Sailing Schools: Teach how to Sail to Millennial Students

Posted by Director of Education on June 9, 2013 under About NauticEd, Videos and photos | Comments are off for this article

Teaching Sailing to Millennials


Imagine this, your 25 year old neighbor leans over the fence and announces his excitement about a new business he is getting ready to launch. He’s done his research and there are no other business like this – “it’s a real opening in the market” he says. He’s now got your attention. He explains that he’s going to open a petrol station garage and he’s going to have full time mechanics on duty and service people to fill up the car, check oil and wash the window screen . “It’ll be just about the car” he says. “No candy bars, cokes, bread, milk, newspapers – and of course we’ll be able to charge a little more for the petrol too because of the service.”

“Hmmmm – time to get some older neighbors” you think.

That business model worked in the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s and I think I’ve seen the remnants of a few in the past ten years but they’ve all been replaced by apartment buildings or restaurants – here’s one of the last where I met the owner about 5 years ago right before he went out of business. It’s now a burger joint.

America's Last Full Service Gas Station - now a burger joint

Ok on to the point of this post.

We live in a world where Millennials are making up more and more of our customers. eLearning is everywhere and now expected. Critical function industries like Airline pilots, Doctors and Nurses do eLearning. Almost every large company HR function incorporates eLearning in the corporate environment. People are not only used to eLearning systems, they expect it. The digital phase has touched almost everything in our lives and I can’t think of a single instance whereby once I’ve gone digital, I’ve gone back. In New Zealand, where I grew up on a sheep farm, they now use digital tracking of each individual sheep to monitor the multiple birth rates of lambs per sheep. This has allowed farmers to increase birth yields by 30%. They use tractors equipped with GPS units to perfectly plant a field to maximum capacity. My father who sold his farm in 1980, would literally be having a cow right now grasping how technology could help him increase the output from our 400 acres where we made a meager but wholesome living growing up. If he could have added 30% income to the farm, we would have had a wealthy and wholesome lifestyle.

A little closer to home, PADI the world’s most respected Dive training company, uses eLearning modules  to teach Diving and has managed to increase the size of the dive industry by reaching the busy millennial in their armchairs in their own home – get them interested in diving – and get them out of the armchair into the practical dive training schools.

Like PADI, NauticEd has created a digital eLearning means of learning the theory of sailing and wrapped theory and practical in a digital sailing certification that is now accepted by yacht charter companies worldwide as the best window into a student’s sailing knowledge and experience.

So if you operate a sailing school, this is where you come in. NauticEd eLearning and digital sailing certification has the ability to simplify your entire process, reduce your admin time and cost and allow you to do what you do best – which is to get the wind in the face of your students. And we do it in a manner whereby your students are happy. Gone are the days of inventorying, mailing stocking and buying books. Gone are the days of proctoring and grading paper tests and mailing the results, signing logbooks? – Gone with gas station mechanics. We’re not trying to dis the certification companies still out there using this old model there is probably still a need for them some where some how – what we’re saying however is that if you’re the “new style farmer” and want to figure out how to increase yields by 30% +, then simply take a look at what innovation we’re bringing to the sailing industry. We are increasing the market size via already existing people who right now just can’t deal with the age old process of books and paper tests. You know the ones – the ones who keep saying I don’t have time this month. You’re just not going to be able to reach without a millennial type thought process and ability.

If we’ve peaked your interest, view our previous blog post on sailing schools using NauticEd which covers all the advantages.

So what does it take to change over to becoming a NauticEd affiliated Practical Sailing School? We’ll, first off the incumbent establishment is not going to like it. Certain certification companies in the US have been engaging in trade practices that are illegal. Requiring contracts that demand exclusivity. This is so against the foundation of first world innovation – however we’re kinda happy about it in a weird sense because like the laggards and holdouts of the gas station mechanic model we’ve been given the opportunity to have a 5 year jump start on developing our digital sailing certification. Think Kodak, they’re not ever going to make a comeback – shame on the CEO.

So when you switch over – if you’re in the US you’ll get one phone call from a person we all know. BTW Please document that phone call and any emails to that sense as well.

After that it’s smooth sailing – you just sign up as a sailing school with NauticEd online then once we approve your school, you just place a special link to NauticEd. There is no cost in fact we pay your a commission on sales and some checks out to schools lately have been pretty big. Once on our site linked from you, your students will see your brand all over our site. You can sign them up  for practical lessons and they’ll be issued a NauticEd digital Sailing Certificate with your brand as the training school on their certificate. We don’t, can’t and won’t require exclusivity, but we think you’ll find as with others that once you start seeing the reactions from students about what they are getting, you’ll be presenting NauticEd to every student that walks or calls in.

