Looking Back on Skipper Development 2023

Posted by Mary Coles on 20 November 2023

The course began on Friday evening on board Reach4TheWind, Keith Harding's Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 35 at Ocean Village, Southampton.  There were four of us from different sailing clubs in the Midlands.  Keith cooked us a very welcome meal, during which he went through quite a bit of material relating to being the skipper of a club yacht. Some of this concerned our legal responsibilities for the safety of the boat and crew, but also the skills and personal qualities which we would like to see in a skipper.

On our first day of sailing we went out into Southampton water in some unseasonably pleasant weather to practice some boat and sail-handling manoeuvres, and then into the Hamble for some pontoon bashing. This was quite a long day, at the end of which we chose to sail over to Cowes in the gathering darkness for dinner in The Anchor Inn.

After breakfast the next morning, Keith asked me to organise the crew and take us round to Osborne Bay to anchor. I think I inadvertently demonstrated the need for this course.

The second weekend started earlier in the Friday afternoon so that we could do an evening sail. Lots were drawn for skipper and for crew. I was crew. One of the crew had to cook the evening meal to be ready for when we arrived at our overnight stop. That was me. It was chicken. I had to admit that I'd never cooked one before, but with a bit of help from google (and Keith), I set about it.

So we set off down Southampton Water towards the Solent. In spite of the forecast, there was no wind to speak of, and as we stood in the cockpit, motoring in the pouring rain, a large cruise ship slid by in the darkness.  I could just make out the passengers, sitting in bars and restaurants with a nice glass of wine, all warm and dry. But then I thought that after dinner they were probably going to be entertained by extracts from the musical shows, and at that point I decided I'd rather be here in the rain.

After a while we decided that Cowes wasn't a good idea, given the conditions, so we went into Hamble for the night. I think we all enjoyed the chicken.

Strong winds were forecast for the next day, so we chose to go up to Marchwood for lunch. The weather deteriorated on the way back, so we went in to Shamrock Quay for the night.

I was to be skipper the next morning, and woke to an excellent forecast of SW force 6, which would have given us a nice sail down the water and back. In the event, when we got out of the Itchen, we had 3 knots of wind and more rain. Again, we went in to Hamble for lunch and to pick up fuel.

Both weekends were very enjoyable and illuminating, particularly the second, where the emphasis was on the softer skippering skills.  We saw the value of involving the crew far more in the processes of preparing for sea, and in executing the passage plan. The planning for our first passage took much longer than it need have, because the skipper did most of the work, and didn't delegate. As a result, it was fully dark by the time we slipped.  Over the two weekends we learnt how much of the preparation can be delegated to those of the crew who want to be involved. A lot of time can be saved if the crew perform such tasks as writing up the weather forecast and tides in the daily book, performing the daily checks on the boat, preparing the boat for sea, and doing some of the detailed passage planning. Once at sea we were quicker to hand over the helm and some aspects of navigation to the crew, never forgetting that the skipper remains responsible.  I think that what we learnt will contribute to club crews having a more enjoyable and rewarding time on our sailing trips.

Join Us

Please get in touch if you're interested in joining HOEOCA or come along to a First Tuesday Social or Speaker Evening to meet some members and find out more. All the dates are listed in the Whats' On section on the home page.

Get in touch

Our latest news

© 2015 - 2024 Heart of England Offshore Cruising Association. All rights reserved.

To contact your Data Controller, click here

If you wish to withdraw consent from us holding your personal data please email hoeoca.membership@gmail.com requesting your data be removed from the site. However, this will only be possible if you cease your membership.

In addition, if you wish to exercise your right to be forgotten please click here

Powered by GroupBuzz.

Details of Data Controller are

Name: Mrs Helen Miller

Email: hoeoca.membership@gmail.com