A brief (for me) report of the excellent boathandling course we did on 23rd/24th Feb 2008

The instructors: Clint, Paul L, Nick L, and Grant

The students: Geoff H, Grace, Julie, Jake, Tony W, and Simon

We all met up at the club on Saturday morning for the theory part of the course, an introduction  to the RIB and equipment, boat handling theory, passage plan organising, "rules of the road" etc., a tour of the boat and to help prepare the boats and hitch them up.

Then to Teignmouth. The launch - as we''d anticipated - was interesting! At low (spring) tide, with the tide still on the ebb, Mir was nearly grounded; and Hubble needed help over the mud  and shingle into deeper water. There was a gentle SW/westerly breeze. Beyond the point it was a  bit choppy, but not too bad.

After navigating the harbour mouth and the sand bars, guided by our teachers we took turns at helming the RIBS, basic manoeuvring, and reading the waves and adjusting our speed accordingly. When we weren't driving. I want to say we drank rum and sang merry shanties - but actually we picked up more interesting knowledge of boathandling, practised knots, and kept a lookout. Back in the estuary we practised manoeuvring in sheltered water, getting the boats up to the pontoons  off the river beach and nudging the marker buoys. Retrieval (which we took turns at coordinating) was straightforward. We washed down the boats and rendezvoused at the club.

On Sunday we met again at the club to get the boats out and returned to Polly Steps. Launch was  far easier than the previous day, and we were off again, soon heading past Pole Sand to practise more boathandling skills like deploying anchors, picking up divers (we used a weighted float), man overboard drill and the Wilkinson turn.

The course was brilliant and I would recommend everyone do it if they get the opportunity. As well as a fine introduction to boat handling, we came to appreciate just how much goes into organising a boat dive. Thank you to all the instructors (Clint and Paul also towed) and Anne  for the wonderful sausage sandwiches!!