I have been sailing since the army kindly taught me during my twenties but living in the middle of Europe has severely curtailed the use of boats the last thirty years. I did however join a cruise with a friend in Croatia and passed my German “inland skipper” course which allowed me to take the family and friends out on a local lake.
When I decided it was time to “get back in to sailing” I took a look at the British and German systems and decided that the former seemed to be more “reality based” while the latter was perhaps more interested in “passing tests”. I therefore searched for a school offering British RYA courses but better weather than is normally to be found on the island. I was attracted to Go-n-Sail in Spain, particularly as they offer an instructor ratio of three students to one instructor and only have rave reviews. After a discussion with the school I registered for two weeks training with the target being my Day Skipper certificate. Most RYA certificates have a practical and theoretical element and in order to be awarded the certificate you need to not just prove yourself practically but also take a theoretical exam.
Navathome offers all the RYA theory courses online. I have really enjoyed being able to pace myself and take extra time for subjects that interest me or that I have found hard.
I am a confirmed online learning addict. I acquired my degree through eight years online learning with the Open University so I was relieved and excited to learn that there are schools offering online courses. I booked my RYA Day Skipper theory through Go-n-Sail but it was run by Navathome in Gibraltar. I took the course during the dark winter evenings and thoroughly enjoyed being able to learn at my own speed, take time where necessary and research subjects that interested me. I passed the exam before the end of winter. I sent some positive feedback to Navathome which they have published on their webpage.
Go-n-Sail is an amazing sailing school on the Atlantic coast of Spain. It has a student instructor ratio of 3:1 which means much more time per student and a more personalised learning experience
In Spring I flew to Portugal and then took the train to Spain where I spent two weeks putting my theory in to practice and learning a multitude of tricks from Shane Cole on the river and out at sea. I thoroughly enjoyed the two weeks and left with my RYA Day Skipper certificate. I wrote a review at tripadvisor which sums up the course and the “holiday”. I have also posted a short video of the two weeks.
During the Summer I was out sailing on our local lake as much as possible to gain further experience particularly in sail handling.
In Autumn I registered again with Navathome, this time for the RYA Coastal Yachtmaster and Yachtmaster Offshore Theory online course. This course was really enjoyable but I kept getting sidetracked by Internet research in to a variety of themes – it is amazing how many videos there are in YouTube of helicopter rescue. Once again the course was well laid out and the instructors always available to help. And once again I passed.
Then it was back off to Spain and a sail to Calais and back after which Shane awarded me my RYA Coastal Skipper certificate. The entire two weeks were packed with a constant stream of knowledge from Shane and some extremely enjoyable blind navigation. A short video is here. Having also taken the Marine Radio course online, I was also tested by Go-n-Sail and awarded my short range certificate.
Shane recommended that I now needed no further formal courses but needed to “get out there” and put my knowledge to practice as a skipper in preparation for the RYA Yachtmaster exams. Which is exactly what I did – and I also passed my RYA Ocean Yachtmaster Offshore Theory during the winter.
In summary, Go-n-Sail and Navathome took me from “know my way round a boat” to “ready to skipper” in four weeks of practical sailing and with the help of three online courses.