Now me and Marcus (my husband) came up with a great idea in 2008 – let’s learn to drive a boat. It can’t be that hard, all sorts of idiots are allowed to drive boats, you just have to sit and watch at the Mar Menor on a sunny day to see how many idiots are out there!

Santi and his boat - Mar Menor, Murcia

So we searched the Internet to work out how you do it in Spain. Our choices were wide, but really depended upon what we planned to do. As we are thinking of buying a boat to make scuba diving more convenient, we thought we’d just learn how to drive (not sail) and we didn’t need to go too far from shore (just 12 miles) and we don’t really need a big boat (upto 12 metres will be fine.) This narrowed it down to the PER course – Patrón de Embarcaciones de Recreo.

The course is in two parts – the practical and the theory test. We did the practical part on a beautiful sailboat (with an engine) from the small port village of Los Nietos on the Mar Menor.

Our guide, trainer, boat owner and now friend is Santiago Sánchez Colomer of He has a great sense of humour and loves his boat.

The practical sessions took two days and there were just 3 of us in the “class”. All teaching took place on the boat on the Mar Menor. It was incredibly good value for money, but you do need to speak Spanish.

Santiago boiled down the practical to just 3 steps:
A – autoridad – the boat captain is the boss, makes the decisions and everyone else does as he says!
B – buen tiempo – only sail when the weather is good.
C – cabos – cables and knots – you must know how to tie up and untie your boat (and all the other bits)!

He says from a practical point of view if you can get these three things sorted then everything else will come with experience. Well if it’s as easy as that I can see how all those idiots on the Mar Menor got their licenses!

On the second day Santiago overheard me say I was going downstairs. “Listen, sailor,” he quipped, “Downstairs is below, that side is starboard, that’s aft and that’s portside. If I ever hear you say one more civilian word like ‘downstairs’ again I’ll throw you through that little round window over there!”

Next time – the theory test…

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