My volunteering stepped up a gear this weekend when I undertook the RYA Power Boat 2 course at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy.
There were six of us in total doing the course under the watchful eye of our two instructors Ben and Craig.
We arrived just before 9am and then made our way to the classroom for introductions and a briefing about the weekend.
We then split into two groups – one with each instructor – and made our way to the pontoons for our first water based session of the day.
We all had to wear our waterproofs and Sailing wellies because, despite the beautiful sunshine, the spray from the boat would soon make us pretty wet without.
There were two boats – one 80 horsepower and the other 90 horsepower. Although we were powerboat novices, boyish instinct sent us all heading for the faster of the two boats!
Obviously this wouldn’t work so, whilst the other group took the 90hp, the group I was in took the slower boat!
As we manoeuvred out into the harbour it became apparent just how much power these engines had and, rather than go like boyracers, we found ourselves gingerly adjusting the throttle going from a
snails pace to something marginally quicker.
However, confidence soon grew and we felt like we were flying! We took it in turns at the controls, I soon earnt the reputation for being heavy on the throttle – kangarooing a few times.
When I didn’t find it responded instantly, I kicked down a bit more, by which time it had responded and we were going a bit too fast.
I soon got the hang of it and, as we went out through the harbour wall and headed for Weymouth, it was really exhilarating.
Driving at speed is just one small part of the course with controlled handling and manoeuvres all being part of driving it confidently and, above all, safely. We practiced coming along side,
reversing, even parallel parking – similar in many ways to a driving test.
There was also the theory side of the qualification, which we mainly addressed on the Sunday morning in the classroom.
The weather was the complete opposite that day and provided a perfect window for classroom based study.
It did also enable us to drive the boats in totally different weather conditions which, of course, we will need to do.
At the end of day two we had individual debriefing sessions which was actually quite nerve wracking. Thankfully I passed! My manoeuvres were good, handling of the boat and theory were sound.
One thing I have to look out for however, is to let the throttle respond the first time rather than impatiently asking the boat for more power.
With this in mind and everything else I have learned, I am now proud to be a full holder of a Power Boat licence.