Yachtmaster Theory

It’s been a great week at Falmouth with Cornish Cruising studying for my Yachtmaster Theory certificate. It had been a long time since I did any proper Navigation… 16 years to be honest! So I was really worried about how I would find it. Another ‘El Guapo’ were lights and signals… I had been working through the Flip-Cards but I really wasn’t getting to grips with them at all!

I needn’t have worried though because the amazing Simon Rabett was on hand to get me through the course material and made sure that I passed the course! Much hard study was done every night in the Marina bar which, incidentally, serves great food! And I even got to ‘borrow’ the sailing school Dog for cuddles.

Falmouth Marina was lovely as well with the nicest showers (maybe they just felt the nicest because it was so bloody cold outside!) and I imagine that in the summer, the town is a very lovely place to be.

I can hardly wait until January when I am booked on to the Yachtmaster practical course! Toot Toot!

(thats a turn to Port btw! Lol)

That time already?

Well… I can scarcely believe how rapidly the weeks are flying by and now, with my Yachtmaster theory course less than 1 week away, a certain amount of cramming and crash study is required!

Despite my best intentions having started a new job in October, I have seemingly spent every waking moment at the office and the books have remained unopened! I have made in-roads in to the flip-cards though and a friend assures me that he managed to learn them in a week, so I am hoping that with a little commitment this week I will be able to replicate his success… (he is one of those annoyingly clever people though!)

But I am looking forward to meeting the lovely people at Cornish Cruising who I have chosen to study with. I am totally unfamiliar with Falmouth and I thought that it would be a good exercise to learn in an area which I don’t know so that I would be absolutely sure that I wasn’t relying on my local knowledge when I was sailing.

I have planned to sleep over in my camper van for the week (though the recent frosts are causing me concern) and I have already checked out the opening times for the marina bar. All that’s left for now is to get out the books and knuckle down…

Pride & Prejudice

I am sitting at my desk editing the video of the last race of our season on Turbulence and what a glorious weather we had for our last day out together, certainly for this year.

It was an unusual start to the day as our race start was delayed due to there being a seminar at the Royal Southern Yacht Club, more of an open forum really, to find out ‘Where have all the Dayboats gone?’. The crux of the problem being that the fleets are diminishing and race entries are at an all time low, so a solution to the problem is needed.

An expert panel was assembled to provide us with some opinion on the problem; Andrew Webster : MD Mercator Media, Jerry Hill : Sportsboat World, Paul Heys : J Boats, Peter Poland : Hunter Boats, Martin Wadhams : RS Sailing.

It was frustrating to listen to so many people pontificate about how great their class or their club was and how they had the best fleets in the South Coast etc. To me the problem is as simple as this… Price! It is widely accepted that there is a Hamble Tax. As a resident of Hamble (I have lived in the Square for almost 5 years now), I am all too aware of the inflated prices here. The parking restrictions in the Square and surrounding streets along with parking charges have made it almost impossible for crews to find somewhere to park on a Sunday Morning and Marinas and Yacht Clubs don’t make it simple or cost effective to leave your car on site either.

Jerry Hill of Sportsboat World summed it all up pretty well to a huge round of applause.
He cited the problems as being the combined costs of moorings/boat parks, of lifting the boats in and out of the water, race entry fees and parking. And then there is the subject of the Yacht Clubs as well; unwelcoming places where crew can’t relax & socialise, where there are rules about use of mobile phones or wearing hats. Its all too stuffy and outdated.

There was talk of designing a new type of Dayboat to entice sailors to come back, something which excited the boat manufacturers and designers present,  but I don’t believe that this is the answer. If the visitor numbers which I witnessed at this years Southampton Boat Show were anything to go by, there just won’t be enough demand for these proposed new boats. And besides, people are choosing not to sail the boats they already have due to rising costs, so splashing out £20-£30k on a new yacht is not realistic.

What about the quality of racing, encouraging women sailors, social media, youth squad sailing, syndicates? These points were all raised and discussed but I think that they are a sideline to, if not indirectly as a result of what I believe to be the main problem, money!

It was interesting to see the reaction of the club. An excellent topic has been raised by the RSrnYC but somehow I don’t think that the answer was what they wanted to hear and time will tell whether they have taken on board any of the remarks made on the day. For the sake of their members, I hope so.


