Learn the ropes & the knots

Posted: 1 March 2018 by Lou Barden in Competent Crew, Ropes & knots, Training


On any sailing yacht you will find many pieces of rope or string as seems to be the word used by some. However when you are on a boat there are various names for these bits of string which are neither of the above. Instead we refer to them as sheets, halyards or warps. Wow, lets make up a whole new vocabulary, however there are good reasons as the name delineates what these bits of rope actually do and as a result the material they should be made from.

A sheet – the rope attached to the clew of a sail or the boom to allow the sail to be controlled or trimmed

Sheets attached to clew


This picture shows two sheets attached to the clew of a headsail. The attachment knot should always be a bowline (explanation below). These sheets allow the headsail to be pulled across from one side of the boat to the other.



Main sheet



This picture shows the main sheet which is attached to the boom at the top. This main sheet runs through a number of blocks the mechanics of which take the weight out of the line and make it easy to control. The main sheet will control the position of the boom. Not all main sheets on yachts come down to a track in the cockpit, many cruising yachts have main sheets which sit on a track on the coach roof forward of the companionway. More confusing terms, check out our glossary of nautical terms.




A halyard – the rope used to hoist or lower sails be it a main sail, a headsail or a spinnaker. So the main halyard would hoist or lower the main sail and the headsail halyard would hoist or lower the headsail and so on.

A warp – a rope used for warping or mooring a vessel to a fixed stationary object ashore. Highlighted in pink below shows three of the four mooring lines which have been used to secure Nomad 1 to the Pontoon.


The Knots

So if you are doing your Competent Crew these knots may well be new to you, if you are doing your Day Skipper or above you will be able to tie most of these with your eyes shut and your hands behind your back !! The most important eight;

The Bowline


One of the most useful knots on a boat, you will be able to undo this knot no matter how much load is applied to it, it does need load. This knot is used to attach sheets to the headsail, reefing lines around the boom of a slab reefed mainsail and often as the preferred knot to attach a boat to a cleat on the pontoon.


The Figure of Eight

Figure of 8

This basic knot is used as a stopper knot to stop any lines running through gear we would not want the line to come through. It is not the only stopper knot available but probably the most simple. A word of warning, never put a stopper knot on a spinnaker line or cruising chute line.


The Sheet Bend



The sheet bend is used to join to pieces of line together if you need a longer line. The lines can be different in diameter and if this is the case the smaller diameter piece of line does the work.


The Double Sheet Bend



This is used for exactly the same thing as the knot above but is stronger due to the extra turn.



The Reef Knot

reef knot


This knot is primarily used for tidying up sails when they have been reefed, on a slab reef main sail. It can also be used for tying bundles of objects together.


The Rolling Hitch


The rolling hitch is perhaps another one of the most useful knots to master on a sailing yacht. This knot allows the load to be taken off a rope if for example there is a riding turn around a winch. This will slide in one direction and hold fast in the other.


The Clove Hitch

Clove hitch


The clove hitch is typically used to tie fenders onto the side of a boat to protect it against a pontoon or other boats. Some skippers prefer using the knot below, a round turn and two half hitches.

A Round Turn and Two Half Hitches



This knot is often used to attach fenders to a boat but can also be used for securing to cleats and bollards


Portsmouth – St Malo  – 4th – 10th June 2016

Alderney race

With a total of 6 crew (including our first student from South Korea) we set out at the very reasonable hour of 10.00 heading for our first stop which was to be Jersey approximately 123nm. Our skipper for this leg of the trip was Joe and his navigational focus had been to hit Hurst Narrows (the narrowest section of water between the Isle of Wight and the main land) and the  Alderney Race with tides sweeping us down to Jersey at the right time. Happily this was achieved in both cases.

Unfortunately the wind was very light with a force 1/2 for the whole journey, fortunately we had filled up with diesel before we left !! The channel crossing was fairly uneventful, with 6 crew Joe had decided to run a two hour rolling watch. Happy Days, 4 hours off watch!!
Having read the Shell Channel Pilot and looked at the charts there IMG_0013are a number of different routes into the marina at St Hellier. Joe had planned the pilotage using the channel pilot; choosing a passage which was pretty well marked and kept us off the rocks on the approach thankfully, there is some great buoyage to guide you in.



We arrived at St Hellier at 0750 DST we had plenty of tide over the bar into the marina so straight in with no hanging around. The crew headed out for showers before grabbing a few more hours sleep before we started to explore Jersey.

Joe and I headed out and managed to find the most industrial part of the city, not very pretty !!  We turned round and headed the other way. We met up with the rest of the crew to find somewhere to grab some lunch. St Hellier appears to be a pretty modern town with a lot of large food chains , we were looking for something more local so we asked one of the residents and ended up catching a bus to the other end of the bay to a place called St Aubin which was very pretty and we had a great lunch in a local pub.


The following morning we headed out bound for St Malo, Jim had done the passage plan and we had all looked over the route which was 40nm South of Jersey.

