Our instructors come from varying different backgrounds and we thought it would be nice to share their paths towards the role they currently work in for Seafarer. For those who would like to become RYA Instructors there are a number of ways into the industry and we are happy to help advise anyone looking into this. We also run 6 Week Sailing or Windsurfing Instructor Courses through Seafarer Academy. So sit back and have a little read about how we all got where we are.
Name - Joe Snowdon
Current Role – Nikiana Beach Club Resort Manager
Instructor Qualifications – RYA Dinghy Senior Instructor, Advanced Instructor, Multihull Instructor, RYA Windsurf Instructor, RYA Powerboat Instructor
“I was lucky enough to start sailing at the age of 8 when I was thrust into the front of a Mirror Dinghy on a very wavy and cold April day in Sidmouth, Devon, somehow I loved it and I raced Mirrors for a number of years before progressing onto Laser 2s and Scorpions. It was during this time I started teaching, first just helping out with ‘beginners evenings’ at my local club before becoming an Assistant Instructor at Spinnakers Sailing School in Exmouth.
Needless to say I loved teaching and became a Dinghy Instructor as soon as I turned 16, teaching through a couple of wonderful summers in Exmouth before a summer job in an American Summer camp tempted me to the other side of the pond. This was great fun but not really proper teaching (no boat had a tiller extension) so I spent the next two sun drenched summers working for Neilson in Halkidiki, Greece where I met some great friends, probably drank way to much and learnt how to Windsurf.
University brought me back to the UK studying Industrial Design at Brunel in West London but I found myself Team Racing regularly and learning how to sail a RS800. During the summers I worked at Datchet Water Sailing Club and following Graduation I worked there for 3 seasons as Training Manager before doing another 3 seasons for Mark Warner in Kos, Greece and Bodrum, Turkey, the first as a Senior Instructor and the other 2 as Waterfront Manager.
This will be my second year in my current role and unfortunately I don’t get to teach as much as i’d like but I’ll be teaching any RYA Performance Courses in our wide range of Performance Boats along with hopefully getting in plenty of racing and windsurfing”.
Name - George Nounesis
Current Role – Ionian Sailing School Senior Instructor
Instructor Qualifications – RYA Cruising Instructor, Commercially Endorsed Yachtmaster
“I started sailing in 1999 in Greece and ever since I haven’t stopped learning. I realised that sailing is not just a boat in the water going from place to place, it is much more. If you want to be a good skipper you must be a sailor, an engineer, a navigator, an electrician, a meteorologist and you have to develop knowledge and skills to a level that every passage will be safe and pleasant. Sailing is my passion, sailing is what I love to do that’s why I am trying to improve my knowledge and my skills every day. I was fascinated by the RYA teaching methods and I found out that my way of thinking suits to these methods, so a few years ago I decided to be an instructor. As an RYA cruising instructor, I am trying to pass my knowledge my experience and my passion to every student through the RYA courses.
Every day is a school day !!!
See you soon”
Name - Amy Graydon
Current Role – Nikiana Beach Club Yacht Instructor
Instructor Qualifications – RYA Dinghy Senior Instructor, Multihull Instructor, RYA Cruising Instructor, Commercially Endorsed Yachtmaster, RYA First Aid Instructor
“I started sailing at the age of 10 when my family started going on slightly more adventurous holidays than our traditional camping. My dad had sailed when he was younger and he saw this as an opportunity to get my brother and I into the sport as well. We were lucky being the only kids in kids club and so got pretty focused tuition on the boats. From then I was hooked and upon our return home we found a local club and started sailing every weekend, first in a Mirror dinghy and then I progressed on to Topper then Lasers, occasionally jumping in to race with my dad in his Laser 2000.
As I approached the age of 17 I’d done various bits and pieces of assistant teaching voluntarily at my club and decided to sit my Dinghy Instructor at Cumbrae in Scotland. It was a riotous course and the instructors knew how to make the lessons fun. Since that first jaunt out in Greece those 7 years ago I’d known I wanted to get a job instructing for a gap year before university so the second applications opened for summer positions I was all over it.
