1: What do I know about my fellow crew before we leave?

Probably next to nothing, other than the fact that they will be sharing the same mixed feelings of excitement and apprehension as you are. We send out a non-intrusive questionaire to each of our clients upon booking; we share this with the others on the trip to help each of you get a flavour of who you are and what you are hoping to achieve. Living together in close quarters for 12 weeks in any environment could become stressful but with a little consideration from each of the crew a strong team spirit will invariably develop. Many previous clients remain in touch with each other and still sometimes sail together. We have had clients from their early 20's to their 70's each with their own motivations for undertaking the trip.

2: Why does the Experience start and finish in Brixham?

Our main booking office is in the ancient seafaring town of Brixham right next door to the marina. By starting here we are able to use our locally based facilities to ensure you have had the opportunity to learn the basics and gain knowledge in First Aid, Sea Survival and VHF Radio which will complement your trip. We will assist you with travel arrangements to get to us and in some cases we are able to collect you from our local airport if required.

3: How much does the Round Britain Experience cost?

The full 12 week experience costs £8,900; this includes your food and drink onboard, your own cabin, all the RYA training advertised, harbour dues and mooring fees, fuel. In fact the only thing you need to pay extra for is when you go ashore for a beer or a meal!

4: How can I stay in touch with home, particularly if there is a problem?

At the very least the yacht has modern VHF radio and for almost all of the time will be in range of the Coastguard. Instructors and most clients carry mobile phones; experience has shown that in reality the yacht is always contactable one way or another. We have a laptop onboard with mobile internet access but in some areas we may take several days to get GPRS signal to receive emails etc. Some marinas have internet access so emails and photographs can be exchanged with loved ones or colleagues. The Experience co-ordinator will always know where the boat is and how to make contact. Important post and parcels can be forwarded to the co-ordinator or the Round Britain Experience office. They can be passed to the yacht through personal delivery, harbourmasters or marina offices.

5: What if I have a problem that means I need to leave the yacht for a few days?

We are realistic and recognise that in 12 weeks all sorts of things can occur. Usually it's straightforward but if you are in a remote location e.g. Orkney or Shetland then logistics are more difficult. The instructor will always get you off the boat as soon as possible and arrange a suitable location for you to re-join. Obviously any expense you incur will be borne by yourself but our shore-based staff can assist you with your travel plans.

6: What about laundry and personal hygiene?

The facilities on board the yacht are more than adequate and most of the marinas and harbours you visit have proper facilities. With a little forward planning and ingenuity you will have little difficulty in doing laundry and so on even in the remotest places.

7: What about food?

All meals taken on board are included in the fee. Each week the crew is given a provisioning allowance and you plan, shop for and prepare the meals and snacks for the week as a team. Provisioning the vessel and ensuring that everyone eats well and healthily is one of the skills of sailing and also part of the fun. Strict vegetarians have completed the RBE, even if they've not succeeded in converting all of their colleagues! Equally you may wish to eat ashore, taking advantage of the opportunities to sample local cuisine.

8: I want to earn the qualifications along the way, what books and equipment do I need?

Equipment such as dividers, plotters and all books required to study for the qualifications are issued by the instructors at the start of each stage. Your personal cruising logbook will be issued to you when you book onto the Experience as will the Competent Crew course notes.

9: Is there an age limit?

The minimum age limit for the Experience is 16-years, however clients under 18 years must be accompanied by a responsible adult. There is also a minimum age limit of 17 years to be eligible for the RYA Coastal Skipper certificate. There is no upper limit, this depends entirely on your own fitness and your doctor will be able to advise you. Some insurance companies will consider sailing as a dangerous sport. We have had a number of participants take part who have ben in their early 70s and our oldest participant was 80!

10: Can I do the course as a complete novice?

Absolutely. The Experience is designed exactly with that in mind; we have taken clients that had never stepped on board a boat before and turned them in to Yachtmasters 14 weeks later. However any experience that can be gained beforehand will greatly help. We recommend taking some time to study some of the shore-based syllabus beforehand. We are able to assist you with any course materials, and indeed any sailing that you might need before setting off.

11: I have lots of experience but no qualifications, will this course be any use to me?

The British Isles provide some of the best sailing in the world, you will have a great time honing your skills and be able to concentrate on learning more advanced techniques. Helping the less experienced will also help you, teaching is one of the best ways of learning.

12: How does the Round Britain Experience compare with other fast track Yachtmaster programmes?

We believe that our course provides clients with more experience than any equivalent scheme. You are building on your experience every day, practicing pilotage and passage planning on a regular basis. At the end of 12 weeks you have a multitude of qualifying passages to choose from to present to the examiner and have visited in the region of 60 new ports. We are confident that anyone who obtains their Yachtmaster qualification as part of the Experience will have the confidence to sail anywhere in the world. Additionally there are no hidden or extra costs, other than external fees, no requirement to find your own accommodation and no being used as 'fillers' on other boats or courses. We believe that the Round Britain Experience is the best value fast track Yachtmaster programme that money can buy and our success rate is over 90%. If it's a dedicated Fastrack Yachtmaster course you're after however, we also provide this service all year round.

13: I am looking to make a career in sailing, what do I need in addition to the Yachtmaster qualification?

In order to work as a professional skipper you will need to have your Yachtmaster certificate commercially endorsed by the RYA. This entails providing them with evidence that you have completed a one-day sea survival course and that you are medically fit. We ask you to take a medical with your doctor before we start, but if you intend to work commercially with your qualifications please let us know before the "RBE" so we can send you the Boatman's medical form. There may be additional courses to be taken after completion of the 2 week additional programme, but we can help you with this.

14: Who examines for the RYA certificates and Yachtmaster assessment?

As a fully recognised RYA training centre, South West Marine Training's chief instructor, who plays an active role in the Experience, can examine and sign certificates up to Coastal Skipper level. However, the Yachtmaster assessment is undertaken by an independent examiner appointed by the RYA.

15: Can you help me find work in the yachting industry after the course?

Our instructors and South West Marine Training have many contacts in the yachting industry and you will meet many people on the way round who can provide you with opportunities. Everybody who has wanted work has found it without a problem. Employers are looking for skippers with plenty of experience and that is exactly what the Round Britain delivers, lots of experience.

16. What do you suggest in order to prepare for the trip?

We have prepared a page to help you with this. Please click here

© South West Marine Training 2012