Let the sailing begin! with Universal Yachting!

1

With warm and sunny upon us we gather for breakfast before our in-depth briefing. We are taught the safety rules first: how to use fire extinguishers and wear life jackets, what to do in case of an emergency and how to use a VHF marine radio.

It’s then time to get acquainted with the rigging and sails.
It’s a lot to take in, but Clive’s motto is to learn by doing and soon we all know what he means when he talks about a jib, reefs and mainsail.

Mooring lines slipped, it’s time to leave the marina and let the fun (and hard work!) commence.

Hoisting the mainsail and jib is no mean feat, but with a bit of teamwork, up they go, and away we sail.

All about learning the points of sail, gybing, taking the helm mastering some basic rope work, mooring the boat to a pontoon, anchoring and using winches.

Being on a boat is all about working together. Everybody has a job and it’s important not to be in each other’s way.

Clive is incredibly patient and happily explains things over and over until we get them.

As we sail towards Gosport Marina, we see Sir Ben Ainslie and his team practicing on the Land Rover BAR. We all get very excited, especially Jane and I, who snap away at the catamaran until we get a good picture.

I’m behind the helm, heading towards Gosport. It’s a great feeling, but keeping the boat on course is not as easy as it looks. But we do get to our destination and it’s now time to secure Splash to our berth, freshen up and go for a well-earned drink and spot of dinner.
It’s only the end of our first day of sailing but I’m already feeling more confident, and I’m jumping on and off the moored boat without fear of falling into the water.

2

When you are sailing with a group you work, sleep and eat in very close proximity so it’s no surprise that by Saturday night it feels like the five of us have known each other for a long time, and not just 24 hours. As we enjoy dinner at Gosport Marina, our skipper Clive regales us with tales of his time in the Navy and the fascinating, if a little terrifying, story of when he took part in the 1979 Fast net race.

The feeling of achievement and camaraderie bring a wonderful day of sailing to an end. With one more day to go, it’s time to get a good night’s sleep, ready to tackle.

Tacking and man overboard recovery

3

It’s another beautiful sunny day and today we learn to tack. We are still getting a little confused when it comes to the points of sail, but practice makes perfect and soon enough we gain confidence.

Today we are also learning the man overboard recovery.
We may be ‘saving’ a fender, but the apprehension is still palpable. This is teamwork indeed and everybody has to be fast and alert. With the fender safely found and recovered, not once but twice, we congratulate ourselves on a job well done.

The wind is not on our side on Sunday, so we need some engine power to keep moving. Still it’s a beautiful, hot, sunny day and we take in enchanting sites and kick back a little.

Alas all good things must come to and end and it’s time to sail back to beautiful Universal Marina in Hamble.
The weekend has gone quickly. We are all proud of our team work and what we’ve learnt and achieved and a few of us are already thinking about signing up for the next course.

Whilst I still probably wouldn’t sail single-handedly around the world, by the end of the two days I am much more confident on the water and sailing a yacht. I’m not quite sure I’m ARC material like Jane, but maybe a flotilla holiday like Steve or the Competent Crew course like Martin could be on the cards in the future. Watch this space!

Click here for more information of Universal Yachting RYA Start Yachting course.

The weekend course costs £350pp or £245pp for a shared cabin.
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