The Yachtmaster Examiner, Mike Stratton, arrived at 2pm and was on board until after 11pm.
Brian was doing his Coastal Skipper exam whilst I was being examined for Yachtmaster Offshore. The syllabus is the same for both but the level of experience and expectations for Yachtmaster are higher.
We took turns skippering the boat and being examined in the saloon on a whole range of subjects and skills. Soon after leaving the harbour I had to moor to a buoy. Then I had to sail off the buoy and Brian was down below for his 'blind navigation' plotting a course to St Mawes quay. With blind navigation it is as if there is dense fog with no information other than the course and speed through the water and the depth of water from the echo sounder.
Half way across the Carrick Roads Mike shouted 'help!' and I realised he had chucked a buoy and bucket over the side so I immediately went into Man Over Board drill. Thankfully we picked up the grateful bucket and set off again to St. Mawes. The wind was increasing all the time and even with one reef in the boat behaved rather erractically, being a plastic fantastic Bavaria, much to Mike's horror. He said 'put the helm hard over' I said 'I have', he said 'my boat wouldn't do this' or something to that effect in Cornish nautical dialect!
Now it was my turn to navigate blind, this time from St. Mawes Quay to Mylor Creek. The crew put a second reef in as the wind increased and we headed out of St. Mawes with a Man Over Board for Brian on the way. As the wind was coming from the north down the Carrick Roads we had to tack up the harbour which was an extra challenge for my blindness. If one can get within 2 boat's lengths of a buoy the crew are allowed to tell you and this gives an exact position. I managed to get one Starboard hand buoy on the way to Black Rock then nothing until much further up the roads. Finally I resorted to tacking to and fro along the port hand 10metre contour of the main channel. I knew if I kept doing this eventually the angle would chgange and we could reach along to the next buoy. Just before it there is a wreck which confuses the contour. Unknown to me there was a fishing boat sitting there (good fishing around the wreck). The crew were getting exhausted with all my changes of tack and Mike tried to throw me ofcourse with bits of information. However he eventually said 'exercise over - up you come, I can see exactly what you are doing'. As I came on deck there was the buoy right next to us beside the fishing boat. Very satifiying.
We still had various exercises, including being grilled on all the navigation lights, fog sounds, meteorology (we had to interpret the day's shipping forecast) and Mike checked our passage plans which we had prepared earlier.
After a bit of night pilotage we arrived back in the Marina. After debriefing me and saying that I had passed Mike said to me finally 'I have one question for you, why havn't you done this earlier?' I could hear Captain George Paget when I was Third Mate on the Logos in 1973 saying to me 'When are you going to get your tickets?'