With over 7 years of flotilla lead crew experience between them, ex-Hosties Jen, Ellen and Bex decided it was about time they got Day Skipper qualified!
We got underway with out online theory course, this was the bit that was least familiar to all of us. The online course involves plotting positions, planning passages and using tide timetables. We all managed to pass this bit, then it was just the practical course to worry about!
Arriving in Gouvia
On 6th October we boarded a plane from Gatwick bound for Corfu. On arrival in Gouvia Marina we were shown to our home for the week, the Dufour 36 Knight Odyssey.
We were delighted to discover that Pete (or Uncle Pete to some) would be the lucky one guiding us through our course.
Having spent plenty of time on board yachts there wasn’t too much to go through with regards to housekeeping. The first job on the list was to provision the yacht for the first day or so out on the water. As Hosties, this is second nature to us and we made sure that we would be well fed whilst on board! A well fed crew is a happy crew…
After making beds and a bit of unpacking, we spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing in the sunshine and enjoying a few liquid refreshments. It was then time for an early night before the learning commenced the following morning.
Day 1 – Sailing to Sayaidha
We were up and with a cup of tea in hand ready for our first day! Pete went through several safety elements including the location of the life jackets and the fire extinguishers.
We talked through the importance of knowing the location of all the sea-cocks and how to prepare the yacht for a day on the water. This was a great refresher for us all and we managed to ask plenty of questions… which, according to Pete, were not silly questions!
Each day Pete would designate a skipper for the day and a navigator, today it was Ellen’s turn to take charge on the passage to Sayaidha and Jen’s job to get us there!
We motored out of Gouvia and before too long Pete had us doing doughnuts in the bay! There was a point to this exercise and this soon became apparent. We played around with the prop wash and the prop walk and learnt how we could use these to our advantage when manoeuvring.
We had a spot of lunch and then raised the sails before heading in the general direction of Sayaidha. The wind was not playing ball so after a while we popped the motor on and powered on.
Those that have visited Sayaidha before will know how daunting the entrance to the harbour can look at first sight. It is incredibly narrow and does not look like a yacht should fit through it! Ellen took the helm and expertly got us into the harbour and parked us up stern-to. First day done!
Day 2 – On to Corfu Town
Today it was Ellen’s turn to navigate and Bex’s turn to take charge. Passage plans were drawn up and we were off!
Before setting sail for Corfu Pete got all three of us to travel in and out of the narrow harbour entrance and also turn the yacht within the harbour itself. This was to get to grips with manoeuvring in tight spaces. He assured us that he would definitely not let us crash into anything! Thanks Pete…
We set course for Vido Island, north of Corfu Town. Here we anchored, had some lunch and enjoyed our first swim. We then tried our hand at sailing off anchor, this was a new skill for all of us and we think we did pretty well!
The afternoon was spent tacking and gybing in the bay before heading into Corfu Yacht Club. In the evening we spruced ourselves up and set off in search of some sustenance in historic Corfu Old Town.
Day 3 – 30 miles to Lakka
Today we had a navigational challenge on our hands. We needed to use clearing bearing in order to get around the Lefkimmi Point (a sand bar on the south east of Corfu) often known as the Venus Fly Trap of the Ionian.
We managed to arrive in Lakka in one piece and avoided the sand bar! Once Jen had safely moored us up stern-to, we enjoyed a celebratory beer.
Day 4 – The night sail awaits
We left Lakka in glorious sunshine and made the most of the wind. Some cloud started forming over Paxos island so we decided to sail to Mongonisi for lunch. Whilst anchored Pete talked us through basic engine checks and maintenance.
We then waited until the sun was just setting and headed out into the night! Part of the Day Skipper course is to sail at night and to consider all the things that come with this.
We spent time navigating using the lighthouse outside Gaios and making sure we steered well clear of the reef! After a few hours we made our way into the south entrance at Gaios and moored up.
Day 5 – Over to the Mainland
The sea was flat calm and there was very little wind to be found! We decided to motor over towards the mainland in the hope that the wind might increase in the afternoon.
Outside Sivota Mourtos we spent some time sailing up to a buoy in preparation for our Man Overboard drill. This involves depowering the mainsail in order to allow one of the crew to pick up the buoy.
Day 6 – Homeward bound
The next morning we ran through side-to mooring. Unfortunately this involved disturbing some of the local fishermen. We managed one last lunch stop and a swim before tying up in the marina.
On return to the marina we were informed by Pete that we had all managed to pass the RYA Day Skipper course! G&T’s all round!