Tuesday, 15 March 2011

A Sailor's Life.........

Hurst Castle and Lighthouse
For those of you that have known me for a while, you will be aware of my dream to retire early, to buy a yacht and to sail into the blue yonder, off chasing the sun around the world (the snow-hole experience has left me with a desire to feel the sun on my back as often as possible - my bones have never really warmed up after that experience). I am fully conscious that I seem to socialise* my dream at every opportunity with whomever is willing to listen to me, or maybe whoever is cornered by me, and I find it interesting to notice peoples' responses when they realise what I am actually saying and intending to do.  Some people glaze over as they cannot image life without Tescos and Corrie, others are incredulous that I can retire at 50 and I might be living on a boat for the next 30 years and some people have had the same dream.....but have just not managed to fulfil it.
(*Sorry, that is a terrible use of that word, but I had to use it here to get it out of my system. Managements generally seem to have adopted the word to replace 'talk', 'discuss', debate' etc, where in fact they actually mean "This is my idea, you can discuss it all you like, but we are doing it anyway."  Socialise to me implies meeting, a get together, to entertain and going out. Anyway, I digress, I'm not going to use the word 'socialise' in that context again - promise.) 
Some dreams come true with little effort, some are waiting around the corner and surprise you as you bump into them going the other way.  But the best dreams that come true are the ones you have to work for, the ones you have had to plan, toiled over, refined and strived towards for some time.  Because when when you achieve that kind of dream, you know you deserve it, it wasn't just luck (although fate might have played a part in it), it wasn't just circumstances that allowed you to arrive there; it was your effort and your drive that made it happen.  Often, to achieve your dream, there are many steps to take and hurdles to negotiate before you can claim your prize.  And this is the case for me.

I took up sailing back in 2006. My dream then was of driving around the world in a camper problem!  After working in Sierra Leone for a year I came back to the UK to realise how much I disliked driving.  I am not sure if it was the change from the rally-style driving in West Africa to the car-park-style driving on the M25 in the UK, but I was not happy sat behind the wheel of a car........I needed to review my plan.  So I tried sailing and loved it!!!  To be able to take my home with me, to travel in such a 'green' way and to be able to live life at my pace seems too good to be true.
Over the last 2-weeks or so I have been on courses down in Poole, consolidating the sailing experience I have built up over the past 5 years and spending my Enhanced Learning Credits allowance (many, many thanks to the almighty British tax-payer) on one of those small steps towards achieving my dream.  A week in the classroom studying charts, the ‘rules of the road’ and the weather before “casting off the bow-line” to work on my practical sailing skills.  The two weeks culminated in a practical exam onboard an Elan 333 yacht called ‘Energy”, with a RYA examiner testing me on every aspect of the sailing curriculum at both day and night.
It was shortly before midnight last Friday that I found out that I had passed the exam and I now had the lofty qualification of ‘Yachtmaster Coastal Skipper’.
I mentioned words such as ‘toil’, ‘strive’ and ‘effort’ earlier in today’s entry and as with many things in life, it’s often team work that helps you achieve goals, and it is no different in this case.  So as this is my blog and I can put whatever I are a few words of gratitude.  Steve (my fellow Yachtmaster Coastal Skipper - well done!) thank you for being such a good shipmate and I hope I was as much help to you as you were to me in getting through and succeeding in those 2 weeks. Our other shipmate, also called Steve (Chip), thank you for staying on board during the exam and crewing for us - it made life so much easier as we knew we could rely on you - I hope you go on and further your sailing Qs now.
Angus -  thank you for the classroom instruction and for all your stories - your ‘chalk-and-talk’ technique is a skill quickly passing out of the classroom, keep it up.
Rob - you are a star and absolutely unflappable!  It was a pleasure to sail with you and you provided the highest level of instruction I have ever encountered on the water.  Is there anything you do not know about sailing?  Many, many thanks for sharing just some of your knowledge with me, I am looking forward to my future courses with you.
Mike - Thank you and Poole Sailing Ltd for putting together the courses for me - I would recommend your courses to anyone - keep up the good work!!

I’m back down to Poole tomorrow for a course on boat electrics - another small step..........

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