RYA Practical, Full Moon, Clyde

Nick, Steve, Damian & Ian

“There’s a full moon out tonight”

The infamous voyage of Full Moon.
22nd to the 29th April 2006 in the Clyde Estuary

The crew of Full Moon were as follows:

Damian and Steve, two friends who had mistakenly booked the wrong holiday on the Internet whilst looking for Ibiza uncensored and found themselves for the first time on a yacht. Nick who has a comprehensive portfolio of sailing experience learnt from books, and Ian who had wished to take part in an ocean going race but who found his budget would only stretch so far.

Peter, known as the ‘Skipper’, so called by the crew as all other names they could think of could not be used in the company of the gentler sex. The skipper was a hardy old sea dog who, with a wealth of knowledge and experience, was to attempt to turn this motley crew of landlubbers into something other than a motley crew of landlubbers.

The first day – Saturday

Scott, the owner of Full Moon (a Moody Eclipse 33), our charge for the week, handed over his pride and joy to Skipper, and you may wonder what makes a sane man charter out his boat. Originally Scott was going to hand over his boat to Nick who was first to arrive, looking very professional in his dapper sailing gear. Oh how deceiving looks can be! Scott felt the need to keep reminding the skipper of how “the last lot crashed and damaged the stem” and that he knew we would not do the same. We assured him only coastal skippers were allowed to crash boats.

Our first passage was made from Largs to Rothesay and Skipper’s worst fears were confirmed; we were at best clueless. We moored on the pontoon next to the Victorian toilets. Skipper kept mentioning to us that people came from miles around to see them; by the fourth day of the course we began to see the attraction. We had Lasagna for tea, the cabin heater was on full and we had plenty of hot coffee. It was at this point we noticed yacht Flamingo rafting up along side. The crew looked cold and wet, so we decided to make them feel better by abandoning Full Moon and seeking liquid refreshment ashore. We returned to Full Moonaround 11pm after having observed interesting but slightly scary night life ashore. Skipper thought this an appropriate time to conduct a lesson in sail design and sailing principles. There was little wind and we had a calm evening and night.

The second day – Sunday

Kyles of Bute

Peter giving a pep talk heading up the West Kyle on Sunday Morning.

We had showers in the morning which cost us £1.20, followed by showers outside which were free. The weather picked up and became fair towards the afternoon. We made passage to Loch Ranza via the Kyles of Bute. Spent the day learning the ropes (oh sorry Skipper, I mean the sheets). Moored on a buoy at Loch Ranza. Only one other yacht was there when we arrived and they soon left, leaving us alone for the night. Damian provided the crew with a good chilli for tea. No wind, calm evening and night. All up till midnight, red wine for all. Nick christened boat! At 11pm took boat hook and stirred up diatoms at stem of boat. Found out later this was about all the boat hook was good for. Clear night, sky stars out in full. Skipper showed us the plough and the location of the pole star.

The third day – Monday

Wind picking up in morning, strong gusts off surrounding mountains, maybe F7 or F8, causing Damian to catch his cup of tea in his lap at breakfast. Checks done, oilies on, prepared to take on day. Winds F6 squalling to F8, prepared anchor in Loch Gair. Found out boat hook floats after buoy refused to let go once it had caught. Carried out “cap over board” drill, however Mac’s cap was unfortunately committed to the deep, believed taken by pirate submarine. Skip described our progress as a “comedy of errors” but relaxed once out of sight of anyone who would recognise him. All in all, a good day’s sailing and crew coming together well.

The fourth day – Tuesday

Nick phoning home.

Nick phoning home.

Today started out on a positive note though the boat hook continued to present problems when picking up buoys. The Skipper accepted that we weren’t as incompetent as he’d originally suspected, at which point the boat hook got caught in the ring of a buoy and it took us three attempts to retrieve it. When we eventually caught a buoy and tied up to it, we found the hook could not then be released. The weather remained kind for the rest of the day as we changed plans and headed for Millport via the Burnt Isles. Warned re natives and their liking for a good square dance with passing strangers, Mac spent the best part of the day being ridiculed by the Skipper for no apparent reason other than his infrequent use of his mobile phone, his spirits mirroring the changes of the barometer.

The fifth day – Wednesday

Lunch of chicken stir fry cooked by Mac and Steve on the move with Full Moon arcing through about 30 degrees. Mac & Steve looked like they had been doing this all their lives and the meal was delicious. Tender practice during the day. Skipper thought we found this task too easy, so that night he hatched a cunning plan which entailed us being taken to a well known local landmark ashore, allowing us to become disorientated over a period of a couple of hours until dark and then get us to return to Full Moon in the tender! The crew felt the sea madness had finally taken the Skipper and there is no hope left for him. We considered casting him adrift in the tender to prevent him infecting the crew.

The sixth day – Thursday

Night pilotage exercise (Oh of best laid plans) crew managed somehow to get Skipper and Full Moon to Carrick Castle. All was going well, so to make things more interesting, crew decided to get lost for a while and then race a sea-going tug into the Clyde

The seventh day – Friday

Carrick Castle

Carrick Castle

Loch Goil

Damian and Steve in the tender and Peter discussing the navigation with Nick in Loch Goil.

Awoke to a fantastic picture postcard view in a sun drenched loch with its own castle. Everyone a bit low as it is our last day. Contour exercise at Holy Loch, everyone a bit out of their depth! Lunch at sea in the cockpit watching ferry and shipping go past. Everyone had found their feet and the sailing was getting better by the hour.

Returned to Largs looking like a proper crew, a large contrast from the beginning of the week. Skipper had been spending a lot more time below decks.

Some of the crew believed this demonstrated his trust in our sailing ability, others thought he might be using the well known storm tactic of sleeping through it and hoping it will all just go away.


The whole crew

The whole crew back at Largs on Friday evening.

All in all, a fantastic week’s course. We all got our Day Skipper certificates, having worked hard and taken in a large amount of knowledge and putting it into practice. All of the crew made vast improvements in their sailing and would like to thank Peter for imparting his knowledge and giving his time to inspire all of us to continue sailing. We could not have asked for a better instructor.