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Sunday, 31 January 2010

Day Skipper Theory

The Morcambe and Heysham yacht club is a shabby looking village hall type building just behind the promenade, next to Morcambe town hall. We are here to meet John who is to be our tutor for the RYA day skipper theory course. The course takes place over three weekends, and today is day one, start at 9am, finishing at 5pm.

We're the first students to arrive, and for a while it looks like we may be the only one's, but about 9-15 Victor arrives which makes us three, but that will be the full complement of students for this particular course. We are handed our RYA course packs which comprises a course work book, an almanac, two charts and a CD rom.
The charts are not charts of real places, but they are based on bits of the British isles stuck together to make up a pretend northern and southern hemisphere, with fictitious place names, but with all the stuff you find on a proper chart. These are complemented by a made up almanac which we will use in conjunction with the fictitious charts. All will become clear as we plunge into finding positions of longitude and latitude, using dividers and a big plastic ruler with a 360 degree protractor thingy in the middle that turns round.
We find wrecks and rocks and other hazards, and this turns out to be easier than I thought, not easy peasy but not rocket science. We cover bouys and abreviations and discover that a cable is one tenth of a nautical mile, and that one degree is equal to 60 nautical miles, phew. We also learn how to tie eight different knots, that is we are shown how to tie them, and get ourselves in a knot trying.

Sunday we're back again at 9am to start all over again, and due to sods law today is the Australian open mens final and Andy Murray is playing Roger Federer. We're massive tennis fans and would have loved to watch that match but we switch off the radio in the car at 3-2, and settle for the highlights later today. The Day skipper course is much more important, and by 9-15 we're once again plotting, and today learning about tides, Spring and Neep and chart datum lines among other complicated workings out. We find out that north is not where the compass points, but has a varience that changes over time and has to be factored in when we plot a position.

By the time we get to the end of the afternoon session my brain is going into la la mode, as is Jackies' but we've done well I think. In fact for one excersise Jackie gets 10 out of 10 and gets a star. We come away with quite a bit of homework which we have till the weekend after next to complete.

It still seems an overwhelming amount of stuff to come to grips with, but I'm hoping that by the time we get to the end of the course we'll be on top of it, better get on with that homework before I forget what we've been taught.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

On a grey day at the back end of January, the rain is not quite falling, it's Sunday, and on Sundays we go and look at yachts. I know this is getting to be quite obsessive, and there must be a cure, but for now we're happy to feed our addiction.
We're off to Lytham, which is about 75 miles away, near Blackpool. There's a boatyard, with a couple of yachts we thought we have to see, a Jouet 1040 and a Hustler 36ft, which appeals cause she's got that seductive shape we seem to be drawn to,
The boat yard is on the edge of a very narrow muddy creek that looks far too small to manoeuvre these large yachts into, however, here they all are lined up on the key, put away for the winter. Today is a volunteers day, when they have a yard clear up so it's quite a busy place.
We are due to meet the agent at one but we're early, so we wander round and spot both boats side by side. We bump into the owner of the Jouet, so he takes us on a guided tour of his boat. The first thing that struck me as odd, was that it had a wheel downstairs as well as one in the cockpit. It also seemed to have lots of room, and was very tidy.
Alan, knew all about his boat, and spoke about it in nautical terms, things like shrouds, and windlass's furling mainsails, and fetch in the Irish sea. The weird thing is that I understood what he was talking about 90% of the time. Other times I just smile knowingly, but there you go, slowly getting the language, must be on the way to becoming proper sailors.
Very interesting layout in the Jouet, but the idea of the wheel below throws me a bit, maybe not for us this one, although later I'll see it differently.
Next up the Hustler from 74, I think. Lovely lines, a bit looking her age, but in good condition never the less. When we go down below though, it seems very cramped after the Jouet that we've just seen. It's got stuff stored all over the place so it wasn't as well presented as the Jouet, but all in all it was OK.
So we haven't fallen in love today with our boat, but we did get closer to knowing what we want. I think we need the sort of space that we felt on the Jouet, and that has made me think again about wanting a racer/cruiser type yacht. They're really cramped below, and I think I'm definitely drawn to a wider beamed boat.
But I got intrigued by the fact that the Jouet had a furling mainsail.
When we got home I googled the pros and cons of furling mainsails and came up with some interesting stuff. I know it's one more thing to go wrong which makes me wary, but after reading lots of comments on one or two sites I think a furling mainsail sounds just the thing for us senile delinquents. Not having to balance on a heaving deck to put a reef or two into a big heavy sail sounds like the way forward to me.

So we didn't find our boat but I think we're making progress.

This Saturday we start our RYA Day skipper theory course, just another step on this journey of a thousand miles, should be interesting, and will nudge us a little closer to our dream.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Maybe we'll buy this old classic


It's a very cold on Sunday January 3rd and, we're going for a drive, of course we're off to see a boat that's moored in Whitehaven Marina which is about an hour and a half away.
When we get there we find the marina is frozen over,perhaps not the best day to veiw boats, especially boats to cruise the Caribbean. All of these boats would look better in the turquoise waters of the Caribbean. We pick our way gingerly along the icy jetty to where our boat is moored. She's a beautiful sight, a Buchanan bonito cica 1962 with lines to die for. What a lovely boat, but all we can do is look over her on the outside as we haven't arranged a rendevue with the broker, this is just an impromptu visit.
Somehow these old boats look like a yacht should look, with a swept back stern and gently curving bow. She has a tiller and lots of teak decking and wooden stuff around the aft deck bit. I think she's had a few upgrades, the winches look modern, as does the mast and boom. It looks from the outside like our kind of boat. If it was a car it would be morris traveller, and I've got a soft spot for travellers. We can peep through the windows, but the view is very limited. She looks tidy if perhaps a little cramped but we can't really tell, all we can see though looks in good order and shipshape. It's bitterly cold and the suns going down so we pick our way back to The Beacon cafe and agree we really like this boat. We'll have to arrange to view her with the agent before we can decide anything but at just under 24 grand she looks like a bargin and a classic from 1962.