Have you expanded your
seamanship skills gained through boat angling?
The Jones crew sailing up from Sivota to Corfu Town
A few years
ago now as a young family we completed an RYA Competent Crew Sailing Course.
This was necessary, I thought, as we were due to go on a holiday in Greece,
sailing within a ‘flotilla’, around the Greek
Believe it or not for a family of
five that included
flights, yacht hire etc with the package totalling £2300 for an early
November slot. We took advantage of early booking the late season dates at the
Southampton Boat Show. The only problem was we didn't known how to sail. So we decided to enrol on a
weekend Competent Crew course. What an experience. It was exhilarating to
say the least and I can now appreciate why these WAFI’s (Wind Assisted
Flipping Idiots, polite version) chose to sail. How many boat anglers
try sailing? Not many and probably the reason for the ‘great
divide’ between us.
Anyway, I have had a glimpse
into the dark side and
those WAFI’s out there really despise us fishermen. Trawlers, Potters, Rod and Liner’s and
are all fishermen in their view and we are genuinely hated by some and
unfortunately completely misunderstood. That's a pity really, as we are all in a boat if not the
Through years of experience added to my shore based ‘Day Skipper’ (years
ago) and Coastal Skipper (2006) courses, the yachting terminology came
fairly easily, whereas the rest of the ‘skills’ came fairly naturally
because as a regular motor angling skipper you are always aware of wind and
You know what it's like in your boat doing say 20 knots up or down a busy
channel; you watch out for one or two WAFI’s cutting across your bow, which you
should give way to, watch for the odd hazard and the odd bit of wash, not
too exciting once you have got used to the speed (it is the fishing that is
the best bit anyway).
try to imagine you have a F5 and the sails are pushing you across
the same channel at anything between 5Knts and 8Knts. You can’t sail within aprox 45 degrees either side of the wind as the sails collapse and then all
forward momentum is lost so you can’t sail directly to where you want to go
So you have to tack back and forth across the marked channel. Now add the
following potential hazards that will be on your tack; Ferries, more WAFI’s coming the other way but running with the wind and
possibly now a stand-on vessel. Sailing boats giving way to me, it was great.
Then we had Tugs, Pilot Boats, the Harbour Master launch, Motor Boats,
Anchored fishermen, Work Boats, Pot Buoys, Mooring Buoys and a shelving
beach at the end of both tacks. Great fun!
Now this can only be achieved
safely if you and everyone else, firstly, know how to sail and secondly,
know the ‘rules of the road’. These are also known as the IRPCS
(International Rules for the Prevention of Collisions at Sea) or more
commonly referred to as the Collision Regulations. Luckily we and
nearly everyone else we came across actually seemed to know them. Apparently
in the summer months this bit becomes a lot more challenging as the
‘grockles’ that take to the water do not know the Col Regs and make it a
lottery as to what you should actually do. You must avoid collision
obviously even though certain helmsmen ignorantly keep driving through the
no go, ‘virtual red lights’!
the first weekend we went down Southampton Water towards the Hamble. We
on a ‘Broad Reach’ in a F4 NNW while running with the wind. The
next day we came back, tacked while ‘close hauled’ and ‘beating’ in a
fresher NNW wind, a F5. Back from the Hamble River to Ocean Village. It was
quite exhilarating with the kids almost scared as they are not used to the
boat being permanently heeled to one side with no sides to it. I felt a bit
uncomfortable as a sailing boat is one big trip hazzard.
team work required between the skipper, helmsman and crew is a good thing to
practice as a family. It is a real tester getting the kids to actually do
something when you tell them too, all the time!
weekend was very, cold and windy with a F6 – F7, although in a safe
direction for Southampton Water, from the NE – E. We started the weekend
with a walk around Southampton trying to find something suitable for a
family at 9pm on a Friday Evening.
morning we sailed up and down Southampton water with winds of 28
knots at times. We started with a couple of slabs reefed in to make the boat
go a little slower but we still flew along at 8 knots. Then after nipper got
a little alarmed at the heel angle we tried a few other things after
anchoring for lunch off Netley. It was interesting practicing with
either just the mainsail or just the foresail, it made for a much more
gentle day in fairly blustery conditions but still controllable. On the
Saturday night we berthed in Hythe Marina and were just 4 miles from home!
Sunday was a lovely day with sunshine all day and plenty of wind (F5) for
reflection I have enjoyed the middle weekend but not learnt as much as I
would have liked to. It is only the sailing part that I am really interested
in learning. However, watching the family become more confident at helming,
working the winches, tying knots and preparing for casting off and berthing
has made it all worthwhile. I am already happy to go on holiday with what we
have done so far and actually do some sailing. I would like to have done a
lot more manoeuvring while gibing and tacking when set a course to sail but
it never came. We have finished early two weekends in a row which was not
good and I felt we were being short changed. On the Sunday we learnt to ‘Hove
to’ without the sails flapping while we ‘drifted’ during our lunch,
presumably to save anchoring. We also picked up a MOB and I helmed back to a
At least we
made it to the IOW this time. The winds were now SW F6-F7. We had a good
time and established the basics again. We all came away with a Competent
Crew Certificate the kids were chuffed and they thoroughly deserved it.
The wind was too lively to learn basics but we know now what we can expect if
it gets breezy out in Greece.
thoroughly recommend that you have a go at this sailing game, just so that
you appreciate the ‘dark side’. I can’t say it beats catching a 25lb Cod or
a 10lb Bass or a 3.5lb Black Bream or a 40lb Conger or a 25lb Blonde or a
30lb Stinger or a 4.5lb Plaice or a 2lb Sole or an 15lb Hound but you get my
gist. This was certainly a good experience, good family bonding and a good
way of ‘teeing up’ the autumn sailing holiday. I have this wild imagination
that is allowing me 24 hour access to the sea where I can try my hand at
fishing the waters around the Greek Islands. We’ll have to see what the Mrs
actually says about that when we get there!