The main hazard on this section of the passage was The Minquiers (a large area of drying land scattered with rocks). Luckily there were two main cardinal marks to guide us safely round. The weather was perfect…blue skies, perfect sunshine… yet for the second time so far this trip no wind!! However this did allow us to enjoy a leisurely passage down with plenty of sunbathing, and an unsuccessful attempt at fishing. As there were no fish to be had, we enjoyed Lou’s home made breads for lunch! Tasty!

We arrived at the safe water mark outside St Malo at 1700 DST, from here we had to pay close attention to our course due to the rather tricky pilotage and numerous channels available. The channel is well marked with some very interesting buoys!IMG_0038(1)

The final part of the pilotage took us through one of the largest locks I’ve ever seen! Requiring us to set up lines and secure these to lines that were thrown down from the top of the wall by the lock keeper. Bonjour France!

Having successfully navigated the lock we made our way to the visitors berths in the newly built marina, just outside the beautiful walled old town of St Malo.

The intention was to spend 2 days enjoying France before heading back via Guernsey. However shortly after we arrived the well known Channel Island Fog descended on us trapping us in St Malo for longer than planned – there are worse places to be trapped !!!


The crew spent their time exploring the area, a trip to Mont Saint Michel and a good amount of French Cuisine! We finally managed to leave St Malo on the Thursday evening making passage back to Portsmouth. By this point we had lost 2 crew due to the potential for a later than planned arrival back into Portsmouth. Leaving 4 onboard. then, with another crew becoming ill, we were left with 3 of us to sail back to Jersey. 1 hour on 2 hours off it had to be! On our departure we shared the lock with a bulk carrier, a slightly unnerving experience… maybe that large lock isn’t that big!! We stopped in Jersey for 4 hours to allow for the tide to change to get us back through the Alderney Race. The wind arrived for the return leg meaning good sailing and a quick passage back through the Needles channel and on into Portsmouth.


Portsmouth – Brest via the Isles of Scilly 25th – 31st July

After all the crew had joined the boat on Sunday afternoon we slipped Gosport at 5pm to head down to Yarmouth for the night. This would gain us a few extra hours in bed as Skipper Joe had calculated we had to be heading through the Needles at 4am to Monday morning to make best use of the tide. So at 3am 2 of the crew and Skipper got up and we slipped 30 minutes later.

Sails went up and we soon settled into the watch pattern. 2 hours on, 3 hours off. We made our way across Poole bay and rounded Portland Bill Monday afternoon. The next stage of the passage was the 40nm across Lyme Bay to Brixham. With little traffic around and light winds we all managed to get good rest on our off watches and made steady progress. As night fell we completed our Lyme Bay crossing and rounded Start Point. Plymouth and the famous Eddystone Lighthouse soon came into view and early Tuesday afternoon we made our approach into Falmouth. A big port with a good number of hazards but with a careful pilotage plan we were alongside the marina in time for dinner. 176 nm and 34 hours at sea we were all ready for an early night!


The next leg would take us from Falmouth to the Isles of Scilly,  a distance of 60 nm. Having looked at the tides another early start was necessary! So again 3 of the crew rose at 0200 and we slipped Falmouth shortly after. Fair winds meant we made good progress and we were soon rounding The Lizard Point. We put in a tack here and made a course back inshore towards Penzance. Once relatively close inshore we tacked once again and made a course to take us round Wolf Rock. From here we turned the engine on crossed the bottom of the Traffic Separation Scheme at 090° as the rules dictate.

As we approached the Scilly Isles we ran through the pilotage plan to get us safely round the Island of St Mary’s to spend the night on a mooring buoy.


Once secured on our buoy we blew up the dinghy and Jane kindly offered to row us all ashore. With the sun shining on the beautiful island we made our way to the local pub and enjoyed a well-earned drink! Dinner was had in The Atlantic Pub and then we rowed back to Cartel for the night.




The following morning, having seen what St Marys had to offer, we decided to take a short motor over to the island of Tresko. Although only a couple of miles, a more complicated pilotage plan was required and with the help of a good look out we made it safely into The New Grimsby Sound (between Tresko and Bryher).

Another mooring buoy picked up it was again time to row ashore once more! After a short row and a small walk we made it into the town centre (a shop and one pub!). A good meal was had in The New Inn and we returned to the boat for a good night’s sleep.

Friday morning the crew arose and had the morning to enjoy the sunshine and the views before we slipped at 1300 local as Skipper Paul had calculated. We motored our way back through The Sound and out past St Mary’s to commence our final passage. Light winds were all to be had so we motor sailed for the first few hours until night fall when luckily the wind increased. Settled back into our watch system and with the occasional pod of dolphins swimming with us, we made good progress. The route took us South East from the Scillies down through the picturesque Chanel du Four.


22 hours later (as Paul had predicted!) we arrived in the beautiful town of Camaret-sur-Mer, a popular destination for those just having (or about to) cross the Bay of Biscay. A small French Harbour town full of character with an historic fort guarding the harbour. Once alongside the marina the crew had a well needed shower, and we set off on foot once again in search of a French restaurant serving oysters and fish for dinner.

