We provide both practical and oral preparation courses for the BML examinations. Training can be tailored for individuals, small groups or companies and there are several training options available. 

For companies with a number of employees to qualify as Boatmasters we are able to design a package to suit their needs. In addition to the generic syllabus for the underpinning knowledge, we can provide training for some Endorsements.

Training takes place at both our Plymouth Training Centre. We can also arrange a bespoke course in a training room at your company’s location if required, please ask for details.


Boatmaster Prep – 5 Days

Plymouth Price: £995 inc VAT

For seasoned seafarers who already have an RYA/MCA Certificate of Competence or have been working on an exemption but are maybe a little rusty or dated by the syllabus, we offer a 5 day pre-oral exam prep course to assist in filling knowledge gaps between small craft commercial certificates and those required by the Boatmaster syllabus. The course can be combined with our Master 200 prep weeks. 

In order to book this course, please refer to the Master 200 preparation dates, and contact the office to book so that we are aware you require the Boatmaster preparation course and can advise the instructor in advance also there are different training materials we provide for Boatmasters.

Boatmaster Prep – 10 Days (2x separate weeks)

London Price: £POA

Preparing for an MCA Oral exam is a daunting experience, especially as quite often it is difficult to know how much you need to learn and to what level. We run preparation courses in two parts; an intro or refresher course to start with, followed by a heavier duty oral prep. You can do one or both courses leading to your orals and we are happy to chat through the best option. We run two courses as we found that many people were arriving on a Final Oral preparation course somewhat underprepared and therefore did not get the full benefit from the training as they were forever playing catch-up.

Oral prep part 1. Refresher, intro or possible BML T2 L1
This course is ideal for those that have been working towards their qualification, but are either: a little rusty, unsure what their knowledge is or wanting to ensure they have got a good solid foundation for Part 2. It can also be used as a primer for BML T2L1 exams. 

Outline syllabus for Part 1: Weather, buoyage, chartwork and tides, stability intro, health and safety intro, safety management systems, vessel paperwork and class vessel intro, COLREGS (working knowledge), handling emergencies, compass work, mooring and unmooring, general publications

Oral prep Part 2. Final prep Master 200/OOW500, BML T1 L2 and OOW3000
This course is aimed at a final preparation for higher level Boatmaster and Oral preparations. Completing Part 1 is not a pre-requisite to attendance, but with experience we have found that many people would benefit from a refresher in many subjects before being put on the Part 2 higher level prep course. 

Outline syllabus for Part 2: Stability, business and law, codes and health/safety, permits to work, records and record-keeping, emergency action, COLREGS (in depth), chartwork and compass, tides and tidal calculations / clearances, squat and interaction, radar, vessel documentation, in-depth SMS systems, corrections, nautical publications, pollution prevention and MARPOL

What’s included?

  • Experienced instructors, each with considerable experience teaching preparations for MCA Master Orals and Boatmaster Licence T1 L2 and T2 licences, in an approachable and practical way
  • Two unique illustrated folders, which have been written and compiled especially for these levels

In order to book these courses please refer to the London based Part 1 and Part 2 courses in the list below.

Plymouth Dates


Course Date Duration Price

Online Boatmaster Mock Oral or Prep (2 or 4hr sessions)

This is a highly effective way to cram particular subjects or general subject areas. We us Skype or Zoom, so you will need an internet connection. The system we use is fully interactive and previous students have given very positive feedback. 

The system is fully tailored to subject areas that you would like to work on or we cover a mock oral examination. As the training is tailored to your exact needs, a lot of ground can be covered quite quickly, or we can spend more time on particular subject areas that you require.

2 Hours: £80
4 Hours: £155
8 x 2 Hour Sessions: £550


Practical Preparation – £450pd

We offer a day or more afloat to fine tune boat handling practises and safety procedures. Prices depend on the vessel but start at £450pd 

SQA Level 2 Diploma in Maritime Studies: Rivers, Inland Waterways and Limited Distances to Sea – £11,000

The MSQ units below lead to the Scottish Qualification Authority Level 2 Diploma in Maritime Studies: Rivers, Inland Waterways and Limited Distances to Sea; this is included in the new Boatmaster Apprenticeship along with lots of other mandatory qualifications. Please click to view details of our apprenticeships.

If you would like to study the Diploma outside of the apprenticeship, please contact us for dates and availability.

STCW Fire Fighting STCW Survival STCW First Aid 
Mooring and unmooring  Rope work and safe access Emergency procedures 
Safe working  Manoeuvring  Emergency manoeuvres
Maintenance  Anchoring Bridge watch keeping
Meteorology  Navigation  Ship knowledge & construction
Radar Engineering (MCA AEC)   


Under the updated BML qualification published in early 2015 there are now 4 levels of Boatmaster.

Tier 1 Level 2
National License valid for operating a vessel anywhere on the UK’s inland waterways (Category A-D) and limited coastal areas, except where local knowledge requirements apply. 
Qualifying Service Time: min 24 months 

Tier 1 Level 1
National Licence valid for operating a vessel anywhere on the UK’s non-tidal water (Category A, B and non-linked C), except where local knowledge requirements apply. 
Qualifying Service Time: min 12 months

Tier 2 Level 2 
Restricted license valid for specific areas of category A to D waters and a limited coastal area. This license is not available for the Thames below Teddington.
Qualifying Service Time:
40 days in min 6 months 

Tier 2 Level 1 
Restricted licence valid for all Category A canals and (i) specified areas of Category A and/or B waters; or (ii) specifies areas of non-links category C waters. 
Qualifying Service Time: 40 days in min 6 months 

All masters operating commercially in UK waters are requires to be suitably qualified. Vessels operating on ‘Inland’ waters or as defined by the MCA as categorised and limited coastal areas must have masters qualified under the BML Regulations or equivalent.

The BML Regulations apply to masters operating on Category A-D waters and limited coastal areas. Limited Coastal Area is defined as “no more than 5 miles from land and 15 miles from a point of departure”.

Information on categorised waters can be found in Msn 1837 ‘Categorisation of Waters’.

Commercial vessels under 24 metres and carrying less than 12 passengers operating in categorised waters, under the Small Commercial Vessel Code can be operated by masters holding appropriate certificates under that code. 

To qualify for a BML you need the following:

  • an application form MSF 4364
  • First Aid, Survival and Fire Fighting certifiction
  • a medical certificate ML5 or ENG1
  • a completed Task Record Book MSF 4367
  • work record or evidence of time served MSF 4366
  • meet minimum age requirements

Once you application has been assessed by the MCA, your local Marine Offie will contact you to set a date for:

-an oral assessment on underpinning knowledge unless you have evidence of completing of the MSQ units
-a practical boat handling assessment 

There is a published syllabus of underpinning knowledge, the Maritime Skills Alliance have worked with the MCA to produce MSQ units covering the syllabus. The underpinning knowledge syllabus is tested by the MCA during an oral examination or it may be assessed by completing the MSQ units. 

We hope that you can find the information you require on these pages, if you have any further questions, or require advice, please call us.