Allabroad January 2017 Fast Track Max's birthday

A Great Start to 2017

We started on Monday 9th January 2017 with bacon sandwiches cooked on the BBQ in the STCW Training room; filling it with fabulous smelling bacon smoke was a little funny and I’m sure if James, our STCW Fire instructor had been present, he’d be ready with fire extinguishers and getting a search and rescue drill underway. The instructional team started a few days before, again with a breakfast theme each morning, standardising all five yachts ready for 2017. 


Week 1: Fast Track Yachtmaster January 2017

A great start to the year with two yachts of new Fast Track Yachtmaster’s joining two yachts October (senior) and November (half way) Fast Track Yachtmaster’s. A great team sprit from the start.

So week one we took to the water and enjoyed the first sailing adventure, all kitted out and ready to go, great fun and good basic sailing standards were leant by all. Visiting Ceuta in North Africa and Alcaidesa and Estepona in Spain – that’s three countries in one week. Max had the added enjoyment of having his birthday on the first week of the course, time for cake.

Week 2: Fast Track Yachtmaster January 2017

Week two saw the Motor Fast Track crew start and everyone came together for the Day Skipper Theory in the classroom. To ensure excellent teaching standards we decided to appoint TWO Yachtmaster Instructors to deliver the course. Was this necessary? No not as far as RYA ratios goes but as far as the Allabroad teaching standard we decided it would be a far better experience for all to have the lower ratio and grater focus from the two instructors. It worked wonderfully with Martin and Ian working together and everyone gained excellent results. VHF Online Radio log ins are issued along with the rest of the reading material. Such a studious bunch saw everyone completing their radio studies that same week and therefore the PPR online access was also activated ready for end of course commercial endorsements.

Allabroad's Navigation Training Room
Allabroad Fast Track Yachtmaster

Weeks 3 & 4: Fast Track Yachtmaster January 2017

For weeks three and four we decided to depart Gibraltar for two weeks of sailing to explore further afield along the tidal Spanish and Portuguese coastlines. These two weeks saw the Day Skipper elements covered but in far greater depth and to a higher level of competence. Ports visited overnight included Estepona, Puerto America, Puerto Sherry, Rota, Chipiona and Barbate with pilotage exercises into others on route to for extra practice. 

Week 5: Fast Track Yachtmaster January 2017

Week five was back to the Allabroad Navigation Training room for the Coastal Skipper / Yachtmaster Theory over the next six days. This classroom course should be over seven days but seven days in a classroom is not conducive to effective learning and neither is it productive for instructors. So we run to six days with all the Collision Regulations elements being self studied from week two, and beyond as a regular daily habit. Again we decided upon TWO Yachtmaster Instructors for quality and Nick and Ian delivered an excellent course, fueled by little chocolate treats from Alex throughout to keep the throbbing brains functioning. Everyone got over 90% in the IRPCS exam, given the new exam paper required 60% to pass, we are always striving for high standards. After all when you are at sea you need to be able to recognize 100% of the collision risks – 60% is just not high enough for Yachtmasters, that could equate to making a fatal mistake two days out of five days at sea :-/

Week 6 & 7: Fast Track Yachtmaster January 2017

Week six and seven was time to put the advanced navigation skills into practice with a true coastal distance sail with the 60nm qualifying passages as skipper and overnight really consolidating the previous weeks classroom study. First trip straight from Gibraltar to Lagos, stopping on route twice for pilotage exercise into different marinas utilizing all the charts and pilot books and skills just learnt. On the way back numerous ports and a good session doing skills around the Bay of Cadiz. On the Alalbroad yachts we have four pilot books and ten full sized Admiralty charts just to cover our varied sailing area, that’s £500 worth of paper navigational aids on each yacht coupled with the electronic equipment. The end of the week was celebrated with Michael’s birthday.

Coastal Skipper Theory

Week 8: Fast Track Yachtmaster January 2017

Week eight was a more ‘locally’ base week focusing on more detailed skills and drills whilst still sailing Med side due to the wind direction that week. The week started on Sunday with the RYA Radar course delivered by Dave the Principal who also undertook all the radio assessments done in groups of four of less as per RYA requirements. The training radios are permanently set up in the Allabroad Navigation Classroom, which is accessible by 24/7 keycode so that any student can practice on them at any time throughout their course. ENG1 medicals for those needing a Commercial Endorsement were also fitted into this busy week.

Week 9 & 10: Fast Track Yachtmaster January 2017

Half way point weekend off. Some students had family visiting and some went to explore the local area with trips away to Tarifa, Seville, Ronda and Marbella all on the relaxing list of things to do with an official weekend off.

