I joined Thomas and Tanja on board ‘Adrienne’ as my final passage around Australia on my mission to get to Darwin.

I had originally asked for yachts that were in need of crew members, and as always quite happy to cover the food costs of me being on board. I was told about an Austrian couple who were part of the Arc World Rally who were looking for crew. I was told they were very lovely, and so I arranged to meet with them.

When Thomas and Tanja told me how much they wanted for the passage, I was a little taken aback, but then they went on to tell me we would study Celestial Navigation and they would teach me how to use the Spinnaker pole and any other areas of sailing they felt I needed to know, or I wanted to know. We negotiated a price and it was a done deal.

Since being on board I have learnt a lot about the usage of the words ‘crew’ and ‘charter’ and how they have run their charter business, which is a sailing school in action. You are put to the test, you are asked to give the instructions on how you think manoeuvres should be done, and you are asked to implement it to test your own theory; and if you get it wrong, then they are both on hand to help you get it right.

With their never ending patience, I have learnt lots more about gybing, how to use the Spinnaker pole with ease and safety. I have learnt that a lot of what I have been taught has either been misunderstood or not explained in full. I have learnt about the gaps in my knowledge and how I want to run my future life at sea with my own clients and crew.

With Tanja’s support and guidance I have understood just how much information a chart plotter can give you, instead of just the basics on the initial front screen; which has been valuable and interesting for the geek within me. I have been allowed to test out the knowledge, and even though I have deleted a way point once or twice, her guidance has been very much appreciated.

Then we have the Celestial Navigation, and bless him, Thomas has had a hard job on his hands with me due to the amount of Maths involved in the subject. I may be an author and a speaker, but I am no mathematician that’s for sure! His patience with me has been never ending, and learning how to calculate the picture point, use a nautical almanac as well as his beautiful sextant has motivated me even more to pursue this line of study.

There have been times when things have got lost in translation, cultural differences and moments when fatigue and tiredness have gotten the better of us. Overall I have thoroughly enjoyed this passage with Thomas and Tanja, and cannot thank them enough for all they have taught me; especially during a difficult time for me personally.

I highly recommend sailing with both of them if you wish to learn what life at sea if truly like, and wish to further your knowledge of navigation, celestial or otherwise. Not only do you gain the knowledge and the experience, but you also get to enjoy delicious food and endless cups of tea and coffee; as well as that all important time alone to make sense of all you are learning about sailing, and yourself

To find out more, please visit their website www.adrienne.at

Review by Dawn Bates