First aid courses and diesel engine maintenance take our minds off sailing for a few days.

Day 13

Time to play ER. Our first aid course. Generally a reminder session for the majority of the class as most people in the group had covered the basics at some point in the last ten years. The height of excitement was the CPR exercise on Annie. I was ‘volunteered’ by the boys to bring her back to life first. The exercise then got more interesting as we crawled beneath tables to simulate CPR in cramped boating conditions. Darren was undoubtedly the expert in the group, having working in a mountain rescue team, and was a fountain of information regarding hypothermia, fractures and anything gory to do with blood.

Theory was interspersed with video clips which served as an entertaining break and often a talking point. Medical stories were swapped and Monica (our instructor) had more than enough yachting incidents involving amputations, crushings by winch, rope bites and boom-assisted-concussions to put us all off sailing for life!

(Great to know that girls aren’t the only screamish ones.)

Day 14

The day all of the girls were dreading – Diesel Engine Maintenance! The usual jolly jaunt across the chain ferry to East Cowes was marred with negativity: ‘I can’t believe we’ve got a whole day of this!’ (Fay) and ‘I can’t think of anything so dull’ (Sam). Andy and Alex (our instructors) were well prepared for the glum faces in the classroom and took it in their stride. Thankfully the day course was only a basic introduction to the working of a diesel engine, an explanation of the various systems and a simple guide to what to do if something goes wrong. The best bit was donning the latex gloves and actually (not) getting our hands dirty on a bunch of old engines. We were literally let loose on the engines and free to pull them apart as we saw fit. Needless to say pretty soon all possible nuts and bolts were removed. I had fun removing the fuel and oil filters and fiddling with the raw water pump impeller.

After lunch we headed to the marina to take a look inside a working engine and see the mechanism in action. Unfortunately as Andy was in mid flow explaning the workings of the heat exchanger, rain stopped play and we ran back inside for cover. The day was rounded off with a RYA video and a question and answer session.

I can honestly say that I found the course interesting and was glad that we had a chance to mess with the engines, but I’m not sure whether I’d want to delve further into the diesel engine world. I’m planning on employing a full time mechanic to work on my future boat!