Kathy and Mark take a sailing course • November 5 - 9, 2017

We have been mulling over the idea of taking a sailing course in the Mediterranean for some time. Our hope was to get ourselves to a level of skill and certification that would allow us to "bare-boat" charter and live to good life of island hopping in Greece (or wherever).

So, with Kathy's initiative, we booked a 5-day program with Go-n-Sail, a small sailing school based in southern Spain. With any luck we would get our "International Certificates of Competence", and be good to go.

Go-n-Sail is run and owned by Shane and Debbie Cole, a couple ex-pat Brits, and is found in the town of Ayamonte, just where Spain borders on Portugal, about 200km NW of Gibraltar. They own, and run their program on El Rubicon, a 37-foot Jeanneau Sun Odyssey.

This is a boat-based course. We slept on the boat (mostly while at the marina) and took our meals onboard, taking advantage of Debbie's well planned and delicious menus. We had a great course and recommend Go-n-Sail without reservation.

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We arrived in Ayamonte with the setting sun, were met by our hosts and in no time at all, installed onboard. After settling into our new home, we went ashore for a glass of wine with Debbie and Shane.


Sunrise of our first day. The full moon will indicate "springs" in the tidal department, something we had previously not really thought much about.


El Rubicon.


Our home in the V-berth.


Over breakfast Kathy studies the Almanac for important planning information.


A rare photo of Mark.


We were joined on this course by Roberto, another student in the program. Roberto hails from Florida.

There was so much to cover on our first day, that I'm afraid I'm having a hard time recalling all of it. But the main points were an introduction to the boat, and basic boat handling, points of sail, tacking, jibing (or gybing, if you prefer) and such.


The winds and sea were much more interesting on our second day of sailing. Great fun with El Rubicon zipping along though the swell. We enjoyed it immensely though I think it was not ideal from an instructional point of view.


On our 3rd day, we planned a trip to nearby Marina Isla Canela, hopefully putting to use our navigation skills, as well as passage planning. With an overnight at Isla Canela, we returned to Ayamonte the following day, more training and manoeuvres on the way.

Part of the course included some night-time sailing. And on the 4th day, after a leisurely morning going over such things as diesel engine maintenance (the tide was really setting our schedule, as it always does), we motored up the Rio Guadiana, continuing well upriver after sunset. Here, we are passing under the bridge between Spain and Portugal.

Once it was quite dark out, we returned down river, using the lights of the buoys to guide us.


We dropped anchor in the river, and after a very long day and night, fell into sleep. This photo was taking the following morning, while still at anchor.


On our last day, we practiced (again) with more man-overboard drills, and also docking.

Here, Shane explains something (I'm not sure what) to Kathy, as she motors up and down the pontoons of the marina, turing in circles and occasionally docking.


Finally, at the end of another long day, we say goodbye to Debbie, Shane and El Rubicon, and start the drive home to France.

Epilogue. Apparently, Shane and the Royal Yachting Association, deemed us sufficiently competent to issue our ICCs. So now we are all set to wander the 7 seas, no doubt getting into all kinds of trouble.

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