We entered the prac week with a fair amount of trepidation, casting our minds back to our recent hectic week on the water. However, this time we had a different instructor, Tavish, and completely different conditions: we received more gentle winds (up to about 25 knots max) and seas more structured and less disturbed than previously. And at last it all fell into place.... So THIS is what it is all about!
We had to get about 300 nautical miles done during the week ... and what a wonderful week of sailing! Picked up the boat in Saldanha – overnighter to Hout Bay, change boats (attended by the inevitable cleaning of heads and bilges) then down the coast and around Cape Point to Simonstown (arrive midnight – and some of us then had to find an open pub! Bed at 3:30am), then leave in the morning and return to Saldanha (overnighter). Got the boat speed up to 13 knots off Cape Point to celebrate.
No tedious repeats and more repeats of procedures, no tension and anxieties over missed buoys or tacks / gybes that were not quite as tight as they should have been.... Of course we all did those procedures, naturally and in the normal course of sailing... and it was a relief to simply adjust sails and the like without someone first admonishing you. Thoroughly exhausted when we finally got home on Friday after two overnighters with the associated watch systems and the Simonstown pub navigation...!, nonetheless spirits were high... we are sailors! So the week was a highlight. We skippered and sailed, we rounded Cape Point, sailing on the seas that are famous the world over; (which fortunately did not give us the treatment for which they are really infamous).
Now what? A final week of Coastal Skipper.... but this brings practice, practice, repeat and repeat: the sailing times appear to be over as we go over to the skills training again. No doubt all of this, with all of the sleepless nights on watch, all the sailing in rough seas as well as calmer, will equip us to be competent as we deal with the point of all this: to sail and enjoy the seas.