This is a rather belated post…
A few weeks ago I travelled to Plas Menai – Wales’ National Outdoor Centre on the Menai Strait, and the venue of my first ever sail – to join an RYA Coastal Skipper course. The primary sailing qualification in the UK is the Yachtmaster, and although one can simply go straight to the practical exam give sufficient skills and experience, the Coastal Skipper course is a great way to learn these skills and put theory into practice.
The course is a residential course on a yacht – Menai III, a modern 37-foot single-masted yacht (Jenneau Sunfast 37 for those interested in that sort of thing). Three of us were on the course, with another on the Competent Crew course on the same boat, and the skipper/instructor Olly. Passage planning, night navigation & pilotage and boat manoeuvring under power were the main focuses, plus some revision of the Colregs (common term for the International Regulations for Preventing Collisons at Sea, i.e. the rules of the road) and navigation lights and marks.
I planned a passage from Port Dinorwic (Menai III’s home port) to Holyhead where we spent a day practicing manoeuvring in the marina, leaving and entering berths and turning in tight spots. We then returned round the north of Anglesey to Menai Bridge to do some night navigation, finally returning through the Swellies – the dangerous part of the Menai Strait – at slack low tide.
I feel much more confident in my boat handling and passage planning (and night pilotage) skills now, and would love to put this into practice by chartering a yacht for a week… maybe the Mediterranean next spring? Any takers?