Course Reports

West Country Milebuilder

Pic of Plymouth as we arrived at the end of a Milebuilding sailing trip from Dublin in 2018 We have a Milebuilder out fo Plymouth in August this year. As ever with sailing things are weather depndent but we have enough time to go out to the Isles of Scilly and if things look go that is the most likely destination. Other RYA Mile building trips include France and the Channel Islands

Course Reports

Snowy sailing

We are sailing 1st to 3rd February. Obviously a bit on the cold side but we do have both diesel and electric heating. Bit on the short side for a mile builder but we will probably log over 30NM and include Cowes with a good meal out. Our RYA sailing mile building trips in the summer typically log 200miles or more and normally include at least one overnight passage. Great for budding Yachtmasters and those who want something a bit more challenging than the Solent

Course Reports

Why are we based at Lymington Yacht Haven?

Well certainly not because it is cheap. Lymington Yacht Haven is just about the most expensive in the country, but it does have a number of significant advantages especially for Mile building courses.

Unlike many Marinas it has free car parking which is patrolled at night. Others charge or you have to find a spot on a road as near to the Marina as you can.

Being close to the West end of the Solent RYA Milebuilders to France, Channel Islands and the west require only 3 miles before you are heading towards your destination. Compare that with say Port Solent where you have to lock out and go down to Portsmouth, then round the east of the Island before heading South.

The facilities are superb, LYH was voted best in UK in 2017. The New Forest National Park starts at the edge of the Car Park 100m from Wild Spirit. With a variety of paths some regulars choose to arrive an hour or 2 early, miss any traffic and go for a walk.

Course Reports

RYA Comp Crew and Day Skipper


Like many schools we have RYA Competent Crew and Day Skipper students on the same course. It is a good combination and we prefer 2 of each. Comp Crew assumes no previous knowledge whereas Day Skipper requires at least 5 days of sailing including 4 night hours PLUS theory up to Day Skipper standard.As with our Mile builder sailing we end up with a mix of experience which means we can learn from each other. For Comp Crew they can see what comes next in RYA qualifications and for Day Skipper students they have top work with the same standards they may well have when they skipper for real the first time in the Med. It does help to have more than the minimum experience and we suggest learning a few knots plus reading the course notes for Competent Crew.For Day Skippers a mile building trip is a great way of gaining more experience and on one of our trips you can be very much involved, it isn’t so much about building miles, it is about experience.

Course Reports

Coastal Skipper?

Picture is from Weymouth on one of our Milebuilding trips. This is the sort of destination you should be visiting on a RYA Coastal Skipper course that starts in the Solent. Every year I have people on board for mile building trips etc who tell me they are Coastal Skippers. I ask how they found the exam and in the majority of cases there are puzzled looks or “What exam”. Often this is followed up by finding they didn’t leave the Solent and also that there were people doing Day Skipper on board as well. The RYA syllabus is to be taught on Coastal and Offshore passages by night and day. The Solent does give good navigational excercises but offshore it most certainly isn’t. We don’t mix Coastal and Day Skipper students on the same course, it isn’t fair to either, it is just done to maximise income. I suggest that if you want to progress from Day Skipper to RYA Coastal Skipper you do a milebuilding trip or 2 with us. We can then see where you need to develop further and with some coaching help you acheive your goal.

Course Reports

Where are we going on the mile builder?

Where are we going on the mile builder? A question I am often asked and to which I am tempted to reply, “Tell me what the weather will be”. A quick look at the full programme page will tell you the destinations that seem reasonable to me and I check out the tides before fixing dates. But this is just one part of passage planning and there others. I know what Wild Spirit can do and what sails we will have on, for most of the areas we will sail in, I already know the ‘Safe Havens’ and the spots where wind against tide is particularly nasty. On some RYA Mile Building trips I know several of the team and what they are capable of. This isn’t just their experience and qualifications, you can have lots of these, but not be much use at 3 in the morning because you can’t get up, or take half an hour to become fully functioning. Age and medical conditions as declared on forms aren’t much of a guide, I have a 70+ regular who is more useful when it gets tough than some half his age, and Pete in our team that won the 3 Peaks Yacht Race is a Type 1 Diabetic. But on some of the Milebuilders all I know is what you have told me, and there may be secondary issue here in that you tell me you are a Coastal Skipper when you have just done a course with another Sea School but not taken the exam. More on this in another post. Unless Brexit throws in a 3rd factor which seems unlikely as French Ports, Restaurants etc want our money, there are 2 other main factors left when we decide where to go on a Milebuilder. The first is what the team want to do, if 2 or 3 arrive and declare exhaustion from working too hard in order to be able to go sailing, a night crossing to Guernsey is less likely. Finally the weather, we can sail in almost anything, the first picture shows us off Cowes in F8 with F9 on the way up from Lymington, the second shows us only making a few knots in the Bay of Storms in the roaring Forties off the South of Tasmania.

Course Reports

Xmas –looking full

Looks like the Charity Sail at Xmas is full. Possibility of one place so do give me a call if you are interested. Not much of a milebuilder, but good experience and a chance to practice things learn’t on a RYA course plus a bit of mile building experience though nothing like a cross channel.

Photo is actually from February 2018.

Course Reports

RYA Mile Builders v Deliveries

For summer 2019 we will offer several Milebuilder trips, these are also called RYA Mile Building. These are rather different from the Delivery trips which some offer, sold as ‘mile builders’.

Pic of us in Fair Isle on a previous trip. That was part of a great Mile builder all the way round Britian and Ireland and then back to Lymington so definitely not a ‘Delivery’. Typically our RYA Mile building sailing trips last 5 or more days and visit several ports. They are likely to include at least one night sail and you will be involved in all aspects of sailing Wild Spirit if you wish. Some people focus on areas for development such as practical navigation skills and passage planning and, accepting the need to sail safely, one to one coaching is given. For the number of days on one of our Mile Builders you won’t sail as many miles as a delivery but you will gain much more knowledge. You can also build miles and experience by just sailing on one of our RYA courses. If you wish you can just sail, but if you want, we will also involve you in Navigation, Passage planning etc in order to keep developing your skills.

Course Reports

February RYA Course–Pros and Cons

The February RYA course is starting to fill. We aren’t advertising at present, partly because we have had enquiries in the past from well meaning people wanting to give a suprise present of a RYA course to someone they think will enjoy it. If you aren’t sure if you (or they) want to do a RYA course and learn to sail then you are much better to talk to us first, I will be running the course and the last thing any instructor needs is someone meeting their sales target but misleading the student you are going to spend the next 5 days with.

January is cold and dark, short days can limit the miles sailed on days 1 and 2.

February can still be cold and whist we do have both electric and diesel heating on board it doesn’t work on the deck. But the days are getting longer so we have a bit more time to get the miles in, sunset is now after 1700. We need to get at least 4 night hours sailing in, this tends to be in 2 sessions, so no need to sail to midnight and beyond, as you have to when teaching up in Scotland in June/July. The average wind speed is also lower in and February and by starting the course close to Neaps (smaller tides) we get smaller waves if the wind is blowing the opposite way from the tide. The Solent is also a great place to do a RYA course as we can choose whether to go out into open water or stay in sheltered areas.

We often have people on who already have RYA qualifications but want to do milebuilders and gain sailing experience. February is good for experience, but not so good if you are just focussed on mile building, more about the difference in a future post.