Friday, 4 July 2014

Sailing Course Summary

About a week ago, starting on the 25th of June to be exact, I took a practical sailing course from Last summer I did a pleasure craft operator's course (which I wrote about here) and it included the basics of sailing with a short practice, therefore it felt right to skip the beginners' course and take the advanced course. Although my aims haven't changed and I still wish to drive large and powerful ships in the future, I don't feel it's quite right if I do that without knowing how to get on with a power source as basic as the sail. I'm also happy to know that I've taken sea-related courses two seasons in a row.

Unlike last year's course which was mostly theory, this one was purely practical. Having skipped the beginners' course, I felt quite lost in the beginning of the first day. I volunteered to steer the boat out of the marina because I was feeling quite confident at that. It also meant that I was immediately in charge after we shut down the motor and I had close to no idea what to do. But the more we sailed, the more I recalled and the next day I didn't feel like I had missed anything. 

There was five of us on board, four students and the instructor. The boat was small and the four of us were neatly distributed to different tasks and the instructor was there to keep an eye on us,  give advice and sometimes teach. The cooperation went smoothly and made the course a very pleasant experience.

Our small practice boat
On the first day we sailed quite far out, tacking and revising the basics, and then hoisted the spinnaker to sail back. Jibing with the spinnaker meant that someone had to climb up on the bow of the boat to change the position of the spinnaker pole. Being the daring person I am, it quickly became one of my favourite things to do on board. We had similar plans for the second day as we sailed out even farther, almost out of the Gulf of Tallinn, but then, just as we had lowered the jib sail and started to set up the spinnaker, the wind direction changed 180 degrees and the best we could do was to hoist the jib again and sail back.

Detaching the spinnaker pole
On the third day things got more exciting as we learned to deal with and maneuver in all wind directions and also practiced maneuvering and docking in Pirita marina. Considering the fact that I was feeling a bit shaky a year ago trying to dock a motorboat, docking under sail was not so bad. In fact, in the end I was feeling quite confident maneuvering under sail in very narrow spaces, which was quite a good feeling. Afterwards we hoisted the spinnaker again to return to the Old City marina. On the fourth and final day we continued trying out different maneuvers and wind directions and then threw a fender in the sea to practice man overboard rescue maneuvers. After several attempts to retrieve the fender, both failed and successful, we hoisted the gennaker and slowly sailed back home, completing the course. 

Tracked the 3rd day
Gennaker and the lowered jib
To me the experience was very enjoyable and, most importantly, extremely useful. Although it was not the easiest thing I have ever done, I wish it had lasted longer, because it really feels like it lasted less than a blink of an eye. Despite that I feel like I got enough time to practice, so if someone was to give me a boat and order me to sail, I feel I'd know exactly what to do. In addition to what I've already said, it was a whole new experience for me to sail out of the Old City marina right between the big ships, to ask permission to enter or exit the harbour over the loud noise of the two stroke engine, to suddenly heel 45 degrees and more, to watch other ships coming and going while not too busy myself, and so on. On the last two days the weather was nice and sunny and we used the quiet moments to take photos. 

Princess Anastasia
Waiting for Superstar to enter before we can exit
Princess Anastasia and Finlandia
Waiting for Star to enter before we can follow

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