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Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Like a fart in the fog

Well the weekend proved to be challenging, terrifying and rewarding all at the same time. We were down to complete our advanced powerboat course with the night passage on Saturday night and a little brush up on the Sunday morning. Little did we suspect what would take place.

As it happened, Saturday was a glorious sunny day. Unless you were on the Forth. In which case it turned out to be foggier than a foggy thing. Visability was down to less than 50 metres and noise carried like a duck farting in the fog. Not a pleasant day.
You can almost make out the bridge in the fog. It gets worse....
Before we were let loose, we did a ton of work in the classroom, plotting our course on the charts, right of way, bouyage, etc. before making our way down to the pontoon to prep the RIB. 

We had a very good teacher in Olly who had taken us through our VHF/DSC course the month before and was a salty old sea dog. He said he had never seen fog as bad as this in 30 years. Filled us right up with confidence that did!

We planned to recap some basic skills in the water and navigate to the terminal and over to Rosyth. As it turns out once we got out on the open water, visability got even worse. Being nearly taken out twice by silly b*stards in yachts with no running lights made it clear that water work and the night passage wasnt going to happen today so it was back to the classroom for more hard graft. 
More classroom work and study....
Sunday proved to be more favourable with sun and fog patches. More classroom work followed by some time in the boat shed looking at basic maintainance and repair of powerboats before getting back on the water to perfect our existing skills and doing more pilotage.
Finalising the afternoons course
The afternoon proved to exceptional with flat waters and clear blue skies. Olly wasnt totally happy as there was little current running and no waves so we weren't pushed to our limits. But we had made up for it the previous day though with our nerves being pushed to our limits as well as our clean underpants!
Bridges! Sunshine! We can see!
Side bearings, time over distance and transits were order of the afternoon, with course corrections, a recap on anchoring and towing thrown in for good measure. We also noticed that they had decided to destroy Beemer Rock to make way for the propsed new Forth Road bridge. That's one less landmark to use for navigation!
I never get bored looking at this feat of engineering..
From Rosyth to Granton to Dalgety Bay to harbour, we had a good run in the afternoon with plenty to keep us on our toes and plenty to think about with the night passage coming up later on. Still had time to do a little 360 video of us passing Inch Garvie island and under the rail bridge.

Back in the classroom we were starting to flag a little with the constant pressure of being on the ball and having lots of things to think about. We then had the task of plotting a course from the harbour to Inverkeithing, round Inchcolm, Car Craig, Oxcars, Inchmickery, past the terminal and then back to harbour for our night passage which took a while given distances, boat traffic, hazards and loads of other considerations to take into account. Challenging stuff.

This is as good as it gets at night
With pitch black upon us, we were solely working on our pilotage, time on distance, side bearings, natural navigation, instrumentation and adrenaline. It certainly focuses the mind and then some. Sometimes all you have is the flashing light of a buoy to take a bearing off and when you have a lot of different flashing lights, you need to make sure you get the right one!

I'm proud to say that (without being a big headed twat) between myself and Jill, we were the best boat on the night, which was pleasantly surprising. The other RIB had three experienced sailors that had their own boats or had spent a lot of hours on boats so we expected them to know everything and to have the best course plotted.

As it turns out we had the upperhand in most respects and had the most effective, efficient and accurate course plotted, so kudos to us. Still a bit unnerving driving in the dark though as you really can't afford to switch off and you have to rely on other people feeding you the correct nav info as you go as well as being an extra set of eyes when you need them.
Difficult to see but there are seals asleep on there. I didn't want to use the flash to disturb them.
The icing on the cake was when we stopped at the No.16 channel marker to wait for the other RIB which gave us opportunity to watch all the sleeping seals. Nice.   

When we got back to harour and classroom is was 12:15 am and the course had gone on for 8 hours more than it should but I think we got our moneys worth and for the experience and learning standpoint it was an excellent course to complete.

Once we get some more hours logged, we'll be heading for our Day Skipper course and look to get commercially endorsed but that's a ways down the road yet.......

Here's a couple more from the Sunday day time.
Inchgarvie seagull attack
More power!!