Southampton Boat Show

Its been a busy week, working at the house and then dashing over to Hampshire to visit the Southampton Boat Show on Ladies Day and the Marine Resources Party on Thursday night.

While at the show I met and chatted with the nice people at Cornish Cruising and booked my RYA Yachtmaster course. Rather than choosing to do it in the Solent waters which I know very well, I have opted to train at their school in Falmouth. I have to wait for my new job to start so that I can confirm exam dates but I am very excited to be pressing on with things.

It’s been a couple of years since I last attended the show and I was shocked at how deserted it was, despite the warm, dry weather. Instead of the usual scrum to get around the stands and congested pontoons, there were seemingly more staff than customers. And there was a surfeit of shops selling deck shoes! Seriously, I have never seen anything like it!

With the show entry fee set at £20 for adults to come and view what is essentially the same old stuff, and with most people I know shopping around online for their kit, I left wondering whether there is a future in these shows.

James Ward and his team at Marine Resources put on a brilliant party at Wahoo Bar and it was a great chance to catch up with old friends and make some new contacts for racing in Devon. Now that I am back home on Dartmoor and reflecting on the fun I have had this week, I feel confident that I will be able to get out on the water over the winter.

The next event in the calendar is the Royal Southern Ladies Race on the 28th of September in Hamble. I am joining the crew of Turbulence (Hunter 707).

The Winter Season

At last my move back to the West Country is almost complete and now remains the arduous task of securing full time employment.

While I browse the pages of Monster.com for inspiration, I am also giving thought to what will happen over the Winter season. Turbulence will be out of the water this Winter after the Royal Southern Ladies Race on the 29th September and the dilemma is whether to try and get on another yacht in Hamble or whether to start looking in Plymouth.

Plymouth is a new scene for me having only raced on the J24 Hedgehog there last year and this is another boat which is having a well earned rest so I will have to start from scratch.

There is also the start of my Yachtmaster course to consider… I wonder, am I trying to do too much? hmmm

A first at Cowes Week!

I’m back in the Hamble, working my way through countless loads of laundry and sailing kit and reflecting on the week of racing that has just gone by unbelievably fast!

I have been crewing Hunter 707 Turbulence again, doing ‘pit’ position again after a break away from the team for family reasons. It turns out that we really are a premier crew as we have had great results and teamwork on the water every day.

With the weather starting out fairly heavy on the first day of racing we still managed to secure a 2nd place in our group that day which was astounding as we were paired with much quicker 1720 boats and a Viper which rated better than us.

Days 2 and 3 went event better and we pulled in two 1st’s. Day 4 was very light and we found ourselves out-sailed by the faster, better rated boats and we only managed a 5th place for the day. With the weather constantly keeping the fleet on its toes, the racing on Day 5 was cancelled due to a heavy weather system which was due to hit the fleet midway through the racing.

We took this break in our racing to regroup and recouperate by hiring a car and taking a trip around the Island. One crew member wanted to go on the chairlifts at the Needles park which seemed like a great idea until we found ourselves going over the edge of the cliffs in strong 25knot gusts! I am not sure what was more hair-raising… Swinging around on a chairlift or storming downwind on the first day under spinnaker at 13knots!

In any case, a great time was had by one and all and we went in to the 6th day of racing feeling refreshed. It obviously worked for us as we pulled another 2nd place out of the bag. Apart from the obvious celebrations in the beer tent, we also signed up for sports massage at the Spa in Cowes and went back to our ‘crew house’ feeling very merry and relaxed which we would discover was the wrong thing to do as our skipper had a momentary lapse of concentration at the 3rd mark in our 7th day of racing and we ended up in a very messy Port/Starboard conflict which meant that we had to retire.

We decided that rest and recouperation was the WRONG thing to do and got back on the drink in our usual way on the 7th night so as to be fresh and ready for the last day of racing. At this stage, Darwin Property Management (Modified J80) was only 1 point away from us in the scoreboard and we had to stick with them like glue, which is no mean feat when they are a faster boat than us!

That last race was for me, the most tense race of the week, but we managed to keep calm and carry on and romp home with another 2nd place for the week. Darwin Property Management finishing ahead of us, but 5th on handicap.

It was an immensely proud moment when our skipper went up to collect his first prize trophy and we all celebrated in the only way we know how, in the Yacht Haven Beer Tent!