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October 28, 2012

I wanted to discover if my passion for yacht aesthetics and design means I am passionate about yachting as well. And I know that real life experience aboard boats adds to the quality of my design work. Thursday 28th september I stepped off a huge airplane in Vancouver.

For the first time in my not-so adventurous life I had travelled to another continent. I was alone, and I was about to embark on something I had no experience with. A five day course at sea on a boat with people I knew nothing about. All this dawned upon me when I stepped off the plane – and I understood why people at home thought I had made an unusual choice.

Well, I am very happy about my choice now. Pushing myself like this ignited my spirit of adventure, and being so far away from home enabled total focus on the course. My instructor, Colin Denton, has qualities that always resonate with me. Experience and knowledge, respect for the subject matter, but also with humor to make the learning experience fun.

The other students were three great guys – we all got along and were very supportive of each other. The course started off with an evening filled with some boat system/vessel safety theory, with the first night being spent on board the boat before leaving next day by noon. That day was the first of five days spent traveling around the Gulf Islands and Howe Sound.

It started with light sea-sickness but ended with me successfully docking the 46 foot yacht (50 foot total) by backing into a very tight spot in the Granville Island marina. Not without help from instructor and crew, of course, but it did feel like quite an accomplishment and an encouragement after some hard lessons.

The boat we trained on was a “Westcoast 46”. I am grateful that Cooper Boating set up such a large boat – the course only guaranteed a 32 footer. It had spacious accommodation, with nice live aboard facilities and a large aft cabin. Good headroom all through the boat. But it rolled a lot out at sea and the salon and galley had some scary sharp edges here and there. There should have been many more handrails in the roof and on the bulkheads. Midship cleat was placed too far back. Propwalk was to port, while the only side you could step off the swim platform was to starboard. Many of these problems were actually a plus because it meant I can learn from them.

Along the way, we got to do much sight-seeing, and even witnessed a yachting drama unfolding in the middle of the night. The amount of things to think about for safe and efficient cruising was so overwhelming that I sometimes thought it might not be for me, but I was more comfortable at the end of the course – and have now arranged to charter a Linssen Grand Sturdy MkII 410 in Croatia for the last week of june 2013. That will be the real test of whether boating is for us:) So thanks to Cooper boating and instructor Colin Denton for setting up a great course, and to Dave, Chuck and Randy for being so supportive and nice!

I made it!


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