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Old 01-09-2016, 16:48   #1
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RYA Competent crew course - Grenada Bluewater Sailing

Have been lurking on the forums for a while now and my wife and I finally took the plunge and got our training kicked off. Neither of us have any sailing experience and wanted to do a live aboard course to both get some experience and see how we like the life style.

We had decided on the RYA course stream and started with the Essential navigation and seamanship course. This was a very intro level online course to really get past some of the basic info and terms. We found it useful as a primer since we were coming into this without any previous knowledge. We then signed up for a 7 day RYA Competent Crew live aboard course in Grenada with Grenada Bluewater sailing - Grenada Bluewater Sailing | Caribbean RYA Training Centre

We had looked at a couple of RYA schools but ended up deciding on the school in Grenada for a couple of reasons - our time frame was August and we were a bit nervous about possible weather impacting the trip and with Grenada being south of the normal hurricane belt that was a positive - the second was that the communication from the school was top notch. I had emailed the school with a few questions and Polly was great with her replies and patience with all my questions and emails. In the end that is what sold us on the school. It's a small school and the reviews we had read where all positive and the communication we had with Polly really made us feel comfortable that this would be a good choice.

We ended up deciding to also include our youngest son - 13 years old - and that worked out really well. He had a blast.

We few into Grenada on August 17th, boarded the boat the evening of the 18th, with the course starting the morning of the 19th. Being able to stay on board the evening before was great in that it allowed us to get settled and off on the right foot immediately the next morning. The boat was spotless - a Beneteau Oceanis 461. Three cabin and three heads so there was plenty of space and with our limited knowledge certainly seemed very well kept. Our instructor was the owner of the school - Alex Johnstone. He is an RYA Yachmaster instructor and immediately made us feel at home.

Over the next 7 days we sailed approximately 160 nm. Worked our way up to the Tobago cays and then back down. We lucked into some amazing weather and had great sailing all but one day which was especially calm. The rest of the time was nice steady winds with beautiful sunshine. Only a bit of rain on two evenings late at night even though this is supposed to be the rainy season. The islands were wonderful and we really liked the vibe of Grenada. Such a beautiful place with so much to see and do.

The evening before the course started the boat was in the marina in St Georges, but then the rest of the time we anchored in a different spot/island each night. We would generally get up early...a swim, breakfast, trip planning and weather review and then out sailing. Stop for lunch, another swim, perhaps a quick siesta and then sail until we were ready to stop for the day. Got in some great snorkelling and a hike or two. A provisioning run into one of the smaller towns about halfway through the trip was a great way to experience the island. We learned a ton and did a good amount of sailing, but it was also an enjoyable vacation with some great down time.

Alex was a wonderful instructor, very knowledgeable, patient and willing to make sure we understood what was being taught. This was the one thing we were most worried about...being stuck on a boat for 7 days with someone and not knowing what they might be like. Worked out great. Both my wife and I really enjoyed his company and he was great with our son.

The food was also very good. A ton of fresh fruit, veggies and some great meats. I think we had fresh fruit with every meal and certainly did not go hungry. We did fish a few times while underway and ended with with a nice tuna and a couple of jacks(?). Turned them immediately into sushi. The tuna was amazing...probably the best sushi we have had with it being so fresh. Even with all of us having our fill of sushi we had enough left over for a meal or two. We lost another good size mahi-mahi and we could have caught more but we did not fish everyday.

All in all a great experience and trip. The RYA competent crew course really focuses on getting you familiar with the basics of sailing, navigation, safety and seamanship. We really enjoyed our time in Grenada and would definitely recommend the school and Alex if you were looking to do a similar course. Next steps will be for us to start on the RYA Day skipper theory course which I think we may do online (but it is offered in a classroom setting) and then back down to Grenada for the week long RYA Day skipper practical course in the new year.

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Old 02-09-2016, 15:03   #2
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Re: RYA Competent crew course - Grenada Bluewater Sailing

Great write up on your sailing course! I am so glad to hear you enjoyed Grenada and the sailing our island has to offer! We love it here!

Alex runs a great RYA program. I wonder if we saw you out on the water? I noticed five sailing school boats at Sandy Island that week - Alex's boat being one of them. Study hard and we will see you in the islands again soon!
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Old 02-09-2016, 17:50   #3
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Re: RYA Competent crew course - Grenada Bluewater Sailing

Thanks Chris, Chrystal,

We really loved Grenada. Looking back we wished we had a few more days before or after the course to see more of the island. We didn't make it to Sandy Island but I had noticed in the log the boat had been there just a couple of days before our course started.

Hillsborough was a great place to walk through and we had a great dinner one night at the Carriacou was a hit for us. Certainly a lot to see and with the focus being the sailing you skip past so many great spots that we would like to go back and explore...Sandy island being one of them.

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