Fast forward a year and the day after my final exam at high school I was hopping on a plane to Halkidiki and since then I’ve never looked back! The sun, sea and sand made it for me. The fact that I was able to teach in shorts and a t-shirt instead of thick wetsuits was nothing short of a dream. In the end I never went to university, my savings and ambitions switched over to focus on widening my instructor quiver.
Last year, after teaching dinghy sailing for 7 years I decided a sight chance was in order and, using my yachting experience I’d managed to gather over time off on seasons and the occasional (absolutely freezing!) winter, I went through my Yachtmaster Offshore training followed by my Cruising Instructor qualification. Now I’m gearing up to start my first season teaching on bigger boats and at no point do I wish I’d spent money on anything else!”
Name - George Hodgkison
2016 Role – Dinghy Instructor
Instructor Qualifications – RYA Dinghy Instructor
“I first began sailing on a friend’s yacht in the solent. These were Sunday winter mornings, and the competitive environment and cold weather was brutal yet thrilling. As a result, I became a big fan of the sport.
From there, I had a large change of scene and went on a family sailing holiday in Greece. The warm winds and water opened my eyes to how sailing could be a fun, relaxing pastime as well as a serious competitive sport. As well as a change in surroundings, the holiday taught me the methods and ways of dinghy sailing – vastly different to yachts.
I continued with dinghy sailing for quite a while, joining a sailing club in Southampton and going on occasional sailing holidays to the (much warmer) Mediterranean. Just before I started University however, I decided I wanted to get my Day Skipper qualification, and so spent a week doing that in Greece, which bought back my love for yachts.
In my first summer of university I had plenty of time in my hands and so decided to join the Instructor Academy at a holiday resort I had been to with my family a few years before – Nikiana. I spent 5 weeks here having an absolutely fantastic time; we had a great course instructor and learned so much over the intensive 5 weeks. In the final week, external assessors came to judge our sailing and instructing abilities, which was a bit nerve-wracking but very informative and instructive.
I used my new instructor qualification to return to Nikiana the following two summers. Both were great seasons, and the different approaches to running the resort in the consecutive years meant I got the chance to improve my methods and improve my sailing! I recommend the course to anyone that wants an expansive, fun experience and wants to learn how to teach”.
Name - Becky Law
Current Role – Ionian Sailing School Cruising Instructor
Instructor Qualifications – RYA Cruising Instructor, Commercially Endorsed Yachtmaster, RYA Dinghy Instructor, Multihull Instructor
“I have sailed for as long as I can remember. I was only a few months old the first time I was rowed out to my parents Cornish Shrimper in a baby car seat. My Dad built my first dinghy when I was 5 and taught me and my sister how to sail in Poole harbour. I spent many weekends racing ABs then Cadets and later Laser 4.7s including taking part in national championships. We were lucky to have RYA training courses at my sailing club – one with Ben Ainslie and and Shirley Robertson! We enjoyed learning getting our log books signed off. During the summer holidays my family would often sail around the French coast on a 25ft yacht. My first experience of Greece was a flotilla holiday when I was 10 where I remember lots of swimming and cheese pies!
It was when I went to University that I really started teaching others. The University of Surrey had a very social sailing team but did not have a lot of experienced sailors. I helped to teach new members when they joined the club. We were involved in dinghy racing and yacht racing and I found that I had a lot of useful information to pass on. We didn’t always do that well in competitions but we always had fun!
In 2011 I took my Dinghy Instructor and then Multihull Instructor qualifications and taught at Datchet Water Sailing Club on weekends alongside my ‘proper’ job. In 2012 I had a couple of friends working in the Ionian who kept sending me annoying pictures of how much fun they were having and whilst on holiday to visit them I got offered my first job as a Yacht Trainer with Neilson. One month later I was back in Greece and teaching guests how to sail. I then spent a year working on flotilla before completing my RYA Yachtmaster Offshore in the Solent in 2014. That year I was mostly doing skippered charters which involved a lot of unofficial teaching so the next logical step was to do the Cruising Instructor in a very cold March 2015. Since that point I have been doing a combination of courses and skippered charters around the Ionian so this year will be my seventh season there.
I feel that I was very lucky to have been able to sail from a very young age. I am glad that I can now pass this information and experience on to others who did not have the same opportunities as I did in what I think is one of the most beautiful locations for learning to sail”.
