It was summertime of 2003 when I took my CYA Intermediate course, sailing out of Kingston. I remember arriving at the boat with my friend Georges, we were greeted by the instructor and we were both smiling… but deep down, I was feeling sick inside with worries. I was afraid to make mistakes, I was afraid to fail the course, I was afraid that the career that I was planning for myself will go down the drain if I don’t pass this course. Why? well, because I wanted to be in the shoes of that instructor…

The course started and the instructor started to make things easy for us and to show us tricks of how to make things different, break an old habit, all this, so that we can make our lives easier on any cruise in all kinds of weather.

Then it hit me, that’s what it was all about. The role of an instructor is not only to teach you a skill or to instruct you on a new technique, but it was to develop the technique you already have into a skill. During that course, my nerves were mixed with excitement. Excited because I was going sailing (and I love sailing), excited because it was a chance for me to learn something new (and I love to learn) and at the same time to see how the instructor was going to help us learn it in a funny and intuitive way.

At the end of the course, we all passed, the instructor debriefed us and asked us what are our plans for the future and this is when I told Penny: “I want to become a Cruising Instructor like you”

Thank you Penny for turning my techniques into skills, thank you for letting me do my own mistakes to learn from them… and thank you for helping me out afterwards when I was applying to become a Cruising instructor. I will cherish every moment of that course dearly for life.

~ Criss Gibran

Former student from Advantage Boating


Note from Penny: I am happy to report that Criss is now a very accomplished Royal Yachting Association (RYA) instructor who teaches full-time in Lebanon on the Mediterranean Sea!


Photo credits: all photos are from Criss Gibran, 2017