Emergency – ‘Where’s Your Ticket?’

The question Heather &  Chris faced when, with less than a month to go, they were asked, for the first time, to produce an RYA Qualification for their sailing yacht charter in Tenerife. They are experienced sailors and have chartered regularly, but never been asked to produce documentary evidence of their abilities.


It was a Saturday morning then last month, October, when I received a phone call. Can you help us? Methinks ‘Cripes, my RYA Day Skipper Practicals have finished for the season and I’m in the process of removing stuff from the boat. But I can’t fit in a 5 day Course and I have never done a split or, indeed, a private. It would be October/November and that’s too late in the season….On the other hand, I know them and they are very much in need of help’

I gave in and quoted them for an RYA Day Skipper Practical for the two of them, split across sessions of two and three days, one in October and the second in November. Oh, and another date was arranged in the diaries just in case the Course wasn’t completed on time. Then the night sail dawned. Four hours has to be given, though an early start would be a bonus. I don’t think I have sailed up here at night in November.

How would I instruct just the two of them, both expected to meet Day Skipper standards and deal with the night sail etc etc?

In the event, I decided to ensure they could properly sail together just the two of them, to include berthing and lock management i.e. short handed. It worked well, but the sea state wasn’t suitable for a night sail during the first two sessions so I would have to wait for the November 3 days. It did happen and the river Tyne entrance was very busy, because at 6pm it wasn’t late. It’s amazing how vessels can hide against a background of lights.

It being a private session there was time left over for a theory brush up, honing in on the ColRegs. Both Heather and Chris were successful and all of us rather smug as, the day after completion, there were gales and snow on the hills.

A nice email has resulted; ‘Many thanks once again for taking us on at such short notice and giving us a thoroughly good and engaging course on which we learnt so much under your skilful guidance. We are both extremely grateful to you for looking after us so well.’.

PS Heather & Chris have now returned from Tenerife, returning the boat ‘unscathed’. They reported that few overnight anchorages are available, resulting in more marina berthing (stern to), but ‘enjoyed some exhilarating sailing in the acceleration zone on the east side of the island’.