Mount Pleasant Yacht Club Adventure Cruising Class.
Messing about on the water, Adventure sailing programme:
This programme is intended to give participants an introduction to cruising/recreational sailing on
the water, as an alternative to racing which has been the traditional path for young (and older!)
sailors progressing through from learner’s classes at MPYC. It is not intended as competition to the
racing classes, rather it should be viewed as complimentary to the racing programme. It is for those
who are simply interested in a more relaxed but still adventurous time on the water and who may
some day progress to owning their own recreational craft, or as a taster for those that might see
themselves off-shore one day. It may also be that after a while in this programme you will feel more
confident and competitive in your sailing, and from there you can join in the racing that MPYC offers
if you should so desire, or you can continue on with our ‘messing about’.
In short we anticipate this programme will follow the tradition of Water Rat when he says “Believe
me, my young friend, there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply
messing about in boats.” (From Kenneth Grahame’s Wind in the Willows), and of the four children
on holiday in the English Lake District in Arthur Ransome’s ‘Swallows and Amazons’.
The Rat…stooped and unfastened a rope…then lightly stepped onto a little boat which the Mole had not
observed. It was painted blue outside and white within, and was just the size for two animals; and the Mole’s
whole heart went out to it at once, even though he did not yet fully understand its uses.
The Rat sculled smartly across and…the Mole stepped gingerly down…and …to his surprise and rapture found
himself actually seated in the stern of a real boat.
[T]he Rat shoved off and took to the skulls again. “Do you know, I’ve never been in a boat before in my life.”
[said the Mole]
“What?” cried the Rat, open-mouthed: “never been in a – you never – well I – what have you been doing, then?”
“Is it so nice as all that? asked the Mole shyly…[as he] felt the boat sway lightly under him.
“Nice? It’s the only thing,” said the Water Rat solemnly, as he leant forward for his stroke. “Believe me, my young
friend, there is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.
Simply messing,” he went on dreamily: “messing – about – in – boats; messing -“
While there will be structure to the programme it will be adapted to suit the day, the boat(s) and
participants available. A loose schedule will be publicised and best efforts made to keep to this, but
in the best traditions of simply messing about we could easily find ourselves doing something other
than what was planned!
We also propose a series of seminars that will touch on various practical, theoretical and
philosophical aspects of sailing from five thousand years ago through to today. A number of these
seminars will be complimentary to the practical programme and will generally be presented in a way
that hopefully everyone should be able to understand and get something from.
While we would anticipate participants have some initial experience of sailing (say to level one) we
won’t necessarily preclude anyone who’s keen to learn and experience the wonder of sail. We would
particularly welcome students and parents from the 2013/2014 learner’s classes (and earlier), and
anyone who simply wants to see what it’s all about.
To this end the boats we use will typically be capable of holding several crew members so that
experienced and inexperienced people can mix and learn from each other. At this stage these boats
will include classic ‘clinker’ dinghies and small to medium trailer-sailers.
By the end of the programme we would hope that the following skills have been touched upon:
ON WATER PROGRAMME
Different types of anchors, including how and where to use these.
Use of a chain and rope, looking out for current and wind and a lee shore.
How to tell if the anchor is holding and what to do if it isn’t!
What to do? Immediate actions, how to reverse course and recovery procedures.
What to do if that proves impossible.
Crew (or cockpit) resource management (CRM).
How to work in with everyone else, efficient sharing of tasks and recognition of strengths and
weaknesses between members. How to be an effective crew member, how to be an effective
skipper and how each participant can effectively communicate.
This section of the programme will partly draw upon the lessons learned in the aviation industry
where it is mandatory to complete an examination in ‘Human Factors’ in order to gain a Pilot’s
The Optimists that many will have learnt on are a single-sail rig. Here we will introduce a jib and
mainsail, how to raise these sails on the shore/water, where appropriate to use one or the other,
reefing of sails, tying off halyards and the like.
We may also try out a spinnaker in light weather, but will leave the hard-out use of these sails for
As part of the’messing about’ and in conjunction with the on-shore navigation class we’ll construct a
paper chart of the estuary.
This will include old-school sounding techniques using a lead and sounding line along with modern
depth sounders. In conjunction with this we will consider the use of earlier methods of determining
location on the water, including the use of a sextant.
Use of a GPS will form at least one class and here we’ll learn rudimentary techniques for determining
our location, and how to create a track that we can use to turn back upon if need be.
Similarly to the night landings on the Island in the first ‘Swallows and Amazons’ book we may try
some night navigation and will learn about the techniques we can use to safely navigate our way
around at night. Included in this will be the practical use and identification of lights as discussed in
the communication seminar.
Although closely related to anchoring, tying up is more associated with approaching a jetty, or the
shore, so we’ll look at how to drop sails where needed, how to select suitable rope, how and where
(not!) to tie the vessel up.
General Messing About (sailing).
This will include trips to ‘the other side’, navigating the channel (so there could be some extended
low-tide operations, sailing to other clubs, picnics on the shores and with luck some sailing in other
waters such as Lyttleton or Akaroa Harbours, Little Pigeon Bay etc.
