Author Archives: Dominic Coleman

  • 0


Training Talks – Buoyage

Each week during lockdown we are hosting Free Training Talks on both a Tues and a Thurs. This week the topic was Buoyage. These sessions are free to join in, sit quietly or actively participate. We hope to record them shortly and upload to our YouTube channel. The full program can be found on our website calendar.

The sessions are intended as a refresher revision for some and a springboard into training for others. It cannot be a comprehensive all encompassing teaching session. If the concepts are new we suggest people enquire about further training and for those whose revision showed them to be rusty there are plenty of books guides and flip cards to aid revision.

Both evenings were well subscribed and with a wide variety of experience. It is great that so many people are coming along to listen. During the session Dom ran through the different buoyage that we may encounter out on the water.

Channel Marks:

Starting with lateral marks or channel marks, ‘greens and reds’ and a discussion about IALA A or B buoyage. This will depend on where you are in the world. We talked about the shapes, triangular for green starboard marks and cans or square for red port marks. He showed a variety of photos to illustrate the different size and style of buoy that may be encountered. Poole is a great example where even main channel marks can be quite different in style.   We talked about the numbering system on buoys and that some might have names. The direction of travel and direction of buoyage was also clarified.

We had a great question from the audience tonight – Why is Hamish buoy in Poole Harbour called Hamish?   Yet to be confirmed but the best answer I can find it that it was named after a past Harbour Master or Harbour Commissioner named Hamish Green.

Cardinal Marks:

We moved on the look at Cardinal marks and what they tell us plus the colours and the top marks. Dom was a little sneaky and asked for comments in the chat box. Most answers talked about danger but in fact they show us where the safest water is. For example a North Cardinal tells us that the Safest Water is to the North.

Now that leads onto the question how do you know where north is? Perhaps you have a great sense of directions, have looked at a chart or sensibly use a compass. It starts t illustrate the importance of a compass on board. When we undertake pilotage exercises on our PB2 courses, people are often initially confused about directions and which side to pass of a Cardinal even though they can successfully identify it. A skill to be practiced. In Poole Harbour they are often used to indicate where channels separate. The examples we looked at were Diver Buoy and Bell Buoy.

We then had a discussion about how people remember how to identify the different cardinals using the top marks.   East Cardinals most people saw the outline of an Easter Egg although one saw the outline of the letter E. West Cardinals some people saw a wine glass, others a waist and others the outline of the letter W. For North Cardinals the top marks point up as if on a compass and for South downwards.

We talked about where these might be encountered, how they might affect different boaters and the colour banding on them.

Isolated Danger, Special Marks, Temporary Wreck, Fairway & Preferred Channel Marks:

Next was the Isolated Danger marks – places to be avoided. Locally we have one in the harbour, one outside the harbour and a particularly relevant one down the coast at Christchurch. Someone correctly identified the picture as being Gear Rock outside Penance. The importance of recognising that those which are buoys rather than posts will move with the tide was highlighted.   And it seemed many remember isolated danger marks by associating them with Dennis the Menace – red and black stripes!

The wide variety of yellow special marks was next on the agenda and it seemed that most people had seen these in use, whether for swimming or PWC zones. We looked at the chart and discussed the seasonal use of many of these and chatted about racing marks.

Finally we looked at temporary wreck markers, fairway buoys, fixed lights and preferred channel markers. We chatted about examples and someone suggested ways to remember preferred channel marks.

What it looks like on the chart:

We then moved onto the chart, to identify what these marks would look like on paper or electronic devices. Those not local to Poole were fascinated by the number of channels and some a little intimidated by the number of marks. We talked a little about light but that is a topic for another night. Interestingly whilst looking at the charts we identified an error where a North Cardinal is incorrectly identified as a West Cardinal. We’re off to check the corrections to see if it has already been identified.

During the conversation someone made the comment that there seemed to be a lot of local knowledge. This prompted a chat about LNTMs (Local Notices to Mariners), Almanacs, Charts and Harbour Guides.

This session was a luxury for us. Normally on a course we only have a short time to discuss the buoyage whereas tonight we could discuss it in depth. The downside that for those who haven’t yet been out on the water is that putting the buoyage into context is very difficult. On a practical course if someone is struggling we are very quickly out on the water and it usually falls into place.

Thank you to all those who attended this week – great turnout on both evening and thank you so much for your lovely feedback. We have a full program of events – please visit our calendar for further information.

Next Steps:

If you are enjoying the series of talks you may be interested in one of our theory courses – RYA Essential Navigation, Day Skipper or Yachtmaster. Please visit our  Online Courses Page for details.

