People have been contacting us to ask if we are still alive as we have stopped blogging. Thank you for asking and yes we are.
But we have been learning. Every spare minute we were learning. Heidi in preparation for a weeks sailing course in English and Neill for his Yachtmaster Offshore exam.
Last week we left Artemis in the marina at Santa Cruz and flew to Seville before taking the bus to Ayamonte on the Spanish south coast. We were here with the boat in September and it was great to see Debbie and Shane from the Go-n-Sail sailing school again.
On Sunday we began an intensive week of sail training. Heidi was aiming for a competent crew certificate. Most people do this at the start of their sailing career and not after 3000 miles of sailing experience. But for most people, it is not the first course they have ever done in English!
Neill had three days of brushing up on a variety of themes with chief instructor Shane Cole and then the exam. The exam was over two days with a good dose of night navigation and “stress” situations. There is no set material and the examiner can ask you to perform any tasks and expect answers to any questions even remotely connected to sailing a yacht. At one point, while Neill was below decks and Heidi at the wheel, with a commercial fishing boat heading straight for us, he threw a buoy overboard to simulate a person falling overboard. As we reached for the engine starter he said “engine out of order” so we were left to sail back to the buoy and pick it up.
By the end of Day 2, even simple questions were getting harder as the brain siezed up. Luckily Richard – the examiner – was kind enough to offer a ten minute “brain reset pause” when it was needed and Heidi was on hand with “de-stress chocolate”.
We both passed! Neill’s summary – “the hardest exam I have done since I left the army thirty years ago.”
So now we are a Yachtmaster and a Competent Crew. We will keep you informed if our sailing has improved.