Originally Posted by Doug Stormforce
Does a pub serve you sub standard lager because it also offers food?
Doug - not wanting to stir up trouble here (well actually there is nothing like a good ribnet argument!)... but pub's main product is the beer, the food is a product line extention. Generally pub-grub might not be as high standard as in say a good restaurant where the food is the primary product line.
Likewise if a sailing school are mainly a sailing school then its quite possible that their powerboat training is a product line extention and may not be as good as a dedicated powerboat school. To continue the analogy though there are of course crap restaurants too, and therefore there are bound to be poorer quality dedicated powerboat schools. Similarly there are some good gastro-pubs where you can get good food and great beer, so likewise there will be good RYA schools offering a bit of both (sailing and powerboats - not beer and food - that would be an excellent RYA school!).
A better criterion might be if they offer the full RYA syllabus (Level 1, 2, Safety, Int., Adv.) then they should be able to put together a half decent level 2 course. If they only offer say level 1&2, then perhaps they have a bit of a limited menu.
Like a restraunt/gastro pub - so much of it has to do with the chef! Some schools have a great guy at the top and if you get him you will do well. Sometimes the top guy has employed great people and even if he is not there you still get a good deal - other times when the head chef/principal is not directly involved you get an inferior product. So worth asking who will actually run the course you are doing, and see if they are as experienced as you want.
Of course sometimes it is good if people have wider interests in that can provide more experience - and with much of the theory overlapping I can't see how being able to sail could be a bad thing. On the otherhand since sometimes the rag-and-stick brigade see powerboats as inferior - that would be the type of school to avoid.
And lets not forget that afterall someone on a PB2 course is looking for 2 days introduction to powerboating. I have seen training in other environments (not RYA stuff, but sure it happens there) where the instructors want to go way beyond the basics (either to show off their own expertise, or becasue the basics are boring) and it doesn't work for beginners.
I think there are a few things I would be suggesting you can ask to stand a better chance of finding a good/better course: (1) how many students will be on the course/each boat etc; (2) how much of the time is afloat. Personally those factors put me off the large "classroom" style courses run particualarly by some of the large "institutions" but at the end of the day and RYA level 2 course should meet the same minimum standard.
When I did my course I had just acquired a new boat and the school suggested I bring it along to do some own boat stuff at the end of the day (this also meant they could do practical launch and recovery which as their boats are stored afloat wasn't normally something they do). That level of flexibility, tuning to MY needs impressed me.
PS> I don't know Doug or and of the south coast PBI's personally and this is a general observation on trying to find a good course rather than any comment on the people or organisations listed.