A detailed look at our first RYA Competent Crew course of 2014. Below is a short video from the final day of the course.
Good Friday – Day 1
Our students started to arrive around 0930 and it didn’t take long before Rowland and Brian, who were completing the RYA Day Skipper course, together with Luc and Sam, who were completing the RYA Competent Crew course, were all on board and the kettle was on. We sat down with a cup of tea/coffee and started to discuss the courses and an overview of the week including looking at the weather forecast.
We took some time to discuss safety on board, including the gas for the cooker, location of the first aid kit, and I issued everyone with a lifejacket ensuring everyone knew how to put it on and how it operated. We then went up on deck to look at the important safety equipment and how to operate a winch safely, as well as general safety while sailing, including ‘one hand for yourself and one hand for the boat’.
The plan for the day was to sail from Hamble to Lymington after lunch so our RYA Day Skippers were dispatched to make the necessary passage preparations. In the mean time I took Sam and Luc on deck and started to go through some rope work and introduced them to a few knots that we would be using throughout the day. We practiced stepping off the boat and securing a line to a cleat and how best to tie on our fenders.
With a passage plan prepared we started to walk through preparing the boat for sea, including removing sail covers and deciding on a sail plan for the weather conditions. The weather forecast was for North Easterly winds which would allow us to sail directly to Lymington with the wind from behind. Once we had prepared the boat we had a quick lunch onboard before starting the engine and slipping our lines.
Once in clear water we hoisted our main sail, turned off the engine and started to sail towards Southampton to allow everyone to become familiar with the boat. We then hoisted our Jib to practice tacking and gybing before setting off to Lymington. Everyone took a turn on the helm and we practiced taking bearings to plot our position while sailing. Before long we had arrived at Lymington, contacted the marina on VHF and knew our berth.
We had fish and chips for tea and Brian prepared our passage plan to sail to Cowes for the following day.
Saturday – Day 2
After breakfast we prepared the boat and slipped our lines. We planned to sail to Hyth in Southampton Water to pick up a mooring buoy for lunch. The wind was still coming from the North East so this time we were sailing into the wind and Brian decided to reef the main sail to make it easier on the crew. Luc,who hadn’t had much time on the helm the day before, sailed us back and forth across the Solent, overtaking boats who hadn’t reefed and were struggling in the 15-16 knots of wind. As we approached Hyth we dropped our sails and motored towards the mooring buoys. After a small mishap with a boat hook sparking an impromptu ‘MOB’ to rescue the boot hook, we secured the boat and had a relaxing lunch.
After lunch we looked at the points of sail that we had already sailed and the plan was to have some sailing practice including tacking and gybing. As we slipped our mooring our plans had to change as the wind had left us. We motor-sailed towards Cowes on the Isle of Wight practicing reefing and un reefing the main sail while underway. The wind filled in as we approached the Solent and we managed some more sailing before motoring into the river Medina towards East Cowes. We passed the Cowes chain ferry, known by the locals as the ‘floating foot bridge’ before berthing up in East Cowes. It was Rowley’s turn to plan the passage for the next day and with a forecast of strong winds and heavy rain from the North East in the morning veering Easterly in the afternoon, the plan was a sail to Portsmouth before lunch to avoid the worst of the weather.
Easter Sunday – Day 3
Unfortunately the forecast was accurate, but with a couple of hours before a favourable tide the RYA Day Skippers were given the opportunity to practice coming alongside and our RYA Competent Crew were learning the different types of lines that can be used to aid berthing and un-berthing in a variety of conditions and practicing how to set them up. Just after 11.00 we started to motor towards the entrance of the river; we had set the main up with 2 reefs before we left and with a strong East going tide and a strong North/North East wind the Solent was quite choppy due to the wind and tide being against each other. The spray coming across the boat and the rain was soon forgotten as we close reached along the Solent towards Portsmouth around 7 knots.
We arrived in Portsmouth just before 2pm and managed to get the boat sorted just before the sky opened. We had a late lunch of hot soup and cheese and ham toasted sandwiches to warm ourselves up. After lunch we had a detailed look at the engine, flares and the liferaft before discussing the following day. We planned to anchor in Osbourne Bay have dinner onboard before a night sail to Hamble.
Easter Monday – Day 4
After bacon and eggs for breakfast we looked for some more difficult berths for the RYA Day Skippers to practice coming along side. The harbour was quite busy as a lot of boats were returning from the Bank Holiday weekend. The sun was out but with no wind we motored towards Osbourne Bay to anchor for lunch. We pulled out the charts and started to plan the short passage to Hamble that evening. This allowed the RYA Competent Crew the opportunity to learn the basics of chart work and the RYA Day Skippers to practice their lights and flashing sequences.
As we planned to be out late we treated ourselves to a mid afternoon nap, before having a chicken stir fry for dinner. As the sun dipped we checked our lights and readied the boat to leave, we hoisted the Jib and sailed across the Solent, following our plan and spotting ferries, boats not under command and constrained by draft on the way. We finished the night sail and managed to make the pub for last orders, discussing what we had seen during our night sail.
Easter Tuesday – Last Day
Our plan for the day was a day sail and sailing onto anchor in Osbourne Bay. We were met with near perfect conditions, we practiced sailing around a short triangle course to practice sail trim, tacking and gybing as you can see in the video above. Bob our MOB dummy took to the water as we practiced our MOB drills. We sailed into Osbourne Bay dropped our anchor, had a good lunch before hoisting our sails and sailing off anchor. A great way for both Skippers and Crew to put everything they had learnt into practice. We sailed as far as we could but eventually had to start the engine, before bring the boat into our berth.
We tidied up the boat and said our goodbyes. I was happy to be able to congratulate two new RYA Competent Crew and two new RYA Day Skippers- I wish Brian, Luc, Sam and Rowley all the best and look forward to sailing with them again.