Each messing about session will incorporate some of the other skills we mention here specifically,
and many that we don’t. We’d expect to learn something from each day, and while there will
certainly be a sense of order to what we do the emphasis will be on vicarious learning and having
fun in the process, rather than conducting overly formal lessons.
In addition to the sailing we’ll also look at the use of auxiliary motors and general boat handling.
General Messing About (maintenance).
Boats don’t work forever without some care!
In this section of the programme we’ll look at simple maintenance work that you can carry out that
will extend and preserve the life of the boat you use. Splicing of ropes, care of sails, emergency hole
and sail repairs (what to do if off-shore and something happens!) will all be part of this.
We will include some basic motor maintenance work, typical of what might be expected in a small
outboard and the type of inboard found in small to medium trailer-sailers and light cruisers.
No one person today can expect to know everything!
As much as possible we will arrange to have class leaders who have reasonable experience in the
field but, and some of the seminars will be in more formal settings presented by experienced people
in the field.
However in conjunction with the CRM discussed above, all of these classes will be expected to be a
two-way street and an approach to basic logical problem solving will be an over-riding principle we’d
like everyone to learn; There is no question that’s a stupid question, and we’d expect questions will
be asked that no-one knows the answer to – the important bit is how to find out the answer and
what to do from there!
At the start we’d like to get to know everyone’s raison d’etre for being here (if indeed you know),
what you want to get out of it (again if you know!) and what you think we can all do to achieve that.
At the end we’d like to know how we’ve done and what we can do better next year.
At this stage we’re asking for registration of interest. If there are enough likely participants we will
schedule a series of days and make those available on the website and/or inform those who’ve put
their hand up directly.
Because the emphasis here is on messing about we are not likely to sail on days of more extreme
weather, and the programme will also be dependent upon having sufficient leaders. Until we know
likely numbers we won’t have any idea of leadership requirements either but if you have experience
and would like to help, or have no experience at all and want to see what it’s all about (and all points
of the compass in between) please let us know!
Mount Pleasant Yacht Club, (Proposed) Seminar series
Short on-shore programmes presented in interactive seminar format.
These seminars could be presented on days when the weather or tide is not conducive to water
activity, and/or in evenings as suited. The intent is to stimulate people’s interest in sailing and
improve their knowledge of what goes into sailing today.
Thus we will introduce the wider aspects of sailing that permeate society still, the history behind
sailing and the importance of it, the theory of it, and finally the practical sea-side application of some
skills that we can teach on shore.
A suggested series of seminars is proposed following:
History of sailing.
From what we know sailing in one form or another has been around for five thousand years or more.
This class will look at this history and how the boats have developed over time.
These will include early coracles, the first real sailing ships of lore (Vikings), The adventures and
explorers (Columbus to Cook) development of merchant ships from square-riggers to clippers,
influence of warships (from the Mary Rose to the Victory), the development of racing and improved
performance for merchant vessels and sailing in the 20th & 21st century.
In particular we will look at some of the more recent influences of sailing on life here today – this is
very topical for us considering that Christchurch as we know it didn’t exist until four square-riggers
sailed up towards the head of the bay at Lyttleton in December of 1850.
Where are we in the world? This is especially pertinent to sailors of the seven seas when they’re out
of sight of land and want to be pointed in the right direction!
Here we will consider how sailors were able to figure this out from first principles, including the
development of celestial navigation. From there we’ll look at reading and writing charts and
eventually move to the development of modern electronic position reporting equipment (GPS).
This seminar will be carried out in loose association with the practical navigation programme, but it
is not mandatory to participate in either one or the other to gain something from this. Both
programmes will include the use of the sun, a chronometer and a rudimentary sextant to determine
rough-order location, and the use of a modern GPS for much more accurate measurements.
How did sailors get messages to other ships, and to the shore?
This class will look at early communication including pigeon post. Shore and ship based semaphore
development will be considered through to Marconi and the revolutionary development of wireless
telegraphy. This was followed by the development of wireless telephony and then to the digital age
that allows for much more sophisticated and feature-rich reporting.
Communication using lights will be discussed, and boat riding/navigation lights will be touched on
here, in the navigation seminar, and on the water were relevant.
The more practical aspects of small-boat communication here in NZ will be dealt with separately.
Communication practice (supplemental).
This will be a practical class for anyone who uses, or may want to use, a modern maritime radio.
This will include General Radio-telephone (RT) operation. Physical use of club RT’s and on-air
procedure up to NZ RTOC standard if anyone is interested in that.
This class is highly recommended for any persons wanting to use the club radios!
Safety and first-aid.
The best trips are those that are carried out with no-one getting hurt!
How can we avoid incidents, what to look out for, how to prepare safely, how to sail safely.
Launching and retrieving boats on trailers, use of motors and hazards to be aware of.
What to do if something does happen? Basic first aid.
The weather is a very important part of sailing. We need wind (but not too much or too little), it’s
much more pleasant when it’s a steady wind, and when it’s not raining.
This will be a short discussion on the mechanics of weather as typically experienced in NZ. It will give
an idea of what to look out for, what to ask and to an extent how to predict likely weather patterns.
Naturally there is no guarantee of accuracy to the latter!
We would welcome input as to what other seminar topics people would like to see. Please let us