Main events:

Tues 6.30pm and Thurs 8.30pm Free training Talks

Wed 10.30am Women on the Water Q&A

Thurs 10.30am Q&A Chat

Fri 7.30pm Quiz Night


The rest of the week has free tutorials for our students who are undertaking online courses in Day Skipper, Yachtmaster Essential Navigation, VHF Radio or PPR.  Please visit our   Web Calendar Page for details.



  • 0

Women on the Water

Women on the Water

Women on the Water Blog

As we adapt we have recently added a new session to our program a ‘Women on the Water’ Chat. The aim is to encourage more women afloat whatever their level of boating. This  blog will hopefully give you a flavour of our chats and hopefully encourage you as ladies along to our next chat or chaps to encourage their sisters, partners etc to participate.

I launched this last week and invited a group of contacts to join me.  I wanted to see whether there was any demand for the chat. What started out as a quick 20min turned into an hour of laughter, chat and supportive comments.  I had to call time an hour later to ensure we had something to chat about this week.   The good news was that we have filled a gap. It was interesting to see that the insecurities and queries I have had on the water and in my boating pathway, were echoed by the others in the group.   Even better news was that by accident I had discovered a lovely group of ladies.  These included sailing instructors, lifeboat crew, powerboaters, safety boat crew and dinghy sailors.  All happy to help with any queries we receive.

This week’s Women on the Water chat:

Fast forward a week and I hadn’t publicised this weeks event as extensively as I wanted. I, myself, had been struck by the very thing I was trying to prevent in others. A crisis of confidence as to whether anyone would turn up, so I had lost confidence in publishing it. A quick message half an hour before I was due to start out to the group from last week of “its running but don’t worry if you’re otherwise engaged” still resulted in four of us gathering online around the coffee cups.   I had designed my schedule with topics suited to new boaters and yet here were people some of whom work on the water – what could we possibly discuss?

Its fair to say that once again 20mins turned into an hour – there was lots of laughter and some interesting points came from the discussion. The ladies were all respectful of giving each other the opportunity to speak without forcing anyone to and it felt supportive. I look forward to the day when we can meet each other face to face.  It feels like I know these people already!

We had chat, we discussed technical points, shared ideas and even discussed the best safety kit for women.

Topics raised:

One point raised was that ‘we’, the boating community, seem to have forgotten that boating can be just for fun. We do not have to leave at 3am to make the most use of tide. It may be if we leave later chances are it will just take longer. If we are happier, it’s a safe passage and it’s a beautiful sunny day why not lie in and enjoy the sailing later even if it takes a little longer to get to the destination! Of course, its not quite as clear cut as we must plan, some boats will make no progress against the tide, the trip may be more uncomfortable, or we may use more fuel. But the point was we go boating for fun – don’t feel pressurised into always achieving something specific.


Another interesting issue was weather and the pressure that some have felt on courses that they have to go out whatever the weather because people have paid. It was interesting to hear this vocalised from others as it is something that has put me off courses in the past.   We are really lucky with our centre that Dom and I want to enjoy teaching you as much as you want to enjoy your course so if bad weather is forecast we will always contact you to discuss .

Some people are happy to go out whatever the weather and subject to safety considerations that is fine, but many of our clients are leisure boaters starting out.   We want you to enjoy boating as much as we do and therefore don’t want to put you off by sending you out in vile weather!   How do we get this information out there to reassure people?

What do I want from my boating?

Both points came back to a fundamental question – why do you have a boat?   If you want to only go out on sunny calm days that is absolutely ok. If you like going out in more challenging conditions then again that is fine.  Just don’t be afraid to ensure that you are meeting your objectives. Is the boating safe, fun and enjoyable?

A little tip I was given years ago – always come home before your crew ask to be brought in.   That way they will want to go out again.


Women on the Water – Quote of the Day:

One of our participants then came up with a fabulous quote – one I didn’t immediately recognise but should:

“Whether you get away, or whether you don’t; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you’re always busy, and you never do anything in particular;”   Wind in the Willows

To me this quote sums up what boating should be about – no pressure, no stress just chillout time.


Summer plans:

The conversation moved onto boating plans for this summer. Whilst plans are currently on hold, we discussed one participant’s plans to cross the channel.   This lady has the skillset and has done the research – now it’s the confidence to go and do it when the situation permits. It was interesting for some of the more experienced to discuss how they work out passage plans and tides, comparing techniques whilst it allowed some newer boaters to be aware of the depth of planning that is required for such a trip.  It is reassuring to see ambitious women out there boating.

