Skysail Training


James’s experience over the weekend of 26 April 2003 in the Solent

‘It went very well indeed Keith.’

I could definitely go for one of those Bavaria 37s, it was a lovely boat and ideal for my first real sailing experience. It was just a nice cruising boat which wasn't too temperamental or twitchy. We had 6 crew (including skipper) aboard each boat and so for a yacht which berths 8 it was fairly comfortable, still I chose to sleep in the saloon as the chap who I was supposed to cabin with turned out to be quite a hefty snorer!!!! (Hint – always take earplugs!) Luckily I knew him fairly well so he got a lot of ribbing for that!

I don't think I could have had a nicer bunch of people to do my first real sail with. A couple of them (including the skipper obviously!) were extremely experienced, a couple were more than competent about the boat and then there was myself and a rather lovely young lady who had both completed our Dayskipper theory but she had been on a few more cruises with the club. The skipper was also from M&S (as all of the skippers were) and he definitely took me under his wing and appeared to enjoy teaching me as I was a quick learner and pretty enthusiastic!

I have definitely made a good choice of hobbies and intend to keep it up. They do another cruise later this year and several racing weekends which I may give a go (as long as I am on an understanding boat!!). They also have a rally in Cowes in June which M&S subsidise and over 400 M&S employees (plus partners / friends etc.) sail over for the weekend where a large venue is hired for a dinner dance. That sounds like great fun. The rally is done with Sunsail and they assign skippers for the weekend so all I need to do is either get on a boat or get a boat together.

We Left Saturday morning following a night on the boat. We went out of Hamble and out to the Needles before turning around and heading into Beaulieu for the night. Sunday we headed up Beaulieu River a bit further and then turned round and shot over to Cowes for a few hours before returning to Hamble for 4ish.

I picked up some sailing gloves in Cowes as although I was fine with the ropes on the way out, it was a little cold and by the end of the day I had lost some of the grip in my hands due to the cold. The gloves did the trick on the way back though!!

Damn good weekend and only felt a little nasty for about half an hour on Sunday when it was quite windy and rolly. I really think that it is more the diesel smell and constant vibration of a motor that sets my seasickness off more than the actual motion of the sea.

We heard a report of a spoken Mayday from a sailing yacht called Coax by the Needles while we were out that way but couldn't see anything. The Coastguard spent ages asking people if they knew anymore as the Mayday was cut off without all the information and they were not responding. Few damn fast ribs shot out (from Hamble Rescue not lifeboats) and the Chopper went out too and searched for a very long time. Didn't hear what happened in the end. Someone got a bit of a roasting for asking for a radio check while The coastguard were asking people to report where they were and if they could see anything!!!

We never heard anything more about it so I wonder if it was a hoax. They must get hoax calls just like all other emergency services.

I do not have a log book yet as intended to get one when I did the Dayskipper practical (or competent crew) shortly, however the skipper will fill my logbook in when I get one as he took records of it all as did a few others. I think I will do the Competent Crew first as although I think I would be savvy enough to so the Dayskipper I think the more experience the better!

I'll keep you informed about how my progress is going and certainly intend to have completed the competent crew and Dayskipper before the end of summer this year. I am still very interested in the Yachtmaster theory as again the more practice the better!!

The theory certainly came in handy on the boat and you could tell the difference between the very experienced (Yachtmasters etc..), the two of us with the Dayskipper theory as most of our experience and the more than competent people on the boat who had not done theory courses. Although they knew the characteristics of the boat and how to sail well, they floundered a bit on tide heights, and buoy markings and lights etc....

I know this as our skipper kept asking us all questions when we came into view of something. Things like, 'what is the light sequence for a south cardinal buoy' or 'what lights would that large tanker display at night'. Just keeping us on our toes and was very useful to reinforce knowledge. It also took our minds off some of the rolling about on Sunday !

All in all, a damn good weekend and I look forward to more of them !