2016 Training Plan

This is just an aide-memoire for me. It’s like a new years resolution but with costs and URLs. Limited only by my available holidays.


  • RYA VHF Radio Licence Certificatelink – It is compulsory that any vessel with a VHF Radio installed must have a licensed operator.
  • RYA Diesel Engine Maintenance Certificate Courselink – A one-day beginners’ training course to help you prevent and solve diesel engine failure.
  • RYA Competent Crewlink – Five nights aboard and five days sailing. An ideal way to learn more about sailing in a safe and fun environment.
  • STCW Basic Safety Training (STCW 95 & 2010)link – the legal minimum requirement for anyone looking for commercial work aboard vessels over 24 metres, in accordance with the STCW Code A-VI/1.
    • Personal Survival Techniques (STCW A-VI/1-1)
    • Fire Fighting & Fire Prevention (STCW A-VI/1-2)
    • Elementary First Aid (STCW A-VI/1-3)
    • Personal Safety & Social Responsibility (STCW A-VI/1-4)
    • Proficiency in Security Awareness (STCW A-VI/6-1)

plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

It’s worth saying that 2015 has been, on the whole, a pretty challenging year. Things happened beyond my control that I was forced to react to and, in every case, I like to think that I did my best, with the information I had, and the outcomes I could foresee. Did I do everything right in hindsight? No. Would it have been better if I had chosen differently? Maybe. Is it worth worrying about? Absolutely not.

But what did I achieve in 2015?

  • I went sailing.
  • Got a new job.
  • Lost 40lbs.
  • Got a qualification in solar power.
  • Got debt free.


I am looking forward to 2016 – indeed, I’m looking forward to the remainder of this year – because I’ve taken steps forward which I know I will cherish. But take it as read that when I say “2016”, I really mean “from this moment on”. For the two or three people who read this, this might even echo with some of you.

I want to do things in 2016.

I will be taking a CompCrew course somewhere warm over Easter. I know I will do this. If you want to come along and learn something, by all means. Usually the courses are up to six people so every friend is one less stranger and spending a week learning how to be useful on a yacht is no real hardship. It’s only about £650 or so for a week so why wouldn’t you.

I sold my dinghy earlier this year and I will be buying something bigger. While I have my eye on a Dufour 36 Classic and I’ll be working hard to scrap together the deposit for it one the next six months, even a cabin cruiser would be an improvement. Again – if you fancy going out on the water, ping me. I’ll be looking for excuses.

I want to try video podcasting. I kinda need to learn a bit before I embarrassingly put my face to a video screen but I enjoyed the bit of tech podcasting I did a couple of years ago (until it descended into a rant about Macs versus PCs or Android versus IOS – neither argument I give a shit about).

I want to visit a new country. I’ve been to France, Spain, Portugal, Sardinia, Italy, Estonia, Denmark, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Bulgaria, Gibraltar. I’ve not been to Switzerland, Croatia, Austria, Hungary, Poland or Greece or any of Africa. Some of those are on the list.

And I want to start a new business. I have some ideas.

Just one sentence destroyed the credibility of FORTUNE

In the past, Khosla has acknowledged that at least half his green-energy businesses would fail.

This is an article about the green-tech investments by billionaire venture capitalist Vinod Khosla.

But as any investor would know. Or indeed anyone who pays any attention to start-ups or the economy, 80% of start-ups fail. So how is a scoop about a VC with an expectation of a 50% fail rate anything but an optimistic vote of success.


Khosla has argued that the stakes for the planet are so high when it comes to energy that the potential benefits easily justify the costs of flops (which, as with all venture investments, are numerous).

Be Bold, Not Boring

Marissa Mayer wasn’t hired to do the safe thing. She was picked to be bold, and so far, she has failed.

I remember having an Armchair CEO session regarding what Yahoo! should do.

While I wouldn’t claim our speculations would have borne any more fruit, at least they would have been interesting. Which Yahoo! hasn’t been in any sense.

Could I do it better? I’d do it better for less money

Freedom of Information, with data not information

The headline of the BelTel screams injustice and inequality but illustrates poor understanding of how the economy works.


The scandal is that three organisations (two universities and one ALB (arms-length body) receive a third of all grant aid from Invest Northern Ireland.

NI Screen
One of the peculiarities of the Northern Ireland system is that Northern Ireland Screen, the film and television development agency in Northern Ireland, is funded via Invest Northern Ireland. They are given a chunk of cash each year which they use to pay their staff, maintain their offices (which are not expansive or salubrious), organise trade missions and provide development and production support to aspiring film makers and existing developments and productions – including Game of Thrones, City of Ember, Your Highness, Grabbers, The Keith Lemon Movie and a host of others. NI Screen doesn’t have a membership structure and while it’s true they get extra cash from the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure, the bulk of their economic development work is funded via Invest Northern Ireland. So, if they didn’t get this money then these productions might not have happened (and I’m only upset I didn’t get to meet Natalie Portman, Lena Headey or Emilia Clarke). So, come on, Margaret Canning, wind your neck in about that cash. They don’t actually get the money for themselves.

The Universities
This isn’t the first time the BelTel has levelled an eye at the Universities and their funding and economic affairs and with the same ham-fisted approach. Universities do receive a chunk of cash from the Department of Employment and Learning but that’s pretty much to offset the restricted fees structure in place. The money from Invest Northern Ireland is slightly different. It’s made up of hundreds of Innovation Vouchers and Knowledge Transfer Partnerships as well as (probably) a bit of business support for University spin-outs who are attempting to create jobs and prosperity. It just looks like a big number because it’s over three years but it’s too easy to look at the universities as individual entities and not as a knowledge provider for the entire Northern Ireland economy.

Areas outside of Belfast
Prior to 2011, there was a facilitation to help companies set up outside of Belfast but this was cut for a number of reasons. I think a big reason was to do with the businesses themselves. Setting up in the middle of nowhere is not what most companies want. They want to be where the critical mass of people are, where the best facilities are, where there is good transport, decent infrastructure and some sort of social hub. Belfast has 50% of the creative sector housed within it’s satrapy and this isn’t by design. This is because companies want to be there. The population of greater Belfast is a third of the entire population of Northern Ireland. Two thirds are located in the east of the province. This is why Belfast scores nearly twice as much investment from Invest Northern Ireland as the next nearest region. It’s where the companies are. Like it or not, Invest Northern Ireland doesn’t just hand money out to anyone who walks in the door (well….) but you need to apply, show you have match funding, and meet other scrutiny that we, the people, demand they do. Incredibly rural areas are not going to get the same level of investment and a single company located in the region with a large workforce can easily account for all of the Invest Northern Ireland spend for the whole region.

The data presented here is meaningless.

Of course, the Belfast Telegraph are just reading the output from Detail Data (a NICVA project) and it’s a shame there wasn’t any deep analysis of the data performed. It’s easy to report bias and headlines without applying appropriate context.