I was fascinated that within the group we had all said we wanted fun, enjoyable, relaxed boating but that should not be mistaken for a lack of ability.  When we want to undertake a channel crossing or further it is to embraced.   Interestingly most of us also race to a great or lesser extent so again don’t mistake our wish for chilled sailed for a lack of competitiveness when we want!



We chatted about how language can be misinterpreted and whether we over plan. We talked about the balance between having a thorough and competent plan in case needed and yet also taking a step back and remembering what it is we are trying to achieve. Its is easy to take a trip like Poole to Lymington and say well its only come out the harbour and turn left and fundamentally it is. But we should take care to ensure newcomers to our world understand that we have done much more planning than that and should something go wrong we have a back up plan.


Waterproofs and Lifejackets:

Finally the conversation somehow moved onto lifejackets. Those that know me know this is a topic to infuriate me and a conversation I have had many times.  At a Women on the Water Chat it was inevitable the topic would arise! The designs of lifejackets for ladies whilst being told by reps I am the only one to have raised it. The beauty of a meetup like this is I discover I am not alone; we have all had similar conversations.   There is a gap in the market for female friendly lifejackets. It is interesting that all of us had chosen a similar style of lifejacket. It is not one that we often see in use at training centres but we all found most comfortable. Food for thought for our courses. We did specifically choose a style of lifejacket at our centre that is suitable for both men and women.

Naturally, the conversation also moved onto being given the wrong size waterproofs on boats. The expectation that any clothing would fit women.   It was a lightbulb moment for me a few years ago when I bought female fit salopettes. Not only are they comfortable but I can step up and down decks and across jockey seats.   We had a compare across the brands and discussed ensuring friends are properly kitted out when accompanying us.


The biggest takeaway for me was not only the supportive environment to raise questions but also the breadth of knowledge.  The fact that it is ok to go boating in a non-competitive way.   I really do need to find a way to ensure that people know our courses are designed around you.  Visit for training or a course certificate I don’t mind.  Achieve something specific or lets just go out and play on the water.  What I want is for you to enjoy just being afloat without pressure.


Next event:

Thank you to all who took part today and I hope to see more ladies online for our Women on the Water Chat next week.  Wed 2.30pm – email me for the link.


The Wind in the Willows quote absolutely sums up the mood of our chat earlier. I love it so much I’m going to end with a repeat!

“Whether you get away, or whether you don’t; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you’re always busy, and you never do anything in particular;”   Wind in the Willows



If you would like to chat further about boating or the Women on the Women Chat please don’t hesitate to send me a message – Contact Sarah at Dorset Marine Training

About me:

I am a Partner in Dorset Marine Training & the Principal for our RYA Training Centre Activities.  I am also a Powerboat and VHF Radio Instructor.  In the past I have been a Dinghy Instructor and over the years have owned a variety of watercraft.  These range from canoes through to sailing dinghies, a 18ft yacht, a selection of small powerboats and our Training RIBs.  I am also a qualified Commercial Skipper for motor boats and actively participate in dinghy sailing and racing.  I am just at home bimbling around the harbour as I am participating in a race, skippering or teaching.  The Women on the Water Chats were established by me to try and encourage more women to try boating, to feel supported as they progress and to explore what they want from their boating.



  • 0

Winter Boating






Winter Boating

I always get a little down when someone says to me ‘season’s coming to a close’…… it’s like being turfed out of your favourite restaurant at the end of the night because everyone who works there wants to go home….. We should enjoy ourselves based upon our own discovery and ideals.

It’s a beautiful day out there, why aren’t we out?  Let’s go Winter Boating!

So, if your idea of boating is sunbathing on the foredeck in the afternoon, the mere suggestion of such with an air temperature of 4 degrees, coupled with the fact that it’s pitch black at 1700, is likely to make you want to stick your swimming costume up my nose. But boating is managing expectations, & planning; as well we know…..

Working in the industry

Our summers are busy and we don’t get a lot of time for our own boating as there’s always the opportunity to turn the ‘not currently booked’ day into a last minute session to help someone learn a skill on board or move their boat to help them enjoy the net day more.. Winter is a different story.