Seafarer Holidays AWARDED FEEFO TRUSTED SERVICE AWARD 2018
February 2018, Seafarer Holidays has won the Feefo Trusted Service award, an independent seal of excellence that recognises businesses for delivering exceptional experiences, as rated by real customers.
Created by Feefo, Trusted Service is awarded only to those businesses that use Feefo to collect genuine ratings and reviews. Those that meet the high standard, based on the number of reviews they have collected, and their average rating, are awarded. A badge of honour, this accreditation remains unique, as it is based purely on the interactions with verified customers. As all reviews are verified as genuine, the accreditation is a true reflection of a business’ commitment to outstanding service.
Seafarer Holidays met the criteria of collecting at least 50 reviews between January 1st 2017 and December 31st 2017, with a Feefo service rating of between 4.0 and 4.4.
Chris Lorenzo, Seafarer Holidays commented: “It’s a real honour to receive this award from Feefo. To be recognised for delivering exceptional experiences to our customers is a great achievement. We’ve been working hard to ensure our customers receive the best service possible, and being able to listen, understand and respond to their needs has enabled us to improve our offering in 2017. We’re looking forward to another successful year ahead.”
Speaking on this year’s award, Andrew Mabbutt, CEO at Feefo, commented: ‘The Trusted Service award has always been about recognising those companies that go the extra mile. Once again, we have seen many incredible businesses using Feefo to its full potential, to provide truly memorable experiences for their customers – and rightly being awarded with our most prestigious accreditation. I look forward to the continual success of the businesses that work in partnership with Feefo throughout 2018.’.
Is Sailing for me?
As many of you are aware, Seafarer regularly exhibits at the London and Southampton Boat Shows, and whilst it is predominantly the stomping ground for those who have an existing interest in sailing or boating of some kind, it also attracts those who are curious about our sport and are keen to find out more.
We often get asked questions about sailing – “Is this for everyone?” or “So, what experience would I need to charter one of your yachts in the Mediterranean?”, amongst others. Many people have seen the freedom of Flotilla and Bareboat Holidays while abroad and wondered how they can do these themselves.
So I guess the first thing to establish is whether you are actually going to enjoy being on a sailing yacht, and of course all the words in the world can’t replace a bit of experience. Luckily, at Seafarer we have a number of ways that one could enjoy a fantastic holiday in the sun and answer that initial question for themselves. One option would be to join one of our Cabin Charter yachts in the Ionian or the Cyclades, enjoying a week’s cruise on a 50 foot sailing yacht, crewed by a professional skipper and 1st mate, who would be responsible for looking after the yacht and the guests on board. This is an opportunity to see the islands of Greece, and to whet your appetite for sailing – this is no Gulet cruise in Turkey, we sail every day! Alternatively, you could choose to enjoy a relaxing week at our Beach Club in Nikiana, Greece, which, as well as including all the watersports you could want: Dinghy Sailing, Windsurfing, SUPing & Kayaking, you could also take a 2 day RYA Start Yachting course, an ideal way to dip your toe in the water (quite literally!) to see if yachting is for you.
RYA Cruising Courses
As an RYA training centre, we are, of course, huge advocates of the RYA training system, and we believe that the quality of training provided by RYA centres in general rivals the best maritime training worldwide. If you enjoyed your initial taste of yachting in the Mediterranean, then it makes sense to consider the Mediterranean as your training ground also. For those with very little or no practical sailing experience, we would always recommend the RYA Competent Crew course – this is conducted over a one week period aboard a fully safety coded training yacht and will teach you all the skills required to become an active crew member, experience life on board and really get to know the boat.
At this point, you will have some experience under your belt, and you will have had a great holiday at the same time. The next stage, for those who wish to progress, is to consider a RYA shore based theory course to while away those bleak cold winter evenings…and to set you up with the theoretical knowledge to compliment your existing practical skills in preparation for the next step. Following the RYA Competent Crew we also recommend getting some practice in different waters and conditions. Numerous Sailing Schools around Britain run weekend trips with an instructor onboard making this the ideal way to improve your sailing and will be ideal for the next stage, RYA Day Skipper.