On our final day (Sunday) we departed Camaret-sur-Mer and headed North round the bay into Brest, a distance of about 8nm. We refueled and moored up in the large marina in Brest leaving enough time for a final French meal before the crew flew back home Sunday evening.

In total:7 days on board, 397 nm 

Brest – Portsmouth 1st – 7th August

All change at Brest, we welcomed on the new crew for the final leg back up to Portsmouth via the Channel Islands on Sunday 31st July. Needing to get some extra supplies on board before we headed out on Monday morning, why is everything in France shut on a Sunday and why are there no corner shops ? An early morning trip to the local Carrefour enabled us to slip at 0900, we needed to catch the tide up the Chenal du Four to help us clear our 40 mile passage to L’Aber-Wrach and arrive at the entrance in daylight in the hope that the rather rocky entrance channel would be easier to navigate. It seemed to take hours to clear the Rade de Brest beating against tide but we finally made it into the Chenal du Four with the tide heading north. The weather was fine on departure but seriously deteriorated during the passage to the point of putting 3 reefs in the main and having a very much reduced head sail we made the entrance channel at 1705. By this point visability had deteriorated and we were all pretty wet, my main hope was to navigate the channel into L’Aber-Wrach successfully and get a spot in the marina so we could avail ourselves of shore-power. We had seen numerous yachts heading the same way as us during the day so I was not hopeful until we saw a large square rigger coming out as we were going in, hopefully they had left a large space in the marina !!!IMG_0107(1)

My assumption correct we managed to get on the outer pontoon and plug ourselves into shore power, dehumidifier on !!! We had been checking the weather and were aware that there was a low pressure frontal system coming through. Our plan for the next leg was to go up to Roscoff via the Chenal de L’Ile de Batz, negotiating this channel in a gale 8 is really not an option particularly when you read Mr Cunliffe’s section on this channel which starts “Now the fun begins !” So we elected to spend the following day in L’Aber-Wrach as the system should have cleared by the following day and I gave the passage planning and pilotage tasks to Andy who has recently qualified with us and done a number of other channel trips.

IMG_0467We spent the day walking round L’Aber-wrach which appeared to be on the whole completely deserted, I have to say though this is one of the most impressive roundabouts I have ever seen. However I’m not sure how the IRPCS can be followed here ??

Having discovered very few people but plenty of cars we stopped off for some light refreshment before heading back to the boat to look at the planning and check the weather again as all sailors are obsessed with the weather !!!


We slipped on Wednesday 3rd August heading to Roscoff via the Chenal de L’Ile de Batz – what a difference a day makes, the passage was done in glorious sunshine much to the relief of the crew.

The start of the channel approaching from the West is well marked by a very large Cardinal Mark. Andy had done a detailed pilotage plan and we buoy spotted our way through this beautiful channel in bright sunshine.

Cardinal Tower - N


IMG_0476Coming to the end of our 35 mile passage we spotted Roscoff Marina and headed in, some confusion on mooring as we were given a berth with no space but this was soon sorted by very helpful marina staff and we decided to try and find some moule to round off our last night in France and very good it was. Roscoff is a very modern marina with new restaurant buildings and facilities, we did not have time to have a proper look around but could see a casino up on the hill for future reference !!



IMG_0512The following morning we were heading out again. Geraldine had the job of getting us safely to Guernsey our longest passage to date on this trip 75nm. As a result of the distance we elected to slip early at 0400 The passage went to plan but the wind was not that great and quite a bit of the passage was done with the help of the engine and we had some company along the way.


We made the crossing in 14 hours and were approaching Guernsey accompanied by a beautiful sunset hoping to be moored up in time to be able to get some dinner !! A very helpful berthing master came out to meet us as we entered the harbour and gave us a berth rafted up against one other boat which was great and we could walk ashore and head towards the nearest restaurant !! We spent the next day wandering around Guernsey, Geraldine treated us all to some local oysters which were delicious, thank you very much !! IMG_0480

With a plan to night sail back across the channel to Weymouth that evening, passage responsibility for this one was given to Nikki with the objective of using all the tide sweeping us north through the Alderney Race and onwards to the South Coast which was done admirably. The crossing was fantastic such a clear night we could see the milky way and perfect wind enabled us to sail all the way.


We arrived the following morning to a beautifully sunny Weymouth, I called the harbour master for a berth and was given a boat to raft up alongside on A1, on arriving at A1 there was no boat there so following another call we were alongside the pontoon, happy days !!! We all went for full english breakfast, got to be done after a night channel crossing, followed by a nice refreshing shower and a bit of a rest. We spent a lovely afternoon exploring Weymouth then had dinner on board and ended up playing the name game, I haven’t laughed so much for a long time – good work crew although not sure how Jim Barden is a famous person ??? Apologies for the grainy picture

Name game

The following morning we set off for our final leg back to Portsmouth, we needed to ensure we had tide through the needles channel so we set out a couple of hours prior to the easterly going tide but with wind behind made good progress and were at the Fairway marker by midday with plenty of easterly going tide to run with. Passing through Hurst Narrows we were reminded that we were entering the Solent during Cowes week and the fun began !!! Trying to stay out of the way of all the races despite being on a starboard tack we thought it only reasonable that we should try not to get in the way and mess up someones race!

