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 ? Try 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