Again, if your likely sailing is to be predominantly in the Mediterranean, a “blue water” cruising ground would be a great choice – you’ll get all the practical skills offered in the UK, with the addition of the crucial “stern-to” or Mediterranean style mooring – the essential skill that will be put into practise every day in Greece, Croatia, France or indeed the majority of holiday cruising destinations.
The great thing about a course with Seafarer Training is that our tuition yachts generally follow our flotilla routes, which gives you a chance to partake in the social side of Flotilla sailing and to experience first hand the considerable benefits of having a professional flotilla crew on call to take the guesswork out of your first sailing holidays. Once you have your practical RYA Day Skipper course under your belt then the world is your oyster – join a Seafarer Flotilla in one of our less challenging sailing areas, or go Bareboat if the sense of adventure takes you. Either way, our experienced team are on hand to offer you the best suggestions to make your sailing dream a reality.
Nikiana Beach Club
We’ve had a great year at Nikiana Beach Club and were really looking forward to next summer so we thought we’d share some of the exciting new things coming to Nikiana next season.
1. Start Yachting Course
For 2018 we will start running the RYA Start Yachting Course on our Nikiana Club Yacht. The course includes the yacht, ropework, underway, rules of the road, man overboard recovery, clothing and equipment, emergency equipment and precautions, meteorology and is the perfect way to start your yacht sailing journey if your not sure you want to commit to the Competent Crew Course. We will be running this every week and it is pre bookable for £129 with any Nikiana Holiday. It will be run over 16 hours so plenty of other time in the week to enjoy all the other activities on offer.
2. RYA Advanced Courses
In 2018 the RYA Advanced Courses will now be pre bookable with any Nikiana Holiday and we hope to run plenty of RYA Seamanship Skills, Sailing with Spinnakers and Performance Sailing Courses throughout the season. Because of the nature of each of these programs if possible we ask for 2 people to sign up together but if not we can work something out. These courses are available for £99 each.
3. More Picos, Lasers and Bahias
We love how much people sail at Nikiana and thus were increasing our fleet sizes for Picos, Lasers and Bahias. We’ve got 3 more Picos on the way, 2 more Lasers with the option of 4.7 rig and 1 more Bahia. We feel we’ve been neglecting the more traditional classes a little bit over the last couple of years so the Bahia will be fitted with a symmetric spinnaker which is great if people are hoping to use skills learned at Nikiana to get into booming classes such as the Wayfarer, GP14, Scorpion or Fireball.
Were looking to fill the gap between the 2000s and Bahias and the Performance Classes and we’ve decided to get a RS400 for the Beach Club. Its an amazing boat to sail which is really accessible to Intermediate and Advanced Sailors. Its a 2 person Hiking Performance Dinghy with an Asymmetric Spinnaker. It also means we will have the full set of boats with Wing Wangs (Swinging Spinnaker Pole) if that means anything.
5. Wind SUPS & Sea Kayaks
To build up our windsurf and paddle boarding options at the Beach Club were getting a number of Red Windsurfer WindSups. These can be used for both Windsurfing and Paddleboarding and offer a great light wind option for an experienced windsurfer.
Were also looking to get a number of sit on top Touring Kayaks which will offer a great option for seeing more of the coast in comfort and we will be running regular kayak trips up and down the coast which should be pretty exciting.
6. Performance Week with Ed Powys
Were going to be running a Performance Sailing Week hopefully with Ed Powys, one of the BAR team from the Americas Cup and a former member of the Olympic 49er Squad. The week will consist of 4 hours tuition a day in the numerous Performance classes we have such as the Laser 4000, RS800 and Alto along with video coaching and some great socials. Overall it’s a great opportunity to learn to sail a performance dinghy so watch this space for dates and booking.
While the history of the Ionian Islands is not as well documented or maybe as glamorous as that of Athens, Sparta, Corinth or Rhodes, many events in the Islands between Corfu (Kerkrya) and Zante(Zakynthos) have shaped the history of Europe. While we sail through this stunning area we take the same routes as many ancient mariners so sit back and have a read.
