WHAT ARE WE DOING? (Update 25 June 20)

This is my 10th re-write of this page.  It feels like a lot more than that and I am looking forward to a day when I can write ‘Its Over!’

Objectives

Our objectives are:

  • To keep staff and customers safe
  • To restart all operations as soon as we safely can.
  • To manage risks and resources as effectively as possible to reschedule bookings that have been or may be postponed to new dates taking full account of customer preference, government advice and operational safety.

Government Policy

On 23 June the Prime Minister announced the lifting (with effect from 4 July) of many restrictions that have limited individual and business activity.  The headline changes are the adjustment of social distancing guidelines, allowance of overnight stays away from home and the opening of hospitality and leisure businesses including pubs, hotels and restaurants.  These are all obviously very welcome.  But under the measures announced to date some important restrictions will remain after 4 July.  The Government has now published detailed guidance for all this.  The most important points about the position now and the position from 4 July are:

  • People can meet outside now in groups of up to 6 from any number of households.  No overnight stays are allowed.  (This has been applicable since 8 June)
  • From 4 July people can also meet in groups comprising no more than 2 households of any number of people.
  • From 4 July people can meet inside and stay overnight in self contained accommodation in groups comprising no more than 2 households.
  • For such outside or inside meetings Social Distancing should be maintained at 2 metres if possible.  From 4 July this may be reduced to 1 metre if necessary but subject to additional measures to mitigate risk.

Summary our Response

On 15 June we resumed practical training courses for sail and motor cruising in compliance with the guidance that people can meet outside in groups of up to 6 from any number of households.  This is day sailing only and in compliance with our risk assessment and government guidance we limited numbers further and introduced a range of risk reduction measures.  The programme is running well. Unfortunately, although from 4 July overnight stays will be allowed on boats ,we will not yet be able to run courses or cruises this way unless it is for a single household group.

As indoor gatherings, classroom courses cannot be conducted at present but from 4 July we will be able to operate them in a comparable way to restaurants with social distancing and other measures.

Unfortunately the relaxations on 4 July will still not permit restart of adventure sailing.  This is because it requires overnight stays involving groups of more than 2 households.  Further lifting of these household group restrictions will be necessary before adventure sailing can resume.  Milebuilders are affected in a similar way but we are examining ways in which we might achieve the aim of milebuilder sailing but within the current safety guidance.

Further detail for all types of activity is presented below.

Risk Assessments

Our decisions on restarting operations are based on compliance with Government regulation and guidance and on our risk assessments and specification of measures to minimise risk.  We have completed a Covid 19 risk assessment for practical sail training activities and we have formulated detailed policies for sailing and training in the new normality of Covid 19.  We are now working on extending these assessments and measures to classroom courses and to adventure sailing and milebuilder sailing. And we will update all assessments to reflect the updated social distancing criteria – ‘1 metre plus’

Practical Training Courses

We had postponed all training courses and events that were scheduled up until 30 June and given early warning to some customers with bookings after that that their courses and sailings may be postponed.  We are not cancelling any of these courses or events.  We are or may be postponing them and have every intention to run them all as soon as government regulations and safety permit.

We have now scheduled a provisional programme of practical sail and motor courses and events starting from 15 June and contacted everyone affected to reschedule their postponed bookings. In every case we are being very flexible in finding dates that we can deliver and that are agreeable to customers.  This process is still under way and we still await a response from some people.  If you have a postponed booking and somehow have not received any contact from us please telephone or email.

We are taking new bookings too for all practical training courses.

Although we are positive about this restart, we must all accept that there are still risks.  Courses run as day time only and with social distancing seem very different and we need everyone to play a part in keeping things as safe as possible.  We are asking customers to self-declare their health status prior to sailing and affirm that they understand and accept the safety measures we will have in place. There is also a finite risk of further postponement due to a range of potential Covid 19 events.  Examples are government regulation to re-impose restrictions or an instructor or customer developing symptoms or having to self isolate due to contact with an infected person.  So we are being flexible and will accept such postponement without undue penalty to any party.  Our terms and conditions have been expanded to include such added endorsements.

But despite these restrictions and complications the training courses have run very well indeed.  And interestingly the change to day sailing has increased the intensity and effectiveness of the of training – especially for competent crew and day skipper students.

On 4 July overnight stays will be allowed but these will limited to 2 household groups on a single boat One household will be the instructor so unless everyone in a crew is from the same household course will continue to be run as day sailing only

Private Tuition and Own Boat Instruction

Our instructors are available now for private tuition in small groups either on our yachts or yours.  These can be arranged in compliance with social distancing and other measures to achieve safety.  So if you just want coaching in boat handling, navigation, radar operation etc or a full RYA course or ICC assessment just call us or email.

