Lockdown 2 (Update 3 November 2020)

On Saturday 31 October, reacting to the general rise in infection rates, the government announced an England-wide national ‘lockdown’ to commence on Thursday 5 November and last for 4 weeks – ending on Wednesday 2 December.  We recognize that if this doesn’t achieve sufficient reduction in transmission the lockdown could be extended.  The new regulations to be  confirmed by act of parliament, include a ‘stay at home’ policy for everyone (with no exemption for organized sport) and a limit on outdoor meetings with people outside a household or support bubble to one other person.   At the end of this period the Government has said that measures will return to the local tiered formula based on the infection and transmission risks applicable at that time.

In compliance with Government regulations for Lockdown 2 we have to suspend all practical training courses and shore-based classroom courses with effect from Thursday 5 November.  Distance Learning and on-line training courses are continuing unaffected.  We have already informed everyone with bookings affected by this suspension and we are in the process of agreeing postponements on a fully-flexible basis in accord with T&Cs.

Whilst we appreciate the risks that Lockdown 2 could be extended beyond 4 weeks or that local conditions might place Kent in Tier 2 or even 3, for planning purposes we assume that we will be able to re-commence all operations on 3 December on the same basis as in October.  We plan that this will include practical sail training, milebuilders and a limited range of shore-based courses.  We will make courses and events available throughout the period up to 20 December or for as long as there is customer demand.  After a short Christmas break we plan to re-commence all operations from 4 January.

Covid Risk Assessments, Measures and Terms and Conditions.

In compliance with government regulation and guidance we completed Risk Assessments for each type of activity and formulated detailed measures to minimize risks and comply with Covid-Secure guidelines.   These allowed us to resume practical sailing in late June and from July we ran a full range of practical training courses on sail and motor yachts.  Adventure sailing followed on 15 August with a 47 day around Britain cruise that was successfully completed on 30 September.  In August we also resumed VHF/SRC classroom courses while shore-based navigation courses ran as distance learning and online.  Despite the imposition of Lockdown 2 the risk assessments early in the epidemic have not significantly changed.  and the corresponding covid safety measures for each activity sector are still valid.  These measures have been made available to customers at the time of enquiry and through the booking process so everyone should know what to expect.   Our current Covid 19 risk assessment is available here.  This considers all the various channels through which the virus could arrive in the school and the points at which we can best interdict infection routes.  No single measure can make operations completely safe but we consider that, taken together, all the measures we have introduced should ensure that risks are low enough.

Covid Safety Measures for each type of course or activity are set out in separate documents and links to these are shown at the foot of this page.

Covid 19 brings increased risks that an individual may not be able to attend a course at quite short notice or that we may be prevented from running a course.  We have considered the range of risks and consequences and decided that the only rational response is 100% flexibility.  So if a Covid 19 event occurs a course can be postponed to the next possible mutually agreed date with no penalty to any party.  The additional T&Cs for Covid 19 are available here.

Practical Training

Almost all sailing and motor cruising courses were available up until 1 November and we plan to resume this programme immediately after Lockdown 2 ends with courses running every week and every weekend up until 20 December and then again from 4 January.  Covid Secure measures are explained in the document referenced below.  Essentially, we are able to offer practical courses because these are primarily an outdoor activity where transmission risks are relatively low and assuming Tier 1 regulations post-Lockdown 2, we can operate with crews of up to 5 people plus the instructor in compliance with the ‘rule of 6’.  However, during training we are not allowing more than a single household below deck unless masks are worn and we are not allowing the preparation of communal meals aboard.  All practical training courses are currently running as non-residential.  This arrangement is approved by the RYA.  Yachts return to the marina at the end of each day’s training eliminating the requirement to stay overnight (although variations in the start and finish times is allowing some night sailing when required.  Customers are free to go home and return to the yacht the next morning.  Customers who can’t or don’t want to travel daily are asked to arrange local shorebased accommodation or pre-book a private cabin.  We have a limited number of cabins available on yachts – bookable in advance and subject to conditions.  Initially we withdrew all wet weather clothing hire due to difficulties in sanitising clothing between users.  But we have now introduced a quarantine system that will make limited numbers of sets of clothing available but on a strict advance booking basis.

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

Traditional milebuilders restarted restarted in October and we enjoyed two successful trips before Lockdown 2.  We will now plan for two more milebuilders in  December.

For Covid safety measures see the links at the foot of this page.

Shorebased Training

Classroom training is obviously more problematic because of the need for social distancing in an indoor setting.  We resumed VHF Radio/SRC courses In September with a maximum class size of 4 students and these have been operating as normally as one can expect.  We have also now delivered one Diesel engine course and one Radar course just prior to Lockdown 2.  We plan to resume this programme in December.

Day Skipper and Yachtmaster Shore-based courses have not yet resumed in the classroom.  The reason is that home study and hybrid courses with video classes using the Zoom platform have been very popular, are a very effective replacement for the classroom and they have almost zero Covid risk.  Nevertheless people do value the human contact and unique quality of a classroom course so we are considering re-introducing classes for small groups from January 2021.

For Covid safety measures see the links at the foot of this page.

Adventure Sailing

We have resumed adventure sailing and on 30 September we completed a 47 day Around Britain voyage.  This was conducted on a 46 foot yacht with reduced numbers aboard and special measures to minimize risks.  The voyage was a great success with many people safely enjoying adventurous sailing in a wide range of conditions and experiencing the unique pleasure of seeing so much of the UK coast – from Dover to the Isles of Scilly to Skye and Orkney.  Sadly we have been unable to visit France, Belgium, Holland because of UK quarantine on return.

Next year’s adventure sailing programme including at least 3 Around Britain trips is on the website here:  Adventure Sailing 2021

For Covid safety measures see the links at the foot of this page.

Fast Track Yachtmaster Courses

All scheduled fast track courses in 2020 were postponed and all students have now agreed with us other arrangements to complete courses.  .  We have just completed a first batch of YM exams this October and are considering one more YM Prep course and exam for sail  in December. We are considering an extra ‘Early’ Fast Track course including around Britain sailing to commence on 25 January and finish on 14 April.  Details will be posted on this website soon.  A full programme of 3 YM Fast Track (Sail) courses for 2021 has been scheduled.  Details are here:  Fast Track

Bookings Postponed Due to Covid 19

From the outset of the pandemic we contacted all customers progressively and informed them of the postponement of their courses and the options that were available.  We are very grateful for the patience and forbearance of our customers as we worked through this process at an extremely difficult time for the business.  We appreciate the disruption and inconvenience that the whole episode has caused.  We have now reached a stage where almost all customers with postponed bookings have either already completed their courses or events or have agreed new dates in 2020 or 2021.  We are aware of a very small number of people (eg some who booked milebuilders) where we have so far been unable to schedule substitute dates.  We will now focus on these remaining outstanding requirements and contact the individuals concerned.  If you had a booking with us and feel that we have not addressed the problem yet please do get in touch to make sure that we have you on the list.

Better Times Ahead

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

To potential new customers, we are still very much in business and planning resumption of all activities after Lockdown 2 ends on 3 December.  We will be operating right up until 20 December and we’ll resume all activities from 4 January 2021.  We are taking new bookings now for all practical courses (sail and motor) and for online day skipper and yachtmaster theory courses.  We will have a new schedule for winter milebuilders soon and the 2021 adventure sailing programme is on the website.  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

3 November 2020

Useful Links:

Additional T&Cs During Covid

Covid Measures – Practical Training

Covid Measures – Milebuilders

Packing List for Day Sailing

Packing List – Milebuilders

Covid Measures – Classroom Courses

Covid Measures – Adventure Sailing