If you’ve missed any of the earlier posts in this series, this’ll make more sense if it’s read in the right order. Links to each part are given at the bottom of the page.


The morning after was the first day of the course proper. Today we were going to do some sailing. I’d still been up when my fellow shipmates returned from their celebration meal. We’d sat around in the saloon talking for a while, me still marveling at the fluency with which they all spoke English. Ioannis dominated the conversation, clearly more at ease than his wife and son – and me – though as the week progressed, we would all become much more relaxed around each other.

I can’t recall for sure, but I think it was close to midnight when I finally got to bed. The routine of each of us using the heads hadn’t been established yet, but we each gradually did so, and the repetition of pumping noises coming from them might have been comical if we’d been watching it through a TV screen, but still felt intrusive at that point.

Nevertheless, having turned in, the gentle rock of the boat in the marina meant that sleep came easily, and when I woke I felt more rested than I had for a long time.

The routine had been awkward the night before, but it began to take shape this morning. Ioannis and Linde were up early and headed to a café just outside the marina for a coffee. Konstantin, it turned out, was not an early riser, so that left me to take a shower and generally freshen up before making a light breakfast for myself – the galley was well stocked with basic supplies. When the others returned, I headed off for a short walk to leave them some privacy for their own ablutions. In very broad terms, this came to be our early morning routine. 

Clive was due to arrive at 10am, and when he did so we were all waiting on deck. I can’t speak for the others, but I was keen to get started. This course had been booked for a couple of months and I’d been looking forward to getting out to sea.

Inevitably, that didn’t happen straight away. We needed to do some theory first. I’m delighted to say the theory didn’t involve reading or writing (although I’m told I can do both). Instead, we were familiarized with the boat some more. Yesterday it had been about the accommodation. Today it was about mechanics.  Again, I was relieved to find that the mechanics didn’t involve getting to grips with an engine – I’ve already said I’m rubbish with knots, but I’m an expert in them by comparison to my understanding of the internal combustion engine. Having said that, within this introductory session, we did learn how to do a basic engine check, something that became a habit by the end of the week, and we all played a part in that.

Routines were already being established that would be important for the smooth running of the course and our time together.

By the time we completed the induction, including the confusion that reigned over putting life jackets on, it was midday, so we stopped for the first of many very similar but still enjoyable lunches.

Clive had brought fresh baked bread, and it was joined by an array of items from the fridge and storage compartments in the saloon. As someone who doesn’t eat meat – but also hates cheese (I can hear the gasps of horror as I write this) – I know I can be somewhat problematic when it comes to catering. But Alex had assured me before I went that she had it all in hand – and she was right. Fortunately, I do eat seafood, and this meant I was provided with a plentiful supply of options. And the others ate the cheese.

I think it was over lunch that I learnt the reason Ioannis had wanted to come on this course. He’d recently bought himself a small yacht, but had no formal qualifications. His intention, then, was to gain experience with someone qualified to teach, and by sharing it with his family then they should all feel a lot more confident on the water. It might also mean they had something they could all do together – which doesn’t always happen in families. It almost made we want to buy a boat. But then I thought about my mortgage, and realized I had other priorities.

Lunch over, we all helped in clearing up – the collaboration was growing already.  Then it was time to head out to sea for the first time.


Links to previous parts to this story:

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four