Getting ready for Sailing School

In exactly a month’s time I’ll be 2 days into a sailing course and living on a boat in the Caribbean. To say I’m excited would be an absolute understatement.

On the 4th January, I’ll be flying from Manchester to Antigua for a 2 week sailing course. First week will be for the RYA Competent Crew practical and the second week will be for the RYA Day Skipper practical. It’s crazy to even think, that me, a person who has never – ever sailed before, will be able to rent a boat and take it out for a day, after completing the day skipper course in the second week. ( Well, that’s if I manage to pass! )

Last week I spoke with Denise from Miramar Sailing School via Skype, in preparation for the big trip out! Of course there were a few things I should have considered and been aware of before stepping on board!

Like making sure I bring lots of baby wipes, and that I arrive mentally prepared to shower on deck after swimming in the sea, in order to save water on-board ( they prepare you for proper sailing conditions you see? ) Another small-ish thing I needed to be aware of, was that I’d be leaving my suitcase behind as I won’t have anywhere to store it! Seems like common sense things, but really, it didn’t even cross my mind, being the complete novice that I am.

I also had a few misconceptions about sailing, sailing people and just the overall sailing culture..

a) You have to be affluent to sail ( Couldn’t be more wrong on that one! A two week course is roughly about £1000, which is just about the same amount you would spend back home, or for a 2-week holiday anyway. Only this way you learn something new, stay on a boat the entire time and make new friends in the process! )

b) You need to know everything before you set foot on board (Again – wrong! I’m doing my theory course from home with a DVD and the RYA Competent Crew theory book. Familiarising myself with the basics beforehand will be a major benefit to get started, but you don’t need to be an expert before you even set foot on deck! )

c) Everyone gets sea-sick on their first sailing experience ( Not everyone! Not always! – There are little pills you can take before you set sail to minimise risk of feeling sick, but because we’ll be sailing in the Caribean and the waters won’t be as turbulent as they would be out in the great big ocean, getting sea-sick is unlikely to happen, unless I turn out to be ultra-mega-super sensitive to motion sickness! )

d) You need all the proper gear in order to sail ( Not in the Caribbean I’m told! – Sunblock, sunglasses, a bathing suit, shorts, a tshirt and fleece for the evening will pretty much do the job! Boat shoes are a plus, flipflops are a definite no-no, but otherwise with these basics you’ll be good to go! )

So there you go. Now I know just that little bit more about sailing than I did before our conversation earlier this week, and that already makes me feel like sailing really is a sport that’s accessible to everyone! Not as intimidating as I thought after all!

After keeping up to date with the Volvo Ocean Race, I couldn’t be more pumped and excited to learn how to sail. Conditions could always be worse if we were making our way across the ocean, but we won’t be! Island to island sailing is possibly the furthest we’ll go and being stung by a jelly fish is possibly the worst thing that could happen whilst out, but hey.. as far as risk and danger goes? I think we’re gunna make it!

Another thing to be excited about is the teamwork that sailing demands.. I’ll be on a boat with 3 other team mates and a qualified and experienced istructor who will ensure that we pull together, stay safe and on-course. I haven’t played team sports or lived with a small group of people since my boarding school days (more than 10 years ago!), so this will really be a test of character in my old age! ha!

Yes, didn’t I mention? I’ll be turning the big 3-0 exactly one day before the trip, so, in an attempt to celebrate in style, stay active and not lose my marbles altogether – THIS seems like an epic way to ring in the new decade..

Can’t wait!

Will keep you posted.

N

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