Vic Punch Ex principal Allabroad Dec 30th 2008
Originally Posted by Marianne
I did an allabroad fastrack yachtmaster. I wouldn't advise it, the couple who run it were incredibly flakey, rude and unreliable. They referred to the weekly courses as the "paying custormers" us yachtmaster chaps were very much second class citizens. One crew (my boyfriend included) didn't have enough sea miles due to a screw up on the part of All abroad and Lyn took them out in stormy weather and seemed surprised when a force 9 blew up and one of the spreaders broke. Having said that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger and we all passed our yachtmaster.
A much better company is Alfer sailing who are fun by 2 of the most dedicated people I know. Fergus and Al (previously an allabroad instructor) are both incredible sailors and teachers. Not to mention the fact that Fergus rescues salty sea dogs in his spare time! http://jumblies.wordpress.com/page/2/
Seriously if you haven't paid for Allabroad yet then reconsider, although if rumour is true then Lyn and Vic may be retiring and handing over the buisness to Vic's son Dave. I hear he is much more reliable.
Whatever you decide you probably know that a fasttrack yachtmaster really is just the beginning and you only really start learning when you have had the opportunity to mess up/gain experience in your own boat!
It was really interesting to read the above account from Marianne. I am Vic and since Marianne took the course with us I have married "rude and flakey Lyn" and am very happy with her.
We started Allabroad in the year 2000 and it was an instant success with a high percentage of returning students. It went from strength to strength and now boasts 6 boats including motor. It is the only school in Gibraltar that has full on site classrooms, offers STCW 95 training and trains all the people working in Gibraltar Port. Not bad for a flakey pair.
For anyone interested, Allabroad has always had its students aims and objectives at heart and still has and has invested a lot in good yachts and facilities. Allabroad is small enough to offer personal service but large enough for your investment to be secure.
I will not comment on Marianne personally it is not Allabroad's policy to do that and even though I am now semi retired and a freelance Ocean Yachtmaster instructor (Mention that just in case any wants to employ a rude an flakey skipper) I still respect that policy. What I will do is try and explain the difficulties instructors can have with students in general.
The yacht master fastrack course is not just about sailing. Students have to live together and get on with each other and in order for them to do that they sometimes have to be taught personal skills as well.
This can include things as simple as eating with your mouth closed, making other people a sandwich when you make yourself one, getting up in the morning in time to help everyone to get the boat ready for the days sailing, and helping to put the boat to bed at night. Some times we get lazy students and wonder why they are there at all but the main thing is we usually pull them through.
It is this dedication to getting people through despite themselves that sometimes gets us called flakey by those who do not see or admit their short comings.
Quite often students do not wish to hear how it really is but we have to make sure all students are happy not only with the course but with each other and that each does their fair share of the work and if one is not we will let them know and if it continues we will let them know with a bit more force.
Quite often students get frightened in bad weather but bad weather sailing is a necessary part of the course and if you can not handle it you should not be working as a commercial skipper or instructor. When bad weather comes along the skipper needs to inspire their crew with confidence and some just do not have this skill where as others excel in it. Allabroad has no problem with teaching bad weather sailing and will continue to do it safely as always. Accident rate zero.
The mile building at Allabroad is split between self skippering and passages with an instructor.
Allabroad is one of the few schools that offer proper self skippering other schools offer it but in fact what you get is an "observer on board" so you do not really self skipper at all.
During their period of self skippering Allabroad students are given a set goal for miles which it is hoped they will achieve. There have been times when students have had disputes amongst themselves and an instructor has had to go out to the boat and sort out the crew. The crew members concerned can take this two ways. They can learn from it or resent it either way we have to deal with it and will to make sure those really interested in working hard to achieve can do so without having to do the work of others less active than themselves.
Allabroad miles are built during shorter trips as recommended by James Stevens (RYA) who made clear at the 2005 conference that long milage trips such as Ocean passages are not good on Fast track courses. Little is learnt during a long passage what is needed is shorter passages with lots of Marina handling etc.
Fast track or slow track.
At the RYA conference in 2005 James Stevens of the RYA stated that statistically there was no difference between the quality of Fast track students and slow track students.
What comes through very clear when you are an instructor doing Yacht master prep is that those coming for a one week preparation course and exam require a lot more work than a fast track student and have a higher failure rate.
Other schools in Gibraltar.
If you wish to check out sailing schools who do Fast track have a chat to the RYA they know how schools are doing, which ones are reliable and which ones have good pass rates. The RYA know which schools are running properly safety coded boats and it should be noted that boats that do Ocean passages should be safety coded for that work and if they are not you could be on one, not insured and not safe so always check, whatever school you sail with check that the documentation is in order and covers the yacht for the work it is involved in. The RYA do not always know a yachts status.
If any of you guys wish to do residential theory, anything up to Ocean, then you can do it with me in style in a really nice country villa in Spain and get a bit of Astronomy thrown in. Have a look at www.actihol.com
Any one wishing to chat about their courses or any aspect of the RYA scheme can contact me through my site listed above or on this forum. I am always willing to spend time giving free advice or help to those who need it or are keen to advance themselves in the sailing world.
Good sailing to all Vic Punch.