At 0800 hrs last Monday Ian Dawes, Boatshed Port Solent business owner, reported to the classroom at Southsea Marina to start a week of bashing away at Chartwork, Meteorology, and Collision (avoidance thereof) Regulations. Yes you’ve guessed it; it was the RYA Yachtmaster Coastal/Offshore Shorebased Course.

The course was run by Southsea Marina Sea School, under the very competent (and extremely patient) guidance of Steve, the Chief Instructor. You can spot a good skipper a mile off, and Steve had the tea brewed as we walked in the door, and soon set about re-assuring us that we remembered more about navigation and seamanship than we thought we did!

My companion on the course was none other than a chap who’s boat I had sold last year, and we got on terrifically well from the start. Martin is now the proud owner of a GibSea 33; more of that later...

Steve has been sailing for nearly thirty years (he comes ashore every now and then to teach the likes of us), and he has covered many thousands of miles, both racing and cruising. He has logged 39 ocean passages and circumnavigated the world twice. He is a Yachtmaster Instructor Power, as well as Sail, with teaching experience on everything from a 5m RIB to motor yachts up to 24m. And what is more, he is an all round good egg and snappy dresser - in fact he needed to be! The course is a fairly intense five days, and we had more than one occasion when the old brain turned to mush and Steve had to explain TVMDC (look it up) yet again!

Anyway, by virtue of Steve’s brilliant teaching and some midnight oil burnt at home, we both passed and are now basking in the glow of a very satisfying achievement!

So what next? Remember Martin’s GibSea 33? Well, Martin has taken the school up on the opportunity for some “Own Boat Tuition.” The school can offer any RYA course, taught on your own boat, and because you pay per day, not per student, it can work out a very economical way of learning. So next spring we have booked a couple of days sailing onto moorings and pontoons, and MOB drills with Steve to keep us from hurting ourselves, prior to embarking on the five day RYA practical side to the course. Should be fun!

Keep your eye on this Blog and I’ll let you know how we get on!

For more information on Southsea Marina Sea School go to and read all about it.