Sam Woods-Peel is a recently returned NAS member who has been discovering the benefits of our online courses.

After five years away from the NAS (I got very busy at work!) I decided this was the summer to dip my toe back in the water. Having moved to Scarborough a couple of years ago, and with the weekly battle of model ships at Naval Warfare taking place just down the road, my interest in all things maritime is definitely on the rise again.

Sam at Naval Warfare display, Peasholm Park, Scarborough, North Yorkshire, UK


I looked up the NAS website, paid my membership fee and looked through the courses coming up. I had achieved the old NAS Part II qualification a few years ago and I was looking forward to doing a few more interesting courses. I selected the Lloyd’s Register Archive and Interpreting Wrecks and the Introduction to Report Writing as convenient and linked courses for me to start with.

Due to the COVID lockdown these courses were online, but as a tutor in higher education I have been delivering online learning myself for weeks, so this did not fill me with dread. It would make a nice change for me to be on the receiving end of education this way!

Sam’s work desk!


The Lloyd’s Register course guided me on how to make use of that excellent resource, with practical activities to solidify my learning.

You might think that a course on writing reports would be really dull, but nothing could be further from the truth! I was set some reading in advance archaeological reports, some good and some not-so-good, so we had something to discuss on the course. The variety of subject-matter of the reports reminded me that there was endless variety of maritime research to be done – genuinely something for everyone. One attendee on the course remarked she was amazed that someone had managed to do a report on a single plank! (NAS Part II report by D.W. Coston ‘The Plank’) It was certainly a useful course to refresh my now rusty report-writing skills.

Screen shot of Report Writing course


But there was a better outcome than simply refreshing my skills. All courses come with a human element, and at this time of COVID lockdown, that human interaction is all the more important. Meeting lots of people online, and getting to hear their mini-biographies by way of introduction was lovely. The variety of ages and sexes, professional and amateur, diving and non-diving was genuinely heart-warming, and shows that there is no one ‘type’ of person interested in nautical archaeology. It made me feel part of a community again, and the fact that people were attending from Tokyo and Australia showed that others felt the same.

The day passed quickly, but there were plenty of breaks from the computer for us to go and make coffee the way that we like it, and the technology worked fine all day. While I may do a lot of online work like this, this was a different system to the one I usually use, and aside from a few initial microphone issues, everyone got sorted and could participate as much as they wished. No one was put on the spot to do anything other than say who they were, so there is no need to be afraid of attending an online course like this. In fact, I rather hope that the NAS will continue with a few online courses once things get back to ‘normal’ in the world, as it is certainly more cost effective doing a course online than driving the length of England to get to a course at Portsmouth. Better for the wallet and the environment, so keep it up I say! (NAS Education Manager – we definitely are running more online courses in the future. Check out this year’s events and look out for our 2021 programme to be launched at our conference in November!)

Energised by the training I had received, I emailed the Welsh Wreck Web Research Project and have already selected three wrecks to start researching. This will use the skills learnt on both of my NAS courses and will add to the knowledge of the very many wrecks around the Welsh coast. I think I am ready to go down the rabbit hole of nautical research again – who knows where I will end up!!

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