One rung at a time

One of my younger brothers (younger being a relative term as he’s just celebrated his 60th ) is a yacht skipper and has, for years, owned a sailing business based in the Greek islands.

Nice lifestyle really. Summers spent sailing round the islands, organising flotillas, charters and the like. During the winter he returns to the UK and undertakes short term contracts as a commissioning skipper on new yachts for boat builders, checking specifications, testing equipment, sea trials, worldwide deliveries and so on.

One of the firms he has worked for over the last few years is Oyster Yachts, ( Don’t even bother to read the brochure if you aren’t thinking of spending a couple of million quid or so) and  part of his duties include setting up their stand for the London Boat show. Obviously he is just one of  a highly experienced team of shipwrights, riggers and various other old salts who set the stand up before the show opens. Getting a sixty or seventy foot yacht into a hall and then rigging it can’t be the easiest of tasks. To anyone who sails on a fairly regular basis, a trip aloft to check masthead lights, standing rigging fittings and so on is probably no more than a once a year event, but to this lot a quick shimmy up an 80/120ft mast is all in a days work.

Imagine then last years team briefing prior to commencing work on the stand……

“Right you lot, quiet down. ” (I’ll modify the actual language used in order to avoid  offending the more sensitive amongst you)

“OK. Before you can start on the stand this year, you have to go on a course”

General light hearted groans and moans

“Not more bleedin ‘elf and safety”

“Yes, more ‘elf an safety. If you don’t pass it you can’t work on the stand, so there it is. Now  this is the hotel you’re staying at  in London, so be there tomorrow night, OK?”

“Bleedin ‘ell Skip, booked into a hotel? Ow longs this course then?”

“Four Days”

“Four days! Wot we all gonna learn that takes four days?”

“How to use a step ladder”

Spontaneous eruption of laughter, catcalls and cries of

“You’re ‘aving a bleedin larf mate, aincha?”

“No mate, I’m sorry to tell you I’m not. See you all tomorrow night”

Now I don’t mean to imply that this lot don’t take health and safety seriously. Anyone who spends time at sea knows that safety is paramount. A moments carelessness can and does cost lives and they all know it.

But this crew, who have built, delivered, repaired yachts throughout the world, probably amassing some millions of miles of sea time, in all sorts of weather, approach the first day of the course, perhaps somewhat lightheartedly. This attitude is soon dispelled by the instructor who fixes his gaze on one of  the crew and says

“Right. You are obviously not going to be taking this seriously. You’ve failed.  Good Morning”

That’s the end of  his employment/contract then. The rest sit through four days of what they describe as ” drivel”

Given the height of the average step ladder, I reckon that’s about a rung a day!

The sad thing about this story is that it’s true.

7 thoughts on “One rung at a time”

  1. Good job they didn’t need any scaffolding, that would probably take a couple of months 😉

  2. It’s ok for people like oyster I suppose. If your average sale is a few million quid these courses are affordable but what of the little chandlers and dinghy manufacturers.

  3. In the good old days, such an elfin sayftee jobsworth would have been keelhauled!

  4. And the participants obviously all knew a lot more about safety at sea through their years of experience than the safety elf lecturing them. I used to find this at work when we had some self-appointed “expert” in to talk to us. The words “grandmother”, “eggs” and “suck” came to mind. At the end when the expert smiled brightly and asked if there were any questions, there was always a resounding silence and the unspoken question hovering was “Can we go now?”

  5. Not very good considering he has lost the income is it?
    How to not only ruin the country but finish it off completely!

    sheona, I love the quivering anticipation of the ‘Can we go now’ state. The dogs do it when anticipating walkies and positively shiver in delight. Would have been fun to see you all.

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