New member from the Midlands!
Thought I'd say hello. I've recently managed to make the journey from one of those people who wander around marina's looking at all the boats wondering how the mysterious world of boating worked to actually getting on the water myself. Thought I'd let you know what I've done incase it helps any others get a bit of confidence to do it!
I booked myself and my brother in law onto a PB2 course with Solent Boat Training in Southampton. Went on the 2 day weekend course, learnt a lot (amazed how much there is to know) and piloting the 6m RIB was not stressful at all with the help of the instructor. After the course I wanted to go again as soon as possible so I didn't forget what I'd learnt so I hired a RIB a few weeks later with Solent RIB charters & me and my bro in law took 5 kids between us down to Lymington. We had a skipper to help out, not being confident enough to go on our own yet and not sure the RIB hire place would let us even though we'd got our PB2.
Andy the skipper was great, I explained we wanted more experience so he took it out the marina (it was a 9m RIB) and then handed over in the Solent and both myself and bro-in-law had a blast getting up to 35 knots, wave jumping, we visited the Needles, Yarmouth, moored and ate in Cowes, did donuts etc etc, it was a great day and the kids loved it. I piloted back into Lymington and my mooring or is it berthing, not sure, was a little bump and bodge (!) but completely safe so all is well!
After our PB2 we had sent our applications off immediately to the RYA to get the ICC licence as we hoped to hire a RIB in the South of France. I found a hire company who accepted the licence, so I booked an 8m RIB for 2 days. I was slightly anxious as I wondered once the hire co. saw the licence had only been issued a couple of weeks prior whether they would question our experience but no such problems. The hire company was called Furious Nautisme based in Mandelieu La Napoule, they are based up a river and the hire boats are moored 'along side' a pontoon so you don't have to worry about navigating out a marina which is pretty comforting when trying to gain experience. I can really recommend them for a first try in the Med.
All they asked was 'we are ok driving boats' to which I replied 'yes' of course!!! They photocopied our ICC licences and were handed the keys to the RIB. So 13 of our family got on board - plenty of room - and we meandered down the river towards the sea.
Once into the bay of Cannes we headed for the Ile de Lerins, the islands off Cannes. We moored with the other myriad of boats and got off for a swim. We then had a mega ringo session with the kids taking it in turns to ride the ringo, so much fun. Then we headed to the big scary pot of Port Vauban in Antibes. Bit nervous about what the protocol is heading into these ports, so we moored at the fuel station, asked in there, he said we could moor at the Welcome quay - which I now know is Accueil in French, however there was no room, so we then moored near the Captainiera and went in to ask about options. They said 13 euro for the day in a berth, or the welcome quay, we only wanted to pop for an ice cream so we decided not to stay, but on the way past the Welcome quay other boats and moved so in we went. Moored up, and wandered into Antibes, got some beer & ice cream. That was day 1.
Day 2, back down the river and this time spent the morning in Cannes bay wake boarding and pulling a banana inflatable - Furious Nautisme have loads of different toys to tow and you just take what you want in the morning, no more cost it's all included, it's great. Then we were intending to go back to Antibes but we hit some huge swell off the headland at Eden Roc, so much so, we decided to turn around at which point it immediately felt better because we were going with the swell / same direction as the rollers. We went into the Golf Juan port, immediately found the Accueil quay, reported to the Captainiere to tell them we just wanted to stay for 40 mins, they said fine, so more ice creams & beer and sat in the sun in the port watching the boats. Then we headed out for more wake boarding, before heading to the port of Mandelieu La Napoule for our first refuel. Had to loiter in a queue for a bit, but confidence built as we saw lots of other renters making a real hash of mooring to the fuel quay (!!!!). We got safely in, fueled up and headed back up the river to the Furious pontoon.
So we can't quite believe that from knowing nothing 3 months ago, we've now took our family out in the Med and been into some big ports and at times almost looked like we knew what we were doing!!!
So I'd recommend Solent RIB charters & Furious Nautisme in Mandelieu and finally, I read a lot about people avoiding the Med in summer because it's too busy, but it didn't hinder our enjoyment so I wouldn't be put off. I do think the water itself gets choppy with so much wash, in fact the Solent was calmer, we couldn't get above about 25 knots in the Med due to sea state which was the only downside but I think we had 2 fairly windy days, we're not sure how much wash and/or weather contributed to the choppy water.
So looking forward to our next hire, maybe one day we'll actually get a boat but happy hiring for now!! Attached a few pics of our adventures!