Finally, here’s a slight apology for being somewhat controversial and forward in the discussion of old vs new ways – however in reality –  as in the Movie, Hunt for Red October, “Captain – it is time”. There is no room for a self serving company force holding your business hostage and the entire  industry to stay in the 1800’s just because they don’t have the innovation or funds to provide a  service to your customers.

Increase your company profits and Sign up your sailing school with NauticEd NOW


Heaving To in a Sailboat is a Practiced Skill

Posted by Director of Education on August 8, 2011 under Bareboat Charter, Coastal Navigation, Crew, Rules of Right of Way, Skipper | Comments are off for this article

How to Heave To
The books simply say to tack the boat and leave the head sail cleated to windward and turn the wheel all the way to windward (tiller to lee). While that’s correct, there are a lot more things to think about to pull it off correctly. This article is part of the training in the Skipper Sailing Course and is written by Grant Headifen, the Educational Director.

There are a few reasons you might want to heave to.

  1. Lunch, simply taking a rest, or instructor debriefing
  2. Storm Tactics and Reefing
  3. Man over board recovery
  4. Boarding by another vessel (ie, crew change during a race, or law enforcement safety inspection)

A Cool Trick about Heaving to!

The first thing to think about is (if you can) lie in a heave-to position so that your boom is on the port side. Why? So that you’re technically sailing “on starboard tack”, putting you in a more advantageous stand-on position with regard to the Navigation Rules vis-a-vis other sailboats “on port” tack. Wouldn’t want to disturb our lunch now would we? It’s not a big deal but just something most people may not have thought about.

What is Heaving To?

When you are successfully hove-to, your sailboat will be in a stable situation with the mainsail and headsail still up. Your forward speed will be minimal and you’ll be sliding downwind slightly. This makes it an ideal strategy for the situations above. Essentially you’re under full sail but nearly stopped! Cool eh?

How Heaving to works

The mechanics of the heave-to situation is that the forward speed of the boat has dropped to a minimum because the head sail is back winded (aback) and the main sail has been eased out far enough to reduce nearly all of the forward driving lift on the sail. The backwinded head sail creates a large turning moment on the boat to turn it downwind. As the boat turns downwind however the boat tends to pick up a little speed. As the boat picks up a little speed, the windward locked wheel causes the rudder to turn the boat back upwind, killing off the speed. It creates a little see-saw action. You can adjust the see-saw action by adjusting the set of the headsail, the mainsail, and the rudder angle. Each boat will see-saw a little differently in differing wind conditions and due to the distances of the rudder and the headsail center of pressure positions around the hydrodynamic pivot point of the vessel. Once the boat is settled, by making small adjustments to the angle of the rudder, the amount the mainsail is eased, and by the “depth” or flatness of the headsail, a skilled operator can make very useful adjustments to the exact way in which the boat is lying to the wind and seas. Practice practice practice! When that storm comes, you’ll be glad.

How to Heave To

Once you’ve got it down, you’ll enjoy having this little skill under your belt but you’ve got to practice it a few times. To enter into a hove-to position, if practical, start out on a on a port tack with the headsail sheeted in tight. Tack the boat slowly onto a starboard tack (bleeding off some speed while head-to-wind) but leave the headsail cleated (ie don’t tack the headsail).  Turn the boat so that you’re on a close reach (60 degrees off the wind) and let out the mainsail most of the way out so that it is luffing. Now wait until the rest of the boat’s headway speed bleeds off. That’s the key part. If you turn the rudder to windward (the wheel to windward or the tiller to leeward) before the speed bleeds off, the momentum of the boat may carry it through another tack. Once the speed has bled off, turn the rudder all the way to windward (wheel to windward or tiller to leeward) and lock it in that position (lashing the tiller).

Heaving to in a Storm

It’s really important to realize that this is a completely wise thing to do in a storm. With a huge caveat, make sure you have plenty of sea-room distance to leeward on the track of your hove-to reckoning, avoiding shoals, or the other hard stuff (like land!). Heaving-to in a storm gives you and your crew a rest from the elements. And it can be a safer means of riding out a storm rather than trying to sail it out.  The boat is in a completely stable position. You should probably lower or deeply reef the main or raise a storm trisail (very small mainsail) as well as a small headsail to reduce loads on the rig. Here’s the kicker that is really cool – since the boat will be slipping sideways, a wake is left to windward. Any breaking waves hit this “slick” and flatten out, thus reducing the wave action on your vessel. Now that’s really cool.

