To prepare for our upcoming offshore voyages in 2008, we have taken many courses and also joined Bluewater Cruising Association and Fleet (a sub-group of BCA for those wishing to sail offshore in the next year or so). These meetings and courses have been an invaluable source of knowledge and friendships.
Some of the courses that we have taken:
getting our Ham licenses (Jordan: VA7 YYJ and Judy: VA7 TAC)
learning how to repair a sail while underway
sailing psychology and provisioning
fibreglass repair course for Jordan
weather classes to learn all about reading weather charts, avoiding bad weather, "virtual passages", etc.
Some of the meetings contained information on the following topics:
heavy weather sailing and preparation
information on types of communication available while sailing (Sailmail, Airmail, Winlink, etc.)
talks from DOERS and DONERS covering everything imaginable (we are presently called DREAMERS, those who are off sailing are called DOERS, and those who have returned are called DONERS)
outboard and diesel maintenance/troubleshooting
galvanic corrosion control, solar panels, water makers
suggested first aid supplies and tips offered by doctors who are also sailors
rigging tips and information, refrigeration information
seeing a life raft inflate and also inflating your own lifejacket
and of course, setting up a blog!
As you can see, we have been learning all kinds of useful stuff!