Cowes Week

RTIR 2016 – Nomad 1 vs One Life vs Windchat

Posted: 28 June 2016 by Jim Barden in Uncategorized

For the fifth year Nomad Sailing will be entering two boats into the annual race around the Isle of Wight.  Roughly 60 nm and over 1500 yachts will be competing, but Nomad 1 and One Life,  crewed by Nomad Sailing students,  will be keen to be beat each other over the finsh line.  The two Sunfast 37’s are well matched, although the sail wardrobe will suit Nomad 1 if the winds are stronger on the day.  Another of group of our friends will be sailing on the newly restored yacht Windchat a Cutlass 27 that is a fine sailing boat – we hope to see and compete with them on the way round.

one lifeWindchat-alongside-at-the-Folly-Inn-768x1024Round the Island Race 2015 - Nomad 1 The three competitors

To track our progress during the race click here

Start times:

One Life 0920 DST

Nomad 1 0950 DST

Windchat 1010 DST


Round the Island Race 2015

Posted: 25 June 2015 by Lou Barden in Uncategorized

The race is on again.  Nomad sailing have two yachts entered this year.  NOMAD 1(Sunfast 37), skippered and crewed by Peter May and other graduates of Nomad Sailing and DIGNITY (Sunfast 37)  skipper by our Lou and some more of our regular sailors. These boat are fairly closely matched and in have start times within 20mins of each other,  so we hope for a tight competition between the boats.  Sail plan could be crucial.  DIGNITY carries a large Genoa and Spinnaker, whereas NOMAD 1 one is only equipped with a working jib but has an asymmetric which may prove easier to handle and faster for the reach down the back of the Island of the wind is more Southerly.   Track the boats on race day here


Skipper : Peter May

Likes to think of himself as a really good ‘natural’ sailor, that could have been in the Olympics if he’d taken it up sooner / wasn’t so well packed with ballast. When not sailing, busy day dreaming about sailing and fantasising about his abilities thereof (or playing squash or changing nappies/having his hair pulled). Sailing history: Several bare back trips to Turkey- generally what lacks in wind is made up for with Raki and diving off the bow into gorgeous blue waters. Also chartered several boats on the Solent, including skippering one round the island in May 2012! … and running aground. : ]… It’s all about learning from the experiences, I think. Completed and qualified as Yachtmaster Coastal earlier this year and am proud owner of a little classic yacht that launches this weekend.

Paul Blacknell

Got into sailing in 2010 and decided to jump in at the deep end (so to speak) by taking the 9 day combined Day Skipper theory/practical. My experience prior to that had been limited to cross channel ferries! Since then my family has trained as Competent Crew and we chartered in the Ionian islands for a couple of weeks having an outstanding time. My sailing ambitions are geared towards taking the Yachtmaster exam this September – so building up the miles and experience that goes with that. Crewed on Nomad 1 during the 2011 & 2012 RTIR’s and signed up for Fastnet 2015.

Bob Munday

Sailing History – Day Skipper (Nomad Graduate via Commodore), several bareboat charters in the Solent, cross channel and RTIR 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 on the mighty Nomad 1.

Sailing Ambitions – Yachtmaster, Fastnet, ARC, although not necessarily in that order.

Debbie Baines

Wayne Lloyd


Skipper : Lou Barden

Lou on Swim BritainI love being on the water, and sailing is my passion.  Since a career change in 2008, and a 2500 mile delivery trip from Greece to UK. I started Nomad Sailing with my bro, and as well co-running the business, spend a lot of time instructing on Nomad 1.  Love it.

Ambitions in the near future to cross the Atlantic either as part of the ARC or solo, then later to do a circumnavigation.  Looking forward in the immediate future to this race and taking Dignity through the finish line first.. or at least in front of the mighty Nomad 1 😉

Alex Grace

Learned dinghy sailing at the Welsh Harp in London with Wembley Sailing club (level one and two) and then took Day Skipper theory with them –  took the practical exam with Yuksel Sailing in Marmaris Turkey. I then did yacht master theory, again at Wembley and am currently building up miles in order to take the Yacht master theory exam. Have also taken part in sailing trips on the Solent with my teacher Andrew McCulloch.   Sailing ambitions – eventually to own a boat in Turkey. I am planning on sailing at 53 footer from Volos in Greece to Marmaris this October – and most importantly – hoping to survive the Round the Island Race in one piece!! Still learning and very keen on getting as much experience as possible.

Stuart Rumley

S Rumley

I first tried sailing on a Competent Crew course in the BVI’s and loved it, then decided to take it further with a Day Skipper course with Nomad Sailing in the Solent – thinking that I would do the course in the UK, then become a fair weather sailor in places like the BVI’s.  Since trying sailing in the waters of the Solent and loving it I’ve decided that getting wet and cold is a price worth paying, and part of the fun.  My third RTIR and looking forward to it more than ever!

