It's easy whilst on activity to get stuck in the moment. We’ve all been there, dealing with a riding turn on a yacht's winch, or a jammed skeg on your sea kayak, simple distractions have a tendency to spiral towards unfortunate outcomes and takes your judgement away from what's happening round about you.
Poor situational awareness is a contributing factor to poor decision making. Past experience, reflective conversations and increased knowledge all contribute to good decision making. Ultimately, we need to keep our heads up to kick start this process.
If we teach ourselves the importance of looking up we will (most of the time subconsciously) notice, judge and decide on a course of action. In addition to this our ability to anticipate conditions on the water is made ever so slightly easier.
Keep an eye on the weather from the moment you wake up. Ask yourself questions about wind direction, wind speed, & tidal flow. These questions will allow you to build mental pictures of what you expect to experience on the water. Expectation and anticipation form the bases of good seamanship and will aid our ability to be aware of what’s going on around us and ultimately lead us to make better decisions.
Watersports Taster Sessions – spring holidays programme 2019
This spring holiday we are delighted to be offering watersports taster sessions at the National Watersports Training Centre on Cumbrae. These sessions are designed to whet the appetite for watersports, and are open to all. Come along and try your hand at one of the below watersports, you never know you may discover a hidden talent.
See you on the water!
Windsurfing, Thu 4 April, 1100 - 1300hrs, £35
Windsurfing, Fri 5 April, 1100 - 1300hrs, £35
Sea kayaking, Mon 8 April, 1100 - 1300hrs, £35
* Extra dates/activities to be announced, follow us on social media to keep up-to-date.
* In adverse weather conditions please call 01475 530757 to confirm session will be going ahead.
For all enquiries and bookings please phone 01475 530757 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org Alternatively you can book online.
If you have ever wondered what a Cumbrae cruising adventure course is like this extract logged by our Chief Instructor last summer on board our yacht, Somerled, may provide you with some inspiration for this year and a flavour of what can be expected. It’s not all hard sailing, intensive training and certificates!
“After a couple of hours sailing we were closing the Northern tip of the island of Eigg, the wind and boat speed had dropped, and the seas were calm, but on this very relaxing first evening, as Instructor and crew all got to know each other, no one wanted to admit it may have been time to start the engine.
Ahead, but well clear of the steep headland, breaking waves and turbulent water could be seen in front of us. Odd, we thought to ourselves. A quick check showed no reefs or off lying dangers on the chart. Odder still that that those on deck confirmed that the breaking waves were moving…. and towards us. Suddenly it became clear what we were witnessing. It was hard to count but our first estimate of ten was quickly revised, at least twenty, fifty more like, more again! Dolphins everywhere. We watched in awe as these sleek and playful mammals put on displays of leaping, jumping, twisting and tail slapping. An entire school, in vast number and different sizes, swam around, across and under us. A few played with our bow wave but most just swam, leaping and playing on their course northward. After 20 minutes of sheer awe at the sight of what seemed like hundreds of dolphins they passed and it was all over. As a sheer spectacle and life experience for all on board it was both amazing and humbling.
The following day we slipped out of the southern anchorage on the Isle of Muck. After hoisting our sails to catch the gentle north-westerly breeze we set our course for Ardnamurchan. Everyone staring and straining in expectation of sighting more inquisitive dolphins. We had covered less than half a mile before the shout came from the crew. Less than two cables directly ahead the black rounded back and small dorsal fin of a pilot whale and traveling beside it that of a much smaller calf could be seen. As these first two submerged, just further to the left another two broke the surface showing their long black rounded backs then off to the right another three. Not the playful jumping and showing off we had seen the day before, but a far more elegant and stately procession of gentle giants. We estimated at least ten whales each gently breaking the surface, exhaling with an audible cloud of fine spray before catching a breath, arching their backs and slipping gently back below the surface. Judging their direction of travel, we gently sailed around them providing them a clear onward passage we watched them into the distance as we continued south on what was turning out to be a great sailing adventure.”
National Centre Cumbrae provides yacht cruises for those wanting an experience of a lifetime, you might even be lucky enough to meet a few dolphins! We are running our 5 for 4 offer on our cruises so if you are able to get a group together then you can take advantage of this when you come onboard.
