This is a multi-part article, connected to Let’s Sail the Mediterranean, and Sailing in Croatia
As mentioned in a previous post, we decided to do our International Certificate of Competency (ICC) and Intermediate Cruising with Adventure Sailing in Georgian Bay. So the whole family heading up the Penetanguishene for a week of sailing and learning.
Bad First Impression
We arrived at the marina a couple minutes late, and by the time we got the luggage and kids sorted out, and walked to the boat in the absolute furthest slip from the parking lot we were a good 15mins late. Didn’t go over so well. The plan was to write our Coastal Navigation exam first thing. We had gone through the online course and exercises, and thought we were ready to go. Turns out that there may have been some additional materials that we missed, and also we were expected to have reviewed the Intermediate Cruising and ICC materials ahead of time, but we’d missed that as well. So the week started of with us feeling rather off-balance.
Once we’d written the Basic Coastal Navigation exam (3 hours of questions and plotting exercises!), we got settled in a bit, but it took us a while to understand what was expected of us. We were expecting that we’d signed up and paid for a course, and that we would be told what we should do, but we got the impression that Frank was looking for us to take a lot more initiative, and almost act as if we were taking the boat out for a charter.
Each day was really great experience. We got to practice driving and sailing a 45’ boat, which wasn’t as different from our CS27 as I thought it might be. Each night and morning we handled anchoring, learning how to use a windlass. We were responsible for plotting our course each day, putting into practice our newly learned navigation skills, while monitoring the weather, and estimating how much distance we would be able to cover. We also shared responsibilities for all the chores that happen on a boat; meal prep, cleanup, fueling, pumpout, and end of week cleaning. It was a very comprehensive course.
The South-Eastern part of Georgian Bay (around Honey Harbour) is a beautiful, and moderately challenging area to sail. It is full of Canadian Shield granite, set in beautiful windswept islands, and dangerous shoals lurking just below the surface. There are lots of narrow channels leading to delightful picturesque, secluded bays. It is truly one of my favourite parts of the world.
Once you get out of the islands and inlets, the open water can get quite rough. One day we had 1m+ high waves, and the wind was gusting up over 20kn. Our daughter was not thrilled about that day. Frank emphasized the importance of being able to steer to a compass heading (important when you are out of sight of land) and we found it quite challenging in those sea conditions.
On the morning of the last day, we wrote the Intermediate Cruising exam, and aced it! Then we headed for the marina. The wind was against us, so we got to practice our tacking as we beat upwind. Once we made it to some open water we each did a man-overboard drill, where Frank tossed the MOB pole out the back, and we had to go retrieve it. This was a bit stressful, but we needed to demonstrate the ability to do this to pass, and it is important to know how to do it.
We didn’t have time to do the ICC exam, so just wrote that now, after some cramming.
Overall, it was a fun, challenging, and exhausting week. It was great to be able to complete the certification that we needed in a short amount of time, and being able to bring the kids along made it so much more realistic for our family. Frank and his partner were very accommodating, and we learned so much from them.
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