previous   HOME   INDEX   next
Back to Rusalka Mist Home Page

Preparing Ourselves

Early experience

Nigel with Palodillo, a 16 ft traditional, open fishing boat.

Nigel was around boats throughout his childhood. His Dad had Côte d'Azur and then Edith from his earliest days through until he was a teenager. They were both 16 ft. clinker-built open wooden fishing boats, very much like Palodillo which is photographed here. This is the style of working boats which Jersey fishermen had used for many years in local waters, although they have become a rare sight today.

"In my opinion at the time we never used those boats often enough," he remembers. "When we finally did crank up the old engines and tootled around a bay, I was in my element. Sometimes I was allowed to steer while the grown-ups fished for a bucket of mackerel."

When he was about 14 he was allowed to buy an 8 ft., pram-ended, clinker-built punt which he rowed round and round St Brelade's Bay for two entire Summers.

Before they met, Nicky had been involved in the local rowing club. Due to her light weight she had been snapped up as promising cox, but her team had little time or patience to train a novice. She enjoyed time at sea and learned about steering and inshore pilotage but spent less than a season involved in such a highly competitive and macho world.

Before buying Rusalka Mist, Nigel had bought Pallodillo, shown above, and then spent one season with Liza, a 21 ft. Corribee. It was in these two craft that he made his first crossings between the Channel Islands and over to France.

Books and Magazines

"'It's life, not books, that's taught me what I've learnt!', Well that certainly is not true for me," says Nigel. "Almost everything I know about sailing, the sea, navigation, the whole thing, it all came from books and especially from magazines," he added. Listed below are hot links to 'The Bosun's Locker', this web-site's on-line bookshop. These are Nigel's pick of the most important books over the years.

Single Handed Sailing
Single-Handed Sailing
Cruising in Seraffyn
Cruising in Seraffyn
Sell up and Sail
Sell up
and Sail
Ocean Cruising on a Budget
Ocean Cruising on a Budget
A World of My Own
A World of My Own
Best of Sail Trim
Best of
Sail Trim
Complete Yachtmaster
Atlantic Crossing Guide
Atlantic Crossing Guide
World Cruising Routes
World Cruising Routes
Seaworthiness: Forgotten Factor
Seaworthiness: The Forgotten Factor
The links above are brought to you by this site's affiliation with®

It is more difficult to give you links to magazine titles, but Nigel and Nicky mention Cruising World, Ocean Navigator, Sailing Today, Yachting Monthly and Practical Boat Owner. "Look out for these in your local newsagent," says Nigel. "It is amazing, really, how much you can pick up from modern, specialist magazines."

Courses and Exams

Both Nigel and Nicky have passed the Marine VHF Operator's examination. This is necessary in order legally to use the VHF transmitter that every boat should carry. It provides short-range communication up to about 30 to 50 miles and is vital in any rescue at sea.

In the UK, the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) administers a series of qualifications for amateur yachtsmen and women to improve and verify their knowledge and skills. These qualifications depend on both theoretical and practical ability and the test at each level is carried out at sea. The main series of qualifications are, in order of difficulty:

  1. Competent Crew
  2. Day Skipper
  3. Coastal Skipper
  4. Yachtmaster

Nicky is qualified to Day Skipper standard at the moment and Nigel to Yachtmaster level.

Both of them have completed the RYA Sea Survival Course which involves understanding and practising tactics and procedures in extremis. They both have First Aid qualifications, as required by the Yachtmaster syllabus. Nigel has passed the medical examination which, combined with the above, would be enough to get him the Commercial Endorsement for his Yachtmaster Certificate. He has not taken the trouble to apply for this yet, but he has made the effort to obtain an International Certificate of Competence (ICC) which is available to holders of an RYA Yachtmaster Certificate.

Nigel's Radio Amateur Licence is also useful in that it allows him to operate the SSB short-wave (HF) transmitter which gives Rusalka Mist world-wide communication, for free, from anywhere at sea. The only limitation of the Radio Amateur Service is that the only people available to talk to are fellow amateurs. There are thousands of these world-wide and many specialist Marine Networks exist on the amateur bands. His callsign is M0AQJ or M0AQJ/MM when 'maritime mobile'.

Personally Speaking

So they seem well enough qualified for these exploits, but what about on a more personal level? "We have Musto Ocean sailing suits and good quality sea-boots," says Nigel.

But how do you feel about being away from home for a year or more at a time? "Oh, it's a bit of a scary thought, but with telephones, radios, the internet and mail services we should be able to stay in touch much better than just a few years ago," he says.

"I'm looking forward to the sun-tan!" adds Nicky.

Are you not worried about something going wrong with the boat? "Yes, constantly," says Nicky.

"Ah, but we have so many levels of back-up on board. The worst that can happen means that we just have to put Plan B or maybe Plan C into operation," reassures Nigel.

What about storms at sea? Are you prepared for that? "Well I get sea-sick going to Guernsey if it's rough," says Nigel disconcertingly.

"I love a good storm - from a safe marina," Nicky jokes.

"No, we're ok. I take Stugeron these days and that fixes the sea-sickness. I know that I get sea-legs after a few days at sea each year too. It's a lovely feeling when you realise you feel fine at last. The boat's really strong and we have storm sails, the drogue, contingency plans. We'll be fine."

"Where we're going we won't even see a storm!!"