Bronze Age Ionian & The Odyssey
Legend states that the Ionian Sea is named after Io, the lover of Zeus who swam across the turquoise waters to reach the Zeus in Egypt. It is thought the Ionian was settled in the Bronze age with Corfu and Kefalonia being the main settlements. Kefalonia especially has quite a number of Mycenaean sites and in 1991 a tomb from roughly 1300BC was discovered near Poros hinting at a larger Bronze Age settlement in that area.
One very interesting area of research is the location of Odysseus’s palace from Homer’s epic poems the Iliad and the Odyssey. Legend states that Ithaca was the famous island home of the legendary leader but the island’s topography doesn’t match with the descriptions in the poem. The famous German Archaeologist Wilhelm Dorpfeld always thought the location of Odysseus’s Palace was in the bay of Nydri due to the following passage from the Odyssey.
“I dwell in shining Ithaca. There is a mountain there, high Neriton, covered in forests. Many islands lie around it, very close to each other, Doulichion, Same, and wooded Zacynthos— but low-lying Ithaca is farthest out to sea, towards the sunset, and the others are apart, towards the dawn and sun. It is rough, but it raises good men.” Homer, Odyssey 9.1:”
These islands could refer to Kalamos, Kastos, Meganisi and the smaller satellite islands around Nydri.
The Ionian Islands in Classical Greece & the Peloponnesian War
Following the Bronze Age collapse the next legend to come from the Ionian is the fate of the famous poet Sappho who is said to have committed suicide for the sake of love by jumping from Cape Lefkada.
It was thought the islands were colonised by the Corinthians from the 7th Century BC with different city states founded on each island. The Corinthians built a channel to separate Lefkas from the mainland and aid navigation through the Inland Sea and the first town on the island was built slightly south of the current capital. Another city of note is the ruins of Ancient Sami above the current town of the same name on the island of Kefalonia. Established after the Greek Dark Age it was a flourishing city in a strong mountain top position until it was taken by the Romans in 188BC. The ruins of the Ancient Acropolis sit above the town of Sami and are well worth a visit.
It was events on the island of Corfu which led to an end of the Classical Age of Ancient Greece. An argument between the the people of Corfu and the city of Corinth drew the Athenians into the dispute which resulted in the Battle of Sybota in 433BC. This acted as one of the catalysts for the Peloponnesian War with Sparta, Corinth (including the Ionian Islands) along with the rest of the Peloponnesian League being arrayed against the forces of the Delian League led by Athens. After many years of war the Peloponnesian League ended up Victorious but it left the Greek City states so weakened that the way was clear for the rise of Macedonia and Alexander the Great.
Roman Times & The Battle of Actium
The city states of Greece fell to the Romans in the 2nd Century BC and the Ionian Islands fell under their rule and it was during this time that one of the most important events in the history of the Roman Empire happened just to the North of Lefkada, near Preveza. Following the death of Julius Caesar in 44BC a series of wars broke out between Octavian Augustus, Mark Antony and Caesar’s killers representing the senate. Through numerous battles and alliances the war ended up finishing in the largest sea battle of the Ancient World with Augustus and his very able Admiral Agrippa beat Mark Antony and his ally Cleopatra to become the first emperor of Rome. Antony and Cleopatra committed suicide shortly after.
The Middle Ages and Early Modern Period
The islands remained under Byzantine rule after the end of the Roman empire before being caught up in the wars of powerful European families. Zante, Kefalonia and some of the smaller islands were conquered by the Normans in the 12th Century. Other French and Italian families became involved and built the beginnings of the Castle of Santa Maura which separates Lefkas from the mainland. The islands gradually fell under Venetian rule over the following centuries and were subject to many battles between the Venetians and the Ottomans. Corfu was never conquered by the Ottoman Empire whereas Lefkas spent the longest period under their rule which included building the castle we see today. Lefkas joined the rest of the islands in 1684 under the Venetians. The architecture of Corfu and Zante owes a lot to this period and both towns are wonderful places to get lost in amongst the colourful buildings.