Cumbrae is currently inviting interested watersports Instructors who wish to join our pool of Casual Instructors to submit a CV with covering letter to email@example.com. Applicants who are shortlisted will then be invited to attend the Instructor Staff Inductions as part of the selection process.
Please note Induction dates below. We are recruiting for two separate posts, Centre Watersports Instructors and Cruising Instructors Candidates applying for both Cruising Instructor and Centre Watersports Instructor will need to attend both Inductions
Post 1 - Centre Watersports Instructor As a centre watersports Instructor you will provide high quality instruction at the Cumbrae centre. You will be a skilled water sports Instructor, with appropriate NGB Instructor qualifications in one or more of the following disciplines: dinghy sailing, windsurfing, powerboating, and paddlesports. You should also have experience of working in a training centre, delivering water sports to a wide variety of client groups. Instructors must have excellent organisational and communication skills.
Centre Watersports Instructors, A CV and cover letter should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. by Friday 1st March 2019
Inductions for Centre Watersports Instructors will take place on; Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th April 2019 You will need to attend both days.
Post 2 – Cruising / Yachtmaster Instructors As a Casual Cruising Instructor you will provide high quality instruction on board our yachts. You will be a skilled Instructor, with either RYA Cruising or RYA Yachtmaster Instructor qualification. You should also have previous experience of working at a RYA training centre and delivering RYA syllabus’s to a wide variety of client groups. Instructors must have excellent organisational and communication skills.
Cruising / Yachtmaster Instructors, A CV and cover letter should be emailed to email@example.com by : Friday 1st March 2019
Inductions for Cruising / Yachtmaster Instructors will take place on Sunday 24rd March 2019
Each year, National Watersports Training Centre Cumbrae employs a number of young people to our Instructor Development Scheme (IDS). They will all have a variety of qualifications already, but it is our role to develop them even further in to the areas they want and are required by the sector so that they can go on and have successful careers in water and outdoor sport. One of our team this year, Katrina Seator, gives us her experience of being part of the scheme and developing her yachting prowess.
“Sea kayak guide in Alaska or IDS at the national centre in Cumbrae? With only 24 hours to decide! I was working in Lapland away from my family and friends at the time and so I posted my dilemma on social media. The answer was unanimous, everyone said I should go to Alaska, after all I’d always wanted to kayak amongst the glaciers! However, when senior instructor Rod phoned me just as I was getting on a snowmobile and asked for my answer I replied “Yes I’d love to come and work at Cumbrae!”. Everyone thought I was crazy when I told them. I hadn’t made a decision in advance, I just went with what felt right in the moment. Now, at the end of my contract here at the national centre, I know I made the right decision. I joined Cumbrae as a Level 2 Paddlesports Coach and kayaking is my passion. It was great having a choice of kayaks to take out whenever I wanted and it was amazing only having to carry them across the road to get to the sea. I was able to tag along on all the paddlesports courses and assist the leaders, helping build up my logbook. Being on the IDS team meant I also had access to courses at National Outdoor Training Centre Glenmore Lodge which allowed me to do paddlesports courses not run at Cumbrae. I am now a Sea Kayak Leader and Canoe Leader.
Venturing in to sailing
I was keen though to try yachting so after a few weeks getting settled in to the job, I went off on a weekend cruise. It was an amazing experience. On the first night I was up on deck on my own in the dark helming and I couldn’t believe that I was in charge of this big yacht. It was exhilarating! The following month I completed a Competent Crew course and learnt all the basics. After that I got out on the yacht as much as I could and completed my Day Skipper theory course. I got to spend a weekend on the Ocean Youth Trust’s 72 foot yacht which was an opportunity I will never forget. By November, I was a fully qualified Day Skipper so I wanted to keep the momentum going and moved on to yachtmaster theory and by March I had completed my Coastal Skipper Practical. I got out on the yacht as much as I could going round and round in circles picking up mooring buoys and MOBs. My hard work paid off as I finished off my contract by achieving my yachtmaster qualification. I was over the moon to have such a big qualification under my belt. I had done a little bit of dinghy sailing before I joined the IDS in Cumbrae and it was good having a variety of double and single handers on site to use whenever I wanted. The first time I went sailing at Cumbrae was on a catamaran and it was so much fun flying along whilst hiking out. I was having great fun until it pitch poled and I went flying round the mast then ended up under water, but that’s all part of the experience! In amongst all of my yachtmaster preparation I was encouraged to complete a dinghy instructor course. The instructors at the centre reassured me that a dinghy was just a small yacht so everything was pretty much just the same, except from being entirely reliant on wind power. I decided it was good for me to keep expanding my skills in all different types of sailing and I’m pleased to say I am now a dinghy instructor.