Heaving To in a Sailboat in a Storm

Heaving To in a Sailboat in a Storm

A Heave To Must

When you’re settled down into the heave to position and every thing is balanced, use a preventer line to “prevent” the boom. This will prevent the boom from slapping around wildly with sudden variable gusts, save wear on the rig, prevent an accidental gybe or worse yet a bonk on the head if you need to go forward.

Using Heaving to in a Man Overboard Situation

Heaving to can be a very effective crew over-board recovery technique. The very moment the victim goes over the side you can crash tack the boat and go into a heave-to position. You must be sure that the victim is able to swim, that they did not sustain injury whist falling. It’s your call on this one but it’s a technique not often taught and so isn’t considered in the panic but, it will keep you from getting too far away from your friend in the water which is clearly the biggest danger. Me? I’d still get the engines on. On that topic, the biggest danger they say from turning on the engines is not chopping your friend up, you’re smart enough not to do that, it’s from getting a line wrapped around the prop in all the panic. So just make that’s part of your “engines-on” routine in crew over-board practice. Next time you’re out practice man (or woman) over board.

There you have it, you’re now a heave to expert. NOT! You haven’t practiced it enough yet! And while you’re out there practicing it, have fun. Or should it be the other way around???

Learning to sail is easy with NauticEd Qualified Crew Member Course !


Qualified Crew Member Course

What is Propwalk?

Posted by Director of Education on July 8, 2011 under Bareboat Charter, Crew, Maneuvering Under Power, Skipper | Be the First to Comment

The information contained in this explanation of what is propeller walk comes directly from the NauticEd Maneuvering and docking a sailboat under power sailing course which forms part of the requirement for the NauticEd Sailing Certification rank of Skipper.

You’ve learned to sail, sailed for a few years, and now you’ve upgraded to a bigger boat with an inboard engine. How frustrating! You want your new sailboat to go backwards but you keep going sideways. Welcome to propwalk. GRRRRR. This is not something that you probably got taught at your local sailing school because you learned on a smaller boat with maybe an outboard. Now you’ve got a much bigger and heavier boat and there are more expensive mistakes that can be made. Propwalk can be frustrating or you can understand it and use it to your advantage.

Let’s Understand Propwalk.

Imagine you’re walking up a spiral staircase. Each step is the same height and requires the same amount of energy to go up the next step.

Spiral stair case

Spiral stair case

Now imagine if the spiral stair case was tilted over 20 degrees. You’d find that as you went around the stairs they would be steeper on one side and flatter on the other. Or the stepper side cuts through more vertical space than the flatter side.

Stair case tilted

Stair case tilted

As we look at a propeller and the water flowing through it, the arc that the tips of the propeller follow relative to the moving water pushed by the propeller is a spiral shape, much like a spiral staircase.

Propeller Spiral

Propeller Spiral

Or another way to see it, is to observe the sweep of each blade as it passes through the water.

Propeller moving water through the water

Propeller moving water through the water

Now if we tilt the shaft of the propeller down, the spiral also tilts down.

Tilted Propeller Shaft

Tilted Propeller Shaft

But we have to put put a few prefaces on this. There must be no boat hull above to affect the initial flow of water, the water must be deep and the propeller can not be moving horizontally through the water – that’s a lot of prefaces and not reality. But here is what that would look like anyway.

Propeller tilted down and moving forward

Propeller tilted down and moving forward

Now let’s put the propeller in close proximity to the hull of the boat where the water tends to move horizontally. This is represented here by the imaginary sweep lines. Here then you can see that the up swinging reversing blade (green -starboard) cuts more of the flowing water similar to the tilting staircase example above.

Propeller tilted with water moving horizontal

Propeller tilted with water moving horizontal

In much the same way as the tilting staircase, the down sweeping blade cuts through less flowing water than the upsweeping blade. This creates more force on the up swinging side of the propeller than the down swinging side and thus a torque is produced on the prop shaft.

This results in the following forces and thus a resultant clockwise torque on the boat.

Resultant torque on propeller

Resultant torque on propeller

In a similar fashion, imagine yourself treading water in a swimming pool and your right arm swings in big circles while your left swings in smaller circles. Your body would move backwards but the action would also turn your face to the right and consequently your back to the left. The boat turns in exactly the same way.

In forward gear, the exact same phenomenon occurs, just in the opposite direction. However, we notice it much less because the water from the propeller is being pushed over the rudder which creates far greater forces and thus counteracts any tilt induced torque.

