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.

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.

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.

2 places left for Caribbean 600

Pic of us beating a Volvo 60 during 2016 race

We have just lost one team member so have just 2 spaces left on our Farr 65 for the Caribbean 600 in February, cost is £1750 which includes on board acom before and after the race February also sees our first RYA course of the year and as well as a Day Skipper we also have one milebuilder booked already. These courses are good for RYA sailing mile building as they give lots of relevant experience as well as 120 or so NM. In the summer we may well cross the channel but not in February.

RYA mile building v gaining sailing experience

Picture shows us on a lovely day with just enough wind and the team are learning how to use a spinnaker. We are off the south coast of England having to work out the tides, ‘keep a weather eye open’, plan our days and think about where to go if it doesn’t all work out. In terms of a RYA Milebuilder probably 60 miles at most and you need at least 2500 before you can take YachtMaster Offshore exam. But they are 60 valueable miles and when we offer sailing mile building it is about developing you as a sailor. So whether it is a cross channel to France or the Channel Islands, up to Scotland or even just in the Solent we will help you gain experience and develop your sailing skills. Do you get this experience in an Atlantic crossing–more in a future post.

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.

Festive Charity sail

Escape enforced festivities for 3 days! Meet Lymington evening of 29th December and return afternoon of 31st. It’s a Charity event–£195 to a sailing charity for people with disabilities and also a chance for some mile building though not formally a RYA course. The RYA courses/ mile builders etc at Xmas normally fill close to the time as the prospect of spending enforced annual leave with dearly beloved realtives looms ever larger. We have a max of 6 on this one and 3 places left at 21st November.

Yes we do have heating on board and we will have at least one meal ashore and all of the £195 goes to the Knoticat Charity.

Mike passes YM

Mike Stevenson a regular on Wild Spirit (seen on left in picture taken on Milebuilder) has passed his RYA YM Theory. Mike will be on some of our sailing Mile building trips in 2019 including to France and the Channel Islands.

A memorable RYA mile builder–4 rescues in one trip

This is from a memorable RYA Mile building trip to France and the Channel Islands last year. We slipped from Plymouth on Thursday 17th August and in a blustery South westerly sailed the short distance to the Yealm River and overnighted before running up to Dartmouth for the next night. After a good meal out and an early night we headed off to build some miles to Guernsey, when about 20 miles off our first rescue arrived in the shape of a weary racing pigeon (picture). After half an hour and having drunk some water, but refusing Graham’s famous fruit cake, he flew on again towards the North coast of France. From St Peters Port we sailed on to Sark then up to Alderney where we spent 2 nights.

The second rescue of this sailing mile builder was a crew member who overbalanced getting into the tender in Braye harbour, his life jacket inflated and with a little help we pulled him out took him back on board and dried out the contents of his wallet including the Guernsey £1 Note.

From Alderney we sailed quickly with the tide and against a light Easterly round to Cherbourg to celebrate a birthday in a rather good restaurant that I have found after years of selfless research. The next day we went from Cherbourg harbour entrance to Portsmouth in 10 hours on a big spring tide and up to F6 from the west. The ‘eat all you can’ in the Great Wall is one of our favourites and the meal rounded off the day nicely. Haslar Marina has a silting issue so we couldn’t really slip until 1000 the next day and we sailed up past the new Aircraft Carrier before heading west to Yarmouth on a big tide and into rather more than the F4/5 Westerly that had been forecast.

We were about a mile off Yarmouth when we heard there was a capsized yacht and 3 people in the water south of Lymington. We headed off towards them as fast as possible but fortunately a Folk Boat recovered them very quickly. We were impressed by the Folk Boats skipper on the VHF and the way he handled the whole rescue, but rather less so by the Coastguard who asked some questions that seemed irrelevant and distracting when you are trying to recover 3 people into a little Folk Boat. Under the old CG system the training officer sometimes brought new recruits onto Wild Spirit so they could get a feel for the limitations of visibility when using the main VHF on a yacht. The impression we formed was that this type of hands on training has been replaced by prompts on a computer screen. Useful experience but we can’t guarantee it on future RYA milebuilding courses.

Graham and I were stripping down a winch when a 33 footer came into the next berth. The conditions for berthing were a little tricky and one of the Marina staff had come to assist them by taking the stern line. The Yacht was a Freedom rig so the mast is cantilevered off the keel and there are no shrouds. The Lady on the rail was not ‘in the first flush of youth’ and as they came alongside the bows started to blow off leaving her hanging off a rather slack top rail and unable to pull herself up. I hopped onto the Pontoon and just managed to reach her under the armpits, she was a little heavier than me and the landing on the pontoon was not a pretty sight, but better . . . → Read More: A memorable RYA mile builder–4 rescues in one trip