I had been sailing with my wife for 29 years when we started the basic keel boat series in about 2002. Our experience to that point was in dinghies for fun and racing. Our training was only a Red Cross sailing and water safety course taught in Sunfish.( surfboard with a sail). We continued together through the Basic Cruising series and Then I went forward through the rest of the classes from 2003 to 2010 when I received the OPM certification.
My primary motivation was to increase my knowledge and gain valuable on the water experience in larger boats in coastal and off shore situations so my wife and I could eventually do charters. In 2007 we purchased a 42 foot cruising sailboat to do costal type cruising to mexico and where ever. I felt that even if I was only going to do charter or coastal type cruising that the Offshore Passage Making experience was valuable because you never know when a coastal situation might turn into an extended off shore experience as you wait for weather/seas states to improve to get back to port as you try to hold off from a lee shore.
My wife and I both felt that even though we were raised as kids around lakes and boats and had been around the water that you can never have enough experience and training and never quit learning. During this time we also maintained our CPR/Medic certifications and I additionally obtained my USCG 50 GRT Master license. Going through the OPM instruction helps by real hands on experience to plan and execute all aspects of cruising, including navigation, meals , crew rotations as well as maintenance and just general housekeeping. In reality during my OPM cruise we actually lost the ability to steer with the wheel (it broke off at the spoke hub) and had to use the emergency tiller for 2 days to get back home from over a 150 miles off shore in near gale conditions. We took the boat all the way back to the dock in Sausalito. This was a real confidence builder. Gaining experience from professionals in a somewhat controlled setting is invaluable. These courses , especially the OPM, have helped us set up and sail charter boats as well as our own boat in the channel Islands, St. Lucia and Out the gate in the Gulf of the Farallons. I will probably never circumnavigate but I feel the OPM course was more than worth the cost and effort as we look forward to doing the Ha Ha and cruising the Sea of Cortez later this year for the first time.
Article posted in by Dwight Durant