In regards to the Bow Waves Yachtmaster training scheme,

I attended the Winter ‘14/’15 yachtmaster scheme with Bow Waves, including the five STCW certification courses, based in Galway, Ireland.

The classroom and facilities were quite good.  Bow Waves has a well rounded and diverse amount of props, computer programs, teaching aids and resources, literature, safety equipment demonstration units and an endless supply of tea and biscuits!  I had around 15 different instructors, of different ages and experiences in the maritime industry throughout  the various courses involved along the way to gaining the yachtmaster COC; all of which were well organized and qualified to be instructing their individual subjects.  In particular, the principal and director of operations, Finbarr O’Regan, was the primary instructor, or lead instructor with assistance, of many courses.  The class sizes were always in good numbers.  Some larger classes with easier topics, which was nice as the interaction  and exchange of personal experiences from different sides of the maritime industry gave good insight to other worlds and made those careers relatable though a common goal.  Then again, the more difficult courses had few students and therefore appointed more one-on-one instructor/student time.

The mile building and practical courses were set in cruising grounds seen by few and in my opinion were some of the most amazing coastlines and bays I have ever seen or sailed.  Galway bay in particular has a large tidal range and is able to provide all aspects for different training scenarios, from basic to advance navigation, in both day and night.  That being said, these conditions of large tidal ranges and at times, quick tidal streams were one of the deciding factors that lead me to choose Bow Waves for the location.  For mile building, over several trips, we sailed from Galway, South, around the Southern end of Ireland and up to Dublin.  From there, across the Irish Sea to Whales, into the Bristol Channel and to the city docks of Bristol, to the Isle of Man and to the Southern and Western coasts of Scotland before navigating back across to Northern Ireland and finally, South back to Dublin.  The winter months often provided challenging conditions, but again, these were the conditions I signed up for and am well prepared to face another day.  We were also able to make a trip to the Mediterranean for a 5 day sail for our qualifying ocean passage required for the Yachtmaster Ocean COC.

The vessels used for the different trips were well equipped and comfortable.  From small and large ribs, small keelboats, traditional gaff-rigged “Galway hookers”, 37ft cabin sloop and a twin engine M/V cabin cruiser.  As we spent a significant amount of time on the vessels, we did run across different issues and breakages, but as with all boats, things fall apart and it is important to have the skills to overcome those problems and know how to troubleshoot, or find alternative solutions.

In addition to successfully completing and passing the Yachtmaster Ocean exam for both power and sail, Bow Waves was also able to host most of the courses required for me to prepare for the MCA 200grt/OOW 500grt oral exam I later took and passed in Liverpool, England.  Upon receiving the MCA COC, through the contacts and networking of Bow Waves, I was able to secure a dual position as a mate aboard a 100ft modern sail yacht in Italy, and as the captain of a 50ft chase boat for that sail yacht.

I had an amazing time while studying with Bow Waves.  I made many friends I will never forget and left with the skills needed to forge a lifelong career.

Thank you, BowWaves and faculty.