When I was growing up, I have many memories of being out walking in the Peak district (we lived about as far inland as you can get without heading towards the sea on the other side!).  All of my fondest memories include a snowdrift or the image of a stove behind a wall with mittens and a hat.    I’m sure someone had sold it well to drag me there in the first place. If we’re dressed appropriately and understand what we’re going out to, the environment we meet at this time of year is arguably the most colourful, beautiful and tranquil…

My Grandfather did regularly tell us that there was no such thing as the wrong weather, only the wrong clothes…


Winter for Leisure

Only last week, we took a couple out into the harbour as the weather in October had thwarted their ability to achieve the handling goals we’d desired. The first day in December has just brought a beautifully still, clear and crisp morning with the perfect opportunity to explore the handling characteristics of a boat that needs good weather to be enjoyable. although removing ice from the boats in the morning adds a little to the safety management.

Winter for work

The earlier part of the week saw us undertaking an ‘advanced’ powerboat course for some folks who need a commercial qualification to move forwards with their activities working on the water. Ironically, this course can be run in much more unpleasant conditions due to the expectations of a commercial skipper, although the same band of pleasant weather meant that we focussed on the fine tuning and precision in manouvres rather than coming home in a storm!!

On Land

There’s also navigation to be learnt, Winter time is a perfect opportunity to bolster the unpleasant boating days with a little workup on how to use charts, electronics and associated tools to get us there and back successfully.  This skill development is only successful when immediately put into action on the water. Our interactive tools in the classroom make this relevant and fun!!

We keep people’s minds current with Gift vouchers in the run up to Christmas.  It’s good to be flexible so that people can use these to come out for a course, have a half day or day experience driving at sea.  We also create hot chocolate and cookie infused navigation in the classroom throughout the winter and early spring.

Booking course places has been made easy and we regularly supply the course ‘in advance’ in the form of a gift voucher for Christmas, Birthdays or other special occasions.



Gift vouchers have helped us tailor precisely peoples expectations to the activities, ensuring that we ALWAYS ‘leave people wanting more’

Happy Christmas boating.

  • 0

RYA Powerboat Level 1 (PB1) or Powerboat Level 2 (PB2) Course?

Do I need to take RYA Powerboat Level 1 (PB1) before I take Powerboat Level 2 (PB2)?

What is the difference between the PB1 and PB2 courses?


The simple answer would be no, you don’t need to take PB1 first but it is a little more complex. Indeed, many people will tell you not to bother with PB1 but instead to start at PB2. Instead our answer would be that it really depends.  Your experience, your attitude towards the water and what you want to achieve from your course will affect your choice.


RYA Powerboat Level 1 (PB1)

Many people dismiss this course as ‘a kids ‘course but, in our opinion, it would be a mistake to do so.  It is well worth finding out more before your decision.  Each year we will have a few clients that we feel would have been better to start at PB1 . This year we were lucky enough to host several courses for adults where PB1 was exactly the right course for those individuals.

The anticipated outcome for those undertaking the PB1 course is that they will obtain a basic understanding of powerboating.  In addition, they will be able to take the helm under supervision.   It is billed as the ‘Start Powerboating’ course and is great for those who:

  • have perhaps never been on the water,
  • plan to crew rather than be skipper but want to know a few basics
  • want to have a little extra time to master skills
  • are nervous and want a low-key relaxed approach to learning
  •  want to have an experience day learning something new but aren’t certain whether boating will be a big feature in the future


Although the course is a full day we tend to run to a slightly shorter day (probably 9.30 – 4.30) to keep people engaged and leave feeling confident rather than exhausted! We also sometimes use a smaller boat for a PB1 courses if we think that will aid confidence.

In addition, youngsters can take this course. They may take it from the age of 8 although we tend to suggest that if they are attending a youngsters-only course that they perhaps wait until age 10 unless very keen about the water. We do of course welcome youngsters on courses with their parents or grandparents too!


RYA Powerboat Level 2 (PB2)

For many people this can be the first step on their route to powerboating. Particularly relevant to those who are confident, have perhaps been boating before with friends and who plan to be the Skipper on board their boats.

The course is now referred to as Powerboat Handling which is a good reflection of the topics covered. It is a comprehensive two days and you should expect the course to run 9-5 (approx) both days in order to cover all the material. Please note it is not just a course completion certificate and you do need to reach a certain standard. For the majority the course is achieved within the two days but there will be a few occasions where we need to allocate a little extra time. Upon successful completion you may apply for your International Certificate of Competence (ICC) if required.

Many of our students do start at Level 2 even where they haven’t been on the water before, but they do so understanding that it is a comprehensive and fairly fast paced two days. Of course, we are always happy to schedule extra time if needed as we want you to leave not only with a Certificate but also feeling confident.   At the end of your Level 2 course you should feel confident in taking a boat out on your own (or Helming a boat) in daylight, calm conditions and in familiar waters.



