Jolly Parrot's Sailing Blog

So you’ve heard about sailing courses that you can do, perhaps it’s a completely new adventure for 2020 and you’ve never stepped on board a boat before, or you’ve done RYA Start Yachting but what...

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A call sign is a designated sequence of letters and numbers that are assigned when a vessel, whether it be a sailing yacht, motor yacht, rib or commercial vessel, receives it’s Ship Radio Licence....

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Electronic Visual Distress Signals (EVDS) are hand-held non-pyrotechnic devices an alternative to pyrotechnic flares, as they are cheaper, safer, easy to test and also much easier to dispose of....

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Do you often sit down in front of the TV,  scroll through hundreds of channels and still feel none the wiser about what to watch?   We’ve come up with a list of sailing films that...

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As we head into Summer and with the effects of COVID-19 being felt, there has never been a better time to start an online course. There are a variety of online theory courses available with Jolly...

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There’s something very satisfying about a multifunction waterproof sports watch designed specifically for life at sea but sometimes its just a simple analogue watch that you need to tell the time and...

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Probably the most important pre-departure check for any responsible skipper is an up-to-date weather forecast. The best laid plans (and particularly our passage plans) are prone to change if the...

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There are eight knots that are taught during the RYA Competent Crew course. These knots are the bowline, clove hitch, round turn and two half hitches, the reef knot, rolling hitch, figure of eight,...

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Ever increasing online content means that information, news and advice is now more freely available than ever before. But quantity doesn’t always mean quality. So here are a few of our favourite...

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When a sailing boat sails upwind (close hauled) or on a reach, the crew present the leading edge of the sails (the luff) to the wind direction at such an angle that aerodynamic effect lifts the...

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A abeam - At a right angle to the boat; as in: That buoy lies abeam of us. aboard - On the yacht aft and after - Direction; as in: Go aft to the stern of the boat. aground - When the...

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These are our top picks for yachting shoes for a range of budgets.  Nowadays, deck shoes range from the traditional leather moccasin style to technical trainer style footwear.  Deck shoes...

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Tides are an extremely important factor in the sailing world. It is important to have a basic understanding of how tides work because it can be the difference between a fantastic, smooth fast...

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We have selected five of the best sailing podcasts that you may like to listen to while you are sailing or dreaming of sailing!  These podcasts vary from talking to well-known sailors currently...

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A lead line is a very simple device used for measuring the depth of water / soundings.  With the use of tallow, beeswax or grease, it can also tell you the nature of the sea bed. A lead line...

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A three point fix is a method of fixing your position on a chart within sight of land. Three bearings are taken from landmarks on shore.  You will need a chart, a handheld bearing compass and a...

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If there is not enough wind to sail onto the mooring, or there is just too much traffic to make it feasible, then the approach will need to be made under power. First, observe the direction other...

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Poling out the headsail is a fantastic, easy and safe way of sailing on a dead run.  It is much easier than hoisting a cruising chute or spinnaker. The most common way you will see this ...

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We have searched for the best sailing related gifts.  Garmin Reach SE+ Satellite Tracker A handheld GPS that with a subscription allows the user to send and receive messages and...

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Choosing the right pair of sailing gloves is essential as is having the right type of equipment and clothing. Generally "sailing gloves" are designed with an enforced or padded palm for durability...

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All boats are required to maintain a proper log when at sea. There are good reasons for this requirement above and beyond remarks made about the skipper’s non-existent tea-making abilities.  A...

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A storm jib is familiar to most sailors and can be a very useful addition to the cruiser’s sail plan as it offers a robust, useful headsail that can usually be relied upon to combine well with a...

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In today’s World, finding your way from point A to point B is easier than ever. On land we are deluged by signposts, largely standardised road layouts and GPS-based plotters in ours cars, our phones...

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Anchoring is a great way to enjoy your boat away from the throng of bank holiday traffic - especially if you know where to go. However, after a light lunch in some picturesque anchorage, having to...