French & British Rule
With the fall of Venice to France during the Revolutionary Wars the islands became part of France for a while before being conquered by the Russians. They reverted back to French rule with the Treaty of Tilsit before the being captured by the British after a sea battle of Zante in 1809. The British turned the islands into the United States of the Ionian Islands and everyone took up Afternoon Tea, Cricket and other English Pastimes. When Greece became independent in the mid 19th Century the Ionian joined it in 1864. The first leader of Independent Greece, Ioannis Kapodistrias was born in Corfu.
The Ionian Islands in World War Two
During the Second World War the Ionian was occupied first by the Italians then the Germans after Italy surrendered in 1943. These events led to the terrible events of the portrayed in the book Captain Corelli’s Mandolin with 5000 Italian soldiers killed for resisting the Germans. The resistance movement was strong and active in the mountainous interiors and gained much support as the war went on.
Those interested in the history of this area should read Simon Scarrows “Hearts of Stone” which follows some Archeological Digs on Lefkas just before the Second World War and the events that followed. Another is of course Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres mentioned above.
Please feel free to comment if you know of any other books about the Ionian Islands.
If your interested in becoming a Sailing or Windsurf Instructor you may be interested to know how the RYA Schemes work and who can teach which course. These graphics give you a clear idea of the path every RYA Sailing and Windsurfing Instructor takes and what they can teach. If your interested in doing the Seafarer Academy and want anymore detail on this please feel free to get in touch and we can talk you though in more detail.
RYA Dinghy, Keelboat and Multihull Scheme
RYA Windsurf Scheme
Seafarer Academy Instructor Courses with a few small changes for 2018
Seafarer Academy have been running Sailing, Windsurfing and Powerboat Instructor Courses for quite a number of years and they allow people with no previous watersports experience to become Instructors in just 6 weeks. The dates for 2018 have just been published and theres a few small changes explained in this article.
Changes for 2018
Seafarer Academy is designed to be the best course of its type for enthusiastic people hoping to work in the watersports industry. To help bring this about a few changes have been made ready for the 2018 Season.
As the Seafarer Academy is run in a busy RYA Training Centre, trainee instructors will now do a week’s work experience as an Assistant Instructor in week 4 of the course program. Not only is this aimed to help trainees gain experience on and off the water but also spend time cementing in the knowledge gained over the previous 3 weeks. Trainees will assist with RYA Sessions, Clinic, Kids Clubs, Safety Boat Driving along with the day to day running of the beach.
As always the Seafarer Academy maximises on the water time and their making a few additions for 2018 with all candidates given the chance to try some of the variety of Performance Sailing Boats and Windsurf Equipment at Nikiana Beach Club and theory topics being taught on the clubs own yacht for greater emphasis.
- Dinghy Instructor Academy 6th May to 17th June (Work Experience 27th May)
- Windsurf Instructor Academy 3rd June to 15th July (Work Experience 8th July)
- Dinghy Instructor Academy 26th August to 7th October (Work Experience 16th Sept)
For those with more Sailing or Windsurfing Experience who are still hoping to become Instructor shorter courses are now offered which is a great opportunity for those who have done some of the RYA Courses to become an Instructor. Dinghy Sailing wise a 4 week option is available for those who have RYA Level 3 or equivalent and a 2 week option for those who need to solidify their knowledge before sitting the Pre Entry and Instructor Course. Windsurfing wise 2 and 4 week options are also available depending on experience.
Working as an Instructor
Many instructors working at the moment have been through the Seafarer Academy including some currently working at Nikiana. Connor McLauchlan did the Dinghy Instructor Course in Autumn 2016.
“I did the end of session academy course in 2016, the whole time at the academy was aimed at getting time on the water sailing or teaching and I really enjoyed both parts. Now i’m doing the summer season for Seafarer in Nikiana and I feel the Academy has set me up perfectly for this.”
Overall seems like 2018 is an exciting year to become a watersports instructor, one of the best jobs on this planet. For more information checkout here
Our friends, The Budget Savvy Travelers, have been recording their journey on our Cyclades Cabin Charter. We’re a couple of videos in and there’s more to come as they show you the joys of exploring the Cyclades with Seafarer.
We’ve enjoyed watching and we think you will too! Hopefully this whets your appetite and will have you calling to book your own sailing adventure. Scroll down for the first video and a link to learn more about our Cabin Charter.