Is your flag here?

Is your flag here?

studentflagsThe United Nations of Sailing …

Maybe we should be renamed Aegean Sailing School International as we have students from all over the world.

When we opened the school six years ago we expected only British students, as the RYA (Royal Yachting Association) is a British body. How wrong we were!

Although about 60% of our clients are British, many of them live and work in other countries. As an RYA recognized training centre we also attract people from all around the world who want an internationally known certificate and sailing instruction in English.

Not surprisingly, the Greek islands, where you can combine good sailing with nice weather, is more attractive to a wide range of students than if our cruising area was the cold North Sea …

All our staff really enjoy the variety that is brought by having students from different countries. It is very interesting to learn about other cultures, and it’s surprising how well everyone gets on together when they are united in the common task of sailing a cruising yacht.

Three of our instructors were in the British Royal Navy for many years. I know that they find it thought-provoking when they have students from the former Soviet Union, against whom they fought the ‘Cold War’. Thankfully, those days are over.

As the person who decides which students go on which boat I have to try to judge likely compatibility from minimal information. I’ve found that nationality is a pretty unimportant consideration.

We have had Croatians sailing with Serbians, Israelis sailing with Arabs, Americans sailing with Russians, Northern Irishman with those from the Republic, and of course Greeks and Turks together.

All with no arguments or bloodshed … although sometimes with fascinating conversations on board.

It adds an interesting dimension to many of our courses.

The picture at the top of this post shows the flags of 48 countries. We’ve had students who are either nationals of, or living in, all of them.

I wonder how many you can identify? I’ll send a free sailing school mouse mat to the first three people who can correctly name them all! *

And please let me know if there is a country I have missed out.

Language Issues
All our tuition is in English and we try to ensure that everyone who comes on a course with us speaks and understands English well. Learning nautical terminology can be taxing even for a native English speaker.

If you are not a sailor you may be unfamiliar with terms like “aft”, “heave to”, “cleat” or “bowline”, never mind expressions such as “prepare to gybe”.

The RYA course books are an excellent aid, filled with pictures rather than a lot of text. If English is not your first language and you are coming sailing with us we can supply you with the RYA Competent Crew book to study beforehand.

Hwever, even the best English speakers can struggle with some colloquial expressions. How about these, which I’ve overheard our instructors use:

… that’s a bit Mickey Mouse …
… the wind will be on the nose …
… not run of the mill …
… then Bob’s your uncle …
… we need a guinea-pig …
… give it some wellie …

I’m sure there are a lot more. If you have an amusing expression that an instructor has used please let me know and I will post a collection of the best of them.

Meanwhile – happy sailing whichever country you are from and whatever sea you are upon.


* Answers will be posted here in a few weeks.

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