Last night I took a few more steps towards sailing by actually finding a sail training company that answered email. I had zero luck with the local training folk in Ballyholme with both email and voicemail but I lucked out and remembered an article in the August 2009 issue of Sailing Today (which is by far my favourite sailing magazine).
We don’t have the weather for sailing all year round and and this is never more apparent than when you drive past Ballyholme Yacht Club and see the smaller yachts being hoisted out of the water and laid up for storage during our “harsh” winter months. In other regions, especially close to the equator, sailing is an all-season pastime. Which brings me to AllAbroad which was featured in the issue of S.T. but also was very quick to email me back (turnaround time of around 8 hours – most of that overnight – which again sets them apart from other trainers I’d contacted.
As you can see, the AllAbroad Competent Crew course is £475 off-season and covers 5 days and 6 nights of accommodation on the yacht with a focus on safety and boat handling and giving you the opportunity to visit Gibraltar, Spain and Morocco. To avail, all you have to do is pay your ticket, bring along a little spending money and then get yourself a return flight to Gibraltar.
My costs would include a flight to Gatwick (£50-75 return) and then a flight from Gatwick to Gibraltar (£100 return) but even so, the trip seems very reasonable and as soon as I’m able, I’ll endeavour to get that booked.
The schedule of the course as laid out in the magazine was:
Sunday – Introduction to boat and safety briefing
Monday – Kitting out, exercises under engine in Gib Bay, Sailed up to Strait for look around
Tuesday – MOB exercises and passage to Ceuta
Wednesday – Ceuta to Smir
Thursday – From Smir, planned passage to Estepona aborted on rounding Ceuta – made for Gib instead
Friday – Sail across Gib Bay, exercises and dinghy drill in inner Bay.
All of this also included time ashore in the various locations including Morocco/North Africa and the historic regions abound (especially if you pay attention to your Templar lore) but among all of this foreign culture you learn the full RYA-approved Competent Crew syllabus.
Seems like a bloomin’ bargain.