Jolly Parrot's Sailing Blog

A ship’s radio includes MF (medium frequency), VHF (very high frequency), HF (high frequency) and UHF (ultra high frequency) radio equipment. Most coastal sailors will only have a VHF transmitter/...

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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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This is simple, pick your berth, shout as much as you can at everyone, reverse your yacht as fast as you can, when you hear a loud crunch and the yacht stops, swear a lot, shout some more, throw some...

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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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Most of us know that tides are driven by the gravitational forces exerted upon the Earth by the sun and the moon. Tides are characterized by water on the planet being pulled by these gravitational...

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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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This blog gives you an overview of what you need to know in preparation for the RYA Yachtmaster Offshore exam, not the rules one by one, seeing as there are over 40. Understanding the...

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A sea anchor (sometimes known as a drift anchor, drift sock, para anchor or boat brake) is a means by which the sailor can arrest the drift of his vessel (when not underway). In large part it does...

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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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A Cunningham is an adjustment line used to increase the performance of the mainsail by changing its shape. Basically, it is a rope that acts as a downhaul, which is often connected to a cringle in...

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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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So we are not talking about the highway code but rules of the road for navigating at sea. Just like when you learn to drive you learn the highway code, now you will need to learn the international...

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Cooking on a yacht has a number of challenges; limited space for stores, a small oven or only two hob rings, not forgetting a moving vessel.  Having good food at sea is essential for a number of...

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Here are some handy methods for sailing onto a mooring buoy, it’s quite often used to test your skills as a yachtsman but it’s a great skill to have when the marinas or anchorages are full. ...

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Flares have always been an important element of a yacht’s emergency equipment. Traditionally, the distress flares you carry depends on the size of yacht you are sailing and the class i.e. is it...

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Whether you are a Competent Crew, Day Skipper or preparing for the RYA/MCA Yachtmaster exam, there are lots of books to help you. If you are working toward Yachtmaster offshore, we have selected a...

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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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Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) is a unique 9 digit number that is assigned to a (Digital Selective Calling) DSC radio or an AIS unit. Similar to a mobile phone number, your MMSI number is...

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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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When sailing it’s important to have sheets and halyards that are strong and do not stretch much. This allows you to effectively and reliably control sail trim.  However, when alongside, using a...

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The International Regulations for the Prevention of Collisions at Sea, or IRPCS, were published by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in 1972, following a convention which created an...

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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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The RYA qualifications for fixed keel boats (i.e. yachts) ranges from the two day introductory course known as RYA Start Yachting all the way through to RYA/MCA Yachtmaster Ocean.   In...

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A propeller wrap is probably one of the big worries of the novice (and not-so-novice) sailor.  What is more frustrating is that sometimes collecting a line is not always avoidable. If you...

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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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There are few things certain in life, but one thing you can almost guarantee is that if you own a yacht at some time in your life, you will either need to be towed or be asked to tow another. It is...

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Here are a few sensible precautions to consider when preparing your yacht to be left at its berth when bad weather is forecast.  If you are leaving your vessel for several weeks, you should...

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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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We all know that the air around us has a mass. When moving, that mass of air causes us to experience a force as it flows over us. That force is wind. I don’t suppose I’ve surprised any of you yet? If...

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The RYA Yachtmaster Offshore qualification is widely considered to be the pinnacle of achievement for the coastal and offshore sailor. In fact, the only non-teaching qualification that is higher than...

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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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A low pressure system, or depression as it is sometimes known, is an area of warm air. The description ‘warm’ is relative to the air around it and so don’t expect scorching temperatures as a result...

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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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Most of us are aware that many yachts have use of an auxiliary engine, perhaps a generator (for charging batteries and providing power), a gas-fired oven and hob or a solid fuel stove. Many have a...

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Before we talk about freeing a fouled anchor, it’s worth just briefly looking at how to avoid getting a stuck anchor in the first place! There are some simple things worth considering. Namely...

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There are a plethora of books out there aimed at the aspiring offshore cruising sailor.  In fact, to choose just five books is an impossible task. So here is our list of the top five books for...