Week nine and ten is back to a distance cruising. With a realistic mileage target to meet by the end of the two weeks each yacht can balance the building of skills in the challenging tidal areas, play in the rivers with clearances under bridges and build miles along the Atlantic Spanish and Portuguese Coastline. Before setting off the yachts came together for the one day Diesel Engine course run in the Allabroad STCW Classroom, which is also a big enough clear space room to get out the two training engines and all the component engine components. It was a dirty but fun day. On the two week passage these were some of the pilotage entries made: Lagos, Puerto Sherry, Portimao, Albefiera, Villamoura, Culatra, Faro, Mazagon, Huelva, Barbate and Malaga before back to home base of Gibraltar. 

Nearly Done.....

And that is where we are up to at the moment, the yachts are still away as we are currently in week ten. When they return at the weekend we have another birthday to celebrate so more cake and fizz, which keeps the brain training calories up.

Then we have two more weeks of improving sailing skills whilst gaining the rest of the miles and the STCW Basic Safety Training week in week thirteen.

The final two weeks are pure skills, all the 2500nm miles and passages are completed by this point and therefore the only focus will be the polishing up of the performance and perfecting the finesse in a maneuver for example. Then it’s exam days, all very well prepared for and what everyone’s been working towards all year, students, instructors and shore team alike. We will update this blog once the weeks go by. 

Fast Track Yachtmaster Celebrations

Week 11 & 12: Fast Track Yachtmaster January 2017

Weeks eleven and twelve as planned would be a combination of getting the remaining required miles and doing a skill and knowledge check. We go into Yachtmaster Prep weeks once we have all the required 2500nm and passages; this leaves at least two weeks with no mileage requirements to just focus on the details. The two yachts from team January had different mileage gained since on passage in weeks six and seven one team chose to take it a little easier, and now the effects of that decision meant pulling back in the slack with a good passage to get back to goal. Not a problem at all and with students also responsible for meeting their weekly mileage target, there are no surprises.

Week 13: Fast Track Yachtmaster January 2017

Week thirteen was STCW Basic Safety Training week. This is scheduled into different sections of the course matrix so not always this late in the schedule. It actually made a super pre-exam break from being on the water with the variety of events, from putting out fires, to jumping in liferafts to preforming First Aid. With Allabroad every aspect of your training is delivered by Allabroad using Allabroad facilities and equipment. The MCA side of our training is under Allabroad Maritime Academy and we hold the MCA Approved Training Course Recognition certificates for each of the MCA Modules we offer. James our full time STCW instructor took the crew through their paces and a great fun but serious course was had by all.

Week 14 & 15: Fast Track Yachtmaster January 2017

Week fourteen and fifteen final two week preparation and the exam; what the last three and half months have been all about. With two yachts we run a matched experience, same starting times, evening revision topics to utilise the classrooms for extra crew study, using both boats for dual excersizes which was also very productive and fun.

The middle weekend was Easter; do we need an excuse for brain training calorie chocolate? No we don’t but anyway we love this photo of most of our January, March and April Fast Track teams receiving their rather posh Easter Eggs from the Allabroad team. Instructor Ian for one was super pleased to have a yacht full of Easter Eggs. Clare, Alex and Hannah in the office just looked longingly at them, bikini season is upcoming.

The results are in ...................

After 15 weeks of full on training and an experience the teams will never forget, with lifelong friends made, sailing between four countries, after being put in fires, jumping in pools, studying navigation, mastering Radar and VHF Radio and learning the intricacies of Diesel Engines. We have new Yachtmasters! Completely exhilarated and exhausted no doubt from a two day exam but ready for a lifetime of sailing adventures ahead. Well done team, fully deserved and wishing you now every success for all your future sailing adventures. 

95% first time and on time pass rate for 2016 and 2017, which is excellent and way above industry standards for Yachtmaster exam passes. How do we achieve this? We have a time tested and trusted framework of training that has been adapted over the last 15 years of delivering Fast Track courses, our team of instructors are excellent and we deliver the Fast Track course with a very high proportion of full Yachtmaster Instructor or Yachtmaster Examiners so you are benefiting from their depth of experience. Our Navigation Instructors are once again either the highest level of Instructor you can be and Hayley our Shorebsed instructor whose been teaching navigation for over three years and supports all our online clients too. We have the facilities for you to learn and relax at your choosing during free time, having classrooms accessible when you want means you can spread out your studies in the quite of the climate control room. 

"There are seven days in the week and someday isn't one of them". Which date will you start your sailing adventure with Allabroad? Follow this link for the full course details on the Fast Track to Yachtmaster Offshore Sail Course. Email and let us know which start date you are aiming for and we will look ford to welcoming you to the Academy very soon.