Sailors, like Mark Smith or any sailor you may know, don’t normally jump into a boat and sail off, they know better and they get some training. Once upon a time not so long ago Mark took his first step, with permission, onto my boat and started learning the fundamentals of keel boat sailing at BLISS, today he comfortably and safely sails from Australia to Japan double handed.
There was a day none of us who sail knew port from starboard. But every sailor did learn and the learning curve they follow, as Mark exemplifies, can be as long as a sailor wants to explore. You may chose to cruise or race. Stay in close and enjoy weekend sailing or go out wide and cross international boundaries. It’s all up to you however all starts at the same place. My modest learning curve now focuses on helping others start the adventure. Yes, adventure is the word, not sport or activity, it is an adventure. Every time I leave the slip will be different that any other time, either in the past or the future… So how to move Mark, or you, from dockside to behind a wheel of a boat? Let me help you.
I figured the best way to achieve my goal of helping others enjoy sailing in Japan was to start a school. Indeed I had to start two learning environments at the same time. One to teach how to sail. The other to teach the Japanese small boat handlers license which is a legal requirement to skipper any boat with a decent engine here in Japan.
Since 2004, when I decided “Bill’s Little Informal Sail Boat School” was a cool name that could be reduced to BLiSS, I’ve had the privilege of taking 55 “polliwogs”, as some but never I, call novices, aboard to start their new adventure sailing. Some, 38, actually, like Mark, took a basic course and then set their own courses from there. Others have returned for follow up courses that allow them a more guided adventure. Those are the numbers since 2004, in the last and busiest year, 14 sailors started their adventure and 5 advanced their skills.
These sailors did not get to follow my course. I owned and sailed boats in the States. But I was a lone sailor, among the first in recent times, who bought a boat and started sailing in Osaka – without knowing I needed a license. (A bit of information the broker neglected to tell me.) After I learned that information I next learned I would need to go to Tokyo to sit for that exam. Later, as sailors started to finish my courses, there was a need for them to study for and take their exam locally. Studying for the exam, at that time, was possible only through a Tokyo school and another school located at Lake Biwa. Both were expensive to my pocketbook. So I started my own school which I dubbed ‘The Juku’. My goal was to offer a curriculum that was efficient, relatively inexpensive and easily available to residents throughout Japan, not just Tokyo or Osaka. But, until this year, it was restricted to the second class license and I was not able to offer an on-board practical. This year the Osaka JMRA offered to rent me their boat and trained me in the expectations of the examiners in the practical exam. Thus a practical experience will be offered in 2013. Recently I’ve needed to build web sites for both the school and the Juku.
Most recently I started a Facebook page to attract some attention. Web sites use ‘tags’ to and so I decided a good tag for Bill’s Little Informal Sail Boat School would be “Less expensive, more intensive.” BLISS is not driven to make profit, well yes, maybe enough to cover expenses, it is driven to prepare sailors with confidence and competence in the fundamentals and to provide the learner a safe platform from which they can draw their own adventure into the future. Confidence and competence may not be developed in a weekend, so my courses are flexible as far as time goes- I’m more a coach than a teacher; and you are actively involved the minute you climb aboard. So 2013 is ready for you to start your adventure…