Hah – I hope that made you look. GMDSS. An acronym that doesn’t have anything to do with teaching.  We finally made it to Port Edgar on Sunday morning for the course to upgrade our VHF User’s licence to this new brand of radio.  This was the course we forgot about when my father-in-law died in January.  It all looked good when we walked into the classroom – a PC on each desk with a GMDSS simulator on the screen and an instructor who could talk the talk.  The trouble was, his mantra was “Don’t touch the mouse! It will take me an hour to reset the computers if you hit the wrong button!”  We did eventually get to the hands on, let’s do it bit – but after a very complicated & long winded set of instructions we were allowed only 5 minutes to play.  By the time we’d worked out what the instructions meant, time was up & we were galloping on to the next bit. 

Oh well.  There was a momentary pause while he answered a call on his mobile phone in mid-sentence.  But don’t dare to ask questions – there was no patience with the lack of understanding displayed by, well, all of us about certain issues.  By 1130 he’d raced through everything he thought we needed to know and it was time for the exam.  “We’ll have a 5 minute comfort break and then start.”   As it is (whispers) 25 years since I did my original VHF course, I would have appreciated 10 minutes to look through the notes before the exam, but it was not to be.  There was instant brain freeze on the first question as I tried to remember which was more critical – Urgency or Distress.  In the old days it was just MayDay and PanPan.  Embarrassed panic until I remembered they were on the simulator screen in front of me – so it did have some use after all.  It transpired at the end of the course that the instructor had a plane to catch to Dublin; we wondered if he was normally more relaxed about the time – 1/2 hour on the simulator and a 20 minute break before the exam would have done.  Plus an opportunity to ask questions.

Well, I somehow seem to have got enough right to get my licence and I’m sure that when I do come to use one of these fancy machines I will find the manual an interesting and informative read!


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