So in summary, a boat which has a counter rotating shaft, when in reverse, yaws clockwise (stern to the left) because the shaft is tilting downwards. Factors to reduce the effect include having a smaller diameter propeller or reducing the pitch (twist) of the blade or lengthening the shaft so that the water flow is further from the boat which would tend to allow the water flow to be more in line with the shaft. The effect is also reduced by a slower turning propeller IE less engine RPM.

An alternative way of mounting the propeller is called a saildrive and these are widely accepted in Europe. Saildrive systems have a horizontally mounted propeller shaft and therefore they do not create prop walk.

A sail drive unit does experience prop walk

A sail drive unit does not experience prop walk

But there is no need to run out and go to the expense of converting your boat to a saildrive unit if you are experiencing frustration with prop walk. Because now that you understand the theory of propwalk, (more than 90% of sailors) all you have to do is practice the exercises in the NauticEd Maneuvering under power course a few times and you’ll have it licked.

So there you have it – now you’re 1 in a thousand sailors who understand how propwalk originates.

The boating rules and NauticEd’s Maneuvering and docking a sailboat under Power sailing course shows students how to take advantage of propwalk. Just imagine you’re trapped in an EXTREMELY tight marina. Exercise number 8 wil show you how to get out. Turn the boat one way and you’re in trouble, turn it the other way and use a combination of wheel and throttle and you’re out of there with out a scratch.

Maneuvering and Docking a Sailboat Under Power Sailing Course

Maneuvering and Docking a Sailboat Under Power Sailing Course

Take Maneuvering and docking a sailboat under Power course from one of the best sailing schools online – NauticEd.


Press Release: Social Proof for Sailing School Instructors

Posted by Director of Education on June 27, 2011 under About NauticEd | Be the First to Comment

On-line product reviews are in demand these days by consumers prior to making a purchase. A recent Nielsen report stated that forty-nine percent of online shoppers said they trusted consumer opinions posted online.

Investing your time, money and well-being in a professional sailing school instructor is serious business. So wouldn’t it be great to know what other students thought about the sailing instructor you’re about to choose?

Now NauticEd Sailing School has stepped up to be the first to provide on-line reviews of sailing school instructors.

Sailing School Instructor feedback form

Sailing School Instructor feedback form

How On-Line Sailing Instructor Reviews Work

When a NauticEd student takes practical training from one of it’s hands-on sailing schools, the student now has the opportunity to rate their learning experience with the instructor. When the student logs back in to NauticEd after their hands-on learning experience, a popup window appears. Sailing Instructors are rated on: Teaching Ability, Depth of Knowledge, Friendliness, Condition of the Vessel and their Professionalism. If the review is negative, the instructor has the opportunity to contact the student and resolve any issue. The student can then edit their review.

To view other student reviews of instructors, the browser clicks on the Sailing Schools link on the NauticEd website and then selects the sailing school in the Country, State or Province of their choice. There, each affiliated sailing school has a webpage where there is a listing of all the instructors associated with that sailing school. Each profile of the instructor shows a friendly photo, their contact information, their instructor credentials, their specialty and all of the past reviews by other students.

Instructors: Download the Instructors PDF here

The NauticEd Digital Sailing Certification

Each NauticEd student’s Sailing Certification is held digitally online. It displays all the online theory courses passed by the student as well as practical experience and practical school training. When a student completes their practical proficiency exam on the water, the sailing school instructor logs in, securely locates their student and then clicks on the “Proficient” button. This updates the student’s Sailing Certification instantly and also posts against the student’s sailing resume. Both can be reviewed by charter companies worldwide on-line, given a secret logbook code from the student.

Grant Headifen, Director of Education for NauticEd says that their professional Sailing Schools are serious about quality but for them it’s hard to be recognized and stand out for providing such quality. Now, potential sailing school students doing their online shopping research will more than likely choose a school with this form of social proof giving NauticEd Sailing Schools the competitive edge.

Check our sailing instructors.


Yacht Club Intelligence: NauticEd Sailing School Press Release

Posted by Director of Education on May 15, 2011 under Bareboat Charter, Celestial Navigation, Coastal Navigation, Crew, Maneuvering Under Power, Rules of Right of Way, Skipper, Storm Tactics, weather | Be the First to Comment

Imagine if you could just hang out at the yacht club every day – how much you’d learn from everyone. That’d be cool. Well … now you can!

It’s a very cool piece of technology we just installed on the NauticEd site. It’s called DisQus and the concept is based on crowd intelligence. It shows how the power of the Internet can beat out a boring ol’ book. Thousands of websites have already introduced it and it’s ideally suited for you and NauticEd.

