How did you find your Instructor?
About: Melilla Regatta and RYA Competent crew course
Thanks Dave for a great experience. I was probably as far out of my comfort zone as I have been in years, but it has inspired me to go on and experience more of sailing. And a big thanks also to Jackie who ran around all week looking after us, she is a star,Good luck with the Regattas
About: Day Skipper course in Gibraltar with Dave Latham
This summer I did a weeks Day Skipper course in Gibraltar with Dave Latham. Weather was consistently good, Sea Wolf Dave’s boat was very quick and responsive and locations visited were exotic. As part of my work as a lecturer in PE at MMU it is my role to evaluate teaching and coaching in sports contexts. As such I can be a fairly critical client when in the role of learner myself. However I was highly impressed with Dave’s delivery of this course which he managed to make both challenging and enjoyable at the same time. His obvious passion for and considerable experience of yatch racing was a bonus and meant that the learning experience went well beyond the usual course syllabus. Should any of our undergraduates want to enrich their degrees with sailing instruction or race experience I would have no hesitation in recommending that they contact Dave at Atlantic Charters Racing.
I firmly believe that in any sport, the instructor will make or break your experience, and sailing is no different. I’m a teacher/tutor myself so cannot help but to analyze the performance of the instructor in any environment. The instructor will instill in you the confidence and desire to go on to better things, or will put you off for life. He will create lifelong memories of the experience, whether they be wonderful or awful. I’ve been on other courses and there is no doubt in my mind that the professionalism, knowledge, calmness of demeanour and patience of Dave Latham are second to none. His dry humour, yet ever encouraging praise and support lend themselves to a relaxed yet exciting atmosphere, with a feeling that your role is a vital part of the crew and its success in the races.
The yacht herself is unbelievable – sleek, light, smooth and stylish, yet plush and luxurious inside, with a combination of leather and wood that would make a Jaguar car green with envy. To quote another car manufacturer’s commercial –“Isn’t it nice when things just…work?” which is exactly what you get on Seawolf. All the equipment, GPS, autopilot, anemometer, whatever it may be – there’s nothing not working, no excuses or apologies – you step on and it’s like new on board. No unpleasant smells, no stitching coming undone or ragged upholstery, it’s all just right.
Oh and she’s fast. Very fast. You can’t beat the feeling of tearing along with the sails cranked in, bouncing off choppy seas, smacking through the waves at 11-14 knots plus, intensely screening the water ahead and trying to anticipate how she’s going to react beneath you.
Race training – experiment with different roles, in the cockpit or up at the bow or mast – even have a go at helming! Learn your role and do it well, because you’ll be doing it in the race itself, yes you! Yacht racing! Spinnaker trimming & gybing, drops, close-hauled sailing – stuff you’d never heard of before becomes second nature in no time.
So if you’re thinking of giving yacht racing a go, or taking an RYA course from beginner to Yachtmaster, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Atlantic Charters as your one-stop shop for everything you could want. Dave Latham and Seawolf will bring you a mind-blowingly positive sailing experience on what must be the best boat in the area, leaving you with a sense of achievement you’d never thought possible within the time frame.
If you’ve never done it before, don’t let that worry you – Dave’s so calm and patient with all levels of expertise that you need never fear asking his advice or making a mistake – I’ve seen other instructors become flustered, impatient and snappy with those taking the course, but I’m yet to see this guy look anything like losing it, which is a sure sign he’s got everything under control.
Dave is extremely knowledgeable sailor and instructor, but more importantly has an excellent manner with his students, able to break down the details into manageable chunks, bringing the best out of everyone concerned. He explains concepts clearly, and in the case of my Instructor’s Course, got the balance just right between demonstrating to me and the students how a task should be taught and carried out.
I was given plenty of opportunities to take the lead, but Dave also took time to demonstrate to me how best to teach certain points, allowing the students to progress very well. I’ve modelled my own sailing ethos and teaching methods on Dave’s since 2009 and have become a successful skipper in my own right, with my own small business, but will always look up to the man as my mentor and guide. I can’t recommend it highly enough, and if I go on in some ways to be able to emulate what he does and how he does it, I can only be happy with that.
About: Malta to Gibraltar mile building January 2011
As a keen day sailor for many years, and knowing that there is far more to sailing than a simple overnight trip to the next local port, I had been thinking for quite a long time (3 years or so!!) about finally doing some qualifications to improve on areas where I knew I could do with some tuition, and as much as anything, to simply to say I had some qualifications to go along with the experience I have. Importantly, I also wanted to gain the qualifications necessary to be able to charter a Y! acht at some point.