PB1 and PB2 follow a similar course structure but the standard which needs to be attained will differ. At PB1 you will undertake manoeuvres under the direct instruction of our Instructor. At PB2 the Instructor will teach you in the first instance.  You will be expected to be able to make the manoeuvres yourself by the end and make suitable judgement calls. PB2 also looks at planning speed manoeuvres, retrieving a man overboard and additional theory such as pilotage and basic chartwork.


Hopefully this brief introduction will help guide you towards the right course for you. Please do just give us a call to chat about the best option. Many adults will start at PB2 but don’t be put off PB1 if you feel extra time would build confidence.   In our next blog we will look at the course content, what to bring and what to expect from courses.



  • 0

RYA Day Skipper or Powerboat Level 2?

A question we get asked is how do the Day Skipper and the Powerboat Level 2 Course fit together? Which is first?

The answer is not quite as simple as it may first seem. The RYA run two certification schemes, the Powerboat Scheme and the Motor Cruising Scheme. (To be fair there are more than two schemes but these are the one relevant to motorboats)

The Powerboat Scheme is generally for those people who intend to use boats under 10m.  These are usually open boats and often single engine.  The Motor Cruising Scheme is generally for those who will be using bigger boats.  They are usually that are capable of living on board or venturing further afield. Typically, they are over 10m, have accommodation and are often twin engine.

This is a generalisation and there will be circumstances and boats that don’t neatly fit into the categories.  Alongside the Powerboat and Motor Cruising Scheme are the Shore based courses or theory that supplements the practical and these courses are used for both practical schemes.







The Powerboat Level 1 (PB1), Powerboat Level 2 (PB2), Intermediate, Tender Operators and Advanced Powerboat Courses all fit under the Powerboat Scheme. By the time people move onto the Intermediate or Advanced Powerboat Scheme, it is recommended that they have theory to Day Skipper or Yachtmaster Theory Standard.

The Motor Cruising Scheme includes the practical Start Motor Cruising, Helmsman, Day Skipper, Advanced Pilotage and Coastal Skipper courses. For some of the higher-level courses there is even a separate exam.  Often students will undertake preparation ‘courses’ before Yachtmaster practical exams.

The term Day Skipper is often misunderstood to be one course but it should be noted there is a theory course or a practical course.


If you’re looking to use a small open dayboat you should start by looking at the Powerboat Scheme.  Specifically you should look at the PB1 or PB2 courses. When you look to progress and move onto journeys further afield you should supplement the practical courses with some theory.  The Essential Navigation& Seamanship and then Day Skipper Theory would be ideal. If you’re planning on using bigger live aboard boats, then look at the Motor Cruising Scheme.  You should perhaps start with the Helmsman and moving onto the Day Skipper Practical.  Bear in mind the practical is after the Day Skipper Theory course.

Further Information:

Further information on the schemes and courses can be found here: RYA Course Schemes or why not contact us and we’ll send you a bespoke plan suitable to your experiences and aims.



  • 0

Winter Boating and Clothing Suggestions

The weather has definitely taken a turn for the cooler this last week. As a result my normal boating gear has had a few additions. New boaters regularly ask me if we boat all year and the answer is a definite yes! The secret is to planning the boating and your waterproof kit well. We’ll cover the boat side in a separate blog but today its time to consider our clothing options. I write this from the female and small open boat perspective. Dom might have other views as he is usually tucked up inside a warm cabin!


Step one is to source good footwear. Over the years I have moved to always wearing boots in the winter. Boating boots are not cheap I’m afraid and its really frustrating to buy a pair that doesn’t last. My current favourites are my Maindeck Short Leather Boots. I only bought them at the Boatshow in Sept so can’t comment too much on durability yet. However, so far I’ve found them very cosy (thermal lining) & non slip. They also have a decent sole that takes some of the impact out of waves.

Early on in my boating journey I bought the cheaper boots with thin soles and in my mind that is a mistake – they just don’t last, aren’t warm and don’t take any impact. My last pair of decent boots I absolutely loved for comfort and they did me ok but had a very rapid deterioration once they had got wet until finally the sole fell off! 🙁 It lead to a tricky walk back across the yard!

If you are going to invest in a decent pair of boots keep them as salt water free as possible. Also make sure they dry out well. Footwear is obviously a challenging subject as almost everyday someone asks about my boots. This leads to a happy dance from me demonstrating my comfy boots with dry and cosy feet!

