We often get asked what we do during the winter. Apart from doing all the maintenance on the boats to make them shipshape for the new season, we still sail all year long but in January we stop for a month to give everyone time off to get holidays or jobs done at home etc. This also gives us a chance to prepare and paint the booking office while we are not sailing and we also have life-rings, boxes, and other bits and bobs to scrape and paint.

This winter myself, Jimmy, Chris and John did a few courses. Lucky for us, these are all situated down in Amble which is only about 40 minutes drive from Seahouses. Jimmy and Chris only had one course to do and John did a few more, but for myself I did a lot more. It’s not that I have not done any of them before, but I needed to give myself some refresher courses and I can tell you I was really pleased I did as some of the rules and regulations had changed a lot.

One of the courses was First Aid and a few laws had changed along with a few methods. While I was on this course we had a few jack the lads and sometimes the banter was cutting but other times I was in tears with laughter. Most of the lads were fisherman and a few of them were built like brick s*** houses so when the tutor started to demonstrate how to give CPR they all giggled like school children but the tutor had the last laugh when he told them they had to do it now.

Personally I found it really interesting, especially when he explained how things had change a bit over the years and how technology had changed the way we did things. CPR was still the same and it was one of the most important things to learn and it can be a matter of life or death. As we all took our turns having a go, one lad nearly killed the dummy. He was so big and what he thought was a gentle push on the chest of the dummy everyone else cringed. In fact the tutor said, he was so pleased it was not a real person as he would have broken every one of his ribs. Even though it was funny to see but, it was good in another way as it taught him to try and learn his own strength. The tutor did say that we were ever put in this situation and we broke a few ribs to save his/her life then so be it. If you did not break a few ribs then you were not doing it right.

We also did a engineering course explaining everything from the basic function of an engine, morse controls and gear boxes etc. I really enjoyed the class even if the gentleman running it was a bit boring. I preferred the hands on side more then the written side but I suppose you have to learn both.

I really enjoyed being refreshed on lots of things that i totally forgotten about and for the lads that had never done it before it was nice to show them where they were going right or wrong, so its worth going back once in a while to update yourself. I did enjoy the hands on things more but I suppose everyone did and that was evident on the Navigation Course than any other. The tutor was an old boy and made his own vessels, big and small out of wood and even made his of cardinal buoys from lego or kids toys. I think he really enjoyed explaining how he had made them himself instead of buying them and to be honest they were really cool.

He also went through navigation lights, cardinal buoys and chart work. It has been years since i did any chart work so it was really good learning it all over again. I know I don’t need it around the Farnes but its good to refresh your memory and that’s why I’m on these courses to start with.

It was really good doing different courses, meeting new people and learning new things. I think next winter I will push myself to do some more courses and hopefully learn a bit more.

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