No stopping me
I had been jet skiing as a teenager on those rare occasions when the sun shone in Scotland and I had gone jet skiing on holiday abroad too so when the centre started offering Personal Watercraft (PWC) courses I jumped at the chance to learn these skills. It is a great addition to having a yachtmaster qualification as often larger ‘super’ yachts will have a jet ski included. I completed the course and went jet skiing a few more times practicing manoeuvres. Luckily a space came up on a PWC Instructor course last minute and I decided to give it a go. I figured I was already a snowmobile guide so it was just a different surface to get used to! The PWC Instructor course is the most fun Instructor course I have ever completed and I thankfully I passed! Windsurfing was next on my bucket list to try so I started practicing a lot, it was really exciting on a windy day when I managed to pick up lots of speed. I achieved my Intermediate Windsurfing certificate and I’m hopefully going to do my Windsurf Instructor in the near future.
Work hard, play hard
Being on the IDS at Cumbrae meant I lived in the perfect location to get out on the water every day. Who doesn’t want to wake up in their cosy little chalet and look out their window to see the gorgeous views across the Clyde? It also meant I had access to all the boats and equipment to do all the water sports the centre offered any time I wanted. The actual job itself was a great learning curve, seeing the other side of the running a national centre. I enjoyed working in the office, speaking to customers and giving advice on courses based on my experiences there. The job involved working mainly in the evenings and early mornings which was great as it meant my days were free to get out on the water as much as I needed to gain experience. I can’t thank the senior instructors enough as they were always encouraging me to progress and better myself. I probably wouldn’t have gone for as many different disciplines and courses if it hadn’t been for them. And to end this journey with a sought after professional yachtmaster qualification was the icing on the cake. I had an amazing 19 months on the IDS at sportscotland National Centre Cumbrae and I would jump at the chance to go back and do it all over again.
We offer a full range of sailing cruises and qualification and instructor courses, including our fast track Professional Yachtmaster qualification that Katrina took part in. Please have a look at our cruising courses section.
sportscotland are running an Instructor training scheme to help those suitably interested in gaining a career as a watersports instructor whilst gaining qualifications and experience at sportscotland’s National Centre Cumbrae.
There are three positions available starting on April 2019. Trainees are encouraged to gain a variety of qualifications which can result in additional paid work at the centre and an eventual gateway to the world of watersports employment. The IDS programme combines a job aspect, about 19 hours per week, as well as a training aspect.
To read the blog of Katrina who has just completed their 19 months on the scheme click HERE .It is great opportunity for motivated and driven individuals to gain Instructor Qualifications in a variety of watersports.
Short listed applicants will be invited to Cumbrae for the opportunity to find out more and the programme Manager will explain in detail the IDS scheme, the role, and opportunities for individuals.
Candidates must be over 18
Application forms available to download from here
IDS closing date applications is Friday 1st February 2019.
Successful applicants will be informed by 6th February and invited to attend the two day selection process Tuesday 26th and Wednesday 27th February
Anticipated start date will be Monday 1st April 2019
We are Currently have an advert for opportunities to join our Instructor Development scheme (IDS) .Having just completed 19 months on the IDS scheme Katrina Seator took the time share her experience in the hope of inspiring others join the scheme…..
“Sea kayak guide in Alaska or Instructor Development Scheme (IDS) at sportscotland on Cumbrae? and only 24 hours to decide! Working in Lapland away from my family and friends I plastered these choices all over facebook and asked my guests. The answer was unanimous, everyone said I should go to Alaska, after all I’d always wanted to kayak amongst the glaciers. However when Cumbrae’s Rod Smith phoned me just as I was getting on a snowmobile and asked for my answer I replied “Yes I’d love to come and work at Cumbrae!”