Steve Lyons

Alex Doyle

Melanie Ridge

Billy Beeching

Clouds – what do they mean to you ?

Posted: 12 February 2015 by Lou Barden in Training

All Clouds

There are thousands of named clouds however the ones in the above picture are the ones we see here in the UK most frequently and the ones which tell us something useful about the weather. Are we dominated by high pressure or are we about to experience a low pressure system with the usual accompanying weather front ? This short blog will go through the clouds associated with a frontal system and the key elements of weather associated.

Cirrus 2

Cirrus – high wispy cloud formed of ice crystals, these will come from the west and are usually the indication that a depression is heading our way. At this stage the low pressure could be up to 600 miles away, the speed at which the clouds appear will give an indication of the speed at which the low is moving. Often these cirrus clouds will have mares’ tails which look like little hooks at the end of the cloud, this shows us that these clouds are close to the jet stream. Just a little aside at this point Buys Ballot’s Law states that is you stand with you back to the wind in the Northern Hemisphere the area of low pressure will be on your left.


Cirrostratus – high level layer cloud, this is a thicker type of cloud than cirrus still at a very high level and still formed primarily of ice crystals. The appearance of this type of cloud tells us that the front is getting closer. The warm air which is approaching behind the warm front is climbing up over the cool air in front of it and condensing to form ice crystals.


Cirrostratus Halo

Cirrostratus with halo effect – this is the same type of cloud as above but with the light from the sun being refracted through ice crystals. This halo effect can also be caused in the same way by the light from the moon. At this point in the movement of the system the barometer should have started to fall, the speed of the fall of the barometer will give an indication of the speed the system is moving.


Altostratus – mid-level layer cloudAs the warm front approaches the cloud will get lower as more warm air is climbing aloft, the cloud gets thicker. At this point in the system we have not yet experienced any precipitation and our barometer will still be falling.


Altocumulus – mid-level lumpy cloud, resembling cotton wool, warm air is still climbing upwards over the top of the cold air ahead, again we are still dry but the barometer continues to fall.




Nimbostratus – low level rain clouds, these clouds will be seen just ahead of the warm front and as the front passes overhead. Heavy rain will be experienced and the wind will veer to the south west. Once the warm front has passed the rain will diminish to drizzle and we will be in the warm sector. The barometer will fall less quickly after the warm front has passed. Visibility will be poor at this point due to the rain and the possible formation of fog.


Stratus – low level layer cloud, this type of cloud is typical of the warm sector and brings with it drizzle. There should be an increase in temperature as we are in a warmer air mass (tropical maritime) however sometimes the temperature increase is not hugely apparent. Visibility is often poor due to the drizzle or fog. At this point the barometer should have leveled off, if it is still falling the depression will be deepening.

Cumulonimbus 1

Cumulonimbus – towering lumpy rain clouds, these clouds are typical of the cold front approaching and passing overhead. The cold air behind the cold front is cold and dry and therefore will not rise up above the warm air in front of it, instead it will push the warm air up on a much more vertical plane than the warm front climbing over the cold air ahead of it.This movement of air will create towering cumulonimbus clouds which will result in heavy rain with big droplets possible hail and electrical storms. Visibility under the cold front will be poor because of the rain. After the cold front has passed the wind will veer to the west or north west and the barometer will start to rise.

I hope the above was helpful and you recognised some the the clouds as being typical of UK weather. There are some far more spectacular and interesting clouds to be seen in other areas of the world, I have picked what I consider to be the two most spectacular.

Roll Cloud 2                Roll Cloud 1

The Roll Cloud or Arcus Cloud

The roll cloud is a long tube-shaped cloud and can stretch over 500 miles, these clouds are typically seen in the month of October in Queensland Australia but can and do appear in many other parts of the world, even the English Channel, I have yet to see one but I will be keeping my eyes open !!!

Mammatus Cloud 2         Mammatus Cloud 1

The Mammatus Cloud

The Mammatus cloud is a sack like cloud and is unusual because it is formed in sinking air, most clouds are formed when air is rising. Mammatus clouds are most frequently formed on the underside of cumulonimbus clouds but can develop under cirrocumulus, altocumulus and startocumulus.

We hope you found this blog interesting if you did please let us know or share with your friends. If there are any other subjects you would like us to cover please let us know at info@nomadsailing.co.uk

This little blog is simply to act as a reminder for symbols you may commonly see on weather charts. As we know weather forecasting is not an exact science but a science it is, the information given below is a very simple summary of the common symbols used with the typical weather associated.

warm front

Warm Front – This symbol depicts the leading edge of a warmer air mass. The air ahead of this front will be cooler than the air behind it. Typical weather ahead of the warm front will be fine then heavier rain, as the warm front passes the rain will stop and become drizzle in the warm sector.

Cold Front

Cold Front – This symbol depicts the leading edge of a colder air mass. The air ahead of this front will be warmer than the air behind it. Typical weather just before and at the front itself will be heavy rain, hail, thunder, lightning, behind the front there will be sunny periods with scattered showers.