On every page through out all of the NauticEd sailing courses you can now discuss (Disqus) the topic at hand and read what others are saying about the topic.  For example, lets say you know a few things about how to dock a boat using spring lines but are a bit confused about backing into a slip. Right in the course you can add your springing off knowledge and ask all other students their opinions on reversing. When any one comments and adds to those comments you’ll be sent an email (if you want). You can add pictures and diagrams if you want. Our part is to use the crowd intelligence to improve our sailing course material for everyone.

You can even invite facebook friends to join in on the conversation and help out.

Crowd-Intelligence with NauticEd Sailing School

Crowd-Intelligence with DisQus and NauticEd Sailing School

How cool is this? Now you’re tapping into the knowledge of thousands of other NauticEd students – wow that’s a big yacht club with a lot of combined experience. You’re not on your own any more. It’s not just us and our authors pontificating about sailing – it’s a real open discussion and conversation in real time.

But like any party or social – you can’t just stuff your mouth with cake and listen – you’ve got to add your two cents. And you can’t be rude because people are watching and the bouncers will bounce you out. So come on join in – ask questions and post your knowledge.

To kick off, I’ve gone in and asked a few questions and posted a few comments in each course topic. I invite you to join me and start new conversations. Like who gives way – the paddle board or the sailboat? Do you know the answer?

Login and give us your opinion to the Rules of the Nautical Road topic embedded in our Rules course.

And to celebrate the launch of crowd intelligence via DisQus, we’ll award a free sailing course of choice to a student randomly picked from everyone who participates in the conversations over the next week (through May 25th) . Hint, the more you talk the more we’ll notice.

We’ll see you on NauticEd.



Learning to Sail with an Electronic Wind Meter

Posted by Grant Headifen on February 16, 2011 under Bareboat Charter, Coastal Navigation, Crew, Skipper | Be the First to Comment

Even if you don’t have one on your sailboat charter – one day you’ll be helming someone else’s boat with an Electronic Wind Meter and you certainly want the owner to be confident at what you are doing. There’s a couple of secrets so read on.

He’s what happened – I took out two guys who were experts at racing at their local yacht club. The trouble for them was they both kept on having to look around the bimini on our 373 Beneteau to get a peak at the wind vane at the top of the mast. I tried to tell them to use the electronic wind meter 18 inches from their face but they’d have nothing of it. It wasn’t pure enough. Then day turned to evening and evening to night. IE no wind vane watching at night … and they now had sore necks.

Wind meters are cool, and given the right calibration they’re pretty accurate. The resolution is greater than eyeballing the wind vane and thus you can be more consistent with your angle to the wind. I’m necessarily saying they are better than wind vanes but I’m definitely saying that being both vane and meter skilled adds to your sailing abilities.

Here’s a typical Wind Meter – it shows that the wind is 42 degrees to starboard. You’ll see a red dot at the bottom. Next to the red dot are the words TRUE and APP (apparent). The dot represents which wind direction the meter is measuring. In this case Apparent. For a discussion on True vs Apparent Wind see the NauticEd Skipper Course. The green and red don’t mean any thing other than green is the starboard side of the boat and red is port.

Typical Wind Meter

Typical Wind Meter

LEARNING TO SAIL WITH AN ELECTRONIC WIND METER – SECRET NUMBER (1): This goes to working with wind vanes as well. When making heading adjustments, keep your head out of the boat. This means DON”T watch the meter or vane as you turn the boat. You’re guaranteed to over shoot your desired new heading. Also it’s dangerous traffic wise. Watching the meter or vane means you’re not looking out for traffic during a turn. IE When driving a car and turning at an intersection you never would look at the speedometer. It’s too dangerous and besides what’s the point, you can best judge a safe speed in the intersection turn by the rate things are going past your car. Same same – watch things outside the boat when you turn.

Imagine this – make a 90 degree turn in your car using a compass and stay exactly in the center of the lanes. Well maybe Al Pacino (acting as a blind guy) in the oscar winning movie Scent of a Woman could do it but me? Never in 100,000 trys. Again – same same why would anyone make a 10 degree adjustment to their heading looking at the wind vane or wind meter. You can’t stay in the center of the lane (new desired heading).

I’ll provide an example scenario: Assume you’re sailing along on 40 degrees apparent (your wind meter and vane point 40 degrees off from the front of the boat). You notice the wind direction changes to give you a 10 degree lift (a lift means the wind direction has changed so that the wind meter or vane points more towards the aft than before – in this case now 50 degrees). You want to turn upwind to bring the wind back to 40 degrees. Here’s how to make the turn: Pick out something on the horizon dead ahead then pick out something 10 degrees upwind from that point. Turn the boat to the point with out looking at the wind meter or vane. Once you are now sailing at the new point, check how you’re doing against that 40 degrees and make another adjustment in the same manner.

