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RYA Day Skipper course report

From the 24 to the 28 March, six Milton Abbey pupils completed a RYA Practical Day Skipper course delivered by Rob Gibson from Poole Sailing and accompanied by Mr Vigar.

The weather during the five days was variable with wind strengths varying from a dead calm to a force six and some rain, the only thing that seemed to be constant about the weather was the near total lack of sunshine!  This provided a challenging range of conditions in which to hone our skills and learn to sail the Benateau 40.7 yacht ‘Addiction’.
We all met at the Parkstone Yacht Club on the Friday evening we broke up and after a familiarisation and brief on the week ahead we had a fish supper on board.  The following day we set out from Poole towards the Solent in light and variable winds having become familiar with the boat’s rig and planned our passage.  We were only able to go as far as Yarmouth due to the light winds but this enabled everyone to spend time below plotting our position using traditional methods without feeling ill.  The following day we made our way up towards Cowes in a force three which enabled us to learn what a powerful boat 'Addiction' was, and the pupils practiced their navigational skills by buoy hunting in the poor visibility.  As the wind failed in the afternoon we then took the opportunity to practice motoring onto pontoon berths and man overboard drills.
The following morning also proved to be airless so some of the theoretical aspects of the course were taught.  After lunch a pilotage plan was drawn up for a trip up to Marchwood with each pair being responsible for portion of the voyage.  This required very careful navigation to dodge super tankers and other vast vessels as well as mud banks but we arrived safely for an early supper lying to a buoy.  That evening we practiced our night navigation skills by taking the boat back down to the Hamble where they pupils identified marks by counting flashes.  On Tuesday we had a relaxed breakfast of sausage and bacon and then sailed to windward to Lymington for lunch in a force six which everyone found most exhilarating!  In the afternoon we then practiced making tidal offsets by sailing between Lymington and Yarmouth across a strong spring ebb. 

That evening we all dined ashore in the Kings Head which served a most excellent meal.  The final day was spent sailing back to Poole, a sail that will be remembered for the cold and the rain (sleet?) however we managed to sail Addiction back into Poole Harbour beating against the tide.
Overall this was an enjoyable and intensive week where much was learned both about the safe navigation of a yacht and living together in a small space.  The youngsters acquitted themselves well and gained the day skipper certificate, I look forward to next year.

Report by Mr Vigar, Head of Sailing