I have an RYA Day Skipper qualification! Well how did that happen?!
I've spent this week on Happy Hobo sailing up and down the Solent learning what it's like to be responsible for a 37ft boat and its crew. Bloody terrifying at times!
I think my biggest trepidation for the week was parking the boat, taking in to account wind and tide etc. Boats are generally sturdy things, after all they are built to go to sea, and Hobo was certainly a robustly designed cruising boat, however, ram it in to a pontoon at speed and it bruises like a peach. My blood pressure suffered slightly but I did manage two successful manoeuvres in and out of marinas under power.
Next came navigation, again I'd never done it for real (only exercises for my theory course) but it all worked out and I managed to get us from Yarmouth to Cowes ok and even remembered how to calculate tides and direction! A night sail was good fun too. So job done.
Crew management - errrr! Motley would be a good description. I think it was safe to say that the distribution of sailing skills was uneven across the crew! (One guy, ex RNR, good navigator but not sailed much. One guy who had sailed in the past but very rusty. One guy, had bought a boat, but quite clearly had no sailing experience (not even a knot but thought he knew it all - radar will not save you if you can't sail the boat!), and then the last guy who actually jumped ship in Cowes on day 2 because he really didn't like it - he did say it had saved him an awful lot of money by making him realise he was more of a cruise ship man than a yachtie!) Adding to the mix were the owners of the boat. An older couple who obviously had stacks of sailing experience and had run their sea school for years, however his instructional technique was not the most positive and she seemed permanently grumpy too! To compound things we got chucked off the boat for 2 hours each night so all in all it was a bit like a marinised version of Faulty Towers.
I'm quite used to living with people in close quarters and also familiar of how things work on a boat (sailing wise and hierarchy wise) but this drove the guys mad and so we were not always a Happy Hobo. Lack of sleep due to very narrow bunks didn't help either.
However my remit for being there was slightly different to the others. I'm never going to own a boat and will probably never skipper one, however I did want to experience it and gain as much knowledge as I could to aid my Clipper adventure which I feel I have done. My feedback at the end was positive and I got a very good. I feel much more confident on the helm - holding the boat on the wind. I could even be the next Navgirl! We as a crew did get on together so that was the saving grace of the week but I think we all glad to see Ocean Village marina on Friday afternoon.
So I'm home for a bit and back to work on Monday at Totton which I'm actually looking forward to. A change is as good as a break and that's certainly true for me. Now if I could just get over my land sickness………back to sea then I guess!