This was so basic it’s not too much of a secret, but you’d be surprised … one time teaching in my sailing school I actually had to cover up the wind meter as I could not get my student to stop watching the meter and to watch the horizon instead. As soon as she started watching the horizon her whole sailing world changed. She could hold a course, tack, gybe make adjustments with out over shooting – everything. Her whole problem was that one little point.

Here’s another scenario  similar to a wind meter/vane turning problem – your navigator says to come onto a new heading of 160 degrees. Don’t watch the compass during the turn. First determine how many degrees the turn is, pick out a point on land or even a cloud to turn to.  Make your turn watching out side the boat – then check your heading.

LEARNING TO SAIL WITH AN ELECTRONIC WIND METER – SECRET NUMBER (2): Don’t teach new people at the helm anything about the wind meter or the wind vanes. It’s too confusing – First, just have them focus on sterring to points on the horizon and making turns to new points on the horizon that you pick out for them.

LEARNING TO SAIL WITH AN ELECTRONIC WIND METER – SECRET NUMBER (3): Don’t stare at the wind meter and try to figure out which way you should turn the helm to make the meter move in any one particular direction. That’s too hard because it’s backwards from what you’d think and guaranteed you’ll get it wrong when some one embarassing is watching. And as above, make sure when you’re explaining the wind meter to a new helmsperson that you disallow them from similarly using it to figure out which direction to turn.

Instead, the wind meter should be used to determine how many degrees off the desirable wind angle you are and if the turn should be towards the wind or away from the wind. That’s all. Example – lets say we want to be flying 30 degrees APP off the wind. Using the wind meter above, we’re 12 degrees away from 30 and we are heading too far down wind. So lets pick out a point on land or a cloud that is 12 degrees upwind (the what? Port or Starboard) from our current heading.

The NauticEd Skipper Course is chocked full of tips like this one.  Get started today and register for the NauticEd Skipper Sailing Course

Have you played with our FREE Sailing simulator, NED? We use interactive tools like this to quickly and effectively teach sailing skills.

NED the Sailing Instructor

NED the Sailing Instructor

Sailing Around the world in… I don’t know … days

Posted by Grant Headifen on February 2, 2011 under About NauticEd, Bareboat Charter, Crew, Skipper, Storm Tactics, weather | Be the First to Comment

Last weekend we met up with our friends Chris and Christine Ellsay in Nelson New Zealand. Chris and Chris, with their three kids aged 10, 8 and 6 are sailing around the world and it was refreshing to hear them say – “I don’t know how long we’ll take”. They’re 3 years into it and have made it from the great lakes in Eastern Canada to New Zealand so far. The route has been via the Caribbean, Venezuela, Columbia, Panama, Galapagos Islands, Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia, Tonga and now Kiwiland. (We missed them by a week when we were in Tonga with the NauticEd Graduation Trip in September last year.)

Holding out in New Zealand for the summer while the tropical cyclones pass overhead in the pacific islands, they say they’re returning to the Pacific, starting with Fiji in Late April 2011. Then they’ll decide if to hang another year in the pacific or head off to the top of Ausy through the Indian ocean in 2011 or 2012.

I interviewed Chris and Chris (and the kids) on their experience with a catamaran rather than a monohull for sailing around the world. Their opinion after 10,000 miles is that they would not have done it any other way. The comfort and space was the resounding feedback.

Here’s a short video introducing Stray Kitty a World Cruising Life Style, and Abel Tasman National Park In New Zealand.


Here’s a few pics of Stray Kitty, their 42 foot PDQ Antares 2002 Catamaran.

Stray Kitty in the Nelson Marina

Stray Kitty in the Nelson Marina

The foredeck at anchor is a great place for a few gins after a hard day sail.

Foredeck of Stray Kitty 42 ft Catamaran

Foredeck of Stray Kitty 42 ft Catamaran

The Kids are being home schooled by Christine and by the sounds of it – they were way ahead of where they should be – good job Christine!

Kids sailing around the world - pretty cool kids

Kids sailing around the world - pretty cool kids

These three kids (my one is the 2 1/2 year old 2nd to right ) are pretty amazing – they fear nothing, do their school work, do as they are told, release the lines on command, know which electrical switches to flick on at the right time – in fact I think they’d make it back to land if mum and dad fell overboard. They’re pretty cool kids and are a delight to spend time with.

