Candidates – Bing Spencer Yachtmaster Offshore, Kevin Davey Yachtmaster Coastal, Karen Brooks Competent Crew and Noel instructing oh and not forgetting David Peerless Examiner.

Everyone joined (except the examiner) on Sunday evening and after the initial introduction about what the week entailed Bing was asked to give a safety brief to the remainder which is required from every skipper before departing on passage, this would ensure that all crew members were fully briefed on all safety equipment on the yacht and in particular how it worked. This was particularly usefull because this was what Bing and Kevin were asked to do as part of their exam so a bit of roll play was called for as the examiner stepped off the yacht to arrive as a new member of the crew joining the yacht for the first time.

Monday to Thursday was spent in exam preparation for the two candidates and going through the Competent Crew syllabus for Karen, Bing and Kevin were fortunate to have such a willing and keen crew member in Karen who was an extremely quick learner and had done some course preparation including practicing her knots, this stood her in good stead as she would be crewing for the exam, she was concerned that she didn’t let Bing and Kevin down, she needn’t have worried, she was an absolute star and a pleasure to sail with. Exam Preparation covered all aspects of their respective syllabus and in particular anything they may be weak on which required a refresher, such items included Man Overboard drills under power and sail, picking up moorings under power and sail, not only mooring buoys but alongside pontoons and anchoring as well, however the examiner isn’t only just looking at the practical ability of the candidate but also theory up to the standard required for their particular exam and of course can the the candidate skipper the yacht, the knowledge required to take the yacht on passage safely is as equally  important as the practcallities of handling a yacht at sea.

The Exam comenced at about 1700 when David arrived at Poole Quay Boat Haven in Poole Harbour, this was to be one of the most thorough exams I have ever witnessed as I was to stay on as crew. Each candidate had to plan a passage prior to the exam and present it to David (the examiner) which Kevin was aked to do first which was Poole to Exmouth, to everyone’s surprise while Bing was giving David a safety brief Kevin was asked to prepare the yacht for departure to Exmouth, we departed at about 1830 from PQBH and immediately David asked Kevin to turn the Yacht around and moor it back on one of the pontoons, this he did after which he was asked to take the yacht out of the marina and bring it back in and turn in a confined space, close quarter manoevering completed we set sail for Exmouth. We hadn’t gone very far when it was Bing’s turn to take us in to one of the yacht clubs and berth in one of their finger pontoons, this was completed successfully. MOB drills was the next task in the harbour off Brownsea Castle under power at first then without use of the engine, I was down below preparing the evening meal so cannot comment on how things went but Karen was suitably impressed, we picked up a mooring buoy for our evening meal and to await darkness for the night exercises part of the exam.

After dinner Bing took us of the buoy and we sailed out passing the chain ferry and through the swash channel and to the east of Hook Sands looking for the unlit South Hook Cardinal Buoy and back in through The East Loo Channel under sail with wind on the nose in the dark this was a challenge for Bing, however this was a complete success. Prior to entering The East Loo Channel both candidates were asked to sail the yacht on different points of sail to show that they could sail and also Tack & Gybe. Once past the chain ferry Kevin’s task was to take us part way up the North Channel and then to our anchorage for the night in South Deep of Goat Horn Point, we eventually lowered our anchor at about 0130, after a beer at David’s requst we retired for the night.

The following morning after a late start by normal exam standards we set sail to go again out of Poole Harbour via The Swash Channel with Bing in command, his task was to sail the yacht down a banana shaped corridor drawn on the chart by David, this proved to be more difficult than it first seemed as the GPS was not working (for exam purposes) the use of transits and bearings were required, however amist preparations for this exercise there were of course more MOB drills without the use of the engine, it had failed (again for exam purposes). After completion of the corridor exercise Bing was releived of command by Kevin who’s task was to take us back in to Poole against a foul tide (Bing,s exercise had taken longer than expected) in order to pass through the 1200 Poole Bridge. On the way back to base both candidates were debriefed on their performance and thankfully had passed. Bing is now a Yachtmaster Offshore and Kevin a Yachtmaster Coastal.