Occluded FrontOccluded Front – An occluded front is formed when the cold front catches up the warm front, the symbol combines the shapes of the warm and the cold front. Typically underneath an occluded front there will be rain as the warm air is being pushed aloft and condenses.

Frontal System Northern Hemisphere

Frontal System – This diagram shows a frontal system and the relationship between the fronts described above. This is a typical frontal system in the Northern Hemisphere and can be seen on good quality weather forecasts on television. The system is formed around an area of low pressure which will circulate in an anti-clockwise direction. This example already shows an occluded front where the cold front has already caught up with the warm front, the cold air in front of the warm front and behind the cold front with the area of warm air being squeezed in between.

Stationary FrontStationary Front – A stationary front is a boundary between two air masses neither of which is strong enough to replace the other. Cloud and rain are usually associated with a stationary front.

Developing Warm FrontDeveloping Cold Front Developing Warm / Cold Front (Frontogenesis) – This symbol depicts the formation or intensification of a meteorological front caused by the difference in temperature of adjacent air masses. No significant weather associated.

Weakening Warm FrontWeakening Cold Front Weakening Warm / Cold Front (Frontolysis) – This symbol represents a front which is loosing its identity usually due to rising pressure and where air masses are diverging. Cloud and precipitation becomes increasingly fragmented.

High and Low Pressure Isobars

High & Low Pressure Systems – This diagram depicts pressure systems in the Northern hemisphere, the arrows are showing us the wind direction, the wind moves anti-clockwise around an area of low pressure and clockwise around an area of high pressure. You will also note that the arrows around the low pressure are pointing slightly inwards toward the centre this is due to the wind converging around an area of low pressure, the opposite is true of high pressure, the wind diverges and therefore points slightly away from the centre.

Geostrophic wind scale

Surface Pressure Chart – This surface pressure charts shows areas of high and low pressure depicted by the H and the L on the chart. You can also see lines all over the chart which are called isobars, these connect areas of the same pressure, some of these lines have numbers on them which is giving you the pressure at that particular isobar. Isobars are like contour lines on an ordnance survey map, the closer they are together the steeper the hill, with isobars the closer they are together the stronger the wind. With this type of chart you can actually measure the wind speed by measuring the space between the isobars and using the scale in the top left hand corner.

Wind Strength symbols

Wind symbols – If you use grib files or sites like Passage Weather you will see lines such as the ones on the left here showing you the wind direction and the wind speed in the area you are looking at. Wind is always described in relation to the direction it is coming from, in the UK our prevailing wind and weather comes from the South West and in wind terms would be described as a South Westerly. On the bars on the left there are a number of different lines or barbs, the short lines represent 5 knots and the long lines 10 knots of wind. You can now see combinations of these making up 15, 20, 25 etc until you reach the triangular shape which represents 50 knots. These lines will always be on the back of the arrow and this is where the wind is coming from so in all the examples on the diagram the wind is coming from the north east.

If you found this blog useful please let us know and if there are any specific topics you would like us to cover in future blogs, again please let us know, you can contact us directly at info@nomadsailing.co.uk

So you have decided you are going to take an RYA sail training course and now the fun starts, who will you chose to deliver the course ? There are so many schools out there and they should all be the same in the following areas;

  • All use RYA qualified instructors
  • All follow the same RYA syllabus
  • All will be using coded boats with the full array of safety equipment, boats and procedures which are regularly inspected by the RYA

So how do you chose ? You may want to train on a particular type of boat, you may need to be in a specific area, you may have a limited set of dates in which to do the course, all of these aspects will help you narrow down your choice then there is the question of price, do you go for the cheapest ? A word of warning here, not all schools offer all inclusive courses, check the small print, the initial price may well be lower but when you are then asked everyday to contribute towards mooring fees, food on board and buy your evening meal every night you will find the overall price for the course a great deal more than the initial advertised amount, do you also have to pay for wet weather gear on a daily basis if you need to use it ?

One small mention of creature comforts, pillows, I appreciate this sounds trivial, you will be sleeping on board for at least 4 nights, do you sleep without a pillow at home ? Is a pillow provided for you on board ?

What about the instructor ? You will expect a good communicator, one who is able to empathise with you, explain tasks in an easily understandable fashion and give positive feedback for improvement. At times there is a need to project your voice on a boat to be heard from bow to stern there is however never any need to shout in anger. I have heard some horror stories unfortunately and been personally subjected to “my 9 year old son can do this better than you” which hardly instils confidence the day before the examiner gets on board.

So how can you find out about instructors ? Ask around, recommendation is one of the best ways to find a school that will suit you, most schools have websites with testimonials but we only post the good ones don’t we ? Trytripad anyone can write what they like with and whilst I am pretty sure we were the first sailing school to put ourselves on tripadvisor I am happy to say many have followed suit. Linked in another possible forum for finding the right school for you.

