Originally Posted by jackdale
While some of this advise is specific to RYA courses and not to other programs, e.g., the comments about theory on-board; most are true of all sailing programs. .....
Hi Jack some good advice there just though I would mention a couple of things that may be relevant.
Cabin and berth sharing
During my teaching career I experienced quite a number of students who were not impressed when they found out about sharing a berth. (This means on the same bit of foam). Sharing a cabin is not to bad as long as you are not in the same bed. So I think checking out and knowing in advance is a good thing.
A number of schools now do master class courses which are maximum three to a yacht plus the instructor and, all though more expensive, students get a private cabin and a lot more hands on experience with less time spent waiting for everyone to take their turn.
Theory on board
Regarding theory on board it is surprising how many schools still run theory courses on board against the RYA regulations. This makes it harder for the schools who invest in classrooms and good facilities to survive. I mentioned it mainly because part of the the RYA theory course includes the use of their PC plotter program. At least one P.C. per two students. Moreover the facilities should include large tables or desks to lay books and charts out on, good lighting etc.
Gear to take along.
Most good schools provide foulies and have to provide life jackets and harness. The life jacket will include a light but a strobe as an extra over is very good.
First aid and VHF are not required until taking a Coastal Skipper or Yacht Master exams however it can not be a bad thing if you have them in advance.
All schools should provide a list of items they supply and items you need along with full joining instructions.
I think you are right when you say it is best not to rush things if you are taking courses one week at a time but six years not sure about that.
All this said most RYA schools run good courses, insure their boats, keep the safety coding up to date and try to satisfy clients to the extent that they will return to the school for further courses.