“If you’re on the bridge of a 50-60m superyacht, doing 12 knots on flat seas in excellent weather, it’s a bit different to clocking 30-40 knots, depending on sea state, in the Solent!”
Seafaring experience comes in many different forms. Yet years of practice and thousands of sea miles in one area doesn’t necessarily mean you can instantly master the skills in another.
Just ask RYA Yachtmaster Daryl Bradley, who after four years of sailing superyachts in the Mediterranean and Caribbean, found himself asking if he was actually confident enough to drive a RIB back on home waters on his return to Southampton.
Before his RYA Training: Daryl pictured working on a superyacht tender
Daryl had settled back on the South Coast and started a new superyacht recruitment venture, YotSpot.com, in Ocean Village when the allure of seeing other small boats hopping around the Solent drew him to want to invest in his own RIB.
But he didn’t want to buy one until he felt assured driving a RIB safely on some of the busiest shipping waters, with some of the biggest container ships, in the world.
So Daryl asked Andy Murray, Principal at Southampton-based RYA Training Centre, Ocean Sports Tuition, what he thought he should do. Andy’s answer? The RYA Intermediate Powerboat course. Daryl picks up the story.
“I’m not proud enough to think I’m a Yachtmaster so I don’t need any more training. You don’t go out in strong winds and big waves or get wet on superyachts!
“I’d been out of the game getting the business off the ground and felt I needed a refresher before I got a RIB of my own. Having also done my Competent Crew and Powerboat Level 2 with Andy, I knew the knowledge and skills were in my brain, I just needed something and someone to bring it all the fore again.”
The two-day RYA Intermediate Powerboat course covers the practical use of pilotage and passage planning by day on coastal waters, using both traditional and electronic navigational techniques. It also tackles more advanced boat handling.
Boat handling to the standard of the Level 2 Powerboat Handling course with a coastal endorsement is required, while it is strongly recommended candidates hold First Aid and VHF/SRC operators certificates. Knowledge to the level of Day Skipper theory is recommended too. Anyone 16 or over can do it.
The course can be done as part of a small group (no more than three) or on a one-to-one basis. As a Yachtmaster looking for a refresher experience, Daryl opted for a more tailored two-day one-to-one with Andy last August.
He admits it couldn’t have been more useful.
“Getting back in a RIB was a steep learning curve. Having someone to check you’re doing your calculations right and guiding you on course to steer, chart work and boat checks, things like that, was really useful. It reaffirms what you know.
“If anything goes mechanically wrong on a superyacht you get the walkie talkie out and someone’s there to fix it. On a RIB you need the confidence to do it yourself.”
For Daryl, the biggest benefits from doing the course came in his skill and knowledge enhancement in passage planning, pilotage and navigating at speed. Keen to be able to go back and forth to the Isle of Wight regularly, the importance of secondary ports, and planning his trips around the tide and wind direction, was hammered home, while waypoints took on a whole different meaning when travelling at speed.
“You might look at the chart and mark up a particular buoy as a waypoint, but it’s very different writing it down and then actually seeing that buoy when you’re travelling at speed. You have to be sure you haven’t missed it.”
Day two of the course put into practice everything Daryl had refreshed on day one.
He formed a passage plan to go from Southampton to Yarmouth, in the northwest of the Isle of Wight, using traditional pilotage methods, written out on a laminated sheet, for the journey over and used the chartplotter on the way back.
This exercise confirmed to him that despite the usefulness of technology for additional back up, real confidence comes from knowing how to do it yourself.
Out on my own
Since gaining his RYA Intermediate Powerboat, Daryl has made full use of his new Cobra 7.5m RIB with a 225hp outboard, which he took ownership of in October.
He jokes being able to travel to his fiancée Lucy’s hometown on the Isle of Wight without “getting absolutely soaked”, thanks to his ability to calculate wind over/against tide, means she will get in the boat with him!
Meanwhile, as spring approaches, Daryl is already planning excursions further afield on the South Coast to Portsmouth, Poole and the up the Beaulieu River.
Rachel Andrews, the RYA’s Chief Instructor Motor Cruising and Power, believes Daryl’s experience demonstrates how training isn’t a linear process.
She said: “Training is still sometimes seen as a tick-box exercise. ‘Get this certificate and you can do that.’ ‘Get this next certificate and now you’re qualified to do that.’
“But Daryl’s shown having the confidence to enjoy the type of boating you want to do safely is the most important thing. If that means you ‘jump around’ between qualifications, providing you’ve got the course pre-requisites, that’s absolutely fine.”
As Daryl concludes: “I didn’t consider doing the course a big deal, it was just sensible. I’m sure I could have got my old books out and gone through it all again, but it was only a two-day course so I thought why not just get myself the skills I need.
“It’s very different having someone showing you that you can do it. I wouldn’t hesitate to do another course if I felt I had a knowledge gap again in the future.”
What’s covered in RYA Intermediate Powerboat?
If you would like to refresh old skills or learn new ones to gain confidence and broaden your powerboating horizons, visit the Courses & Training section of the RYA website at www.rya.org.uk/go/training