Page 29 - Chiron Autumn 2018
P. 29

A Reserve Soldier Dog Handler’s Sailing Tale with Tail
Pte ‘Frank’ Ciufudean
In 2017 I joined the British Army Reserves as a Dog Handler for the 1st Military Working Dog Regiment.
Born abroad in 1976, I have been living in the UK since 2003 and after becoming a British citizen in 2007 I had occasionally thought about joining the military, but only last year in January I finally decided to go for it. As a British qualified Health & Safety Consultant in my civilian life, I felt confident I could bring some positive values to any organisation I would join, including the Army.
After waiting approx 7 months to get my security clearance and to pass Alpha & Bravo or Basic Military Training, I was very eager to start working with Army dogs and get some Adventurous Training under my belt. After all, I decided to become a Reserve soldier for two main reasons, to work with dogs and to get involved in believe it or not sailing in order to eventually become a qualified sailing instructor so I can teach other soldiers how to handle themselves in challenging situations & environments.
As a private dog owner (I love my own dog Rollo, a 3 year old Belgian Malinois cross Rhodesian Ridgeback). I always look for ways to increase my knowledge of working dogs and certainly 101 Squadron are helping me with this activity.
Sailing is another big element of my life, and 5 years ago I purchased a 66ft steel yacht in Greece with the intention to refurbish it; learn how to sail it, build a competent team or crew and undertake sailing expeditions and adventures in as many places as possible around the world.
The best way towards achieving my personal and professional objectives could be met by becoming a fully qualified RYA Yachtmaster Sailing Instructor, and this is a challenging process which I am keen to complete successfully, hopefully by no later than 2019, either through the Army or privately.
Having set myself this target at the beginning of 2018, I have recently been given the opportunity to undertake through the Army Adventurous Training (AT) syllabus some basic seamanship courses needed in order to build up a strong foundation related to marine activities.
These courses were RYA Level 2 Powerboat, RYA VHF Radio and BSAC CFAT (British Sub Aqua Club Collective First Aid Training).
The Powerboat course was undertaken under the supervision of “Dave” a RYA Powerboat Instructor based in Anglesey, North Wales, who had the difficult task of teaching myself and two other military personnel the basics of handling a powerboat in very difficult, challenging and harsh weather conditions on Menai Strait during harsh winter conditions. Staff Sergeant Matt Cole from MT and another officer from a different unit were my colleagues during this course.
Although all 3 of us came from different backgrounds with different previous maritime experience and unique individual reasons for wanting to do this course, eventually we found ourselves huddled up together like 3 cold penguins on a cold and wet RIB diving boat in snow blizzards and gale force 8 winds in one of the most treacherous maritime locations in the UK in the middle of the winter in February 2018!
Dave was a friendly, smiling, knowledgeable and helpful RYA instructor, living in a Welsh community located a few miles away from a Nelson’s column which had its sword stolen, and this was probably done by an envious local, with better sailing skills than the famous admiral.
He works for a local charity which works with military personnel interested in Adventurous Training exercises such as mountaineering, hill walking, sailing, Power boating etc..,
His qualifications and experience is centred on water based activities, and I genuinely felt that he enjoyed our company and he challenged us to push ourselves and punch above our weight in regards to testing ourselves in difficult winter conditions and a harsh environment.
Frozen hands, snowed faces, damp feet and icy facial hair became the norm during those 2 days spent together in the Menai Street where we learned the ropes of handling RIB’s equipped with powerful outboard engines capable of reaching up to 35 knots and this speed apparently can be reached without needing to skipper the boat downhill with the wind behind!!
to dock and anchor the boat, how to rescue a casualty that’s fallen overboard, and many other useful lessons such as planning a route and operate in a Marina all which can be used in many a context.
Having convinced the instructor that we can operate a Powercraft safely, at the end of the 2nd day we passed our exams and received our RYA Certificates proving our competency, and we have been invited to return in the near future to go through the next stage called RYA Powerboat Intermediate Level.
Looking at our pictures taken during those 2 days, it reminds me how harsh the weather conditions really were and this was also confirmed by our instructor, who confided to us that never before has his moustache & beard been frozen like that.
This was most definitely AT at its best arduous outdoor exercises undertaken in the company of qualified professional supervision and performed safely with suitable equipment and teamwork. Adventurous Training is a key military training activity which supports operations effectiveness and the ethos of the Armed Forces and is very much part of the ‘Reserve package’.
I appreciate the support of all those military personnel working in various administrative roles who made this happen. Another great opportunity provided by the Reserve Squadron. With progression I wish to be to become a qualified sailing instructor in the future so I can in turn teach the art of sailing to as many fellow Reserves and Regulars as possible.
On a recent annual Army Sailing conference I attended in Gosport, it was made clear that there is a need for more people to step into the sailing & instructing role, and I look forward to accomplishing this alongside developing my military working dog handling skill.
I look forward to sailing in the company of Reserve & Regular soldiers from 1 MWD Regt in future, so we can build even higher team morale and endurance and to continue to enhance our effectiveness of operating in challenging environments, with our military working dogs.
                                   Proudly working with the RAVC for 100 years
  In 2018 The Horse Trust presents the RA VC with a replica of a new statue commemorating The Great War illustrating the bond between man and horse in the face of adversity.
We learned how to safely handle and manoeuvre the boat, how

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