So how did a boy from Milton Keynes (which is about as far from the sea as you possible can be in the UK) become a sailor?
It started around age 4; I remember sailing on my dad’s Enterprise dinghy then being pushed out in an Optimist on a small bit of water, an overgrown pond really.
At aged 10, I took part in an RYA Dinghy sailing course on the Isle of Wight. By the end of the week I was able to come alongside moored boats, recover man overboard and even sail backwards. Our instructor made a huge impression on me. So much so that once the course had finished, I proclaimed I wanted to be a sailing instructor!
I stuck with sailing and at age fourteen began to volunteer as an assistant instructor. I did this for several years in a row and found it enjoyable, although I do remember capsizing a Wayfarer full of kids. In my defence I was told they were basically un-capsize’able.
Filled with ambition I left school and enrolled onto an NVQ in Outdoor Leadership, based at an Outdoor Education Centre that catered for disadvantaged children. Under the watchful eye of the resident instructors I gradually took a leading role. We offered activities including climbing and archery as well as water sports including sailing, kayaking and windsurfing. It was challenging, particularly during the winter months, however I achieved instructor qualifications which I viewed as a ticket out of my home town.
Three weeks after my 18th birthday I left and spent a year in Antigua at a beach club working for one of the largest holiday companies. It was a world away from my previous experience.
Eventually I returned to the UK, working for one of the leading RYA dinghy training centres. At the end of the season I gained further instructor qualifications including RYA Senior Dinghy and Powerboat Instructor.
Armed with my new tickets, and keen to avoid spending another cold winter in the UK, I was offered a job at a sailing club in Dubai. I spent two years appointed as their Senior Instructor and gained much from the experience, getting my first taste of cruising and offshore racing. This got my eyes fixed on the superyacht industry. I went dock walking at the Dubai International Boat Show and was offered a temporary job on a 60m M/Y which would be heading for the MED. We had armed guards onboard and had some close calls with pirates in the Gulf of Aden.
I spent some time working on different size yachts, building miles and experience. I then found myself back in Dubai for a further three years running RYA training centres and also as Captain on a 75 foot Turkish Gullet.
I decided it was time to move on which was when I fell in love with Mallorca. Linda at Aigua Sea School offered me a week’s trial to teach an RYA Day Skipper course and I haven’t hung up my Aigua shirt since! Through the support of Aigua Sea School I achieved Yachtmaster Instructor for Sail, Personal Watercraft instructor certificate, my conversion to Certificate of Competence in Power and, recently my Cruising Instructor (power) ticket. This development in my own range of qualifications means I take pleasure in teaching a range of courses including Yachtmaster theory and practical, Advanced Powerboat and the personal watercraft courses. I find working within the Aigua Team extremely rewarding and look forward to this, my fifth year, with the team.
Simon, the Editor, has kindly given me the privilege of writing a page in The Islander each month; I aim to write articles to help new yacht crew find their way. I have some interesting subjects lined up including tips for finding your first job, advice on how to keep it and sharing my thoughts on keeping safe in what can be a very dangerous work place. As my girlfriend Nelli and I live on a sailing yacht, I hope to include some anecdotes about living our lives onboard. I post almost daily on my personal blog which you can find at facebook.com/NathanSailing . I hope you’ll enjoy reading my content. All the best for the month ahead.
Nathan Skinner- Sailing Instructor