Armed with my 'to do' list I began to get stuck into it. The first thing I had to do was book both Aannsha and myself in for the three week intensive sailing course in Gibraltar. There are a few reasons why we chose to learn to sail in Gibraltar.
Firstly, it's 50% cheaper than doing the same course in Australia and I'm not talking chicken feed here. For both of us to do only the RYA Competent Crew and Day Skipper course in Australia it would have set us back a cool AU$13,200 (UK£7,323). Whereas doing the RYA Competent Crew and Day Skipper course, PLUS diesel engine maintenance, marine first aid and VHF radio handling courses in Gibraltar has cost us the grand total of AU$6,557 (£3,638). The same standards, the same certificate, half the cost. I don't know how Australia justifies the price difference.
Secondly, as we are planning on spending the first 3 years or so sailing around The Mediterranean, we thought it would be beneficial to actually learn to sail in Mediterranean conditions. Also the area around the Straits of Gibraltar is a very busy marine traffic area, with huge cargo vessels coming and going day and night. The experience of being taught under those heavy traffic conditions is priceless.
Thirdly, I've never been to Gibraltar and as it is only a 7 to 8 hour drive from our base in Javea in Spain we thought it would be nice to get a chance to check out the scenery of Spain on the way, plus have a day or two after the sailing course to sightsee in Gibraltar. After all, this whole sell up and buy a yacht, is a lifestyle change and part of that change is to stop and smell the roses along the way.
Anyway, back to my 'to do' list. I asked Aannsha, who was visiting family in the UK, if she could pop into a branch of the Nat West Bank and transfer the UK pounds from our international currency card to the sailing schools Nat West Bank account in Gibraltar. The sailing school lady I'd been in contact with assured me that it could be easily done as Gibraltar is UK territory and they use the UK pound as currency.
"No, we can't do that". Was the firm response from the Nat West Bank person Aannsha was dealing with in the UK. Hmmm, what to do? A couple of texts between Aannsha and me, followed by a few emails between me and the sailing school lady and it seemed the only option left available was to pay the sailing school invoice via PayPal and incur the 4% handling fee and whatever pitiful currency exchange rate PayPal was offering. Now if you've read 'Barry's Blog # 2 - The 3am Wake Up Call' you'll remember me mentioning the little voice inside my head that tells me to take an umbrella because it's going to rain. Well that little voice spoke again and said "Add the international currency card as a payment method in your PayPal account and transfer the UK pounds directly to Gibraltar that way."
And you know what? The little voice was right again. The payment went straight through, no pitiful currency exchange rate to get ripped off by and no 4.4% PayPal surcharge. One hour later I received a payment confirmation email from the Gibraltar sailing school. I love that little voice.
The next two days were spent happily ticking off items from my 'to do' list;
Gather together and file in date order all video footage ready to produce YouTube videos - Check.
File in date order all still photos ready for adding to blogs and Facebook - Check.
Write next blog,