So when an opportunity came up recommended by a friend, to do a mile building sailing trip combined with my Day Skipper qualification with Atlantic Charters based out of Gibraltar, it sounded like a real adventure as well as suiting my needs, so with some trepidation, I signed up for it. I recognised that this was not necessarily the regular approach for doing some qualifications, after all it was a 1200 mile trip from Malta to Gibraltar within a deadline, however it sounded like it would be ideal to gain more of the experience that i was after.
Having committed myself, next step was to organise flights. This turned out to be a dodle. All the cheap airlines take you to the right destinations for a sensible price at convenient times, and we turned up on Malta on time, greeted by the warmish (it was February!!) Mediterranean sun. Having met fellow crew members and been initially tasked with planning the passage to Sicily overseen by the skipper (Dave) who is a qualified Yacht-Master Instructor, and after a night in port to acclimatise ourselves with the local hostelries, we set off on a warmish sunny Malta afternoon.
What followed over the next few days, was a fantastic set of new experiences: This included some great overnight sailing in inky blackness with largish following seas and force 5 on the quarter which needed lots of concentration to maintain course and navigate purely by compass, as well as paying attention to passing ships that appeared out of the eerie darkness, and not to mention the dolphins that came to play regularly at the bows of the yacht.
The yacht itself is a ProNavia 38. A well equipped modern yacht that is particularly easy to helm, and seems to take everything in its stride easily. It’s also very fast, and we found ourselves maintaining a steady speed of about 7 knots and with the help of some good surfing waves, a top speed of 12 knots at one point. I’m not surprised that a large portion of the yacht’s time is given over to racing and offering places to crew in the various races that take place in the Mediterranean.
Continuing our passage, and paying particular attention and following the weather forecasts and patterns were also order of the day to make sure we didn’t sail into any of the storms that seemed to be circling the middle Mediterranean area.
This first test of sailing was followed by some balmy weather and warm sun as we passed by the Sicily coast and onwards to Sardinia (we decided not to stop because! of the weather). Next test for me, was putting together the Pilot plan for Gagliari Port in Sardinia. Once again improving my skills immensely as I quickly got up to speed on the intricacies of navigating to, and then into an unfamiliar port.
A couple of days R&R ashore in Sardinia while we waited for the weather to improve was a welcome break, and we sampled a combination of the local Sardinian hospitality and fare before we set sail for Mallorca.
Next test came (apart from more breezy weather and bumpy confused seas) as our skipper tasked us with recognising and plotting out estimated position from the many lighthouses as we sailed down the Mallorca coast in the night. Once again great experience and confidence building in night time sailing. Palma on the south coast of Mallorca once again provided some good relaxation sitting in one of the many typical Spanish squares sa! mpling the local Cerveza, Tapas and evening fare, before then setting off on a glorious Mediterranean morning for the Spanish coast.
From here on the weather calmed down significantly, and motor sailing was the order of the day. Our challenge now set by our ever diligent instructor, was to sail using traditional techniques of dead reckoning and estimating our position. (The chart Plotter and GPS mysterious switched itself off!!!). Once again a useful skill to refresh myself and the crew in, as well reminding myself how important it is to use these skills regularly, as certainly I don’t have a chart plotter on board my own yacht and its easy to become complacent on using the GPS. After over 24 hours sailing using these techniques, a call to a local passing Oil tanker to confirm our position (much to the excitement of one of the crew), confirmed that we were less than two miles away from our estimated posi! tion, which we were all pretty pleased with.
Finally our trip took us across to the Spanish mainland and included a number of stops down the coast in the warm sunshine and calm weather. After a night in Benelmadena (an oddly English Spanish town typical of the Costa del Sol), the next task for me was to plan and skipper the passage from Benelmadena to Gibraltar. This was a simple enough task, but still worth making sure that there were no mistakes (are we going to go through fishing grounds, or across any wrecks awash etc.)
After some tidal theory from our instructor on route, we finally arrived, an exhausted but merry bunch in Gibraltar, the home of Atlantic Charters. After one more night of sampling the entertainment in Gibraltar, which is a strange little piece of Britain attached to the end of Spain, it was off to the airport. Once a! gain a simple exercise, as Gibraltar is so small, that the airport is a short walk away. (The main road crosses the runway, and you actually walk across it to get to it!)
All in All, a great experience, and not having initially been sure about doing it, I would absolutely recommend to anyone interested in a sailing adventure, wanting to get some sailing qualifications, or doing some yacht qualifications out of Gibraltar (not to mention, if you are interested in racing too). The experience made better by simple travel logistics, and the professionalism and expertise of our Yacht Master instructor, Dave Latham, who skippered us on the expedition.
Many thanks to Dave at Atlantic Charters. I’m sure I’ll be back next year to do my coastal Skipper! cheers
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