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When sailing across the warm, sun-drenched Bay of Gibraltar, it can be hard to envisage when a need for lifelines might exist. In fact, for many day sailors and summer cruisers, it’s hard to imagine...

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Whilst the best way to learn how to race - is racing, there quickly comes a time when the learning curve levels off and the savvy racing sailor will turn her mind to learning old lessons from wise...

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SART stands for Search And Rescue Transponder.  Unlike an EPIRB (Electronic Position Indicating Radio Beacon) which independently broadcasts a radio signal for satellites to repeat to a...

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It’s probably fair to assume that for every sailing term there are at least 3 or more other pieces of jargon that fit equally as well. Sailing terminology can be confusing, although in the writer’s...

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A tri-sail is not something many day sailors are ever likely to see or use. However, if you have one it’s important that you know what it’s for, where it’s kept and how and when you should rig it...

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If you want to learn to sail, the most beneficial RYA practical course you can do is the RYA Competent Crew Course.  However, once you have some experience you’re likely to want to gain the...

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Who was it that first coined the phrase “If you can’t do knots, do lots”? I wish I knew, because every time I find myself soaked on the foredeck trying to untie a snaggle of tight hitches and half...

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If you sail you’ve probably browsed the magazine shelves at your local newsagent, airport or train station. Yachting magazines are a great way to learn how to sail, increase your knowledge...

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There are many books written on the subject of weather for sailors and here are a few of our favourites. Reeds Weather Handbook The Reeds Weather handbook, like the Reeds Skipper’s Handbook, is...

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Probably the greatest hazard to the seafarer is poor visibility, specifically fog. Sailing at night may seem intimidating to the novice skipper, unless visibility is reduced by fog or rain, night...

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The clew outhaul connects to the clew of the mainsail. The outhaul runs through the length of the boom and the boom is controlled by the mainsheet and the vang / kicker. The outhaul, when pulled...

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There are many cruising sailors out on the water every weekend whose grasp of sail trim is rudimentary at best. Of course, this doesn’t make them bad people - after all, their ability to mix a mean G...

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All of us that sail must have started sometime. Perhaps you were born to it, following in the footsteps of parents or an elder sibling or perhaps you learnt to love it later in life? However you...

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We're regularly asked what various ensigns are and why they are flown. In fact the questions is usually, “What is that flag?”, rather than ensign. The most senior position on a boat is the most...

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Many people looking to take an RYA yachting course find it difficult to choose the right course for them. Here we list the minimum criteria required to take each course. RYA Start Yachting &...

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Probably one of those questions right up there with “how long is a piece of string”, providing a meaningful and accurate answer to this question is pretty much impossible. That said, there are a few...

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Many of us, whilst welcoming the odd lazy day on the beach or by the pool, require more from our valuable annual holidays than to be sitting in the sun day after day.  Yachting is a fantastic...

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At Jolly Parrot Sailing we like to think we get the balance right between fun and learning. To have fun on the water you must first be and feel safe. That is why we only employ experienced and well...

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For those of you completely new to sailing the idea that there are so many things to learn can be daunting. The terminology in particular can be intimidating. The good news is that, like...

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In the UK boat owners don’t need any qualifications to sail their yacht.  In todays age that might seem hard to believe, but it’s true.  However, if you want to charter a yacht in the...

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If you are new to using RADAR on board, take a look at our article How to Use a Boat RADAR. Radar has always worked by broadcasting powerful microwaves and then receiving the echoes. Those echoes...

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Some of you will be aware of recent press comment and press releases relating to HM Coastguard’s adoption of the RYA SafeTrx app, available to Android and iPhone users via their smartphones. The...

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There are lots of great books on sailing and navigation, but here are a few we thoroughly recommend. Reeds Skipper’s Handbook A concise pocket guide that does a great job at covering pretty...

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Sailing at night is regularly the highlight for many novice sailors on an RYA course.  Being at sea in the pitch dark with shipping and natural hazards all around you can be a little...