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Let’s be honest, none of us ever expect to find ourselves abandoning our pride and joy for a liferaft and, as we should all know by now, we really should delay such action until there is no other...

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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 kedge anchor is the secondary anchor onboard a yacht. The primary anchor is usually located on the bow on a bow roller or, alternatively, in the anchor locker.  Kedge anchors are usually...

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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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The Mistral is a strong and cold North Westerly wind that blows into the Mediterranean from France. In certain French valleys and along the Côte d'Azur, the wind is channelled by the mountains so...

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Recent changes have been made by the MAIB (Marine Accident Investigation Branch) relating to who must report accidents on board vessels.  WHO MUST REPORT? The skipper of any ship must...

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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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The RYA qualifications for fixed keel boats (i.e. yachts) ranges from the two day introductory course known as RYA Start Yachting all the way through to Yachtmaster Ocean.   In addition...

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They do say that the best two days of owning a yacht are the day you buy it and the day you sell it. But we don’t like to listen to ‘they’ do we. Do we? Of course we don’t. That said, yacht...

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The Yachtmaster Theory Course is one of the elements of structured shorebased learning that we recommend for candidates looking to enhance their existing knowledge, especially if they intend to...

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We have already covered some of the basics to be considered when anchoring so we won’t cover them again here. However, when anchoring overnight or for a longer period of time there are several...

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If you are buying your first yacht you’ll want to make sure you don’t end up buying a headache. Well, at least more than the usual one anyway! As part of the process you will want a full marine...

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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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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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It’s important to note that there are a variety of different anchor types with each anchor having a different set of characteristics best suited to different seabeds. Each anchor design has certain...

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Obtaining a marine mortgage tends to largely mirror the process of applying for and receiving a home loan. Both are secured loans and as such the mortgage will be registered against the vessel....

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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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The answer to this question is probably the same as ‘how long’s a piece of string?’. It depends. However, there are several things to consider when comparing the advantages and disadvantages of...

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Being hit by lightning on a yacht is, just as it is on land, a fairly unusual and improbable event. That said, it can happen and so all risks should be mitigated. The most important consideration...

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The RYA Yachtmaster Coastal Examination is an externally adjudicated examination, unlike the RYA Coastal Skipper Course and the RYA Day Skipper Course, both of which are courses taught and assessed...

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Raster and vector electronic files are made up in different ways to represent and image. In its most basic form, raster images are made up of a number of pixels, all different colours. At the...

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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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To some extent this is a similar question to ‘how long is a piece of string’. However, most marine surveys of sailing yachts will cover a fundamental programme of checks in order to establish the...

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In the UK, small private leisure vessels such as the 36ft yacht don’t strictly require insurance by law, unless they are operated on inland waterways. However, in reality it’s likely that all lenders...

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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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The RYA Yachtmaster Offshore certificate is the first penultimate qualification in the RYA’s training programme with Yachtmaster Ocean and subsequent instructor certifications being the only RYA...

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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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When booking a charter holiday a little pre-planning will go a long way.  When to go? Don’t make your decision based entirely on price as there is most likely a reason for the low price....

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The RYA/MCA Yachtmaster Coastal is the first RYA qualification that is subject to an independently assessed practical examination. The candidate is examined on the water by an RYA appointed...

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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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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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Submitting a transit report when leaving on passage is a prudent thing to do. It acts as a safety blanket in the event that you incur a problem and lose an effective means of communication. A third...

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Time Expired Pyrotechnics (TEPs) or distress flares as we tend to refer to them are explosives and, as such, UK laws are strict on their disposal.  In the past individuals with British...

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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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The MCA, otherwise known as The Maritime and Coastguard Agency is an agency of Her Majesty’s Government and is responsible for regulating a variety of maritime-related activities, industries,...

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Many of us take an RYA yachting course in order to achieve a basic level of competence and to help guarantee that we have attained at least a rudimentary knowledge. Others want to continue their...

