Building Cruising Skills

As described in the preceding page introducing the Waterway Cruiser Plu and I have come a long way in the relatively short time since we bought our first cruising boat in 2001 and began developing our skills but we are only too aware of our need to develop them further and now very much look forward to having the time to be able to do this when Tony retires at the end of 2011.

As a result of enjoying in completely unexpected ways the experience of sailing together on boats around Maui in the summer of 2001, Plu and I decided on our return home to test the waters further by taking the Canadian Yachting Associations (CYA) basic cruising theory and practice course offered by Cooper Boating in Vancouver. We enjoyed this so much it was not long afterwards that we bought our first boat, Knockout, a Santana 30/30.  Over the next two years our boating skills developed immensely by sailing in races and cruising around the Canadian Gulf Islands  and the US San Juans. We also took Cooper’s VHF radio course. Since selling Knockout and buying Carpe Diem, a Catalina 320, in 2003 we have continued to develop our skills through cruising the local waters.

Without this experience we would never have had the audacity in 2006 to buy Tempus Fugit, a Dutch steel Pikmeer Kruiser 13.15, to begin cruising the waterways of Europe. During the winter months of 2006-‘7, moored outside Amsterdam, we did a lot of reading and before starting to cruise across Holland, Belgium and France obtained our International Certificate of Competence (ICC) for Inland Waters from an RYA Training Centre in England. In the ensuing four years we have developed our skills enormously and have learned an immense amount from other cruisers and the bargees travelling the waterways of Europe. In the summer of 2010 we emerged from the Canal du Midi and cruised west along the coast of Southern France a short distance to Gruissan where Tempus Fugit presently (2011) rests for the coming winter.

Next year we are thinking of adding to our coastal capabilities for both the Pacific Northwest and Mediterranean  by beginning to take further RYA courses. Given our present qualifications and the capabilities we have developed through our training and experiences the next step is to complete the RYA theory and practice courses for the Coastal Skipper. When this is completed we should be ready to take the exam for the Yachtmaster Coastal. We could take this for sail or power or both.

At the moment we are considering taking the theory course early in 2012 by distance learning while we are in Vancouver so that we have plenty of time to complete this before doing the practical course and exams later in the summer. This could be done through the course offered by the Tiller School of Navigation and Seamanship.

As we plan to be on Tempus Fugit during the summer we are looking at the RYA Training Centres that offer the Coastal Skipper course in the South of France and Spain that teach in English. One place we are considering is the Costa Brava Sailing Academy, which offers courses in various combinations out of Barcelona and Gibraltar, notably the RYA Coastal Skipper.

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