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Regular sailors sometimes ask us if they can bring their own lifejackets and specifically, whether the airlines will allow them on flights. In basic terms, most airlines will allow you to bring a...

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The RYA set a variety of carefully crafted yachting courses aimed at bringing the complete novice through to Yachtmaster Ocean in a structured and logical way. Alongside this training plan, it’s...

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Unlike the rest of continental Europe, the U.K does not require boat owners to have any formal qualifications in order to buy a yacht. However, you’ll require formal qualifications if you plan to...

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You probably don’t need a degree in chemistry to understand that one of the most likely things to happen to metal in a wet environment, especially a saltwater environment, is corrosion. However, in...

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If you own your own yacht you should already have a task list and schedule for regular maintenance items such as periodic servicing of the engine, replacing sacrificial anodes and the like. Amongst...

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To many novice sailors the gybe can sometimes become a bogeyman manoeuvre, avoided by many due to a combination of a deeply instilled fear of the process and a lack of understanding around the...

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We are regularly asked what is the most important skill when learning to sail. Given the nature of sailing the answer shouldn’t surprise you; it’s wind awareness. What’s wind awareness? The answer...

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Strictly speaking, as a bare minimum, candidates looking to take the 5-day RYA Day Skipper practical course must be at least 16 years of age and have at least 5 days on-the-water sailing experience...

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When you choosing an RYA sailing course, knowing exactly what’s included and what isn't can make a big difference both to cost and the experience you have whilst on the course. There a...

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We recently wrote a blog about Navtex and its uses. However, once installed, there are a few things one needs to understand before a Navtex receiver can be used effectively. In particular, it’s...

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As the RNLI correctly remind us, a lifejacket is 'useless unless worn'. The same could be said for wearing a faulty lifejacket. The difference between the two is, perhaps, simply one of...

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An RYA training centre is an accredited sailing school that has been assessed by and is regularly inspected by the Royal Yachting Association in order to ensure common standards of competence,...

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With the ever-growing use of chart plotters, GPS and AIS it's easy to forget how important and effective RADAR can be. It's still an important part of the sailor’s armoury when performing his duties...

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Knowing what to pack when going on holiday can be tricky. Knowing what to bring and what to leave at home can be even harder when you are going sailing for the first time, so we’ve put together a bit...

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There are plenty of sailing schools from which to choose and we appreciate that it’s sometimes difficult for a potential customer to make an informed decision when browsing the various websites - so...

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As the names suggest, a symmetrical spinnaker is cut in symmetrical shape. An Asymmetric spinnaker (otherwise known as a gennaker or A-Sail) is cut more like a lightweight genoa and as such it has a...

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Having a VHF radio on your vessel is a sensible option for all boat owners. If you have a radio, you should be maintaining a radio watch. But how do you know if your VHF is broadcasting? Some...

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Day sailing close to home is one thing, but when you are on passage a good skipper will give serious thought to the best watch system for his boat and crew. An effective system should be designed...

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On a modern sailing yacht we use our sails in order to sail both ‘upwind’ and ‘downwind’, unlike the masters of older square riggers which were restricted to the reach and the run and the Trade Winds...

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Navtex is a network of transmitters and onboard receivers created to distribute weather information throughout the World’s oceans. The information is collated and distributed by area...

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As the nights draw in and the weather turns cold and wet in the UK, it's worth considering alternatives for your RYA training and or mile building adventures.   Offering challenging tidal...

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If you’re one of those people that gets just a little bit more bored each year whilst sitting on the same patch of sand looking at the sailboats anchored off the beach and think “that looks like fun...

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Fairly uniquely for an RYA accredited training centre, Jolly Parrot Sailing offers our students two continents and three countries within its sailing area. Morocco, Spain and our base in Gibraltar...

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A novice sailor might be forgiven for thinking that ‘one rope is very much like another’ but, of course, this is very far from the truth. With a wide variety of materials and types of construction...

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A cruising chute is primarily the same as a gennaker or asymmetric spinnaker. However, cruising chutes tend to be a little easier to handle than a racing asymmetric sail and in many cases they are...