Waterproof Socks

Ok not the most exciting subject to have but trust me – my boating life has been revolutionised by waterproof socks! They look ridiculous so try to put them on in privacy but warm, dry feet is a wonderful feeling! I currently have a pair I bought from Nauticalia in the sale (washed regularly and worn with ordinary socks I hasten to add!). These have lasted well and I plan to supplement them this year with some merino wool versions. I know there are plenty of you wondering why I would even bother covering such a subject but in my experience boots don’t stay waterproof for long so waterproof socks are the way forward!


Too big a subject to discuss in detail as there is something to suit every price range but in brief what do I look for? Good customer service if its expensive – I can say that so far we’ve had great customer service from Musto and that would currently influence my choice. lets hope the good customer service continues. Perhaps others can feed back on other brands?

Waterproof Salopettes

These are a must – the extra layer is well worth while and I wear mine right from the beginning of the day when the boat still has condensation on. A pocket on the leg is a huge plus for me (very jealous I noticed Dom’s have two pockets whereas mine only has one). It is worth going for those with adjustments at the waist and shoulder as well as reinforced knees. Also look for salopettes with a zip up the front as this allows you to adjust the layers more easily. For the females I strongly suggest buying female fit salopettes – not only will they be more comfortable but you will actually be able to step across jockey seats and onto pontoons without the crotch of the trousers being around your knees! Some ladies swear by ‘dropseat’ trousers but can’t say I tried them!

Waterproof Jackets

Fleece lined pockets and collar (ideally removable -not seen this on recent jackets but my ancient jacket from the late 80s has a removable collar. This which makes it easy for washing the salt off). Also want sleeves that tighten to avoid water rushing down your arm when you pick up the mooring buoy! My next jacket will probably be a smock version as I find the long jackets do restrict movement on open powerboats.

Buff / Neckerchief

Whatever suits but on a rainy or sea spray day nothing beats a lightweight buff for stopping the rain running down your neck. I must have more than 10 now so there is always a dry one to hand!


Now this is where I am in need of advice. Over the years I have spend a fortune on gloves but still not come up with a sensible solution. My preferred choice at the moment is a pair of neoprene sailing clothes – yes they get wet but at least fingers are warm. I have yet to come across a pair of waterproof gloves that do indeed stay waterproof. Been sadly disappointed at many an expensive purchase. If you have any solutions please let me know!


Too many to choose from but don’t forget one. Personally although I look daft, on a sunny winters day I like a woolley hat with a peak on it to keep the sun out of my eyes. On very wet days I’ll wear a waterproof hat to keep my had dry and warm, current favourite is a Sealskin one. Don’t forget to ask for one of our amazing orange beanie hats if you haven’t already acquired one from us!


Layers honestly work. thick layers make it hard to move around the boat but lots of think technical layers do make boating a lot easier and there is now a wide range to choose from. Long sleeve t-shirts are a must in the winter!

After all this clothing don’t forget to use a suitable lifejacket!

I hope this little blog helps and please do comment on your findings. There is so much choice that we could spend a fortune trialling items unless we share the knowledge. Warm and dry boaters are happy boaters. Don’t forget whilst you are buying these lovely items for yourself to consider what options your crew have!

Supplies can be found from all our local Chandlers (addresses here ) as well as online.


#musto #maindeck #sealskin #nauticalia

  • 0

Prop Guards

Tags : 

Link to guidance from the RYA.

Twice in the last week people have asked me for information on prop guards. I thought perhaps it is time to put a quick post up directing people to the guidance available from the RYA.  The RYA are “the national body for dinghy, yacht and motor cruising, all forms of sail racing, RIBs and sports boats, windsurfing and personal watercraft and a leading representative for inland waterways cruising.”

What is a prop guard? These are plastic or metal guards that you place around the propeller on an engine.  There are a variety of manufacturers and types. They are particularly in use by organisations using boats that will be around people in the water.  In that instance they’re usually put in place to protect anyone in the water from a strike from the propeller. However they can also protect the propeller from striking an object such as a rock or the seabed.

On the face of it they would seem an amazing idea. It is hard to see why we don’t automatically have them in use on all boats.  However, there are a few issues to consider and as such the RYA have issued guidance which allows individuals to assess their own situation.

The link to the guidance is here –

  • 0

The Boat Club, Sandbanks

What we’ve been doing

2019 has seen us teaming up with ‘The Boat Club’ at Parkstone Bay Marina, we’re giving boat club members a regular monthly update on all the various things that make up their boating experiences, from navigation to managing the boat and venturing further afield.

