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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.