Guarantees  Does the school have any guarantees, we introduced a guarantee a number of years ago and found that a number of schools copied the principle of this guarantee however read the small print, some schools only guarantee certain courses or give you a finite number of re-attendance chances. So how does this work, well I will just explain ours and you will have to research other schools. Our guarantee says that if you pay for a course with us and have the necessary prerequisites for the course and if you do not meet the standard during the course you can come back at no additional cost to yourself until such time you do pass the course. Why did we introduce this ? Well we have a great deal of confidence in our ability to teach as we were both teachers before we got into this industry and we know what it is to do exams or assessed courses as you get older, you get out of the habit and you get more nervous, this takes the pressure off.

And finally your course should be safe, it should be informative and it should be fun, if it’s not fun what is the point in doing it ?

We recently delivered the Day Skipper course to Francesca Wickers of the Daily Mail.  To see her take on it ,  have a look at the article she wrote here

Have you ever thought about a holiday with a difference ? How about a holiday where you can visit a different place every day but you only have to unpack once and still have all your gear with you. Where you can wake up, take a few steps from where you have been sleeping and dive into crystal clear waters with no one else around.
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Your mode of transport harnesses the wind and is therefore a very environmentally friendly way to spend 7 – 14 days travelling to different places of stunning beauty and it’s up to you where you go, when you go and how long you stay.

Your destination are up to you, the distance you travel each day is up to you, you may like somewhere so much you stay for a couple of days and in many parts of Europe that staying will cost you nothing. I could continue and add hundreds of photos from numerous locations but that might get a bit tedious. What I can say however is that undertaking one theory and two practical courses (with a bit of sailing in between) will enable you to start exploring the world from a totally new perspective. If you fancy that read on or give us a call on 07917 573 772 / 07913 940 277 / 01424 461185

First off you would need to get some sailing experience under your belt, the Competent Crew Course is a great way of doing this and learning how to do things correctly from the start f your sailing career, this is a 5 day course and can be done over 5 consecutive days or be split over two weekends on of which will incorporate a Monday or Friday, you will cover the following;

  • Preparation for sea
  • Knowledge of sea terms and parts of a boat, her rigging and sails
  • Sail handling
  • Ropework and knots
  • Fire precautions, personal safety equipment
  • Man Overboard and emergency equipment
  • Helmsmanship
  • Keeping Lookout
  • Use of dinghies
  • General Duties
  • Manner and Customs
  • Night Sailing


 After completing this course your next step is to do the Day Skipper Theory, this course can be done as an evening class one night a week for seven weeks followed by a final weekend where revision and the exams are undertaken. This is a great way to met like minded people trying to achieve the same goals as you. Alternatively, if attending an evening class is not convenient for you to attend evening classes you can complete this course on-line in your own time, we are always available via email or telephone to help you with the course, you can go at your own speed and take the exam in the comfort of your own home. The Day Skipper Theory Course covers the following;

  • the basics of seamanship
  • the essentials of coastal navigation and pilotage
  • chartwork
  • electronic charts
  • position fixing
  • plotting a course to steer
  • weather forecasting and meteorology
  • tides
  • collision regulations
  • construction, parts and equipment of a cruising boat
  • emergency and safety procedures including distress calls, use of flares, safety harnesses, lifejackets and liferafts


Now the final push to give you that ticket to freedom, the Day Skipper Practical course, this is a five day course and can be done again over five consecutive days or over a split weekend. Here I have to say I have quite a strong opinion that says do the five consecutive, this I believe is far better value for money and much better from a continuity point of view. Either way I would also say do this qualification in the UK and even go so far as to say do it in the Solent, this is such a busy shipping area, popular cruising area and for some reason requires 3 ferry routes, 2 fast cat routes and a hover craft to carry the thousands of people who travel to and from the Isle of Wight on a daily basis. So you will see all manner of craft including huge cruise and cargo ships as well as numerous sailing and power driven vessels. Not only this, you have just spent 7 weeks, one evening a week in a classroom getting to grips with tides, both heights and streams, you have just learned all your International Regulations for the Prevention of Collision at Sea (IRPCS), all you lights, buoys and shapes, you may as well experience it and experience it you will in the lovely protected waters of the Solent !!

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Why leave it any longer come on, do something different today that could affect the rest of your life !!!

Quantum Leap RTIR Crew List

Posted: 6 June 2014 by Jim Barden in Round the Island Race
Tags: , ,

This year Nomad 1 will be chartered, skippered and crewed by graduates of Nomad Sailing. We are very excited to see them racing on their own  AND at the opportunity of being able to race against them on a matched boat, another Sunfast 37 called Quantum Leap.  This year’s crew for the challenge boat then :

Lou Barden (Skipper and Tactician)

I love being on the water, and sailing is my passion.  Since a career change in 2008, and a 2500 mile delivery trip from Greece to UK. I started Nomad Sailing with my bro, and as well co-running the business, spend a lot of time instructing on Nomad 1.  Love it.

Ambitions in the near future to cross the Atlantic either as part of the ARC or solo, then later to do a circumnavigation.  Looking forward in the immediate future to this race and taking Quantum Leap through the finish line first.

