Training Sail

Late afternoon last Friday, Richard ( training officer), Tim, Ian, Simon, James, Arne & myself met up on Pride of Man III in Douglas marina to begin a weekend of sail training. After cabin allocation, stowing of provisions and a crew briefing , the first session began with boat-handling exercises within the confines of the marina. After an hour or so, James became skipper and plotted our course across Douglas bay to Onchan harbour where we dropped the anchor for a couple of hours. A delicious supper was prepared by Simon which was demolished with speed!

Night fell and we were back to business. After a group session on night-sailing, Richard asked us to navigate up the coast to a mooring buoy just outside Laxey harbour – without using the boats’ plotter or any other electronic devices… Charts were studied , maps drawn and copious notes made and around 0030hrs we left our mooring. I was at the helm for my first night sail and will never forget it- a half moon and a million stars were out and the sea was glassy smooth, what a beautiful night it was. With Maughold Head lighthouse shining ahead it wasn’t too long before we spotted the mooring buoy off Laxey ( quite tricky in the dark).

Now it was Simons’ turn to skipper us back down the coast to Garwick where we moored up at 0300hrs and fell into our bunks. Not for long though.

0700hrs and we were up and breakfasted. Another fantastic sunny day but this time with the added bonus of a decent wind! Tim plotted a course north to Port Mooar and helmed a fantastic sail up the coast until we dropped  anchor and paused to revive ourselves with coffee and cake. We then sailed towards the Dolphin off Queens’ pier in Ramsey bay,  James having plotted this section, and practiced approaching the mooring buoys under sail.

We didn’t have far to go for the next exercise- across to the north side of the bay! Richard & James had established where the Manx Sailing & Cruising Club racing marks were sited so we headed to the inshore mark. Notes were handed to each crew member , each with two actions- tack and gybe- in different combinations that they had to carry out whilst sailing around the mark.

An interesting couple of hours followed with everyone working hard to execute their tasks, aided considerably at times by a masterclass in manoeuvring from Arne! This was a difficult set of tasks but Richard was very pleased by the overall results – well done all.

After the concentration and excitement of the exercise, Simon plotted our course towards the Bahama bank cardinal mark, approximately 8/9 miles off Ramsey Bay. The hand-held compass certainly got plenty of action on this leg to fix our position at sea. After Carole  had taken the boat around the mark, Ian took the helm while James acted as skipper again and charted a course south for Laxey once more.

Conditions remained excellent and we made a good rate of knots ( 9.4 at one point) . We spotted the Manxman heading up the coast off our port bow on her way to Belfast- we gave her a big wave, and unfortunately she gave us one back ( a large bow wave) which did not help poor cook in the galley.

With the low sun shining down the Laxey valley, Ian took us onto the mooring buoy for a short time before we headed over back to Garwick for the night. Another tasty supper provided by Simon was devoured and it wasn’t long before we turned in for a good nights’ sleep.

Waking to the sounds of birdsong, the sea splashing gently around the boat and sunshine pouring into the cabin the next day? Just perfect. After coffee and a debrief reflecting on the weekend, we began more exercises: lassoing a mooring buoy (who knew?) and approaching from astern. We had company – a bright Sunday morning brought rowers, a jetski, kayakers and a yacht to the area to enjoy being out on the water.

We headed back to Douglas for a late morning bridge lift and spent an hour cleaning and tidying the boat ready for her next sail a few days later.

Sailing for the Disabled is very fortunate to have Yachtmaster Instructor Richard Wild as our training officer. The crew had a wide variety of training needs and each came away with new knowledge and skills that can only enhance the experiences and safety of all our sailing members.

– Carole Quayle

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