Passage Making Masterclass: What is it & who is it for?

After achieving the RYA Day Skipper certification or ASA 104, sailors often find themselves not having sailed for quite a while and then stuck in a rut where their skills and confidence have plateaued or become ‘rusty’. This can lead to a significant decrease in confidence. Other sailors can find it difficult to take part in more challenging experiences or find opportunities for advanced training. It’s easy to find yourself in a cycle of comfortable sailing conditions but never venturing into situations that push your boundaries. This comfort zone becomes a barrier to progression, and without a clear path forward, the excitement of sailing dwindles, causing some to quit sailing altogether.

That’s where the Passage Making Masterclass comes in. This course is specifically designed to bridge the gap for sailors who have qualifications like the RYA Day Skipper or ASA 104 and are ready to refresh and develop their skills in more interesting and challenging routes. The course is tailored to go beyond the basics of RYA and ASA training and to help you build real-world skills and experience, learning from professional sailors who run sailing expeditions for a living. You will improve your navigation, weather interpretation, heavy weather sailing strategies, crew management, passage planning and emergency procedures.

The importance of real-world skills versus traditional manufactured training courses cannot be overstated. Foundational courses are essential for building initial skills and knowledge, but they often lack the unpredictable and dynamic nature of real-life sailing. Manufactured exercises provide a safe environment for beginners but do not fully prepare sailors for the complexities and challenges faced at sea. It’s the unpredictable conditions, the need for quick decision-making, and the management of unforeseen circumstances that truly refine a sailor’s abilities. This is what you get in the Passage Making Masterclass.

We run two different routes: The Bay of Biscay and England – Scotland.

The Bay of Biscay routes runs in both directions between Vigo, Spain, crossing the Bay of Biscay, stopping (usually) in Brest, France, and across the English Channel and Portsmouth, UK. Candidates will experience the notorious weather systems and demanding conditions of the Bay.

The England – Scotland route runs in both directions between Oban, Scotland and the south west of England. It tackles the ferocious tides and heavy commercial traffic found in the English Channel and Irish Sea, along with tricky pilotages and anchorages that Scotland’s west coast delivers.

By the end of the masterclass, sailors will emerge more confident, competent, and prepared for advanced sailing endeavors. You will enhance not just your practical sailing skills but also develop a deeper understanding of weather patterns, learn essential safety drills, and master emergency protocols. This course, which is also a big adventure, will likely test limits (so be prepared!) and expand your horizons, providing you with invaluable real-world sailing experience. This masterclass takes you from taking part in manufactured training exercises to mastering real-world sailing skills.

The specific learning objectives of the Passage Making Masterclass include:

1. Advanced Navigation Techniques: Gain proficiency in both coastal and offshore navigation, including the use of modern electronic navigation tools, chart plotting, and understanding the impact of tides and currents on passage planning.

2. Weather Interpretation Skills: Develop the ability to accurately interpret weather forecasts and make informed decisions to adjust sailing plans accordingly. This includes understanding the dynamics of the Bay of Biscay’s weather systems.

3. Heavy Weather Sailing: Learn and practice techniques for sailing in heavy weather conditions, including reefing, heaving-to, and crew safety measures to ensure the boat and crew’s well-being.

4. Crew Management and Safety: Enhance skills in managing a crew effectively, including setting up watch systems, ensuring crew welfare, and conducting safety drills such as man overboard recovery.

5. Emergency Procedures: Master the protocols for dealing with emergencies at sea, from medical emergencies to equipment failures, including the use of EPIRB, liferaft deployment, and emergency navigation.

6. Practical Sailing Experience: Through completing the course route, gain invaluable real-world sailing experience in a variety of conditions, enhancing confidence and competence in passage making.

7. Communication Proficiency: Improve maritime communication skills, particularly in the use of VHF for distress signaling, port entry procedures, and effective communication within the crew.

8. Passage Planning Expertise: Develop the ability to plan and execute complex passages, taking into consideration provisioning, fuel management, legal and customs requirements, and contingency planning.

9. Self-sufficiency and Problem Solving: Cultivate a self-sufficient mindset capable of troubleshooting and solving unforeseen problems, including basic maintenance and repairs on sailing equipment and systems.

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