There was an interesting post over on frogma about the relative merits of US and UK training courses for kayakers.
I'm rather a course junky, having done under the RYA alone the:
- Day Skipper practical
- Coastal Skipper / Yachtmaster practical (most of)
- Coastal Skipper / Yachtmaster theory
- VHF Radio
- Diesel Engine
- Sea Survival
Doing these courses is great as you almost always have a lot of fun while learning something. So you come back with that feeling of accomplishment as well has having a good sail.
I remember ticking of the "Is able to handle a dinghy under oars" box paddling around Cowes during the 150th anniversary of the America's Cup. We did our demo by rowing over to NZ's Black Magic and then stopping off on the way back to see Australia II!
These courses do sometimes get a bad name. The letters pages of Yachting World seem to have a regular stream of old salts muttering about the RYA trained Sunday sailor trusting on a piece of paper rather than the experience of many hard years before the mast.
In a way they are right - after 5 days training you're pretty green and it would be a bad idea to go out unless conditions are pretty good. But all sailors have to start somewhere - even Tristan Jones was originally a land-lubbing farmer.
Now I'm doing a different course - the BCU two star kayak course - and again I'm enjoying it a lot. Though as yet haven't paddled passed any famous yachts!