Ocean Hermit – sailing, solitude and stories

My plans to retrace Captain Cook's unfinished voyage have been postponed a year while I work on the next Marine Diesel Basics book and get my new boat SV Oceandrifter ready for sea.

* On Course – Reflections Before the Final Exam

Dawn over Portsmouth, the Spinnaker Tower on the left.

Only one more month of the RYA fasttrack Yachtmaster course to go before the final exam.  The challenge in these last weeks is to keep focused and 100% engaged despite being very familiar with the sailing area (The Solent) and the manoevres and navigation.

I’ve had the privilege of crewing for four other candidates during their exams (3 passed, 1 unfortunately failed) which has allowed me to see how the exams are conducted, and the demands and the pitfalls.  The biggest dangers are exam nerves and complacency.

So while the theory and the practical have started to come together for me and I certainly feel much more confident sailing in varied conditions and in directing the crew, there’s a way to go before I’ll be ready for the “driving test”.

Snow falling early in the morning at Cowes, Isle of Wight.

A lot depends on the examiner and the weather.  A manoevre that’s straightforward in Force 3 winds can become a real challenge in a Force 6 blow. Whatever happens in the final exam, what matters most to me is to gain as much practical experience and mastery of the navigation as possible not just a piece of paper.

sailing, sailboat, Solent, yachtmaster,

Under sail in the Solent; note the massive container ship on the horizon.

Keeping focused on WHY I’m doing the training is helping enormously, especially on those mornings when ice has covered the deck.  It’s been a struggle to get started some mornings; even before pulling myself out of the sleeping bag. Reaffirming to myself why I’ve CHOSEN to be doing what I’m doing and looking forward to exploring the coast of Labrador in my own boat fire me up again.  This part of the preparations will soon be over – and then 12 weeks of work refitting and preparing “Kuan Yin” before leaving Toronto at the end of June to sail 1200 miles down the St. Lawrence River to Labrador and the Atlantic Ocean.

(originally posted February 2009.)
© 2009 Dennison Berwick. This article may be republished for noncommercial purposes, with full copyright attribution and notification to the author. Any other use is a violation of copyright.

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This entry was posted on January 3, 2010 by in Sailing and tagged , , , , .
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