Yep, I'm new to this forum - but don't be suspicious! Before I signed up to take a course with Blue Oyster
Sailing (based in Spain
and Palamos), I had a good read of the previous, closed thread (Blue Oyster Sailing School / Costa Brava Sailing School.
) to get some feedback on this school
I think that some of the criticism in that thread might be a personal attack, but I read between the lines decided to give it a go. So now here's my own feedback . I was only there for a week but I think I got a pretty good feel for the business.
, run by Yachtmaster Instructor couple Mark and Susie, operates out of Gibraltar
and Palamos, near Girona, and only rarely visits Barcelona
. Two yachts were in operation in Palamos- the 46' Aurora (belonging to the business) and the 34' Certascan (a long term lease). Both yachts were well-equipped and seemed suited to purpose. There were 8 students including Day Skippers, fast-track Yachtmasters and I was one of the Yachtmaster prep/exam candidates based on Certascan.
I'll start with the sailing first: Susie had advised me that we would be staying local with an emphasis on skills building, this is exactly what we did. We went no further than 6 miles down the coast, but covering miles is not the objective for Yachtmaster prep. Mark spent a lot of time working with us to understand everything about the boat we needed to, making sure the MOBs were crisp and safe, testing blind nav and colreg knowledge and conducting a safe crew as a 'leader'. We also spent quite some time doing close quarter boat handling. So I feel that, from a sailing perspective, the 5 days of prep was spot on.
Next, the theory: We already had our theory certificates, but we did spend quite a bit of time while alongside looking at crew management, the diesel engine
, EPIRBs / SARTs and more. Again, this all came in handy for the exam.
: It would have been quite easy to eat on-board for the whole week and Susie gladly prepared meals
for us every evening we needed them. There was no shortage of fresh food
and every request was catered for. In fact, we often had to turn away yet more food otherwise the boat would have been over-stocked! It's not gourmet, of course, but there was no doubt that it could be considered full-board.
The people: There is no doubt that Mark and Susie work really hard to make their business work - instructing, buying
food, helping with transport and generally being very knowledgeable. They are friendly and fun and are clearly both good yachtsmen. I did not get instructed by Susie but Mark knows how to communicate the nuance of sailing very well.
The venue: Palamos is a quiet town with some great Tapas restaurants and the harbour is well-suited to the sort of training that you'll do in a prep week. It's not party capital and it can be a bit difficult to get to, but most people either take the coach to Girona train station or Barcelona airport
Finally, the exam: Mark and Susie generally use a chap called David who is a professional examiner and flies over from the UK each time he is needed (so expect to pay a £75 surcharge to cover his costs). I had no doubts about his integrity and he spot-checked us on all manner of random facts (which we had studied beforehand) as well as the key sailing queries. But I think he also had good faith in Mark's ability as an instructor and was pleased in passing both of us.
That's about all I can say and I hope it clears up some ambiguity. It's just my experience of one week but if you have any more questions then please send me a PM.