PYC Skipper development course

The club’s chief instructor, Trevor Nicholls ran a RYA Coastal Skipper and PYC skipper development/appraisal course 27th to 31 May.  This was the first time the two courses had been combined in this format.  Four candidates took various combinations of the two courses.  We had a full range of weather and tide conditions which was ideal for a course of this nature.  We visited some of the most beautiful locations in the Solent.

The course started with a get-together in the Castle Tavern and a briefing on the week to follow.  Our first full day commenced with berthing manoeuvres in Portsmouth harbour and then a passage east to Chichester.  We had a beautiful trip through the harbour with an overnight stop in the marina.  This was the first time through a lock for some of us. 

On Tuesday we went from Chichester to Newtown Creek via Osborne Bay and some anchoring practice.  For our overnight stop we picked up a mooring buoy in Newtown Creek where the evening conditions were calm and glorious.  We were given a tidal height problem to work on, based on our actual situation (location, time of arrival etc).

Early morning start in Newtown

Wednesday took us from Newtown to Weymouth and provided the most challenging conditions of the week, with poor visibility and winds touching force seven. 

Quartette approaching Durdle Door

For our trip back from Weymouth on Thursday, we still had brisk winds but the visibility had improved considerably, which enabled us to enjoy the spectacular Dorset coast.  We tucked in close to the coast to get a good view of Durdle Door and then back into the Solent via the Needles Channel where we had a beautiful view of the Needles and Alum Bay in the early evening sunshine. However, our day was far from finished. We picked up a mooring in the Beaulieu River for dinner and in pairs planned a night passage and pilotage. We then set out from Beaulieu, into the Hamble and then from Hamble across to East Cowes via the new small boat channel. We finished in East Cowes Marina and went to bed at 2:30 in the morning after some late-night cheese and wine!

Our final day took us from East Cowes to Stokes Bay for man-overboard practice under power and sail and then finally we returned, tired and satisfied, to Haslar.

Trevor at the held off the Needles

The course was excellent.  Trevor was a great teacher, always supportive and encouraging and was constantly on hand to provide help and advice, as well as keeping us fully fed and watered.  Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the week.  It was challenging, immensely fulfilling and was fun from beginning to end.  This course is thoroughly recommended for any club member wanting to develop their skippering skills.

Peter Gardner

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