For Dorset Marine Training,

This relationship allows us to introduce our students to the advantage of Club membership boating.  Without being too precise, the costs of a years membership at the Boat Club can be the same as simply paying for a berth for your own boat for that same year.  If your plan is to head out 20 times in a year, you”l probably make it 10-15 (if we’re honest and the weather fits around your spare time).   With a boat of your own, to have to come down, fuel your boat, clean it, realise that something rather important has broken.  Start scratching your head, send everyone off to the cafe whilst the problem is rectified, only to realise it’s getting late and no boating today after all……     All of a sudden the attraction of a ‘managed’ boat club becomes immense.

Chris and the team at the boat club provide-

A thoroughly pleasant environment and ethos to encourage you to be able to enjoy hassle free boating on a variety of different craft throughout the harbour and Poole Bay area.  For those who want to go further afield, Dorset Marine Training are offering support training through our instructors who love to adventure around that next corner.   We can produce some plans to make the longer journeys enjoyable and manageable, using a variety of techniques to get home safely.

Once someone has become a member, we can step onboard to train in more proficient journey planning.  Giving people confidence alone or certification to a higher level.

This week:


Sarah has been getting involved with some practical training, even helping out with some of the ‘Powerboat Level 2’ courses on the Boat Club’s boats.  Dom has created evening training refresher packages which saw the members enjoying a visualisation of exactly how a lifejacket worked last night.  We dressed the members in safety kit and set it all off.  With some snacks and  beer, it was a great environment.


  • 0

New year’s resolutions – New VHF DSC handheld radio kit.

It’s easy to make a ‘New Year’s Resolution’.

Something you want to do, think you ought to do, even promise to do….. something that will be good and hopefully change you (in a good way)…..   We have a ‘new year’s resolution’ to improve the training facilities that we offer each year. The best way to do that is to research it, plan it, then do it.

Yesterday we received our new Handheld ‘Icom m93 DSC’ digital training radios.  These comprised two demonstration units for the classroom and a fully functioning unit for the boats.  As technology has changed, the offering to us as leisure and commercial boaters has improved.  We wanted  to give students equipment that is for sale currently.  kit that demonstrates the best in current technology.  Kit that we believe to be the best on the market.

We’ve always used ICOM radios, because they feel great and they work well.  The technology is up to date and well researched and the customer support is unparalled.  Whether I’m chatting with ‘Virgil’ in tech support or ‘Ian’ in marketing, they both treat me like a valued customer.  Never like the random, gadget obsessed, attention deficit boater than I may appear to be.

A week ago, we ran various polls across our social media channels to find out what sort of VHF radio equipment people were using.  This enabled us to quickly see that our audiences are using Digital handheld units to compliment the fixed VHF radios on board their boats

We purchased the M93 DSC radios knowing that we would be supported by ICOM and that they would perform adequately in both Classroom and water based environments. There are a number of VHF courses taking place over the next two months.  We will be testing the units out at sea.  In a couple of weeks I hope to give a report on, hopefully, how well the M93 is fitting in.

  • 0

What should I do now I’ve completed my RYA Powerboat Level 2 Course?

What next after a Powerboat Level 2 Course?

Having just had one of our busiest months for Level 2 Powerboat Courses, we felt it was time to talk about the next steps.  We sincerely hope that if you undertook the course with us that you had a great time. We hope you want to carry on your boating.  The journey will now be different for each person but the main priorities:

1. Getting afloat.  Is it practical for you to get out and start practising afloat now or within the next few weeks?
2. Stuck on Shore. Think back over your course and consider whether there are any aspects of the theory side you’d like to look at in more detail and develop further.


Getting afloat

If you have the opportunity to get afloat, it really is important to get out there and start practising.  Use a boat whilst the knowledge is fresh and the confidence high.  You passed the course, you have the ability to get out there so seize the chance.  Think back to day one of your course – what was one of the first things you talked about?   Conditions and Planning??

First of all make sure the boat you plan to use is ready. Has it been serviced, is the trailer road ready, is all the kit on board?   Have you organised all the personal kit like waterproofs and lifejackets, don’t forget navigation charts?  Have you thought about where to launch or if on a mooring whether there are limited times due to tides or locks.  Plan carefully, it will make your first trip not only safer, but also more enjoyable. 

If you need to borrow a boat look into hire possibilities – a really good start if you’re local is with our friends at Poole Boat Hire.  They are limited to the harbour but that still provides plenty of space to explore. Its an hour and a half each way to Wareham for example!  If you want to borrow further afield or hire a RIB then contact us for advice.  The bonus of hiring is there should be back up in case of breakdown. If its your own boat perhaps consider SeaStart membership. 

