Every day is a school day
Winter time …. best time to pick up a course
Winter ’21 – ’22
As an ocean sailor, it’s not only about sailing, safety, navigation, meteorology, storm tactics and so on and so on. If you’re out on the ocean, as a skipper, you’re also responsible for the well being of your crew, meaning you have to have an open mind and be aware of the capabilities and limitations of your crew, know how to cook to some degree and have a basic knowledge on how to treat illnesses and injuries.
What goes for the crew, also goes for the boat. Out on the ocean, you are the mechanic, electrician, plumber, and IT specialist if it comes to it.
You can call 112 or 911 if you have a sat phone but it might take days before somebody can actually come and help you.
I’ve been sailing all my life and still every trip I learn something sailing wise. I also renew my medical aid and medical care training every couple of years.
Over the years I know my way around all parts and systems on the boat but I was still looking for a serious course on diesel engines and/or boat electrics.
Last year I finally found what I was looking for: the course mechanic for pleasure crafts given by SYNTRA West in Oostende, Begium.
I took a diesel enige course before. The type that’s offered quite a lot in winter times. A course of half a day or maybe a full day, interesting but not very useful to be honest.
This course however, lasts for 20+ weeks, 3 years in a row! If you do all 3 years, you’re an officially certified marine mechanic/marine electronic.
I signed up for the first year, so from October 2021, every Tuesday night from 7 pm till 10:30 pm I go to the workshop and actually get to work on all the systems of different types of engines!
Just take it all apart – totally! – sea how it works, put it back together and, check if it works!!
Oh and by the way, it’s not ‘limited’ to just the engine. You also get to work on seacocks/through hull fittings, toilets, fresh/black water systems, heating systems, exhausts etc. etc.
Second part of the course is all about boat electrics.
I did the online course Boat Electrics 101 – Safe & Reliable DC Systems, offered by BoatHowTo, (Nigel Calder, Michael Herrmann and Jan Athenstäd). That is for sure a great course but you don’t get to actually work on anything. In this course, you get to actually check and install the various systems and make them work properly.
There’s even a third part where you learn how to repair damages to the hull and deck.
All in all the course I was looking for for years. Obviously, I’m going to miss a couple of sessions when I’m out sailing but it’s not my goal to actually become a formal certified engineer. I just want to be able to do a better job in fixing and repairing things then I am now. And a thorough understanding of how things work and put together helps.
Most importantly: it’s a great fun doing this course!!
… and the costs, around €500 per year isn’t too bad considring the price they sometimes dare to ask for a half a day training, explaining the most obvious things …