“Mayday, Mayday, Mayday”

The time draws near and its only a few days before the start of RBE2014.

Neil Penman, Principal at South West Marine Training, has sent the itinerary for the first week, starting with the VHF radio course on Monday next. That itinerary (aside: Is there a nautical term for itinerary?) looks like this…

  • Sunday – Champagne reception. Safety briefing. Skipper departs to allow us to get to know one another
  • Monday – VHF Course in Brixham, 0915
  • Tuesday/Wednesday – Boat Handling onboard school’s 36’ yacht for familiarisation
  • Thursday – First Aid Course in Plymouth
  • Friday – Sea Survival Course in Plymouth
  • Saturday – Victual yacht for Leg 1/Day off
  • Sunday – Sail on Leg 1

So that’s the first week’s activity sorted, when we’re in Brixham.

However, as we have all received a copy of the RYA’s VHF Handbook (with instructions to undertake 3 to 4 hours of study before we arrive in Devon) the training has, in reality, begun. My family will bear witness to that and they will testify that the loud expressions, such as “Mayday, Mayday..” or “Panpan, Panpan..” heard coming from the kitchen area early in the morning, are simply me practicing the official routine and not some call to rescue me from any culinary disaster involving toast and scrambled eggs (fellow crew members be aware).

The use of VHF does needs a comprehensive knowledge of the Phonetic Alphabet. I have been trying to memorise that alphabet and have met with some success. But then I did have a head start in that I know the words Foxtrot and Oscar – and sometimes combine them as an aid to ensure being left to study in peace in my corner of the kitchen.