Report: #1059772

Complaint Review: True North Yatching

  • Submitted: Mon, June 17, 2013
  • Updated: Mon, June 17, 2013
  • Reported By: nothappy — Denver Colorado
  • True North Yatching
    Leoforos Amathountos Marina Apts SE1 (Opposite St'

True North Yatching, Andreas Tavelis RYA Cyprus, Day Skipper Cyprus, Yatch Charter Limasol Cyprus

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My recent training experience with TrueNorth RYA training center in Cyprus must rank as the worst I’ve had. I am a 47-year-old business owner on a busy schedule. I took several precious days off to attend both the Competent Crew and the Day Skipper courses with the TrueNorth RYA training center and found utter unprofessionalism and myself subjected to personal abuse, dishonestly and defamation.

Having undergone a very disappointing experience in the Day Skipper course, as soon as I arrived back in the marina I approached the owner Andreas Tavelis and told him that I would like to make a complaint. Rather than giving me the time to state my complaint, he refused to hear what I had to say and insisted on giving me a refund shouting "Again? Again? in reference to a complaint I had lodged with him in an earlier course. Moreover, he initially wanted to give me a partial refund. I decided to cut my losses and take the money.

By Andreas Tavelis's insistence that I take a refund, I lost four days invested in the Day Skipper training program. I would have left it there had he not humiliated me in front of my student colleagues, other RYA trainers and members of the public by shouting "f**k OFF" to me in a very loud voice as I was leaving. Rather than confront him in public, I decided to leave the scene and write my complaint here.

I originally attended the Competent Crew course in May 2013 and then the Day Skipper in June 2013. In both courses I found the instructors (with two exceptions) to be utterly unprofessional, unmotivated and poor communicators. Although I did learn and benefit from the courses, the whole experience was tainted by the lack luster attitude of the instructors. A training day would typically start with the instructor giving us the vaguest outline of what he planned for us for the next eight hours, most of which were then spent doing nothing more than chatting with each in the cockpit interspersed with the occasional tack. One of the other students on the same course (a lawyer) eventually approached with instructor asking, "What are we supposed to be learning here?” I listened to the instructor give an unconvincing justification for a day spent doing very little which neither of us bought.

On the Day Skipper course I felt frustrated by the tendency of the instructor to unprofessionally blame us for things such as being "disrespectful" (when the students decided to go ashore early morning to get breakfast…without him). In our case, this led to the instructor unilaterally changing the agreed three day cruising plan by informing us that "plan's changed guys, I've decided we're going back to the marina to do technical stuff". When I asked him what he had in mind he said to practice man-overboard and do some gybing, both of which could of been practiced anywhere on the original route. It transpired later that he felt disrespected. I asked him why he hadn't simply given us clear instructions on what he wanted us to do that morning and he replied, "Why should I have to beg?” 

Later on the instructor let us know in no uncertain terms that the course was a job for him, he didn't get any pleasure out of it and had no intention of working longer than necessary. In fact, he decided to change the plan and bring us back to the marina so he could go home and sleep. When one of the other students confronted him by asking "What about the night sailing we are supposed to do?" (Which is part of the curriculum) he replied "we did it yesterday" referring to an hour of sailing done at sunset. I felt taken advantage of, as we were not getting the three-day trip described in the training literature. During the last couple of hours it took to motor back to the marina everyone sat in silence feeling ripped off. In the end we didn’t do any of the technical stuff that day.

When with a different instructor on the Competent Crew course, I found that he frequently contradicted himself. He would say, "do this" and a few minutes later he'd say the opposite. Part of the training, man-overboard, was an embarrassing fiasco. The instructor was incapable of giving us clear guidelines to the extent that he finally blurted out "Just do what I say and don't ask anymore questions". The whole exercise was amateurish and left us none the wiser as what to do in the event someone fell overboard.   

When I later asked the instructor if it would be possible to learn how to use a spinnaker he replied "Look don't tell me how to run the course". After that I just kept myself to myself.

In the end I spend nine days of training with True North Yachting RYA course in Cyprus the majority of which was wasted through the willingness of the instructors to do nothing more than chat. Some of them were prima donnas, undisciplined, egotistical, obnoxious and temperamental. The courses were poorly structured and one had the sense that most students simply tolerated it all in order to get certified. My own expectations being somewhat higher than that, led me to complain which, in turn, was met with a cynicism.

Prior to writing this complaint I wrote to Andreas Tavelis letting him know of my dissatisfactions and requesting a written apology for his humiliating insult. A week later he replied and insinuated that I had been removed from the course “because your fellow crew members and the instructor had enough from you.” Wholly unsubstantiated, It seems that Mr. Tavelis’s professional ethic is lacking to the extent that he is willing to stoop to the level of slandering his customer in an effort to deflect blame from himself and his organization.

I sincerely hope that you are reading this prior to making use of True North Yachting’s services. Whether you’re thinking about doing a RYA course or chartering a yacht, you’d do well to look elsewhere.

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