Southsea Marina Sea School – Coastal and Day Skippers all in the same boat!
Boatshed Port Solent owner Ian Dawes recently teamed up with Gibsea 33 owner and friend Martin Crapper to complete the RYA Coastal Skipper course, under the expert tuition of Steve Dimmer, the Southsea Marina Sea School Chief Instructor.
Using Martin’s boat meant we avoided charter costs, and we were able to ship a couple of potential Day Skippers, Martin’s son Jason and friend John Parry, just to keep Steve on his toes!
The Coastal Skipper syllabus is much the same as Yachtmaster Offshore, but we’ll have to add a bit more “polish” before we have a bash at that one later in the season!
So, we initially planned a passage to St Vaast on the Cherbourg Peninsula, but Mother Nature put paid to that one and we had to make do with Brighton. We quickly found that a Coastal passage with a couple of tidal gates thrown in is just as demanding, if not more so, than a cross-channel job. Martin was first up as skipper, and his reading of the tidal streams was pretty much perfect as we whizzed through the Looe channel with the wind and tide aft of the beam. The rain was aft of the beam too, so the day was pretty miserable for all hands!
We had fun and games putting in our third reef by undoing the first one and re-rigging it, but it was worth it as we could continue to carry the main for speed and stability.
The following day was spent doing “circuits and bumps” in Brighton Marina, where the stiff breeze tested everybody, and the Day Skippers put us to shame with their top-notch boat handling.
Yours truly had the plan for our return passage, and the loyal crew kept their own counsel as we slipped at 0200 hrs to catch the tide. The wind stayed in the North West just long enough to get us through the Looe and back into home waters, where Steve decided to liven things up by giving me a blind navigation exercise back into Langstone Harbour. What a nice chap! The sun was shining for the first time that week and I was banished below decks! It was then time to thank my lucky stars that Martin and I had completed the YM theory course before Christmas; reducing the depths to soundings and following the contours wasn’t easy, but it was possible thanks to the basics Steve had drilled into us weeks before.
There followed a few days stooging around the Solent and Chichester Harbour, fishing out countless men overboard under sail and power, and sailing onto and off moorings, anchoring, passage making and drinking tea. We may have had the odd beer once we were moored up...
On the last day we got the spinnaker out, much to Martin’s delight, but the joy was short lived, the channel was too narrow and the wind decided to back so we couldn’t carry it for long. Good fun though.
A tired but contented crew brought the yacht home to Southsea Marina, where Steve presented our certificates and we had a glass of very good Champagne, courtesy of John Parry, a gentleman and a scholar!
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Ring Ian on 07885 521960, or log on to my website
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