Since we took our competent crew course over three weekends and decided that this sailing lark was pretty cool, we have been aware that our skill and knowledge level has been somewhat lacking. As part of becoming more comfortable in our abilities and as we are mainly a two-handed crew we thought it best to seek professional advice on how to manage sailing a boat and consider medical or general emergency situations at sea.
We liked the structure that the RYA apply to the the competent crew course so decided to also take the Day Skipper practical course in June 2017, but arranged a trainer to come onto our boat for the week long course. This really helped us get comfortable with how we would need to handle certain aspects of sailing our boat. Drew, our trainer also provided a lot of other relevant suggestions based on how we would be using the boat. A lot of focus was spent on docking the boat when short handed and how rope handling and communication are key in those situations. We also had the sails rigged and reefed in different wind speeds and angles.
We also completed the day skipper theory via an online course. – we finally got this completed in February 2018!
Safety at sea
In October 2017 we spent the weekend taking part in the ‘Safety and Personal Survival Course for off shore Yachtsmen’ . It wasn’t cheap ( $600 AUD each) but it was worth every penny.
Aside from the classroom based learning, we spent Saturday afternoon in a local pool doing extensive lifejacket and liferaft training. This gave us the chance to see lots of different brands of lifejackets in action and we now have an understanding of what will suit our needs. We had a chance to inflate a liferaft and spent a few hours doing ‘in water’ drills . On Sunday we got to channel our pyromania and let off distress flares.
We were the only two cruising sailors on the course and I was one of only two women. ( The others were racing sailors who were preparing for the Sydney to Hobart) but the instructor tailored the training to suit us all.
We learned a lot and gained some confidence and have established a number of rules around certain processes when at sea, with the the most important rule of all being ‘ stay on the boat’.
Marine First Aid
In November, while still waiting for a weather window, we decided to put our time to good use. so we spent the day in the classroom doing our Marine first aid course in Southport Yacht Club. This was a really great course which was run by a registered nurse with content focused on marine and yachting scenarios. We reviewed and were taught how to treat some fairly major injuries. We also got to practice stitching up a really nasty cut on a sponge, then administering an injection to numb the pain! We will be updating our medical kit onboard in light of some of the learning we have received.