a selection of abbreviations for the RYA training Almanac and charts (Fig 2.72 & Fig 2.73). A fuller set of abbreviations can be found in Admiralty Chart 5011.

Light characteristics

Screen Shot 2016-01-03 at 17.14.30Page 8 provides a summery of light characteristics (Fig 2.74). We will be looking at lights in more detail in the next module but provides excellent reference material.

Admiralty symbols

Screen Shot 2016-01-03 at 17.14.39Page 9 provides a selection of admiralty symbols (FIg 2.75). Again it is advised that you consult Admiralty chart 5011 for a full list of symbols, charted objects and abbreviations used on admiralty charts. Every boat should carry a copy of chart 5011 as it is deemed essential to navigation.

Distance travelled for speed and time table

Screen Shot 2016-01-03 at 17.14.51Pages 10 &11 provide a table that gives the distance travelled in a given time and speed (Fig 2.76 & Fig 2.77). There are particularly good for the non arithmetically minded among us are ideal for working out distance travelled when speed isn’t just a whole number. For example 5.7 knots for 26 mins can be interpolated between the columns for 5.5 and 6.0 knots to get 2.5 miles travelled.

Deviation card and distance off table

Screen Shot 2016-01-03 at 17.15.09If you turn to the back cover on page 97 you will find the deviation card for the boat used on RYA courses and the rising and dipping distance table to establish distance off from a light with a known height (Fig 2.78). The latter is used on the coastal skipper/ yacht-master offshore theory course. At day skipper level we discuss deviation: what it is and how it is corrected for. Deviation is considered in detail at coastal skipper /yacht-master level.


Reference page

Screen Shot 2016-01-03 at 17.15.24Page 12 is the guide to the atlas which describes a 13 hour tidal cycle from 6 hours before high water (written as HW+6) through high water (HW) to 5 hours after high water (Written as HW+6). Below the guide is the tidal levels table. This table includes data for more ports than is shown on RYA training charts 3 & 4 together (Fig 2.79)

The tidal stream atlas covers the areas used by RYA Training Charts 3 & 4. Tidal stream charts like these are included in the Reed Macmillan Nautical Almanac and other Almanacs. There is one chart for each hour of tide before or after highwater HW Victoria. These charts show the tidal stream SET and RATE as do the tidal diamonds we discussed earlier in the module. The geographical presentation makes it easier to visualise what might be happening between the locations of tidal diamonds.

Please note that each page of the tidal stream atlas represents an hour of tide with reference to the time of high water at Victoria. Victoria is situated on the north west coast of the northern territory and designated as the primary standard port on which all tidal stream information in the area of the charts is based. We will be looking in detail at the use of both these sources of tidal streams information in module 6.

Hours of tide

The tidal stream chart on the left (Fig 2.80) indicates the set and rate of tidal stream with reference to HW-6 hours Victoria. At glance, we can tell that the tide is ebbing(going out) in the direction of the arrows, this is known as the tidal set. The numbers associated with the arrow provide information on the speed of travel of the tidal stream, these are known as the tidal rates and measured in knots.

The middle chart (Fig 2.81), HW Victoria, shows to us that at HW Victoria the tide has turned and is flooding in the direction of the arrow.

The last chart (Fig 2.82) shows us that the tide is again ebbing out and has completed a full 12 hour semi diurnal tidal cycle.

The tidal stream chartlets make it a  relatively simple process to get an idea and quickly estimate what is happening with tidal stream set and rate at any state of the tide.


The larger of the two numbers beside each tidal arrow describes spring tide rates and the smaller number is neap tide rates.

Tidal Stream Atlases like Tidal Diamonds are all referenced to a major port, in this case Victoria.

Even though it might be highwater and slack tide at Victoria, there can still be a considerable rate of tide at other places.

Computation of rates

Screen Shot 2016-01-03 at 17.16.16The last page in the tidal stream atlas (page 26 of the RYA Training Almanac) contains the computation of rates pro forma (Fig 2.83) This is used on the coastal skipper yachtmaster offshore theory course for interpolation of tidal rates and is not used at day skipper level. A computation of rates graph is usually included in the Reed Macmillan nautical almanac.


