Learning to Sail

RYA Yachtmaster Coastal Course

So being a bit a bit of a glutton for punishment, it was time to jump back on the training bandwagon and this time go for the RYA Yachtmaster Coastal Certification.  Trevor was easily convinced to join in, probably because he didn’t want me  gloating over him with a Yachtmasters cert.  So back to OceanWest again for the training and haggle Gary down on the price as we are return customers and we are booking together for two places.

The format was the same as the previous course with an online theory to be completed before the practical, running at around 50 hours and was very similar to the Day Skipper course, but slightly more in-depth.

For the practical, we were on Gary’s new boat a Beneteau Oaceanis 41 “Samsara” and with the New boat, we had a New Instructor – Nick, their new Chief Instructor.  We were a little bit deflated to find out that Gary would not be taking the course, as we were very impressed with his tuition on our previous course, but Nick seemed like a nice enough bloke and fairly knowledgeable and we had no choice, so off we went.

The Prerequisites to do the course are: 800 miles logged, 30 days sea time, 12 night hours, 2 days as skipper, first aid certificate and VHF radio licence, so this is not a course for total newbees, but you do not need to be Captain Ron either 🙂

There was a Husband and Wife team joining us for the course, who were looking to spend time in the Med and wanted to increase their skills.  He was a tad arrogant with an air of I know it all floating around him, but after a couple of days and the realisation that he knew a little, he started to defrost and became a lot more amicable.  The turning point, was when for some unknown reason he released the jammer on a fully loaded Genoa sheet, which would normally be a bit of an inconvenience with a a lot of flapping, but unfortunately nick had hold of the sheet and was not wearing gloves, resulting in a very nasty 3rd degree burn and some very loud expletives!

We had 5 days of glorious sunshine (except for one squall) and as we chose January for the course, plenty of wind ranging from 15 to 25 Knots.  We started out in Bunbury, West Australia, which is really the back end of the world.  To give you an idea, imagine the most isolated city in the world (Perth) and then drive for a  few hours and you get Bunbury with all its highlights, which really are far and few between, with none springing to mind.

Day one consisted of boat handling in confined quarters, picking up a mooring, dropping anchor and man overboard (MOB) routines all under Power and Sail.  Now once you are used to a boat, anything under motor is pretty straight forward, but under sail adds a whole new dimension.  Anchoring was pretty straight forward and even the MOB was OK, as long as you followed the prescribed actions and sail path, but picking up a mooring under sail takes a finesse that can only come with lots of practice.  This leads me onto my only real gripe about the course, being that not enough time was given in practice for the really difficult tasks, with only 2 or 3 attempts per person, which was nowhere near enough to really nail these tasks.

Leuwin II off Busselton Jetty

Over the following 4 days we did plenty of sailing with tuition on Sail handling and Reefing, we headed South to Busselton, which has the world’s longest wooden pier at around 2KM long, which is pretty spectacular and then onto Port Geographe marina where we practiced coming along side and also into a pen as well as springing off.  Again a major let down was the amount of time spent on these tasks – I only managed to practice springing off once, which was nowhere near enough.

After this we headed down to Eagle Bay and then Quindalup. The scenery down this coastline is rugged, but beautiful and “relatively” untouched for big stretches, with intermittent pristine long sandy beaches and crystal clear turquoise water and the obligatory pod of Dolphins popping up on a regular basis.  The sail between Port Geographe and Eagle Bay, saw us flying down fully reefed in 25 Knots of wind and Trev at the helm with a big smile on his face.  As it was coming up time to swap helmsman, with me up next I noticed a rather unpleasant looking squall heading our way.  It was at this point I decided that waterproofs were in order, so before taking the helm I nipped down below to get kitted up. 

There was a bit of a swell, so locating and getting waterproofed up was not the easiest task, but through perseverance I managed it and 10 minutes later popped my head up to take over the helm, to find Trev soaked through to the bone with the squall just passing through – Looks like my timing was impeccable!  Trev was not too impressed, but on the bright-side I pointed out that he got invaluable experience of Hoving to in some nasty 35 knot winds!  Now contrary to everyone’s belief  this was not a planned disappearance, just a very fortuitous one, although Trev still bitches on about it to this day from time to time. 

At the end of the course we ended back in Bunbury, saying goodbye to our new friends who were not taking the exam the next day and headed straight down the pub for supper and a few beers.

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