I am a member of Nantwich & Border Counties Sailing Club and have really enjoyed dinghy sailing since taking the RYA Start Sailing course with my daughter, Jemima (now aged 14), four years ago.  Since then my younger son, Ben (aged 10), and my wife Claire have also started dinghy sailing and this culminated in a beach dinghy sailing holiday in Greece last summer.  However, when our club announced that Neill Chipping of Splash Adventure would be running both the VHF RSC course and the Day Skipper shore based theory course over the winter months of 2011/12, I jumped at the opportunity of progressing beyond the 68 acres of inland lake that we sail at the weekends.  

Both courses were enthusiastically and professionally presented by Neill and led me to consider the Day Skipper Practical Course with Splash Adventure.  When I mentioned this to my wife, she surprised me with her enthusiasm to come along too with the children so that we could progress from beach sailing to chartering a yacht for future family holidays.  A call to Neill confirmed that he was more than happy for the family to join me for the course and for them to take the Competent Crew qualification.  I am pleased to say that we all qualified during our five days aboard the Mary Kate in August.  Neill accommodated the differing base skill levels and the course requirements for each member of the family; had a friendly approach with the children and struck up a great relationship with them.

Jemima says “My highlights started on the Sunday evening when we arrived at Hythe Marina and were introduced to Neill, who was really friendly.  He showed us around his yacht, Mary Kate and we got ourselves settled in.  The next day the course began and we all had a go at steering – the yacht is 38 feet long and weighs 18 tonnes and is quite different to my usual boat, a Laser Pico!”

“I learned lots of new things, such as preparing the yacht for the day’s sailing, mooring, anchoring, preparing slip lines and fenders, as well as sailing and motoring in different weather conditions.  One of the highlights was the night sail, part of which was along Southampton Water; Dad was concentrating on navigating using the pilotage plan he had prepared earlier and Mum was on the helm.  There was a huge car transporter vessel on the opposite side of the channel and in the gap, there was an Isle of Wight ferry and a high speed ferry, all in the dark – at this point Mum said to Neill, I cannot believe that you have got me doing this!”

The whole experience was very exciting and Neill was an excellent instructor and we would all recommend him to any family who want to learn big boat sailing together as a team.