We’ve found a sailing school willing to take on two complete newbies for a combined RYA Competent Crew and Day Skipper practical course. That’s booked for next April, but there’s plenty to do before then.


December 2017 to March 2018

The focus this winter is on learning navigation theory, and Aleksandra also wants to do the RYA VHF radio course.

We’re able to use some of the chartwork skills we learned on the powerboat course in Gdynia, but it’s soon clear that all that was very basic stuff. When we get the RYA Navigation Handbook, Navigation Practice Exercises and training charts, it comes home to us how little we know, and how little time there is to learn it all.

At the beginning I struggle with the technological complexity of the Breton plotter, while Aleksandra’s high school mathematics nightmares all come back to haunt her. We both know the difference between latitude and longitude, though it’s fifty-fifty whether we remember which is which at any given moment. By the turn of the year, we’re both immensely pleased with ourselves that we can do dead reckoning; and there’s no leaving the house after dark without looking up and nodding knowingly to each other: “yeah, neaps right now”.

On the positive side, winter in Poland is so bloody cold and dark that there’s really nothing to distract us from the study. Aleksandra passes the RYA VHF radio exam in Kraków, I don’t inadvertently jab myself with the dividers nearly as much, and the 2B pencil marks all came off the coffee table easily enough.

With a month to go before the practical courses in Gibraltar, we’re more or less up to scratch with the navigational skills required of a day skipper. We shall see…

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