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Monday 13 December 2010


Permis Cotier

Since moving here to La Rochelle I had thought many times of taking my Motor boat licence as unlike in the U.K, in France it is compulsory to do a practical course and take a theory exam at the ministry of transport. Of course their was many reasons to put it off, it was expensive to take, I was too busy and the language barrier, my French is not that good and I had read on the internet not to even attempt it unless you were fluent. Anyway after the La Rochelle boat show in September my brother in law and I decided to take the plunge and go for it, I translated and studied the book and the internet, until I had a good grasp of French naval terms and the type of questions that would be asked in the exam.

I found it very interesting as you started learning the meaning of the buoys and recognising them day and night, you have to be able to recognise different boats and their signals and lights, shipping horns, fixed land lights, learn the rules and regulations and hierarchy of manoeuvring at sea, you learn to navigate from a marine map, work with the tides and the weather, rules for the protection of the coastal environment, rules for fishing, communication, Safety and security is paramount.

Once you recognise the different meanings of everything it all becomes common sense but I still can not believe that in the U.K. there is no test? The rules at sea are international all over the world and I noticed some parts of the course are in English, which helped.

I gave myself a couple of months to translate the course in my spare time and study it, we booked in with an English speaking instructor and last week started the course, once we finally arrived at the class 2 hours late! It decided to snow the night before and temperatures plummeted to -5, I have never seen snow like it here before and of course because it is not usual there is no gritting lorries so the roads were treacherous, cars were strewn around the road, in the ditches and the rush hour into La Rochelle became a complete standstill. Not a very good start.

The instructor had never taught non French speaking clients before so being out of season he taught just myself and my brother in-law, It was new to him as well as to us, but he was patient and every thing started to make sense (in French) he of course took longer with us than normal we had 2 days of learning for the test, this was on the Thursday and Friday, we then spent the weekend revising and on the Monday morning arrived at the driving and boat test centre in La Rochelle, It was like waiting inside the dentist waiting room to have a tooth pulled, It brought back all the memories of 35 years ago when I did my car test, the allotted time came and went then half an hour later we filed in handing over documents and passports. Of course the adjudicating officer called for us to put our hands up, as there had never been any Non French speakers do this test at this test centre in his knowledge, very embarrassing

When it started I was quite surprised to find it easy as you had a lot more time to read the question than I thought, this had been my main worry, time spent reading and under standing the question before answering, the actual answering is very easy as its multiple choice you only have to be careful as sometimes there are 2 answers. It then finished and we filed to the back of the room for our results, ‘we had both passed’ the adjudicating officer was nearly as pleased as us, another of the students who had passed shook my brother in laws hand in congratulations as he had struggled with the language more than I, It was a great feeling of relief so we met up with our wife’s in La Rochelle for a celebratory meal on the harbour front before we left them to go out in a boat all afternoon and into the night with the instructor to practise the theory, It was throwing it down with rain but great fun bobbing about in the Atlantic.

All in all a great experience and now looking forward to getting a boat in the future and exploring the coast around here, seeing it from a different perspective.

If any body is interested in taking this course and test, if there is enough persons to make up a class size big enough depending on the season, who are prepared to spend a little extra time practising written French Language then contact me and I will try and organise it.

Friday 3 December 2010

Festive photo

We would like to wish all our past & future guests a very 'Happy Christmas' and an even Happier New Year 2011. This photo was taken on 2nd December, we never usually get any snow!!