As an all year round dinghy sailor, I had no idea about the delights of Blue water cruising. I had absolutely no experience of being on a yacht. My partner said to me why don’t we try our hand at yachting. Probably fed up of me getting her wet, so we decided to start by completing the Day Skipper Theory course with Neill.

We started our course in November 2009, and completed in April 2010. The experience was a positive one. He was helpful and very knowledgeable. When things started getting tough he was there to help us out and also giving up his free time when the need arose. Having completed the theory course I was keen to cut my teeth on a yacht. Not actually having been on one before. In April 2010 I went for a week in the Solent to complete the Practical Day Skipper course with Neill. It was a week of exhilaration. From not knowing one end of the yacht from the other, to being able to skipper it from A to B without bouncing off other boats or worse. It was also a week of hard work. By the end of the week I was tired, no exhausted, the concentration levels were enormous. Neill supported us throughout the whole process and showed us a few extra tricks.  Some of which I needed to use a few months later, and I was pleased to have been given that little bit extra.

After successfully completing the Practical Day Skipper course, I was keen to try out my newly found skills. So my partner and I chartered a 36’ yacht for two weeks in the Solent in August 2010. Many of the skills Neill showed us came into play. To name them all would be too much. However one skill he did teach me was how to ferry glide a yacht. On a trip to East Cowes when the tide was running quickly, I wasn’t quite sure of a safe way of bringing the yacht into its berth. Then I remembered that by ferry gliding it, I would not expose the yacht’s beam to a ferocious tidal stream and potential disaster. So that was the course of action I proposed. Heads started to appear out of companion ways to watch the sport. Expecting me to make a complete hash of it and turn the manoeuvre into bumper boats. I disappointed the expectant onlookers and entered the berth like dream. Without that ‘little bit extra’ the manoeuvre would have been extremely difficult.    

These experiences have caused me to catch an extreme sailing bug. So much so that I have started the next course with Neill, Coastal Skipper Theory. To be able to come this far in such a short time takes an instructor who is patient and willing to give up a significant amount of time. I am looking forward to more courses in the future.