Everyone thought I was crazy when I told them. I hadn’t made a decision in advance, I just went with the words that came out of my mouth at the time. Now at the end of my IDS contract I know I made the right decision that day .
I went to Cumbrae as a level 2 paddlesport coach and kayaking is my passion. It was great having a choice of kayaks to take out whenever I wanted and it was amazing only having to carry them across the road to get to the sea. I was able to tag along on all the paddlesports courses and assist the leaders, helping build up my logbook. Being IDS meant I got 25% discount at Glenmore Lodge which allowed me to do paddlesports courses not run at Cumbrae. I am now a Sea Kayak Leader and Canoe Leader.
I quite fancied yachting so after a few weeks getting settled in to the job, I went off on a weekend cruise. It was amazing. At one point on the first night I was left up on deck on my own in the dark helming and I couldn’t believe that I was in charge of this big yacht. It was exhilarating! Next month I did a competent crew course and learnt all the basics. After that I got out on the yacht as much as I could and did the day skipper theory course. I got to spend a weekend on the huge OYT Yacht which was another great experience. I loved it.
By November I was a Day Skipper so I kept it up and moved on to the Yachtmaster theory and by March I had done my Coastal Skipper practical. I got out on the yacht as much as I could going round and round in circles picking up mooring buoys and MOBs. My hard work paid off as I finished off my contract by achieving my Yachtmaster. I was over the moon to gain such a big qualification.
I had done a little bit of Dinghy Sailing before I went to Cumbrae but it wasn’t my favourite watersport. It was good having a variety of Double Handers and Single Handers on site to use whenever I wanted. The first time I went sailing at Cumbrae was on a catamaran and it was so much fun flying along whilst hiking out. I was having great fun until it pitch poled and I went flying round the mast then was under water, but that’s all part of the experience.
In amongst all the yachtmaster prep. I was doing, there was a Dinghy Instructor course running and everyone kept telling me I should do it. They kept telling me a Dinghy was just a small Yacht so everything was pretty much just the same, apart from it didn’t have an engine. I decided to spend a few weeks dinghy sailing constantly and booked on to the Dinghy Instructor course. The course was interesting, I learnt a lot and I am now a Dinghy Instructor.
I was in the office one day and found out there was a cancellation on a Personal Watercraft Proficiency course the next day. I had been jet skiing as a teenager on those rare occasions when the sun shone in Scotland and I had gone jet skiing on holiday abroad too. I completed the course and went jet skiing a few more times practicing manoeuvres. A space came up on a PWC Instructor course last minute and I decided to give it a go. I figured I’m already a snowmobile guide so it can’t be that difficult! The PWC Instructor course is the most fun Instructor course I have ever done and I passed so I’m now a PWC Instructor too.
I decided I wanted to learn to Windsurf so I started going out practicing a lot, it was really exciting on a windy day when you managed to pick up lots of speed. I achieved my Intermediate Windsurfing certificate and I’m hopefully going to do my Windsurf Instructor in the near future.
Being on the IDS at Cumbrae meant I lived in the perfect location to get out on the water every day. Who doesn’t want to wake up in their cosy little chalet and look out their window to see the gorgeous views across the Clyde?! It also meant I had access to all the boats and equipment to do all the watersports Cumbrae offers any time I wanted.
The actual job itself was really good. I enjoyed working in the office and speaking to clients and giving advice on courses based on my experiences there. The job involved working mainly in the evenings and early mornings which was great as it meant your days were free to get out on the water as much as you wanted.
All the staff at Cumbrae are very friendly and it’s like a big family. The catering staff make sure you get well fed, the office staff are very friendly and always make sure you are included and invite you to social gatherings and the senior instructors are always encouraging you to progress and better yourself.
I had an amazing 19 months on the IDS at Sport Scotland Cumbrae and I want to go back and do it all over again.”
Inspired ?.....Current IDS advert and application to join IDS in April 2019 can be found here
Thanks to everyone who took part in this year’s Sea Kayak Race. Please find the results below!
Congratulations to our winners!
