We just finished teaching our new High Latitude Voyaging course for the first time. We had a capacity audience of 25 in Munich, Germany for two days of intense work as we packed in as many of the lessons that we have learned in 22 years of sailing in the Arctic and adjacent North Atlantic waters as we could.
An International Crew
The attendees came from nine different countries with one intrepid soul coming all the way from Chile for the course. Attendees included:
- skippers and crew intending to charter a boat from Boreal Yachting in Svalbard;
- a professional super-yacht skipper and mate;
- the skipper/owner of a retired and converted Whitbread 60, just about to head off to Greenland with 10 paying crew;
- and several private owners planning to expand their cruising grounds to the north.
Phyllis and I decided to pretty much ignore conventional classroom training—what I call “powerpoint ’em to death”— and instead go for an approach heavy on scenarios (many from our own experience) for the participants to investigate and solve. We even held a mock “board of enquiry” into the real world loss of a yacht in the high latitudes to see what we could all learn from it.
I have to say that I was more than a bit nervous going into the course about how this rather unconventional “experiential” approach would be received, but it worked even better than I had hoped with participants universally positive and many saying they would have preferred even more scenarios.
Here are three sample comments from the evaluation forms that the participants filled out:
Congratulations, you managed a convincing synthesis of theoretical and practical knowledge.
Great pace, delivery, personal rapport. Well conducted with information, anecdotes, advice.
Course was very well structured and John did a fantastic job communicating the various topics and keeping it exciting throughout with good interactivity with the group.
On the down side, we did learn that with 25 people with five different native languages, other than English, sailing technical terms can be a problem and that in future courses we need to provide even more photographs and illustrations to make sure that we are all talking about the same piece of gear.
A huge thank you to:
- Our dear friend Ivar, of Boreal Yachting, whose idea this was.
- Mathias Werner, a participant in the course (together with his entire crew), who organized the venue in Munich.
- All of the attendees for giving up a weekend and traveling to Munich to be part of the course. You taught us a huge amount and we really enjoyed getting to know such a diverse group of skilled sailors.
We are planning to give the course again, both in Europe and in North America, although we have not, as yet, set any dates.
You can learn more below and, if you are interested in attending, please fill out the form at the end of this post. Do get your name on the list, as the course we just gave filled up in just a few weeks. We will only send you emails about future courses and we will not bother you with anything else.
Subjects covered will include:
- Boat preparation.
- Heavy weather tactics.
- Crew training and preparation including clothing and safety gear.
- Weather reception and analysis.
- Ice information sources and analysis.
- Anchorage selection and anchoring.
- Navigation in the high latitudes.
- Provisioning and provision availability in the areas covered.
- Polar bear safety.
- Environmental concerns.
- Culture and language.
- Customs, immigration and other rules and regulations.
- Difficulty, rewards, and risk levels associated with each of the northern high latitude cruising destinations covered.
Rather than teaching you what to do in every case, which is simply not practical in a two day course, we will focus on helping you to recognize and respond to risks to your boat and crew at an early stage, as they develop and before they become dangerous. As part of this process, the instructors will present scenarios, based on their own experience, for participant discussion and analysis. Plenty of time will be allocated for questions and discussion.
Help With Insurance
By the way, the original idea for this course came from Ivar’s discussions with Pantaenius, his insurance underwriter and the company that has insured Morgan’s Cloud for some 17 years and almost all of our high latitude expeditions. We certainly can’t guarantee anything, but the impression Ivar and I were left with was that completion of this course will be looked on favourably by Pantaenius if you are applying for coverage for a high latitude voyage.