Certified Skippers!

After just a week on our live-aboard course we did pass both written and practical exams and it seems we are now certified skippers! we should be receiving our ICC (International Certificate of Competency) in the mail within the next 6 weeks or so to prove everyone that we know what we are doing.

it will be good to have this certificate as proof, because quite honestly I would not consider us experienced sailors by any stretch of the imagination. We did make a few mistakes on teh written exam but our instructor told us that he interprets the ‘competent’ part of teh ICC not in the way that we need to know everything, but that we know where to find answers when we need them. So with the internet available and a book by our side for most parts of the coming year we do think that we can find most of what we still think we need to improve on.

Overall I would recommend this course with Sea Trek for teh ones that either want a first introduction to sailing or really need to get the certificate (like in our case). However I would not say that this course would replace some of teh other courses available that obviously take much loner time to complete but will most likely also go into more depths on many of the subjects taught. for us we feel this is okay as we will (hopefully) have enough sailing experience once we are back on our island, but for someone wishing to start cruising right after this would not be sufficient in our opinion.

so, for now we can stop learning and we are off to do some island hopping in the Cyclades over the next two weeks!

learning to Sail, starting the course

So here we are in Greece on the island of Kefalonia. everything between our last post about signing up for the sailing course and now went flawless and the guys at Sea-Trek have been very forthcoming with information and helpful in the planning. while most of their clients are from the UK, where one just hops on a charter flight from London directly to Kefalonia, we had a somewhat more challenging trip, which involved:

Seaplane from our island to Maldives International Airport

Plane from Maledives to Doha and then from Doha to Athens

Overnight stay in Athens

Bus from Athens to Patra

Ferry from Patra to Kefalonia and one last bus to the yacht base.

Yes, this really was the quickest way to get from A to B!

IMG_7494

but we did arrive and when boarding the boat, our home for the next week, the first thing I noticed: where is the steering wheel??? naive as I was I never considered that the boat we chartered might have a tiller instead. well, I guess something more to learn 🙂

the next challenge was for me to answer the question: what sailing experience do you have? As most people signing up for this course are complete novices it came a bit of a surprise when I told my instructor that I had about 1500nm under my belt, including a crossing of the Indian Ocean, hiding from pirates and navigating with not much more than an iPhone 😉

well, it was not quite that bad, but in principle this is what i had done not too long ago, so I still felt it would be good to learn a bit more and to get that much desired piece of paper confirming us as proper sailors 🙂

so lets see what the coming days will bring us.

First week sailing on Kokomo

After months of preparation and hard work, after short sailing trips at the sunset or snorkeling on nearby reefs, we are now set to go on our first sailing week on Kokomo. For the occasion, few friends joined us from Germany and we are now preparing all the things we need to sail for 7 days.
Coming from a person that never really packed for a week sailing, I thought I would share my shopping list to know if we packed too much or too little.
7 days sailing – 5 people
12 sausages – 5 beef steaks – carrots 3kg – potatoes 5kg – onions (lots) – lattice & cabbage – pasta 3kg – 15 eggs – bread 2kg or so – several kind of sauces (hoping in some great fishing days) ham – cheese – jams – muesli 2pkt – quite a variety of soft drinks and beers.

The sailing plan starts in South Ari Atoll – departure at 07:00 – direction Meemu Atoll.

Map of Meemu Atoll

The wind forecast is not as positive as it was in the last few days, there might be some rain during the crossing but we believe we can reach the entry channel of Raabondhihuraa by midday or so and find an anchoring place nearby the little bacardi island that we saw on the map.

just few hours left before departure, at the meantime some are getting digitally-ready to leave.

Preparation

We found a Sailing School in Greece

after our disaster with the American Sailing Academy in Greece, we kept searching and finally found another option.

Sea-Trek, a UK based sailing school specializing in teaching novices to sail in ONE WEEK! We literally stumbled upon this company as they were not easy to find (their SEO must have been programmed terribly!).

not sure how much they could teach us in one week we contacted them by email and we quickly received very positive and informative responses. it really gave us the impression that they cared and knew what they were doing. best of all, the cost was lower than any of the other options. for only £675 per person, we got the entire course, including our private yacht (306 Feeling). in addition there were a couple of extra fees, but everything was clearly explained in advance. the other benefit, the teaching was done to IYT standards, which is the international certificate we wanted to begin with.

we quickly signed up, paid the deposit and we started our plans for completing the course at the end of June. so we had about one month during which we had to complete the online learning portion of this course. all was done quickly and easily and after paying our $100 fee to access the course we were off to the 13 sections of the course.

so we have about 4 weeks to complete all modules and get our certificate, which is required to be eligible for the ICC (International Certificate of Competency). this is actually the same certificate that we could achieve after 21 days in Thailand (see previous post).

needing a sailing license, who to use?

we have heard of some people that start their sailing experience without any certification whatsoever and it seems it is actually possible. However we felt it might be of some help to get a document that will convince people that we actually know what we are doing.

There are several programs that offer sailing trainings in a short period of time and these are the ones that we thought would be best:

Zero to Hero. The tile alone is so awesome that I was ready to sign up right then an there. They are based in Phuket Thailand and do their syllabus according to the IYT (International Yacht Training).  Cost for the 21 day course is roughly US$ 2800 per person.

The Zero to Hero Courses are fast track courses for complete beginners who want to become either navigators or captain in 12 to 21 days. They say that the Zero to Hero course is designed for new boat owners, aspiring navigators and people who want fast forward teaching. I guess this pretty much hits the nail on the head, but to get the paper that we want you need to complete the 3 week course, which is a long time to be away from work…

what did not fit into our plan is that we had been to Thailand (and Phuket) several times and it was not really on the top of our list to go again. Especially as we would need to use most of our annual holiday time we did want to combine the learning with seeing something new as well.

Another course we heard many good things about is the ‘Fasttrack to Cruising‘, based in Florida or the British Virgin Islands.  what appealed to us is that you can get live aboard experience with the course and it seems that many people were very pleased with the teaching.  You can apply for a US Sailing Certificate upon completion.

Again, there were a few points against this option. Firstly, we live in the Maldives and Florida is on the other side of the planet. Moreover we just spent a 3 week holiday in Florida and the Bahamas last year (back than we had no idea that we would own a boat 12 months later…), so to come back to this place was no ideal either. Lastly a US oriented certification might not be the ideal thing for us due to our current location in Asia.

So we figured we had to approach this from another perspective: where would we like to go on holidays? From there we would then start our search for a school. after short thought we both thought that Greece would be a nice place. neither of us had been there, we know that there are many nice islands and Mykonos and Santorini had been on our to-do list for some time and of course seeing Athens would be nice as well.

so after a quick google search for ‘sailing certification live aboard Greece’ we quickly found the Athens Sailing Acadamy. While the website looked a bit dodgy we figured we would give it a try. we wrote to them and soon after got a quote for a live aboard sail in course for 1700 Euro per person. the teaching was to American Sailing Association (ASA) standards, but we figured that seeing Greece would be worth going for a US certificate.

We confirmed the quoted rate and agreed to send payment, just to find out that all of a sudden the price changed. when inquiring it was due to some new taxes that were introduced, to which I replied that surely these were not introduced within the past 24 hours since receiving the quote. I then had to read a long story about how the Germans ruined Greece by placing restrictions on Greece and not giving enough money. if I did not want to pay the new price I would go elsewhere.  the whole email was written in such an aggressive manner that I did not feel comfortable proceeding, given that I am German myself. So back to the drawing Board.