IC Reporter ISSUE 19 (23 JANUARY - 5 FEBRUARY 1996)
Staff Newspaper of Imperial College of Science, Technology
SECRET LIVES - ROYAL NAVY EX-COMMANDER AT THE HELM
Nick Jones, ICCET's administrator, is a man with a love of the sea, a concern for ocean-going safety and a generous interest in disseminating his 25 years of sailing experience to the young and budding yachties of Imperial College.
Having come to Imperial just 15 months ago, Nick has immersed himself not only in the contingencies of academic administration, but in the social arena of the College, by lending his expertise as an ex-commander with the Royal Navy to the Imperial College Yacht Club. He is the principal instructor of their RYA accredited Shorebased Theory Yachtmaster examination.
It is a role which Nick has previously enjoyed as a tutor of navigational theory both within the navy, and latterly, as a teacher at night school. For Nick, safety on the ocean has always been an important concern. Having observed a number of yacht owners and sailors venturing out onto the ocean with very little navigational or theoretical knowledge, Nick stresses the importance of training prior to setting sail. 'I had a guy in an evening class,' he said, 'who bought a yacht and sailed it around from Southampton to St Catherine's Dockland here in London, without any navigational knowledge whatsoever. Whilst he might have thought he was being clever, he was very lucky to get away with it because you have to go through some of the most treacherous seas in the UK'.
Bravado such as this has led Nick to instil in the ICYC members who have taken the Shorebased Theory exam, an understanding of tidal navigation, collision avoidance, weather forecasting and crew management. 'The nice thing about the course,' said Nick, 'is that it takes people from being a crew member to being a skipper...it encourages character and leadership training, delegation and communication skills, and is of very great benefit to crews and to individuals.'
Of the 90 students actively involved in the ICYC, 13 have passed the Yachtmasters exam to date, and it is expected that a further 15 to 20 will enrol for next year's course. 'They put a lot of work in,' says Nick of his students, with the course itself a demanding one, of three weekends' duration, completed by an exacting final examination.
With the theory complete, students then travel to the shores of Port Solent for some practical experience. This Easter plans are under way for an expedition to France. Nick however, is unsure as to whether he'll be able to get away as he's 'doing up the house at the moment'. A conflict of interest, no doubt.
Asked whether the idea of 'giving it all up' for the freedom of the ocean has ever appealed, Nick replied, 'Yes, but you have to be realistic. I've met a lot of people in my travels...who have done just that - bought a yacht, and have not really thought it through financially and really, they are down on their uppers'. He adds, 'They say that owning a yacht is like ripping up five pound notes in a shower....it's incredibly expensive'.
At any rate, it would seem that for now Nick is quite content to maintain his two or three weeks' sailing per year and instead, pass his knowledge on to those who not only share his love of sailing, but his interest in safety on the high seas.
The Imperial College Yacht Club subsidises both practical and theoretical instruction. A weekend of sailing costs approximately '25 - a saving of nearly 60 per cent. For further information contact Nick Jones on extension 49282.
(c) Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, 1995
Last Revised: 20 January 1995