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If you are unsure of what an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) is read our article What is an EPIRB? How to register an EPIRB. It is important to register your EPIRB properly...

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A spinnaker is a particular type of sail designed for use when a boat is reaching or sailing ‘off the wind’. For example, when on a broad reach or run. Like other sails spinnakers come in different...

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On your own yacht, you may think it is overkill to formalise a methodology and risk assessment but going through the process of climbing a mast carefully beforehand is both prudent and good...

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When going to sea it’s important that you have the means by which to raise the alarm and call for help in the event of an accident, injury or other distress situation. It’s also worth remembering...

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A danbuoy is an important part of any vessel’s safety kit. For sailing yachts in particular it’s a very effective way of marking the location that a casualty entered the water.  Most danbuoys...

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Whilst marinas are convenient and usually provide shoreside facilities they are also more expensive than a river mooring or anchorage - and certainly less private. A tender is therefore a sensible...

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1 - Sail around the Bay and perhaps anchor for a swim before lunch - The Bay was well known throughout history whether it be ancient Greek mythology or more recently as the landing place of Nelson’s...

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Our first training yacht, Jolly Parrot, is regularly used by us for a variety of RYA yachting courses in the Mediterranean. Of course, she’s not our only training yacht, but she is our favourite -...

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EPIRB stands for Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon.    It is a portable unit that runs on its own long life battery (usually a sealed lithium one). Once activated, it broadcasts...

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Every summer about 1,600 small (and not so small) sailing vessels set westwards towards the Needles Channel in what is basically a mad dash to complete the 50-mile circumnavigation of the Isle of...

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That’s right. One week! Well, one week away from work anyway!   The course begins with four days of intensive classroom-based theory following the RYA Day Skipper Theory syllabus. One of our...

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There are few things as pleasurable as sailing the calm, warm blue waters of the Mediterranean with a group of close friends or family. A new venue every night a days spent gliding silently across...

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Most RYA sailing courses require a combination of miles actually sailed and specific exercises practiced and practiced again. The ideal sailing area will therefore have a combination of passage-...

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The Levanter is an Easterly wind experienced in the Western Mediterranean. The wind blows from the Alboran Channel and through the Straits of Gibraltar, sometimes with very high winds experienced in...

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The most critical information for a sailor must be to know what weather to expect when out sailing and what effect it will it have on her passage. Maintaining a radio watch, listening to weather...

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Many beginners enter the sailing world each year and the vast majority of adults probably start sailing with a clear intention to eventually charter their own yacht to take family or friends on...

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Once a novice sailor has been bitten by the sailing bug, it quickly becomes apparent that in order to continue spending time on the water they need to do one of three things. Either they buy their...

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Anchoring is one of the great pleasures available to the cruising yachtsman. There are few things better than relaxing at anchor on a fine summer’s evening in the company of friends or loved ones. A...

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The difficulty with starting something new is knowing…. well, where to start. In some respects, and certainly when you look at many other sports and pastimes, sailing has quite a structured...

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As I write this article, sitting on the marina with an espresso and my second pan au chocolat in my hand, it’s a pleasant 16 degrees celsius. Small, white cumulus clouds are drifting aimlessly across...

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Anyone with sea survival training will know that evacuating to a liferaft is a last resort measure and in most cases you should be ‘stepping up’ into a raft as your boat sinks below you. The obvious...

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Amongst some sections of society, sailing has an historic and, nowadays, wholly unjustified reputation for being expensive and elitist. This was unquestionably the case a century ago when the...

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If you have a helicopter coming to your aid you are likely to be sailing fairly close to shore as their range is not vast. It’s also likely that you have a mayday situation. Either a man overboard, a...

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There is always plenty of stuff to buy if you’re a sailor, so buying a gift for Christmas should be a doddle.   The biggest problem is probably, does she already have it? If she owns...

