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Sunday, 14 February 2010

RYA Dayskipper Part 2

Back to school again yesterday, to the Morcambe and Heysham "working mans" yacht club and our tutor John, and this week there's just me and Jackie as the only other student Victor, has had to work.
We plunge straight into chart work but now we're plotting routes that include tidal vectors and leeway. We have to work out what's happening to the sea and our imaginary boat by correlating a load of data from books, charts, tables, and ocean diamonds.
All of this information is then translated onto the chart via a Portland plotter, I just looked that up,..............oh, and a pencil, that I must learn to keep sharp.

It's one thing getting your heading right, it's all too easy, for me at least, to have my boat heading south when the question tells me it's heading north. Just when I think I've cracked that one in comes the googly of tidal vectors. I'm having enough trouble with true north and magnetic north without the bloody tide about to reek havoc on my chosen route. If I want to end up at my chosen destination I'm going to have to factor this into my calculation, or I could end up on the rocks.

Ok, the tidal stream will push me off course, but by how much? Turns out that the speed of the tide changes every hour, and, changes direction. Amazingly all this information has been collected by someone sticking a "Superbouy" out in the ocean stuffed with electronics, measuring all these movements over years, and then someone has translated it all into a book called the almanac,for that area of the globe.

John attempts to teach us how we can use all of this info to find out which way we have to point our boat when steering by the compass. In effect what is suppose to happen is that you point the boat at a different place than where you want to end up, but you end up there anyway. That's 'cause the tide has messed with your true course, but if you can do the geometry using the stuff in the almanac then hey presto, you get where you want to go, magic.

But this is not easy, or at least not yet.

And then just as we start to grasp it we're told that we also have to include leeway.
That's when the wind blows you off course, the course you've just painstakingly plotted, and converted to magnetic from true, cause you've got that concept now.
Now I have to factor another variable, the wind, and my head is beginning to hurt.

Add to this the rules about rights of way at sea, power gives way to sail, except for very BIG ships, which is a bit obvious, and, add learning about lights on a myriad of different vessels, a bit about GPS and then lighthouses and that's my brain fried.

"I just wanted to go sailing", says Jackie with a perplexed glaze in her eye.

Never the less it is slowly beginning to sink in, I think; and although at times it seems overwhelming, hopefully after we've done all our homework, of which there is loads, we'll sail through the exam a week on Sunday. Then it's onto our Day Skipper practical, that's booked in for March 29th, back in Largs where we did our Start yachting course back in October, but with a different company this time. We've come a long way but my do we now know how far we still have to travel on this quest to sail our own yacht around the west indies.