Bib No. Name Category Elapsed Time Position
117 James Mayers Elite 01:22:00 1st
107 Kevin Ramsay Elite 01:24:39 2nd
108 Douglas Wilby Elite 01:26:05 3rd
119 Kenny Fraser Elite 01:28:22 4th
109 Lizelle Kemp Elite 01:28:34 5th - 1st Female
103 Mark Williamson Elite 01:30:08 6th
106 Martin Tonge Elite 01:32:08 7th
120 Ben Graham Elite 01:33:28 8th
118 Les Kilpatrick Elite 01:35:10 9th
105 Alison Auld Elite 01:36:10 10th - 2nd Female
116 Alan Hunter Elite 01:37:55 11th
114 Stuart Nicolson Elite 01:47:31 12th
110 Paul Hignett Elite DNS
111 Paul Hignett Elite DNS
112 Annette Morris Elite DNS
113 Steven Whipp Elite DNS
104 Andrew Morton Elite DNS
Bib No. Name Category Elapsed Time Position
102 Paul Carey Elite 09:55 1st Junior
101 Alice Wilson Junior 10:49 2nd Junior
122 Harris McNicol Junior 11:43 3rd Junior
121 Innes McNicol Junior 14:30 4th Junior
Bib No. Name Category Elapsed Time Position
124 Robin Davis Touring 1st
“It goes without saying; problems that occur whilst in open water can be slightly more challenging than those that occur whilst in sheltered water. Whilst running an RYA Coastal Skipper Practical Course last month we had just completed a passage of some 70 nautical miles in a northerly wind, Force 6-7. Ideal conditions some might say for completing your coastal skipper course! On this particular day we were sailing a short passage from Tarbert to Largs with a strong easterly blowing. Whilst rounding Ardlamont Point we had to keep a short distance off the buoy due to a military exercise taking place in Ettrick Bay. The boat was well reefed down with three reefs in the main, and a small handkerchief of a head sail in light of the conditions. We were close-hauled to keep ourselves clear of the lee shore and whilst doing so we heard a loud bang sound and suddenly the rig went loose. Our first reaction was that something must have snapped and unfortunately we were right.
We looked up to see the backstay flaying around and the head of the mast rocking to and fro. The first question for me to ask was whether all the crew were safe and ensure no one was hurt. Once I was sure everyone was okay I took the helm and organised the crew, giving them all specific jobs to do so that we could bring the situation under control in a safe manner. Looking more closely at what we had lost it appeared to be the forestay. First and foremost we needed to secure the mast to prevent losing it. Arranging for two of the crew to go forward with life jackets on and harnessed to the jackstays, they were able to bring the spinnaker halyard forward to tie down. Whilst this was happening I was attempting to keep the head sail filled despite the head of it being some 5m from the hounds. By keeping the head sail filled I was able to keep the mast pulled forward. I used the engine to get us further away from the lee shore, in case the mast was to come down.
Once we were further away we then opted to lower the main sail and tie it down, all the time making sure that the crew did not venture to the leeward side of the boat. We were unable to roll all of the head sail away so we gingerly motored slowly head to wind. This helped us lower the foresail and foil onto the deck were we secured it down. Once safely ashore we inspected the damage. We discovered it was the toggle at the top of the foresail that had snapped, which is very unusual.
Although very rare, dangerous situations can arise when at sea. It is always important to keep calm and use all of your training and knowledge to assess the situation and keep the crew safe. Our coastal skipper courses, with senior instructors like Angus, will set you up well to be able to handle lots of different types of situations, but hopefully not a repeat of this incident any time soon!
Katrina Seator is an instructor here at National Watersports Centre Cumbrae. She recently joined the crew on board one of the centre’s yachts for a Coastal Skipper course in challenging weather conditions. Here she writes her account of the week.
At 19.30 I met up with our skipper Stuart and the rest of the crew. We had a look around the yacht to get familiar with our surroundings was and following a safety talk we headed to bed, or should I say bunk!