Check and check again:

Check local information and organise a plan for your trip. Don’t forget insurance and harbour dues if its your own boat! Why not refresh your mind with a read through of your Start Powerboating Book? Have a look at the Student Page on our website for useful resources.   If you’re a member of a sailing club or similar why not ask if you can get afloat on the safety boat?  great idea to take along an experienced helm as crew?

Plan the day:

Next think about the actual day. Who is going with you – are they trained, do they need a briefing or any equipment providing?  Consider on your first trip who is going with you.  If you’ve a friend or family member who is unsure of boating perhaps delay their attendance until a  later trip when you’ve a little more experience. Instead take along a couple of people who have boating experience or similar.  Plan just a short trip the first time – build up as your experience progresses.  

Then check the conditions, forecasts and tides. If it seems a bit ‘iffy’ listen to your instincts and delay for a nice day, however disappointing that might be.  Don’t forget to check several sources of info and interpret the information you’ve given.    Ask around for local information if needed.  Don’t forget to leave a shore side contact and set up RYA SafeTrx 

If you do decide to go out, when you hop on board double check the boat.  Remember to set SafeTrx running & think about the prestart checks and engines checks. Don’t forget your killcord and before releasing the lines just think about wind and tide as you learnt on your course.  Enjoy and stay safe!


Stuck on shore – further learning & course options

If you are unable to get afloat immediately why not have a read of your coursebook Start Powerboating and reflect on the parts of your course you’d like to develop further.  The usual next steps for study include: VHF Marine Radio Course, Navigation Training or studying books such as the Powerboat Handbook to understand and refine your practical skills.



Don’t forget if you’re on coastal waters we advise you carry a VHF whether it’s a portable, handheld or a fixed radio set.  To operate the VHF you are required to have an ‘Authority to Operate’.  (In an emergency please just use the set!).   This qualification can be undertaken as either a one day classroom course or you can study online and then arrange a convenient time for a short assessment with us.  Initially we find some reluctance to take the radio course. However, we have yet to find a student who hasn’t enjoyed and taken away a lot from the course.  It’s underrated and our most commonly received feedback is ‘didn’t expect to enjoy this but had a great day and learnt lots!’ 

What to expect from a VHF course:

We know its tough to sit in a classroom but we do our best to make the course as relaxed and informal as possible. In order to keep you engaged we use lots of interactive learning  and have training radios to practice on.  We practice Mayday & PanPan calls along with which channels to use, how to set up the radio to be able to hear clearly and we look at the fabulous DSC functions.  If you have any questions about your own radio we have a great contact at Icom who is fab at providing answers. 

There is a short assessment at the end of the day but please don’t let this put you off attending.  We teach in small groups, are happy to provide bespoke courses and if you want to delay the assessment for another day just let us know at time of booking.  Tell us what works for you.


RYA Essential Navigation & Seamanship

When you attended your Level 2 Powerboat Course it was probably the first time you’d considered navigation and safety kit.  Within a two day course we only have time to introduce to information on passage planning and pilotage, buoys and collision regulations.  The Essential Navigation course is a fab short course that starts to develop the concepts further. It introduce a few new techniques.  It is usually taken online in your own time – there is no final ‘test’. Instead you complete exercises as you progress and on successful completion you receive an RYA Certificate. 

If you prefer, we can arrange to run these courses in the classroom over two days.   Whether its an online course or classroom course you choose, you will receive a study pack. This includes practice charts, exercises and a plotter/set of dividers like you used on your PB2 course.  It a brilliant base for those who later choose to go and study our RYA Dayskipper or Yachtmaster Theory Courses.



Don’t forget we also offer short Powerboat Refresher Sessions on the RIB or can offer bespoke training on either our boat or your own.  Just contact us to have a chat.

If after your Powerboat Level 2 (PB2) Course you decided to progress onto a different style of boat, perhaps a hard sided boat, a motorboat or small motor cruiser then think about some bespoke training or perhaps even look towards the Dayskipper Practical course if you’ve decide to creep into bigger boats.  Remember all boats handle differently and its important to be confident and safe afloat.

We hope the information here provides you with just a few ideas of how to make the most from your Powerboat Level 2 Course and progress your boating.  Please just give us a call with any questions. Whether it’s a simple reminder or you want to book further training we’re always happy to talk.  It is impossible to cover all the reminders from a two day course in just a short blog piece but hopefully this has given you a few reminders!  We love to hear your progress. Please drop us a line or join our social media channels to tell us your news.


Sarah & Dom
01202 901267