Originally Posted by Knot Yet
Finally if there is any experienced RIBster that ever fancies showing me how one should enter a challenging harbour in interesting conditions would love to gain the experience - any ideas on how I could get more experience in bad weather would also be much appreciated
I'm not sure that you would learn the nessesary skills in a Course as such, as it's sods law it'll be dead calm when you went out with an instructor. But I understand your thinking.
Building up slowly is the best experience you can get IMHO. Each boat differs in characteristic slightly and you either need a greater or lesser amount of skill to teach youself what you need to know to handle the equipement ie. learning what the trim does in a head sea or following sea. But in a safe environment ie. good weather and company.
The first thing I would be concentrating on right now would be reliability and safety drills like MOB, radio skills, what one would do in an emergancy etc.
Set yourself some little cruises, like a launch at Itchen Bridge or Hythe a cruise down the river/Southampton water and a stop at a pub like the Rising Sun at Warsash. Keep the distances traveled short at the begining and in the safety of confined waters and work yourself up to some larger cruises.
This way you'll get satisfaction of planning a cruise, doing safety exercises and having a succesful day out minimising the risk of having a bad day out.
Another little tip that I would suggest is to program as many useful telephone numbers into your phone. Solent coastgaurd, police non emergancy numbers, local sailing clubs, Sea Start etc etc etc , not forgetting all al important pub telephone numbers