Alex Grace

Learned dinghy sailing at the Welsh Harp in London with Wembley Sailing club (level one and two) and then took Day Skipper theory with them –  took the practical exam with Yuksel Sailing in Marmaris Turkey. I then did yacht master theory, again at Wembley and am currently building up miles in order to take the Yacht master theory exam. Have also taken part in sailing trips on the Solent with my teacher Andrew McCulloch.   Sailing ambitions – eventually to own a boat in Turkey. I am planning on sailing at 53 footer from Volos in Greece to Marmaris this October – and most importantly – hoping to survive the Round the Island Race in one piece!! Still learning and very keen on getting as much experience as possible.


Mike Malham

3rd Time doing this race with Nomad Sailing.  Becoming a veteren!

Love it !


Stuart Rumley

S Rumley

I first tried sailing on a Competent Crew course in the BVI’s and loved it, then decided to take it further with a Day Skipper course with Nomad Sailing in the Solent – thinking that I would do the course in the UK, then become a fair weather sailor in places like the BVI’s.  Since trying sailing in the waters of the Solent and loving it I’ve decided that getting wet and cold is a price worth paying, and part of the fun.  The RTIR 2014 is going to be my second experience of racing, so I’m really looking forward to it!

Nigel Townley

N Townley

Learnt to sail between mill wall dock and the Caribbean. Went on to do day skipper with Nomad last year and now looking forward to my second race.

Wayne Lloyd

Details to follow

Chris Hill


Coastal Skipper (thanks Jim!).Just come back from six weeks sailing from Tahiti to Tonga through the Society Islands, Cook Islands, Niue and Vava’au. In past have done various holiday charters in Med and Caribbean, the ARC and some racing in the Solent.

Mel Ridge

Details to follow

Croatia – Cruising Notes

Posted: 15 August 2013 by Jim Barden in Cruising Notes

A 6 day yacht charter from Agana / Marina in Southern Croatia, provides a great opportunity to visit some beautiful islands, walk through some stunning towns and eat great food. Marinas (and some town quays) are pretty pricey – £40-£50 a night, but if the weather’s right there are some perfect anchorages providing good shelter for most wind directions. We have just completed the following itinerary – and here are some of our cruising notes :

Viz Island
Viz town has a number of laid moorings along the front. Good shelter from any wind from the South. Showers, water and electric. Not a lot of choices for eating but we recommend NONA DARINKA , set just off the front (two big amphora outside) – friendly, good wine, excellent pizza. Intermittent power supply only added to the atmosphere here! Make sure you take some time to explore this town.

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St Klement Islands
Lots of inlets and bays here, plus one marina with water taxis over to Hvar. With a light Northely wind we anchored in the Bay Vinogradisce over night. Beautiful aqua water over good holding sand. It gets a bit crowded high season,  so you may prefer stay near the edges and take a line ashore.
Three restaurants ashore and a cocktail bar , only three were open when we were there – eat at TONINO’s restaurant – amazing views from your table back over the bay , great wine, awesome steak.
Hvar Island
Strari Grad. This is another facinating town to explore. Tricky parking as the wind blows hard across the town quay all afternoon. Take the advice of the pilot book – ” ” We’re all tucked in by 1430 and had a great afternoon here looking round the towns tiny cobbled streets. Lots of restaurants make it difficult to choose one. Everyone recommends ANTIKA , but we tried Restaurant PINETTA (+385915053672) – nealry the best food of the trip ! try the waiter’s recommendations you will not be disappointed. A beautiful restaurant and stunning food – have a look around – the roof terrace would be a good place to eat.

Pinetta Seafood

Brac Island
Milna. We holed up here for a day and half due to bad weather. Great Church. There are two marinas, the ACI is the more expensive (but more sheltered of the two) , if you have a choice take the laid moorings to the south side (near showers and office) , rather than the town quay – but you will probably be directed to whatever is avaiable. We didn’t have much luck with eating out on the first night – maybe avoid the restaurant DUPINI. Poor food and wine. But for lunch the next day we scored lucky . For service and food (try pizza, amazing salad and black pepper ice cream ) go to GEJATA – can’t remember it’s spelling exactly, but it’s something like that. Almost the first one you come to after the big church heading west.

Milna - Brac

Milna – Brac

Lucice. Large and reasonable shelter anchorage fro wind from the north and west. Try the resaurant Lucice in the north western corner – owned by the fishermen who cook da fish. There are mooring buoy laid (free if you eat in the restaurant) otherwise about £20 for overnight.


Agana (Marina)

This was out base Marina and although the marina bar and restaurant are in a lovely setting the food and service was really poor.  Go over the other side to where the big tower is and find  5 FERELLA – the squid follwed by spit roast suckling pig here was possibly the best food we had on the whole trip.  Get a table by the water and enjoy.


Must visit city/town.  Going back in time and getting lost the narrow winding streets of this island citadel.  It rivals Venice in my opinion – not nearly as crowded and food is good quality and better value.   Eat at IDROif you can find it , but there are loads of others.  I would like to go and stay there for a few days

Useful / Essential Publications :

1. Imray Adriatic Pilot – Bestandig and Silvestro
2. 777 Harbours and Anchorages – Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro and Albania ( this is a brilliant book for finding lunch spots )