Retire Afloat © 2018

Retire Afloat French Canals

How It All Started!

My (Nick) interest in boating probably started in the 1960’s when my Grandfather used to take me onto the boating lake at Cleethorpes. (Always followed by a ride on the miniature railway!) These small wooden motorboats with their diesel engines that I could steer around the lake to me seemed magical.







The smell of the engine fumes, navigating around the island and the in-trepidation as you made your way onto the boat from the landing stage are memories I shall never forget.

I was lucky to be at school in Cambridge where along with the availability of punting and canoeing I was also a member of the school rowing eight.

One summer holiday a party of us went to the Christian Sailing school on the Isle of Wight where we undertook 2 weeks of sailing tuition. This was my first experience of travelling under sail.

During my career as a hotelier the only sailing I got to do was during our holidays. This included learning to scuba dive in Hawaii on a large sailing Catamaran and chartering a 40’ yacht with crew in Cuba. Hiring small sail boats on the beach in other countries completed my total sailing experience up until 2013.

One day whilst scouring the internet to find a holiday I came across an advert from Scotsail who are base at Largs. I discussed it with Anne (who to my surprise seemed keen on the idea!) and so we booked a 5-Night RYA Competent Crew package. This is the first major RYA Yachting Qualification - no prior experience is required, and many people come along as a learn-to-sail holiday, or to gain the required miles for the RYA Day Skipper certificate.











We spent a fantastic week making good friends with our instructor and the other crew who were more experienced than us training for their Coastal Skipper and Yacht Master qualifications. We were also lucky to experience night sailing with a RYA examiner aboard!

That was it - We both had the boating bug!

My next training was the VHF radio course. This is really essential and I would recommend everyone to complete this.

My next sailing experience I decided I would complete was the RYA Day Skipper Course and for a change of scenery I chose Brixham as the location.

I signed up for the RYA Day Skipper Theory and Practical combined “Master Class”. The course is split into two sections, four days are classroom based and five days water based - typically 2 days classroom, 5 days water, 2 days classroom. This is really an enjoyable way to learn.

This is a comprehensive course taking you through the RYA day skipper theory and practical courses at the same time!

A great way to put theory straight into practice. This course covers a comprehensive introduction to chart work, navigation, and meteorology as well as pilotage, seamanship and boat handling up to the standard required to skipper a small cruising yacht safely by day in tidal waters with which the student is familiar.

The RYA Day Skipper (Coastal/Tidal) Course allows the holder to receive the ICC International Certificate of Competence. so you can charter Abroad. It is also accepted by many insurance companies if you wish to own a boat, but more importantly gives you the skills and knowledge to take charge of a yacht with family or friends on-board.

Since we intend to navigate the European waterways on our route to the Mediterranean we also have completed the CEVNI test online.

In November 2017 I completed the PADI open water training course in the warmer waters of the Med!

To ready myself for the inevitable engine problems and maintenance I am also completing the RYA diesel engine course.

In March 2018 we purchased Skulker, a 9 meter Catalac Catamaran and berthed her at Neyland Marina in the beautiful Pembrokeshire National Park.











And so begins our boating adventure…………………