Plenty of room inside the catamaran for school work

Plenty of room inside the catamaran for school work

The Catamaran has heaps of room inside and it’s easy for the kids to do their school work underway because the boat stays flat when sailing.

Stray Kitty is sailing the traditional route around the world following the trade winds. Chris reported that much of their sailing has been downwind and so here he is showing me his much used bowsprit for flying their Gennaker. Oh and by the way – notice the incredible bay that we stayed overnight in – in the back ground in Abel Tasman National Park at the top of the South Island.

The Catamaran Bowsprit

The Catamaran Bowsprit

There is plenty of safety gear on board and Chris and Chris are doing it right. Notice all the the MOB gear at the stern of the boat ready to be instantly deployed should anyone go overboard.

The boat has on-board a generator, two alternators and solar panels for powering all the electrical requirements of the boat. The total solar production capability is about 500 watts. Chris says for every thing to maintain with out the use of the generator or alternators – he’d like to have about 1000 watts of solar capacity so they do have to kick on the generator every now and then.

Solar Panels on the hardtop of Stray Kitty

Solar Panels on the hardtop of Stray Kitty

Chris also discussed with me his Internet connections via SSB and his weather information gathering capability. Here he has downloaded a GRIB which is a map forecast of the sailing area we were in. The expected forecast was for 35 knots and they got it right. Out sailing we saw it peak to 36 knots on the wind meter. Made for some fun sailing.

Downloading the Weather GRIB

Downloading the Weather GRIB

And the kids loved the bumpy ride that day as you can see here.

High waves making the trampoline a fun place to be

High waves making the trampoline a fun place to be

And here’s us busting through the 1-2 meter swell.

Crashing through the waves sailing the catamaran

Crashing through the waves sailing the catamaran

Over the 4 days we spent with these true ocean sailors, we had a blast (beyond the 36 knotter). We scored some amazing shots of the Able Tasman National park in New Zealand which will be on the next blog. Stray Kitty will be making the passage up to Auckland via the east coast in a few days but first they’ll have to wait for right weather conditions to cross one of the world’s renown rough water ways, the Cook Straight which lies between the North and South Islands. High winds and current can make this one a bit tricky.

We’re pretty jealous of Stray Kitty. One of Chris’ sayings over the weekend was the “we regret in life more things that we don’t do than what we actually do” and this was one of the big reasons they sold their business and set out across the oceans and wow they had some good stories to match.

If you’re thinking about sailing around the world then we’d certainly recommend our more serious NauticEd sailing school sailing lessons associated with the Captain’s Rank, those are Safety at Sea, Storm Tactics, Weather, Sail Trim as well as – if you think a Catamaran might be the way to go – take the Catamaran Sailing Confidence Clinic.

It was great to see this family making fun light work of sailing around the world. It’s certainly got  me thinking – any one else?

Torrent Bay - Abel Tasman National Park New Zealand

Torrent Bay - Abel Tasman National Park New Zealand

Your Sailing Certificate Progress

Posted by Grant Headifen on January 24, 2011 under About NauticEd, Bareboat Charter, Skipper | Be the First to Comment

You’ll notice a new NauticEd sailing school widget  next time you login to NauticEd. It’s a quick snapshot of your Sailing Certificate Progress through the ranks and levels.

Sailing Certificate Progress

Sailing Certificate Progress

The widget views your completed NauticEd theory experience and your practical experience logged in your NauticEd online logbook. It runs an algorithm against that data and presents a graphical representation of how close you are to reaching each rank and level.

In the example above, the student has completed the Skipper requirements, is 76% of the way towards Bareboat Charter Master and 48% of the way towards Captain. The slider bar is weighed according to course effort and practical experience logged.

When you click on the [more] button you are lead to a page which shows in more detail what your requirements would be to achieve 100% in the next Ranks above.

You’ll notice that NauticEd does place significant weight on practical experience. We absolutely believe that after taking classes you can’t expect to step on a boat and know everything. And we also believe that students must have a grounding in theory. Rules of the Nautical Road, navigation, turbulence theory vs laminar flow theory, knowledge of what to do in an emergency etc etc are all theory based elements in learning to sail. I guess we might compare this to an electrician. I would assume that most people would want their electrician to have studied the theory as well as spent many hours as an understudy working in the field in a practical manner before he comes to rewire a house. In fact this is why State governments require such theory and practical experience combo licenses.

It’s an interesting debate as to weather state governments should require boating licences. But I digress…

Anyway, next time you’re logged into NauticEd take a look at your Sailing Certificate Progress widget.

