Our team are passionate about enthusing the skipper’s of the future and we were thrilled when Will and his older brother Oli joined us for a Powerboat Level 1 course this weekend. Will had attended one of our Junior Powerboat sessions earlier this year where 8-14 year olds spend 2.5 hours in one of our Powerboats learning basic boating safety and crewing skills.
Will is nearly 10 and loves being afloat so the Powerboat Level 1 course was ideal for him. His brother Oli (21 years old) already had his Powerboat Level 2 but joined Will on the course as his supervising adult – it was a great opportunity for Oli to brush up on his L2 skills and practice family teamwork!
Our day started in the classroom looking at the safety equipment that we needed to take afloat both for us and for the boat. We looked at the difference between buoyancy aids & lifejackets and how the different mechanisms work along with identifying a range of safety equipment such as a fire extinguisher and a horn. We also looked at our range of dummy flares to make sure that we knew how to use a parachute rocket as well as a handheld smoke and high intensity light.
With an early tide we headed down to the marina, went through our boat checks on our Solent 5.4m RIB, ensured that we knew how our grappling anchor worked and headed out through the Portishead Marina Lock out into the King Road Bristol Channel. It was a flat calm day and ideal for learning how to correctly balance the boat a well as how to get the boat travelling at a safe speed.
An essential skill is to understand how a planing powerboat works and how much power you need to get the boat planing as well as great communication to ensure that those on the helm could let everyone know when they were applying power and when they were slowing down. Whether you call: powering up, speeding up, power coming on or any other shout – it’s essential that you communicate changes in speed effectively.
Next up – mastering Man over board recovery techniques. Today’s victim………Freddie the Fender! First up Oli attempted the Freddie recovery ensuring that Will could safely move around the boat, with some great communication and a text book safe recovery. Next up Will took the helm and after a couple of practices safely lined the boat up for Oli to recover Freddie on board. Great Job all!
It was quiet in the King Road except for the tall ship Pelican of London making her way down channel. Heading back into Portishead Lock gates we could see just how much the tide had changed in the short time we had been afloat.
After a lunch from the Captains Cabin at the lock gates we headed down to the pontoons again to take a look at Chief Instructor Kath’s motor cruiser – a Sealine F42/5. Will’s parents are looking at buying a 40-50ft Motor cruiser so we looked at Ropework onboard a bigger vessel – especially being able to stand on the deck of a motor cruiser and throw a bow line over a pontoon cleat and secure alongside with a cleat hitch. With a bit of practice both Will and Oli got the hang of it.
An afternoon in the marina saw us learning and practicing 2 key manoeuvres – being able to turn the boat in a confined space as well as bringing the boat safely alongside a pontoon. Getting the boat safely alongside with a both a bow and stern line attached required some great family teamwork!
A long day finished in the classroom with a quick look the rules of the road making sure that we could appreciate the importance of keeping a lookout, a safe speed to drive your boat and some simple rules for who gives way to who. Although we didn’t see any big ships that day we were very sure that we wouldn’t impede them!
Louise (Will’s Mum) said:
“My almost 10 year old, did his level 1 powerboating yesterday having done the kids taster session at Easter. He had so much fun with his older brother 21 as his accompanying adult (necessary for under 16s). They learnt about safety on a boat, some knots, tying on and off, docking, man over board procedures, turning in a confined space, steering, giving good commands, listening and teamwork.
Kath is a brilliant instructor who is very patient and he can’t wait until he reaches 12 to do his level 2 kids course.
A great day and I know we will be back for further instruction! Thank you again.”
Check out Will on our kids powerboat taser session this Easter below: