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Sunday, 12 December 2010

Now in theory we're Yacht-Masters

We've just passed the Yacht-master exams that we've been studying for the last three weekends over in Morcambe with John Parlane and his Bay sea school. This is a course that teaches you the theory of how to use charts, how to have a basic grasp of the weather, and the International regulations on avoiding collisions at sea. You wouldn't believe how difficult this has been, trying to absorb so much diverse information and computations the like of which I haven't done since I was back at school in the sixties.
Mind you I made quite a few glorious mistakes, mostly stupid ones, like taking 1.3 from 5.7 and getting 7. I'm just no good at logic, somehow my brain turns off for a split second and that throws the whole equation and workings out into chaos. But because my workings out were right John marked it as a pass. Although he has suggested that we may be better off buying a steel boat so when we hit the reef that we thought was a mile off we don't sink immediately, he's probably right.

I just couldn't get my head round secondary ports where the tidal heights and times are different and we have to extrapolate with graphs and tide tables. And then figure when it's GMT plus an hour or is it two hours in the southern hemisphere. I tried and tried and in the end almost got it. But then when I had to calculate how much water I need to anchor I ended up with half a meter too much. Still as Jackie said at least it was on the right side of wrong.
In the real world we'll only be concentrating on one particular event that we have to do. With exams we're expected to jump from one scenario to another, which messes with your brain to such a degree that the mist comes down and your stuck in a fog which descends, the cogs stop turning and all goes blank. Hopefully in the real world we'll be able to apply all this new knowledge to guide us safely into that turquoise bay without hitting the reef, and break out another G&T and watch the sunset in tranquil seas.

But Hey, Yacht-Masters. Well in theory at least, the real test is out there on the oceans with a real boat to sail. That's the frustration, not having a boat, and that in the end is what we need to do, sail. I mean, we haven't even learned how to put a reef in a sail yet. On the practical side there's still a long way to go, but we're a long way from being Novices, now all we need is to put those new navigational skills to good use.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Red lights, white lights, green lights

The second weekend of our yachtmaster theory course today starts with a drive to Morcambe, and an eight o'clock start. The roads are still a bit snowbound in town and its foggy. In fact although the main roads are clear of snow the fog is pretty bad until we're a couple of miles from Morcambe. So it's a sressful start to the day. Then we're straight into lessons on meteorology which includes a bit on fog,

We're subjected to a test on this just before lunch which I think I got about 60-70%, but we'll have to wait till tomorrow to know for sure.

Then it's time to get bamboozled by the rules of the road and those ever confusing lights that ships display. Ships that can't manoeuvre, ships towing other ships, ones not under control, big ships, little sailing ships, red lights, white lights, yellow lights and green lights. It's worse than christmas out there, and we're supposed to file all this away in a 62 year old brain to pass the exam, cause thisis the bit they want you to know. That along with black balls and cones and diamonds for the same messages in the day time. It then gets compounded with what horn signals we use and recognise in fog, without fog, One long blast, two short blasts one long, two short, and as you can imagine we're now in L a la, la la land.

So back home after fish and chips it's what we've got for home work till we start al over again tomorrow at 8am.

Time for some down time with I'm a celebrity get me out of here and a bottle of chardonay.