Full details 

Adventure Sailing and Around Britain

The first 2 Around Britain programmes: AB1 (17 Apr to 3 Jun) and AB2 (12 Jun to 29 Jul) have been postponed.  Around Britain 3 (7 Aug to 30 Sep) could, in principle, go ahead as planned but we have been cautious and given customers early warning of the risk of postponement.

We had hoped that we would be able to resume adventure sailing after 4 July.  We have reviewed the whole programme for 2020 and we were considering several options for a new provisional schedule.  These included running 2 or possibly 3 full around Britain trips with the same length and content, possibly sequentially or overlapping using a second yacht.  Clearly, with the remaining restrictions on living aboard with more than 2 household groups (1 plus the instructor) that concept will have to be changed.  We must now hope that further relaxation – especially around household group restrictions – will come soon.

We have now contacted all affected customers to seek their views before we decide on a particular plan.  We have asked all customers to indicate their preference of keeping the original dates (where that’s still possible), postponing to a new date in 2020 (subject to government regulation) or postponement to the same or a comparable event in 2021.  This exercise is almost complete and we will then make a decision on the new adventure schedule – hopefully by 30 June (next week).

Milebuilders

As with adventure sailing, milebuilders involving overnight stays and ‘live aboard’ in the conventional sense are still not permitted now or after 4 July.  Moreover, at present we cannot sail outside UK waters without complications around freedom of navigation, port access and quarantine.  However, we are examining possible ways in which we can achieve the core purpose of milebuilder sailing but within current and future guidelines.  If we find a formula that will work and is safe we will consider running a ‘pilot’ trip.

Fast Track Yachtmaster Courses

All scheduled fast track courses in 2020 have been postponed and students have been informed.  We have been hoping that we can schedule up to 2 more fast track courses this year but the schedule will have to fall in line with a rescheduled around Britain programme.  Nevertheless we are very hopeful that we will be able to run at least one complete fast track yachtmaster course in the remainder of 2020.  We are actively considering options, consulting those involved and aim to have a new plan by Friday 3 July.

Shore-Based Classroom Courses

We will restart classroom courses from 4 July.  These will have to comply strictly with social distancing requirements so numbers are likely to be limited to between 4 and 6 students.  The first VHF course is scheduled for 4 July and more dates will be added soon.  Radar, Diesel and First Aid will follow.  Day Skipper and Yachtmaster Theory courses are running very successfully online and this will continue.  We will now consider running classroom courses for day skipper and yachtmaster starting in September but we think that the online (Hybrid) courses will become the most popular option in future.

Home Study and Hybrid (Online) Courses

Now is the perfect time to get that Day Skipper theory course done – or tackle the challenge of a Coastal Skipper and Yachtmaster theory course. If you are in isolation yet still feel well, you will never have a better opportunity to improve your professional knowledge.  We have been running these distance learning courses successfully for many years.  And now we are offering full hybrid day skipper and yachtmaster theory courses based on home study and online video teaching and tutorial sessions via the Zoom platform.  These have proved to be a great success with the video sessions enhancing contact with instructors and other students and bringing distance learning to life.  Full details here.

For absolute beginners, sailors who want to progress but don’t feel ready yet to tackle the day skipper theory course, or anyone waiting to do a competent crew course, there is an excellent introductory RYA course called ‘Essential Navigation and Seamanship‘.  Its available on-line using the RYA website and costs only £99.  You can enrol through Elite Sailing and we’ll send you the necessary supplementary materials by post.  Its a great way to enhance your knowledge and enjoyment of sail or motor cruising. Full details here.

Elite Sailing Club

Everyone can go boating now provided that either you are in a party of no more than 2 household groups or, if people are from more than 2 households, your total number is 6 or less and you are day sailing and on deck.  In all cases except a single household social distancing has to be maintained. Our yachts Spirit, Spitfire and Javelin are available to sail now and Chatham Marina is open!   So if you are a club member you can fill your boots!  And if you are not a club member why not join now?  We will shortly review membership fees and club charter rates but in the meantime the published fees and rates on the website remain valid.  If you have at least day skipper and want to become a skipper member we can still give you a 1 to 1 checkout.

Full Details Here

Better Times Ahead

I and the team at Elite Sailing would like to extend our best wishes to all of you. Thank you for your understanding and support at this challenging time.

To all our customers who have suffered postponed bookings, we do appreciate the disruption this process is causing and are truly grateful to all of you for your patience and forbearance as we work through the complicated process of rebooking your courses and events.

To potential new customers, the situation is improving.  We have started sailing again and all RYA practical courses are running effectively.  There is still a lot of summer left and we are looking forward to even better times ahead. We are taking new bookings now for all practical courses (sail and motor) and we’ll soon have a new schedule for adventure sailing and milebuilders  If you want to discuss a new booking or just consider your options please email info@elitesailing.co.uk or call the office on 01634 890 512.  Nicole, Dave or Fred will be happy to help you.

Situation Updates

We will continue to review the position and update this notice regularly.

We hope you stay safe!

Dave Allan

25 June 2020