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If you do not hold an RYA Day Skipper Certificate you can apply to be assessed for an RYA ICC (International Certificate of Competence) Certificate by an RYA accredited sailing school. The ICC...

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This is a question our instructors get asked an awful lot and, whilst it’s a reasonable enquiry, it betrays a slight misunderstanding of how we should approach our relationship with the sea.  I...

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Many common phrases used by the seafarer have found their way into common usage by the landlubber. Many more are wrongly ascribed. Here is our list of the best; 1. By and Large: meaning generally...

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In the UK, the Shipping Forecast is currently provided by the UK Met Office and is regularly broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on behalf of the British Maritime & Coastguard Agency. It is broadcast at...

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The cynics amongst us can regularly be heard at the bar recounting some old wisdom. Namely that the best two days of owning a boat are the day you buy her and the day you sell her. Dependent upon...

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Whilst many of our RYA students own or plan to own their own yachts, many more only ever plan to charter yachts on holiday with their family or friends. For those first-timers amongst you, it might...

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We encourage families to attend sailing courses and jointly explore the fun of sailing in a relatively controlled environment. As in most walks of life, age in itself is no barrier to competence. We...

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If you hold certain RYA qualifications then you may apply have them commercially endorsed. In doing so, you become qualified to work in areas for which the qualification is considered appropriate....

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AIS stands for Automatic Identification System. It is a tracking system for ships and small craft and it identifies, locates and exchanges data with nearby vessels, ground stations and satellites by...

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Under Regulation V/28 of the International Convention for the Safety of Life as Sea (SOLAS) 1974 all vessels are required to keep a navigational log by law. British registered vessels must comply...

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The Royal Yachting Association (RYA) is the primary authority administering the tuition of pleasure craft users in the UK. This includes jet skis and personal watercraft, dinghies, motor boats and,...

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Interestingly, there is still no legal requirement in Britain that requires a private boat owner to have any qualification whatsoever before they take their loved ones to sea.   He or she may...

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The International Certificate of Competence (ICC) was introduced by European Directive in order to ensure that operators of small leisure vessels operating throughout the waters of participating...

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‘If you don’t know knots, do lots..’  is a well known saying on the water, but in reality, doing lots will make you no friends on the water! The first time you are perched on the foredeck in...

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Most parts of the World are monitored by national coastguards. This means that if you get into trouble within a few miles of the coast and you have a VHF radio, you are able to call for help,...

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The old adage:  “If you can’t do knots, do lots” might be widely used, but you won’t be thanked on board if you have tied everything up into a hard-to-undo jumble of bitter ends. There is a...

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The usual cycle of the passing of a depression or Low Pressure System is defined by the approach of a warm front as the warm air of a low pressure system of air slides over a colder high pressure air...

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1. Weather Forecasts Nowadays, perhaps the most reliable way to predict a storm is to make sure you have regular access to an up-to-date weather forecast. In the UK, the Coastguard issue forecasts...

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As with a Low Pressure System, defining a High Pressure System is relative to the air around it. The average high pressure system is about 1013 mb but this isn’t specific.  As air rises when...

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If you are chartering a yacht in the Mediterranean, it’s likely that your packing will reflect the expected weather, just like any other holiday. Hopefully shorts, T shirts, skirts and sunglasses...

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Being able to raise the alarm in the event of a distress situation is critical. In some cases, where sailing inshore, you might still be able to resort to calling the emergency services using your...

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If you are joining us for an RYA Competent Crew Course, we’re assuming that you have done little or no sailing or you’re in need of a refresher. Either way, you needn’t do anything in preparation...

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Exploring uninhabited coves and empty beaches is one of the delights of a sailing holiday, whichever part of the World you are cruising. When done properly, anchoring is a safe, cheap and easy...

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Reefing a sail is simply the name we use for the process of reducing sail area. Not that many years ago, the sailing sloop or ketch would have reduced sail by either reefing the mainsail or changing...

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The RYA Competent Crew Course is designed to introduce the non-sailor to sailing and living on board a cruising yacht.  There is no expectation of knowledge, so if you are joining an RYA...

