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:




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!


Man overboard!

What to do? Immediate actions, how to reverse course and recovery procedures.

What to do if that proves impossible.


Multi-crew operation.

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



Multi-sail craft.

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

the racers!


Practical navigation.

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.


Tying up.

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.

Course timetable.

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!

Other seminars.

We would welcome input as to what other seminar topics people would like to see. Please let us