Continuing our stories of students who learned to sail with us and who have gone on to fulfil dreams, here is the story of Jonathan Davies from Edinburgh. Jonathan and his girlfriend, Jen, were among our first students. They came to Greece in the spring of 2005, only our second year of operation. Here is Jonathan’s story in his own words:
I’ve always spent time in or on the water – dinghy sailing as a kid, scuba diving in my twenties. When I was forced to stop diving I was keen to get back sailing and thought it was about time I tried yachts. After a taster weekend in the UK my girlfriend Jen and I headed out to Greece to do our Comp Crew in the sun with George and Melody at Aegean Sailing School.
We were back again the next year (2006) to get more experience on one of their famous mile builder trips. We quickly realised that sailing was the perfect activity for us – it can be as adventurous or as relaxing as we want to make it and it’s a great way to meet new people or spend time with friends. The next step for us was to build our tidal experience and get qualified to charter yachts.
In my job I got more time off than Jen, which allowed me to squeeze in more miles and training than her (sorry Jen!). I passed my Day Skipper in the Clyde in 2006 and shortly afterwards Jen and I did our first weekend bareboat charter with friends. This turned out to be a baptism of fire. I planned the trip around the forecast giving us a lazy downwind run back on the Sunday. Saturday went as planned but the weather on Sunday was anything but the forecast force 4 from the SW. Bouncing on a mooring in Lamlash harbour (Arran) we could see the white horses out past Holly Island as the coastguard happily read out the same forecast as yesterday – SW F4.
We ended up beating to windward across the Clyde in a solid F7 from the NE. Another surprise in store was that, instead of providing shelter from the east, the land behind Largs actually accelerates the wind. My first time parking a yacht in a marina without an instructor on board was in a Force 8 with horizontal rain.
After we’d tied up an employee of the charter company asked if I’d mind parking it the other way round. I told him he was welcome to park it any way round he wanted!
We headed to the Outer Hebrides in 2007 where Jen passed her Day Skipper and I passed my Coastal. From there we did several charters on the west coast of Scotland before deciding some serious adventure was called for.
In 2008 Jen and I joined the ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers) and crossed the Atlantic as crew to raise money for the Edinburgh Sick Kids Hospital. Out of a fleet of 200 boats we came 1st in class and 2nd overall, missing out on the top spot by only half an hour (pretty close given we were racing for 18 days!). George and Melody were one of our biggest sponsors (thanks guys!).
After that trip I wanted to spend more and more time on the water but work commitments made it a struggle to fit in anything significant. In April this year I finally bit the bullet and agreed a year off with my employer (sorry again Jen!).
I passed my Yachtmaster Offshore in July and did a week of commercial endorsement training in August (no sailing but I thoroughly recommend it – you get to do lots of interesting stuff like playing with life rafts and tackling fires).
In September of this year I successfully passed my Cruising Instructor assessment. I was expecting this course to be mostly training along the lines of “always do this… always do that…” but to my surprise it was more like a 5 day Yachtmaster exam – “Next I’d like you to give a 10 minute lecture on secondary port calculations… OK, let’s get the spinnaker up, woops, man over board!… Very good, now I’m going to blindfold Andy and you are going to talk him through parking the yacht in the marina”. A very challenging course but well worth it.
I’ve still got six months of my year off left and I’m keen to get more sailing in. Jen has dangled the carrot that if I can make my sailing pay then maybe I could take more than a year off… so I’m currently looking for opportunities to put my commercial licence to use and of course, do some instructing.
COMMENT FROM MELODY
Thanks for this Jonathan and guess who is going to be in touch with you about instructing …