Thursday, 18 January 2018

The Big Smoke and a Plan Revised

Took a trip down to London on Sunday with Dad & Nik to visit the Boat Show. Really enjoyed ourselves on previous visits. At first I guess it was the novelty and variety, then last year certainly the distraction of trying to buy a new set of sails.

This year, the fact that I have no pictures of the show itself and that the two snaps I have of our trip home through London were both taken in daylight probably tells you something.

Don't think we'll bother with London again next year. Southampton, maybe. If we're not too busy sailing.

In other news, Dad has taken the unilateral decision not to deliver Calstar to her new home in Queen Anne's Battery in Plymouth by sea, but rather to have her hauled out, but on the back of a truck and ignominiously driven down by road.

The uncertainties of a delivery trip out of the Bristol Channel in early spring paid a big part in the decision. If we got weather bound somewhere en-route, it could cost us as much as the road haulage in marina fees and inconvenience, so I suppose he has a point, although it's still not the decision I'd have made myself.

I confess, amidst the undeniable relief of not having the planning and execution of this trip hanging over me, I'm pretty disappointed. And it means I really won't make Lundy after all, which is a Bristol Channel ambition I'll now have to leave unfulfilled.

On the other hand, Calstar comes out of the water Monday 26th Feb for some much needed TLC in the yard at Penarth, then goes onto the back of a truck and down to Plymouth on Friday 23rd March. Which means that by Saturday the 24th, she'll definitely be on her new berth in QAB, and a whole new playground will lie open before us.

On which note, I've been looking at the tidal atlas for the new sailing area around Plymouth and the south coast east and west of there. Except for a few obvious headlands, for example Start Point just east of Salcombe, where the tidal flow hits 3 knots running easterly on a spring tide, which to a Bristol Channel sailor has the comforting ring of the familiar, I was hard pressed to find any drift of more than a knot in either direction.

And there is this odd thing they call "Slack". What is this thing called Slack? I really don't understand?

I jest, of course. But this did lead me to wonder a) if I was reading things right and b) on confirming that indeed I was, how on earth anybody actually ever got anywhere?

I guess we'll actually have to sail; it's going to take some getting used to, this odd, alien sensation of actually travelling in the direction your boat is pointing.

On the subject of getting somewhere, I think I've previously mentioned I'm in the middle of an RYA Yachtmaster Coastal course. Passed the IRPCS exam part of it back in December with near enough flying colours, though I have to admit I guess that wasn't really so hard to do. I suspect using that knowledge in anger would be an entirely different kettle of fish however.

Have a three and a half hour "Passage Planning" exam this coming Saturday.

I can't say I'm looking forward to it. In common with everybody else on the course it seems, I've probably done more than 24+ hours of accumulated, direct revision for this exam now, and I honestly can't say if I'm under prepared, over prepared or have prepared altogether the wrong thing entirely.

Which is a woeful state for any formal exam that purports to follow a defined syllabus.

It frankly doesn't matter that this is the first time the RYA have introduced this particular exam subject to the course (it's replaced a previous Meteorology exam), there is no excuse for there to be no "past papers" to base the revision on. A suitable, representative collection of specimen papers or at least representative questions should've been prepared by the RYA to support it. That's not exactly rocket science.

We shall just have to see how we get on.

I really haven't enjoyed this Yachtmaster course, and would find it quite hard to recommend to anyone else. Certainly not in the format I've chosen to do it ("affordably", via a sailing club, spread out over 16 weekly three and a half hour sessions, with the course running alongside the RYA Day Skipper to keep costs down). Perhaps if I'd elected to do it at via a commercial training centre suitably condensed over a couple of long weekends I might have had a different experience. But at the moment, the only thing I feel I've learned additional to the Day Skipper course I completed a few years ago has been secondary port tidal calculations, computation of rates and learning the IRPCS light and sound signals by rote.

It has made Tuesday evenings crawl by at times, which I resent as ordinarily Tuesday evenings would be karate, and I've really missed that (although I've compensated by travelling out to Cinderford on a Thursday evening to train instead)

The only mitigation amongst all this has been the company of my fellow Yachtmaster students (which, to be fair, was the reason I decided to do the course via the club, and rather than the decision having anything to do with the cost savings) and the charisma and obvious wisdom and experience of the course instructor, Trevor, who with his delivery has made the best for us of what would otherwise have been something of a very rum deal. It became very obvious very early in the course that he's much, much more than a classroom sailor.

Whether this is enough to make up for the grind that the rest of the course is turning out to be remains to be seen. Perhaps my feelings on this will depend on the result of this coming Saturday's exam.

No comments: