I HAD all summer, but which month did we decide to do a powerboat course? In December! Crazy, I know! However, this just proves there is no bad time to do a boating course in Mallorca. Now you may ask yourself, why would someone like me without a boat or the means right now of owning one, want to learn to drive one?
Well, firstly we’re surrounded by beautiful bays, and secondly, just for the sheer fun of it! If you live in Spain one of the best things about being here is the lifestyle. In England, even if you own a boat you’re unlikely to use it much due to the weather. But here anyone can enjoy boating pretty much all year round.
I have had some experience of driving a speedboat as my Dad owned one when me and my brothers were kids. I remember it being great fun buzzing about Lake Windermere before the fun sponges introduced a speed ban. But I’ve never taken a proper course and was really up for learning a new skill.
We met Steve Wickenden, director of Balearic Sea School (BSS), who established the company in 1999 after moving to Mallorca from London. Steve can usually be seen whizzing about Puerto Portals on his electric scooter co-ordinating training courses, charters and gardiennage of 30 vessels.
He’s a well-known character in Puerto Portals having lived in Mallorca since 1997 and knows all there is to know about boating.
Our instructor for the two-day course was German-born Gaston Westphal who has been teaching for over 10 years. Prior to the course Paul and I were given a Royal Yachting Association handbook which we’d read from cover to cover. From day one I was surprised at how in-depth the training was.
I just thought we’d be shown how to master and moor the boat, little did I expect to learn navigational skills, tying different knots, anchoring etc…. Our first morning was spent doing theory before going out on the 10-metre RIB, which as we now know means Rigid Inflatable Boat.
We were first taught how to manoeuvre the boat which may seem simple in the open sea, but with around 45,000 registered boats in the Balearics and other obstacles to be aware of like paddle boarders and snorkelers, you have to know what you’re doing out there.
It was a bit nippy on the ocean, but I was actually grateful for the cold weather as it meant none of us had to physically go in the water to practice rescuing a man overboard, which was replaced with a buoy.
One of the trickiest things for me was learning how to get the boat back into the port safely, berthing it between the expensive super yachts without bashing into any! Also navigation, as we had to be able to plot a route on a map which started to hurt my brain, as I have the worst sense of direction on land never mind the ocean!
After an intensive two days we’d completed the course and were presented with our Powerboat Level two licence which enables us to hire any boat up to 10 metres and go out and enjoy being on the sea. I’d recommend BSS to anyone as it’s the longest established sea school in the Balearics and is open to all, whether you want to learn boat handling for the first time or to further career prospects as a skipper. For more information visit: www.balearicseaschool.com or Tel: (34) 606 859 560
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