Is split into geographical sections:

  • Northern Territories Abbreviated NT
  • Southern Peninsula Abbreviated SP
  • Neptune Islands.

Screen Shot 2016-01-03 at 17.16.24On page 27 is information about northern territories coastguard services (NTCGS) and southern peninsula Coastguard organization (SPCGO) also provides information about weather bulletins by the coastguard (Fig 2.84).

Northern territories

The remainder of the alamanac is split into geographical sections the first being Northern Territories (NT) the pages on the left for northern territories are on pages 28-29 of the RYA training almanac (Fig 2.85)

Each section starts with a chart of the geographical area covered by the section and goes on to provide passage information (Fig 2.86). This information is also found in the Reed Macmillan almanac and contains general information about passage making in the areas, sailing directions, things that a prudent navigator will want to taken into consideration, coastal light and fog signals.

The first column shows the name of the light the second is what they look like in day light, and the third shows their light characteristic. We will be looking at light characteristics in the next module (Fig 2.87).

This section goes on to provide port information for the area. These are split into standard ports where the tide tables, tidal curves and additional  information is provided. The smaller secondary ports where only abridged information is available. We will look at these different types of ports in detail in module 5

Southern peninsula

Screen Shot 2016-01-03 at 17.17.08The start page for information on the southern peninsula is on page 67 of the RYA training almanac (Fig 2.88).

Neptune islands

Screen Shot 2016-01-03 at 17.17.18The start page for information on the  Neptune Island is on page 94 of the RYA training almanac (Fig 2.89).

Standard ports textual information 

The textual information for Victoria is shown on page 32 of the RYA training almanac. Textual information usually include notes about:

  • shelter
  • navigation pilotage
  • tidal stream and heights
  • lights and marks
  • contact by telephone and or radio,
  • facilities
  • other local specialist information such as bylaws/ naval activities


Screen Shot 2016-01-03 at 17.17.30The chartlets are worth comparing to the large scale charts on RYA training chart 4. Sometimes local harbour chartlets include extra information which could be overlooked. Similarly secondary ports chartlets can be at a larger scale than RYA training chart 4 Suzy Bay Marina on page 44 is an example of this (Fig 2.90).

Tide tables

Screen Shot 2016-01-03 at 17.17.47The tidal tables for Victoria are shown on page 33 to 35 of the training almanac (Fig 2.91 & Fig 2.92). These show the times and heights of HW and LW for every day of the year. For northern territories standard ports, times are shown in universal time which you may know better as Greenwich mean time (GMT). In the shaded area the times can be used directly but in the non shaded areas 1 hour must be added to the times for Daylight Saving Time DST in the UK we know DST as British Summer Time. In  exercises and assessments the RYA may refer to NT or NTDST which mean the time in question is for the northern territories UT or Northern territories Daylight Saving time (BS)T respectively.

NT = UT = GMT = British Winter Time

NTDST = GMT + 1hr = British Summer Time

For standard ports of the southern peninsula, times are shown on the tide tables -0100. This time zone means that to get UT you have to subtract one hour form the time shown on the time table. UT is is the same as French ports where as we know the time in France is one hour ahead of the time in the UK. In the shaded areas, so long as we remember that the times are one hour ahead of this in the northern territories, the times can be used directly but in the shaded areas 1 hour must be added to the times for daylight saving time. Don’t worry too much about this detail right now, we will be dealing with this later in the course. In exercises and assessments the RYA refer to SP or SPDST which means the time in question is for southern peninsula (-100, just like FrenchStandard Time) or souther peninsula day light saving time (-0100 DST, just like French Summer Time respectively.

Tidal curve

Screen Shot 2016-01-03 at 17.18.09The tidal curve for Victoria is shown on page 36 of the RYA training almanac (Fig 2.93). This shows graphically how the tide ebbs and flows and provides a ready reckoner for working out the height of tides at a particular time and vice versa. There will be much more on this subject in module 5

Secondary ports

Screen Shot 2016-01-03 at 17.18.21The textual information for Bramhope Creek is shown on page 37 of the RYA training almanac. Textual information is usually less detailed than for the pilotage, tidal streams and heights, lights and marks, contact by telephone and or radio facilities (Fig 2.94)