I got up at 7.30am and made breakfast for everyone. We had a look at the weather forecast and the charts and made a rough plan for our week ahead. We decided to go to Campbeltown and made a passage plan including pilotage. We motored out of Largs Yacht Haven and got the sails up. The wind was very light so we changed the head sail from No. 3 to the Genoa, which is larger sail than what we had been using. We motored a lot of the way, it was partly sunny and we had lunch on deck as we cruised along. We practiced a few Man Overboard drills along the way and we arrived in Campbeltown late afternoon and watched the sun set over Davaar Island which was a stunning sight on our first night. Whilst dinner was cooking we practiced manoeuvring in confined spaces and berthing alongside different pontoons both bow and stern. We decided we were going to go south to Sanda Island the next morning so I was asked to make a passage plan as I had never been there before. There is a lot of tidal movement around the island so I had to take this in to consideration when deciding what time to depart.
Early in the morning whilst I finished my pilotage for Sanda Island down below, the others went up on deck and practiced some blind navigation, sailing of a pontoon and finding a spot depth. As we departed Campbeltown we had a good combination of sun, wind and tide all the way to Sanda Island. I had to keep a close eye on the time as we only had a short window to arrive at a favourable state of tide. We arrived at 13.30 as predicted and dropped the anchor in a gorgeous little bay. It was very scenic and sunny and we considered going for a swim, however the cold Scottish breeze convinced us otherwise! We agreed we would have some rest and complete a night sail to Loch Ranza. We worked together on a passage plan and took advantage of the tides by leaving just before dark. As we headed up the Kilbrannan Sound we decided to increase our night passage to 40 miles and go all the way to Tarbert as we had a maintenance issue that could be fixed easier in a harbour than on a mooring buoy in Loch Ranza. By the time we got to Carradale I found myself alone on deck enjoying the peace and quiet as the crew went down below to rest and warm up. I helmed the yacht all the way to Tarbert. I found it both exhilarating and calming sailing in the dark, I loved it. We arrived in Tarbert just after 1am and went straight to bed.
We stayed in bed slightly longer this morning due to our late arrival the night before but we were greeted by a howling wind. We decided to do a shorter journey to Port Bannantyne due to the adverse weather so we did all the chart work before heading out to the wind and rain. We departed Tarbert and put up our storm jib, luckily the wind decreased so we changed back to the Genoa. We beat to windward for hours with the wind and rain hitting us in the face before reaching calm water as we entered the West Kyle of Bute. We sailed through the Burnt Islands and down the East Kyle and arrived in Port Bannatyne just before dark. We had dinner and decided we would head to Helensburgh the next day to do manoeuvring and berthing practice. We went to bed but it was hard to sleep with the wind howling and the rain battering down on the boat despite a tiring day facing it!
We woke up to force 7 winds and white horses all around. The waves were crashing over the marina wall. None of us were very enthusiastic about heading out to sea so we had nice warm showers and bacon rolls and were very happy when skipper Stuart decided we should do theory inside for the morning! We learned about diesel engines and how to check them and we looked at different weather forecasts and how to predict the weather ourselves. By lunch the wind had decreased to a force 6 so we set sail in to the big waves. Our plan was to go to Kip Marina so I did a quick pilotage plan. However once underway we decided, by way of a group vote, due to the wind strength and direction we would go back to Largs. It was very windy and wavy and the sailing was really exciting despite it’s challenges! Once there we practiced Man Overboard under power and sail and berthing in the marina. Both of which were quite challenging in the wind but it was really good to know that we could achieve it in those conditions. We berthed up for the night just before dark and whilst we waited for dinner to cook we had a chat about cold water shock and helicopter rescues.
We woke up to force 8 winds whistling through the marina. We had breakfast then went for a walk to the marina wall to check the sea state. There were white horses and you could actually see the gusts of wind blowing across the water. We discussed the conditions and what we wanted to achieve and decided to head out and practice picking up mooring buoys under sail. Once out it wasn’t as bad as it seemed and we really enjoyed practicing the skills in such challenging conditions. We stopped for lunch, had individual debriefs whilst we cleaned the yacht and were over the moon to find out we had all passed!
Skipper Stuart and the rest of the crew were very skilled sailors and I had an amazing week on the yacht with them despite the challenging weather!
If, like Katrina and crew, you are keen to complete your Coastal Skipper course then you can check out our course dates on the website at nationalcentrecumbrae.org.uk/courses