Charlie’s Blog – DI in a (long) weekend (part 1)
Most people like to relax over their February half term or maybe get ahead with schoolwork. Not us sailors however, we like to spend as much time as possible sailing, no matter how cold the water is! This is why I – along with another KSSA sailor, Zoe – headed down to the UKSA in Cowes on the Isle of Wight to train to become RYA dinghy instructors.
This course is a really useful qualification because as an RYA instructor you have a really crucial role in the sailing world – to train and inspire new and improving sailors on and off the water. The course consists of an action packed five days covering everything from how to tack properly (with the RYA method), to running an on-the-water coaching session and making learning to sail fun.
Our arrival at the UK Sailing Academy on the Isle of Wight was most certainly an interesting one as, in true English weather style, it coincided with Storm Dennis. However, after an incredibly bumpy crossing over the Solent, in winds gusting a gale force nine, we finally made it to West Cowes next to the beautiful river Medina.
After such a treacherous crossing, we had a nice lie-in the next morning with the course starting at 9am and the classroom being only a minute’s walk away. It is worth mentioning at this point the work that we had to do before the course started to ensure we were ready to become dinghy instructors. We needed a PB2 licence to ensure our competence driving a RIB in an educational setting. We also needed a valid first aid certificate, an RYA membership, and had to complete an hour-long webinar on the important subject of safeguarding (this was as about as interesting as de-rigging after a long days sailing, but it is a vital part of being an instructor since student safety is the number one priority.) You also must pass a pre-assessment course which includes coming alongside, sailing a triangular course, and rudderless sailing, along with numerous other boat handing skills.
Anyway, on the first day Storm Dennis was still brewing so we were unable to sail. The morning therefore consisted of mostly classroom-based activities, along with a brief tour of the UKSA site, and introductions to the areas we would be sailing in. We then focussed on the role of the instructor, along with methods of teaching.
What was really fascinating about this were the many different styles of learning – some people learn by seeing, some by hearing, some by reading, and some by doing. Obviously with a sport such as sailing, sessions would be very boring if we told you to read it all out of a text book, or just lectured at the front of a classroom with a PowerPoint, therefore the methods we use to teach sailing are mainly visual and very interactive.
Finally, after lunch the wind on the Solent died down to a sedentary 20 knots(!), so we were given the all clear to head out sailing. We rigged RS Quests, which if you want an idea of what they look like – imagine a big Feva with far too much sail area. We then reduced the sail area down to the size of a postage stamp with two reefs, and headed out to an area known at UKSA as Area 2.5. (I did ask what happened to area 2.0 and area 1.0, however no one appears to know so I can only assume that they are closely guarded military secrets!).
We were then asked to demonstrate some basic boat handling skills including coming alongside, picking up a mooring, and man overboard (thankfully this was not done with actual people as the water temperature was unbearably cold, it was done instead with a fender with a heavy chain attached, affectionately known as MOB Matt). So after Matt had fallen in the water numerous times, and was probably – if he was a real person – close to hypothermia, we headed back to the shore for a warm shower and a well earned cup of tea. After a quick debrief from our assessor Simon, we headed off to dinner ready for day two of the course.
Well, that was day one. I’ll try and write about each day on this course so it’ll give you an idea if this is for you. In the meantime, see you at Bough Beech?!