3 Men in a Boat

Day skipper course on Mojo J 120

Ade - our Instructor called a briefing session several weeks before the course to identify expectations and reinforce the theory we had learned during the evening classes run by Kathy.

The Course started with 4 on the boat including our excellent YMI Adrian Crook.
We set off on Monday bound for Weymouth bay, fully loaded with enough kit and navigational aids to sink a battleship. This was to familiarise ourselves with the boat – particularly safety equipment - and to practise “man overboard” drills. Apparently Adrian (Ade) wanted to make sure we could recover him if he decided to go swimming!

Day 2 - Jon Stow was first up with passage planning to Sunny Cowes although we did need to go around the Outer Range at Lulworth – luckily Jon had checked and planned for this! Adele (his partner) said he was up till very late Monday and up early Tuesday morning worrying over the charts and almanac. Later passage plans had much less time to prepare.

The journey to Cowes was a mixed bag in that we had to go 8 miles out of our waydue to the firing range and then we had to put the lights on and break out the fog horn due to very poor visibility (what sound signals?) Not a great start but good fun nonetheless.
Hot meals at lunch time was a great idea and the smell of the various ready meals cooking served to spur us on in the fog.
Things improved after rounding St Aldhelm’s and we decided to put the kite up. Not strictly Day skipper stuff but great fun.
We then needed to Pilot the boat down past the Needles and along the main shipping channel – we took turns in Pilotage and passage planning.
Sadly, the wind ended up on the nose and we beat the last part of the journey to Cowes. On arrival luck was against us as the water taxi and floating bridge were closing early, so we settled for a pub dinner in the Life Boat Inn with Ade asking loads of Q & A , washed down with beer.
Next morning we settled for an Artisan breakfast in Cowes – Floating bridge was running now.
Jon was in there first with half a loaf’s worth of toast as it was “all you can eat”. He was called “one loaf” after this.
Phil - nicknamed “Dad” - was very quiet and only ate the standard breakfast.
Adrian decided to buy the world’s largest supply of homemade marmalade for his misses. A little home coming present. We also had a look in some of the designer chandleries while we at it.

We then made a leisurely start for Poole after some pontoon bashing – this destroyed my passage plan so more off the hoof planning (although suspiciously we entered the Needles with favourable tide!) Phil “Dad” was pilot through the Solent with the tides against us as well as the wind. We craftily stuck to the shallows, a real lesson in navigation, put in a reef as it was getting very breezy and ripped a very big boat who decided the channel was quicker – not in strong tide.
The North Channel was out so we decided to go to Poole via the Needles through some very choppy water.
Interestingly we received a Pan Pan for two lost Kayakers who were reported missing on the same journey as us but unfortunately didn’t spot them.
We managed to beat up to Poole in good time and then Jon was Pilot in Poole – his memory was failing as was Phil’s and we ended up trying to go the wrong way in a sea of channel markers. After a quick hint from Ade we stopped the boat and re-assessed the plan, normal service was quickly resumed.
After tying up in Poole we went for a well-earned Steak in Rancho’s Poole – highly recommended – followed by more beer and live music at the Lord Nelson pub on the quay. Jon finished up the last of the bottle of Mountgay and had to switch to Lambs Navy before heading back to the boat for a well-earned sleep.

I struck lucky with my passage plan and off we went early in the morning to sunny Weymouth after a breakfast at a local dirty-spoon.
Next Morning off we sailed and who should we see at St. Aldhelm’s? Only the two Kayakers from the day before so we had a quick chat to make sure they were okay and called it in. They were hoping not to have to paddle around the Range at Lulworth as they were heading all the way to Weymouth as well.
We arrived in Weymouth and Adi gave us time off for good behaviour – Hurray!
We were then called back for the 8 o’clock Bridge for some night Navigation exercises in Portland. Boo!
The night exercise, what a revelation! Ade showed that was needed-
- a compass, echo sounder and time/distance awareness (No GPS req’d)
Following the night ex we eventually moored at Portland Marina at 02:30 – Mike the night watchman guided us in and looked after us.
An 8:00am start on Friday morning with breakfast at Taylor’s Mess Deck followed by more pontoon bashing and boat control work in the Portland Marina. Next, we headed out of the marina to practise picking up moorings with a little sailing and motor work. Then finally back to Weymouth.
After scrubbing the boat down and collecting our feedback we were excused - thoroughly worn out but grinning from ear to ear. Knackered but very happy.

I would highly recommend this course to anyone who has passed their Day Skipper theory. Mojo is an excellent boat to sail – forgiving, plenty of space and a nice challenge for mooring practice. Adrian was a fantastic tutor - managing to keep his calm throughout he taught us far more skills than were required to pass the course, along with many items of experience not included in ‘the books’.
Most importantly we learned how simple you can make navigation and boat handling and had a lot of laughs getting there!

We are the first three students coming from the WSC theory course to get our Day Skipper tickets with Weymouth Sailing School and would highly recommend it to anyone else needing to take the practical.

Produced by Mick
Contributions from Phil, Jon and Ade

Submitted on Monday, 25th June