For more info on how to navigate and reach each Rank with the NauticEd Sailing School – Sailing Certificate go to our website.

Press Release – New Safety at Sea Online Sailing Course

Posted by Grant Headifen on November 24, 2010 under About NauticEd, Skipper | Comments are off for this article

Today, NauticEd Sailing School announced the posting of its online Safety at Sea Clinic. Written by Captain Ed Mapes who has logged close to 100,000 miles on the ocean, the Safety at Sea clinic focuses on safety and rigging issues that sailors will experience at sea.

Safety at Sea Online Sailing Course

Safety at Sea Online Sailing Course

In the introduction to the sailing course, Captain Mapes challenges the average sailor “What would I do if the rudder broke? How would I cope if a shroud terminal cracked? Could I get the crew safely into the liferaft if the boat went down? Asking these questions in advance is a great way to make ready for sea. We might not pre-fabricate replacements for everything that could break, but the exercise provides us the chance to have materials and tools ready to build a rudder, for example. We could have a plan in mind to substitute for a shroud and keep the rig standing. We would know what goes wrong with a wind vane, what to look for, and how to return it to use”.

The sailing course is focused towards advanced sailors who intend on sailing further than 20 miles offshore. Topics listed on the NauticEd Safety at Sea course description page are:

  • Communications
  • Rigging Failures
  • Steering Failures
  • Safety Gear
  • Sail Repair
  • Engine Issues,
  • Fire
  • Flooding
  • Man Over Board
  • Abandon Ship Procedures
  • Medical Issues
  • Helicopter Evacuation

Safety at Sea marks NauticEd’s 12th online course to be made available to NauticEd Students. It is also a required course to complete the Rank of NauticEd Captain. The investment cost in the education and test is listed at an introductory price of $39. The student is expected to take approximately 12 hours to complete the sailing course.

To learn more about the NauticEd Sailing Courses and Sailing Certification and Sailing Terms sign up with NauticEd.


Press Release – NauticEd Releases Captain’s Rank

Posted by Grant Headifen on under About NauticEd, Bareboat Charter, Crew, Maneuvering Under Power, Rules of Right of Way, Skipper, Storm Tactics, weather | Comments are off for this article

Today, NauticEd Online Sailing School announced its release of the NauticEd Captain’s Rank. This coincides with the posting of the NauticEd Safety at Sea Clinic which is the final required course to attain the Sailing Certification Rank. The NauticEd Captain’s Rank focuses entirely on sailboat operations both near shore and offshore and is directed specifically towards the recreational sailboater.

Until now, many recreational sailboaters have been gaining a commercial boating license to attain the educational equivalence of Captain but with out the intention of operating commercially. Now with NauticEd, students can gain a Captain’s Sailing Certification with out jumping through the significant hoops associated with a commercial operator’s license.

This is very exciting for the sailing industry says Grant Headifen, Educational Director for NauticEd. ‘It means that we can have more educated boaters on the water and the investment cost in the education is well within reach of every sailboater. We’ve lowered the barriers and made the experience fun and interactive with multimedia learning. Now, if anyone wants to learn to sail, gain a sailing certification or just increase their sailing education, doing it online makes it more accessible and thus more likely to be done”. The Educational investment in the Captain’s Rank is less than $US300.

Headifen estimates it will take the average student 60 hours of study over time to complete the theory courses and online tests associated with the NauticEd Captain’s Rank. The NauticEd online Courses required to gain the rank cover a wide breadth of topics listed as follows:

  • Skipper
  • Maneuvering Under Power
  • Coastal Navigation
  • Bareboat Charter
  • Sail Trim
  • Storm Tactics
  • Weather
  • Safety at Sea
Captain's Rank bundle of Sailing Courses

Captain's Rank bundle of Sailing Courses

In addition, a NauticEd Captain must have logged a minimum amount of real sea time which is denoted by a level associated with the Rank as follows:

  • Captain Level III –  50 days of sea time;
  • Captain Level IV – 100 days of sea time
  • Captain Level V –  200 days of sea time.

Time is logged on NauticEd’s online sailing logbook and can be accessed via iPhone and Android apps or on an internet connected computer.

NauticEd which stands for Nautic Education offers 2 lower level Sailing Certifications; Skipper and Bareboat Charter Master. These are achieved by passing fewer courses than listed above. NauticEd also offers other online courses such as a Catamaran Sailing Confidence, Celestial Navigation, and a Crew Course.

To learn more sailing tips from NauticEd Sailing School visit our website.