Are you like me? Are you a skier that likes to sail? Growing up I always lead an outdoor life. Until my early teens my father was a farmer so much of my childhood was spent mucking about on the farm. There was the dairy herd to look after, as well as wheat to grow and harvest, so there was plenty to get involved with. I lived with my parents and my younger sister in a Kent village which was only 10 minutes drive from the South coast. With the sea close to hand and a father that liked sailing it was a natural thing for sailing to become very much part of our lives (although not part of my mother’s). My father was one of those men who built a yacht in the back garden – one which we did eventually crane over the house, put on the water and sail at weekends. The Summer holidays especially were spent either on the farm or messing about in boats. My father sold the farm in the late 70′s and later set up a yacht brokerage business which he managed until he retired. Boats were constantly in my life until I graduated from university and moved to London in 1987.
Yachts and sailing did not feature again until 1995 when I decided, almost out of the blue, that I would like to get into yacht racing. I attended a Royal Ocean Racing Club (in St James’s, London) crew finding evening and touted myself about as a semi useful addition to someone’s crew. Following that late summer evening I spent the next four years campaigning on half a dozen racing yachts based on the Hamble River, Hampshire, competing in both inshore and offshore races, culminating in the 1997 Fastnet. I served in crew positions all around the yacht starting as some muscle on the winches and finishing on either bow or spinnaker trim. However, the back of the boat (the helm, navigation and tactics) were always reserved for the yacht owner or his cronies.
Now I am in my (ummmm) late 40′s I am thinking that it would be fun to charter a yacht, perhaps in the Med or in the BVI’s, and take my family sailing. Who knows, perhaps my daughter who is currently dinghy sailing as a 12 year old will get the sailing bug like I did? So recently I set about looking into a bare-boat yacht charter in the Med for the summer holidays. Pretty soon I realised that I needed to produce an ICC (International Certificate of Competence) before I could bare-boat charter a yacht. Despite a childhood spent in dinghies and on dad’s small yacht, and my early 30′s spent racing on larger yachts I had never thought to obtain an official qualification. So there was only one thing I could do and that was to go back to school. I needed to get my RYA Day Skipper Practical exam, the minimum qualification required to then obtain an ICC.
The Day Skipper qualification is a 5 day course (or two weekends) and covers the basics of: preparation for sea; deck work; pilotage; meteorology; rules of the road; boat engine maintenance and repair; victualling; emergency situations; yacht handling; passage making; night sailing and navigation (plotting course, understanding tidal heights and streams, use of electronic nav. equipment, use of way points etc).
To train and assess me for the RYA Day Skipper Practical I used Southwest Yachting. Martin Musgrove runs this and other training courses on board is Bavaria 42′, White Oryx IV, which is moored at the delightful Buckler’s Hard on the Beaulieu River, Hampshire. I can honestly say that his teaching methods and the organisation of 5 day course was without fault. In fact it made me wish that I had embarked on the qualification process 15 years earlier. Perhaps if I had then I would have obtained Coastal Skipper and then my Yacht Master qualifications. And if I had gone down that route 15 years ago I might have ended up ocean yacht racing instead of skiing. However, then I would not be here at Alpine Answers writing this blog.
Are you are a skier that likes to sail? Do you want to charter a yacht for your family’s next summer vacation? If you are like me and don’t have your ICC then I would thoroughly recommend you get yourself booked in with Southwest Yachting. Let Martin teach you through one of their practical courses. You won’t regret it.