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An International Certificate of Competence (ICC) is valid for 5 years. To be eligible for the grant of an ICC from the RYA you must first prove that; (i) You are sufficiently qualified and (ii)...

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After acquiring the sailing bug, most people decide that a formal qualification might be a good idea. Especially if they want to charter a yacht with friends or family. Most reputable schools in...

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If we look at our headsail sheets it will become clear that rather than just run back to winches, they are first run through strong points on the deck known as ‘cars’. These cars are usually fixed...

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Most RYA Sailing certificates are valid for life once you have met the required standard and been granted the certificate. This goes for the spectrum of certificates from RYA Competent Crew to...

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Victualling is the name given to meal planning and shopping for a passage on board a boat. The more observant of you will have noticed that there is a distinct lack of convenience stores when at sea...

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If you’ve already completed your RYA Day Skipper Theory course, the last hurdle is the five day Day Skipper practical assessment. And where better to do it but in the tidal waters of the Western...

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In simple terms, when you ‘gybe’ a boat you are doing the same as you did when you tacked. In other words, you are changing the side of the boat that is presented to the wind. But instead of turning...

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The first thing to be said on this subject is that you should never be considering setting off on a journey in fog. Fog is rightly feared by professional mariners and has been for centuries. The...

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As with any other holiday or trip abroad, whilst not essential, it is prudent to take travel insurance during an RYA sailing course. A variety of third parties offer cover of varying types....

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Amongst the most important information a sailor requires is a weather forecast. Whilst many sailors may have a good idea of what to expect, especially in an area they know well, only a fool goes...

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It will be no surprise to anyone that the area of greatest concern to most novice sailors is close boat handling. In other words, parking the boat.  Getting it wrong when berthing is not only...

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As technology improves (and so does mobile phone reception) a variety of useful ‘apps’ have become popular amongst sailors. Of course, it’s worth mentioning that in many cases these apps are either...

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If you are facing forwards towards the front of the boat, then the port side is on your left and the starboard side is on your right. We use port and starboard rather than left and right because,...

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"Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing—absolute nothing—half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing," he went on dreamily: "messing-about-in-boats; messing-"...

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In sailing speak a tack can be any of three things!  1. A tack is the name we give to the ‘front corner’ of any sail. Look at the leading edge of a sail, follow it down to the bottom and that...

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If you are about to start an RYA Competent Crew Course in the Mediterranean it would be prudent to do a little preparatory reading to get the most from your time on the water. But where to start?...

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The old question!  Some people will tell you that the best way to learn to sail is on a dinghy, where the lightness and responsiveness of a small boat help you to get an understanding of...

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The Beaufort Scale is an Internationally recognised scale used by sailors to measure wind strength. Why is this important? Well, first of all, the strength, direction and time over which wind blows...

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Most people taking an RYA Day Skipper or RYA Competent Crew level qualification are doing it because they want to formalise their existing experience (in the case of Day Skipper) or learn the...

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Most of us are aware of the danger presented by the boom and mainsheet of a sailing boat.  In most instances, the boom is stable and its movement is predictable. However, when the yacht is...

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As an RYA Training Centre, we offer a wide range of training courses to suit everyone from the complete beginner to the experienced sailor. Here, in Gibraltar, we offer both short courses like the...

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An ICC Certificate, otherwise known as the International Certificate for the Operation of Pleasure Craft, is a certificate required by certain countries in Europe to establish a satisfactory level of...

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Sailing is a great opportunity to get away from it all. It’s also a fantastic way to spend a holiday with family and friends, changing the scenery every day - or not, as you prefer. Of course, to...

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Messing about on boats has long been a popular way to unwind and relax after a hard week at work. Most of us have some experience on the water, even if it’s only a rainy family holiday on the Norfolk...

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Learning to sail is a great way to meet like minded people and make new friends but sometimes we just want to get on the water with those we already know and love. At Jolly Parrot we understand this...

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