UK Courses – A brilliant week learning and bonding


Early February we travelled to the UK for our mandatory seamanship courses that are an essential part of the Atlantic crossing.  To get to the start line at La Gomera there is a lot of preparation needed and this week was just one of the many milestones. SeaSports hosted us at their training location in Teignmouth.  A quaint little coastal town in Devon.

We stayed in a spacious terraced house close by the training center together with Frank. A solo rower who was also on the training course and will be the oldest rower ever (Team ‘Never too Old’). We spent many  an evening with good old Frank who entertained us with his north English sense of humour.

On the first day of the courses we were met by the instructors and got to meet some of the other course participants, who are also taking part in the race. Namely half of Team HPF and Bubbleheads who all look pretty fit. It felt very special being in a room of future rowers. We shared our preparation experiences and background stories. A great vibe, but the serious work was to begin.

Our courses consisted of VHF Short Range Communications, First Aid, Safety at Sea and Navigation. All classroom based except a part of the Safety at Sea course which took place at a swimming pool nearby. Here we put some of the safety drills into practice using the life raft and life jackets. It brought it home of how risky it could be out at sea, yet hopefully we won’t be in a situation to use it.

Things we can now do that we couldn’t before, range from making Mayday calls, operating a Para Anchor, Flares etc. to plotting the route to Antigua, and much much more. It was so worthwhile and we were extremely pleased to have all passed. A big tick in the box.

But our training didn’t stop there. An extra day training was given by Ian Couch, the Security Officer from the TWAC Organisation, who explained more about the preparation of the race and making it very real for us all. Our hearts were jumping from the very outset. It was exciting to know that we will be encountering  in the coming months. Lot’s to do but pumped up with some great energy.

Saying farewell to the rowers, knowing that we probably see them next at La Gomera, was kind of strange. The next phase now is to focus on preparation and practice as much as possible out at sea. We will miss SeaSports for its home baked cakes that we were treated to every day. We’ll also miss the lovely English pubs which were a great place to retreat to after a long day in the classroom. Luckily our experiences were captured during an interview we had with Devon Life Magazine and look forward to reading their article about our training week and what we liked so much about Devon.

The course boosted our confidence from the technical, safety and operational aspects. Our learning curve climbed as vertical as you can get. And that’s the beauty of taking on such an adventure. Your world becomes bigger and you never stop learning. It is already such a privilege to do this. To top it up, we bonded so much more this week as a team which was very special. La Gomera here we come!

To give you an impression of the week, take a look at the video taken by SeaSports.

By Bela Evers