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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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In basic terms, the STCW (Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping) 2010 is the updated version of the STCW 95 and STCW 78 conventions. These conventions are internationally recognised...

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A ‘diesel bug’ is microbial bacteria. It thrives in warm temperatures although it can be active in any temperature between 5C and 70C. More tropical locations where the ambient temperature is...

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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 have written elsewhere on the various ways to find your first job in the yachting industry. Here we concentrate on the more formal route, namely using a specialist recruitment consultant. As...

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The Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA) regulates the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) and enables the RYA to set syllabi for a variety of certificates of competence from an Introduction to Yachting...

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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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The last thirty years has seen an enormous growth in the number of jobs available in the yachting industry. Whether you’re an MCA qualified Deck Officer or Master Mariner, a Yachtmaster or a humble...

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As a boat owner there are going to be times when you’ll need to lift out your pride and joy, either for winter storage or anti-fouling work or perhaps to undertake checks or routine maintenance. For...

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There are many roles (and many sectors) in the yachting industry and each one requires specific skill sets in addition to some shared qualifications. For example, a commercially endorsed RYA...

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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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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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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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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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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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Many non-sailors think of pirates in a rather nostalgic and romantic way. In fact Johnny Depp’s wonderful Jack Sparrow probably springs to mind for most. In reality, piracy is, and always has been,...

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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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Here is our Rookie Skipper's Guide to your first Round the Island Race. If it's your first time crewing on Round the Island Race take at our Beginners Guide to Round the Island Race.. If you sail...

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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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Those of you that enjoy mostly cruising with a G&T either in hand (or in mind) may well be aware of something called the America’s Cup but have little actual knowledge of what is, how long it’s...

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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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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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If you live and own a vessel bought in the UK then you are wise to register it. If you intend to use it on inland waterways you’ll need to register it to avoid a stiff fine and in order to...

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Many UK-based sailors choose their home waters (in many cases the sheltered waters of the Solent) to take their RYA Yachtmaster examination.  The temptation to ‘make things easy’ by choosing a...

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Yacht ownership brings with it many delights. Unfortunately, the annual anti-fouling regimen is not one of them.  The need for antifouling paint on your yacht’s hull is self-evident if you...

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The best way to stop a yacht deteriorating is, of course, to keep using her. However, most of us have outgrown the enthusiastic February-bash up the coast and opt, rather sensibly, to lay-up our...

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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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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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In today’s world of GPS enabled devices some will argue that the art and science of real navigation has been lost and in many cases, they’d have a point. With many electronic devices now GPS-enabled...

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The RYA Coastal Skipper practical course is not a beginner’s course. It is therefore suggested that you have at least 15 days sea-time, two of these days as skipper, having covered 300 miles with...

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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 wish to skipper or crew a commercial vessel, you will require a commercial endorsement to your RYA Day Skipper, RYA Coastal Skipper or RYA Yachtmaster qualification. In addition to other...

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In order to work at sea you must have a medical certificate. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) accept two certificates, dependent on what sort of work you are doing. They are...

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A CG66 Safety Identification Scheme is is the name given to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s free and voluntary scheme for registering UK flagged pleasure craft and vessels. Registering the...

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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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Unlike other RYA qualifications, you will find the Yachtmaster practical exam to be different in format. Unlike the RYA Day Skipper qualification, which is both taught and appraised during 5 days on...

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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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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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The RYA Yachtmaster qualification has long been recognised by many as the premium sailing qualification for the experienced leisure sailor. In recent times, the Yachtmaster qualification has been...

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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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"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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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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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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'Mal de mer' as the French would say, is basically motion sickness. The disconnect between what your eyes are seeing and what your balance receptors are telling your brain. It causes the body to...

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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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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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It is easy to forget that for those new to sailing, the build up to your first week on the water can be just a little bit daunting. Like anything else that involves learning new things in an...

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When sailing in a normal breeze (Beaufort Force 3 / Force 4) it’s likely that we would have a full mainsail and a full headsail. If the wind strength increases, the yacht will become over-canvassed,...

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