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Newsletter Archive 2010

Here's an archive of the Newsletters written by Jim Murrant and Ann Reynolds in 2010 for The Boating Bible Manual of Seamanship.

2010 Newsletter index

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Thank you + Christmas break - 23 Dec 10

We'd like to wish all our readers very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Thank you for following us and for your comments and feedback on the issues we've raised.

We're giving ourselves a break - our next newsletter will appear in your inboxes in early January.

If you're planning to be out on the water over the next few weeks, please remember that drinking and boating don't mix. And you may be given a random breath test.

We look forward to sharing many more sailing, sea safety and boat handling tips with you in 2011.

© 2010 Bevanda Pty Ltd

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Cooperation and assistance 1 & 2 + Cause for concern + Lucky to be alive 2 + In their own words: William Bligh - 19 Dec 10

It's good to see competition set aside and everyone pitching in to help their fellow sailors. Today we start with two such stories:

1. Cooperation and assistance 1

When Christophe Bullens finally made it across the finish line in Cape Town on 6 December, the other skippers immediately downed tools on their own boats and went to help him with some of the items on his extensive 'To Do' list:

Christophe was lucky that the start of the amusingly named 'Sprint 2' was delayed for four days due to strong winds and heavy seas, giving him more precious time to do repairs.

Unfortunately though, he's been forced back to Cape Town due to rudder problems - his port rudder has sheared a bolt and other bolts have come loose, problems he's unable to fix at sea and single-handed. A local sailor has volunteered to help get him back to sea as quickly as possible.

Christophe had to admit that his last minute replacement yacht, Five Oceans of Smiles too, was under-prepared for the round-the-world race.

2. Cooperation and assistance 2

After winning last year's Sydney-Hobart, Andrew Saies, an Adelaide doctor, had obstacles to overcome just getting to the start this year. About halfway through the delivery voyage, Two True went to Apollo Bay to change crew ... and went aground. In towing the yacht back afloat the top of the mast was damaged.

Almost immediately, another Beneteau first 40 owner, who is not competing in this year's race south, offered his mast. Fortunately the yacht's boom and instruments were undamaged and Saies expects to be at the start on Boxing Day.

3. Cause for concern

"A further cause for concern is the fact that the owners of large, powerful vessels tend to be those with the poorest navigational skills."

Mike Kingdom-Hockings of drew our attention to this sentence at the conclusion of the Finnish law report mentioned in last week's newsletter. He commented:

I'm not sure who made this observation, but if true it is worrying. I thought such people employed professional skippers - however it is probably true that most are arrogant enough to override them quite frequently.

4. Lucky to be alive - part two

Catch up with the original story in last week's newsletter.

Mike also shared his thoughts on the sad tale of the sinking of the Lady Mary

Quite a few weak links in the SARSAT chain. Let's hope they'll result in a few changes.

1. If there is a printed sticker with the EPIRB registration number on it, why is the owner obliged to copy it by hand onto the same form? And why is the clerk trained to transcribe (yet again, making two consecutive human transcriptions) the more error-prone handwritten number? A clear case for OCR scanning, with the clerk checking the result in case of poor quality printing.

2. In some ways, the staff responsible for the UMIB broadcast are like air traffic controllers. They are responsible for people's lives. The fact that two people were on watch didn't help. There was no check that the supervisor's instructions were carried out. In any case, I doubt that much judgment was needed. The rules for deciding which frequencies to transmit on could be programmed, so that it would become just a case of selecting the appropriate class of emergency, leaving the computer to select the broadcast frequencies.

1. The clerical staff handling EPIRB registrations now record the printed code on the manufacturer's label, thus avoiding the error experienced with the Lady Mary.

It is a very good argument for everyone who plans to sail offshore to purchase an EPIRB with GPS transmitter.

2. Air traffic controllers, yes. It made me think of ambulance coordinators who are also often over-stressed and under-resourced. A good idea, Mike, to suggest computer programming to remove some of the decision making required when emergency reports are received.

From our reading of the articles, we believe that the Lady Mary was hit, from behind. In the absence of any other ship in the vicinity, it seems that the Cap Beatrice may have been the vessel involved. It seems incredible that it took investigators two months to interview its captain and crew.

And what about the ship disappearing off the AIS tracking system? And delaying her arrival at the Delaware breakwater, taking 17 hours to travel just 66 miles?

Perhaps one day the full story of what happened will come out. We hope Amy Ellis Nutt and Andre Malok will be there to record it for all the world to read.

5. Watch this space

We've held the VHF radio story over and will share it with you in our first newsletter of 2011.

6. In their own words: William Bligh

In our passage from the Cape of Good Hope the winds were mostly from the westward with very boisterous weather: but one great advantage that this season of the year has over the summer months is in being free from fogs.

We chose this quotation from William Bligh because of the conditions outside Cape Town which delayed the start of leg two of the Velux 5 Oceans.

© 2010 Bevanda Pty Ltd

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Good seamanship + Lucky to be alive part one + Farewell to a great sailor + In their own words: African proverb - 7 Dec 10

1. Is the master of a leisure craft obliged to observe good seamanship?

You have to wonder what's happened to maritime law when a man skippering a vessel carrying 22 people plus himself goes the wrong side of a port channel marker and runs aground is found "not to have displayed bad seamanship".

Admittedly this was in a legal document rather than some discussion on seamanship but in the Finnish court that heard this case he was found not guilty of negligence on the grounds that he was in charge of a leisure vessel.

Under Finnish law, apparently, there are different rules for commercial vessels and leisure vessels.

The idea that there can be two separate sets of rules for artificially separated groups of vessels is just ludicrous. It begs the question of whether local laws can supersede international regulations, particularly if the country is a signatory to those regulations.

Here is the legal summary. We regret that you may need to register to view it. Otherwise, google the title of this section.

How do you say "the law is a ass" in Finnish?

2. Lucky to be alive

We found a very interesting, tightly researched and well written series of articles on, the online home of a number of New Jersey's newspapers. It covers an accident to the Lady Mary, a vessel fishing at a well known scallop ground off the US east coast.

It's a lot of reading - six instalments and a summary - but it if you simply want to get the gist of it, the first and last one or two cover most of the story.

The story includes several issues that should concern us, as sailors. And, if nothing else, it reminds us how lucky Jessica Watson was about 15 months ago when she set out on her own to sail from Queensland to Sydney, prior to commencing her circumnavigation.

If, after reading the report you'd like to tell us what you think, we'd be very glad to hear from you. Next week, we'll share our thoughts and yours.

3. Farewell to a great sailor

Reg Gardner was a sailor all his life and a good competitor. He also designed the Endeavour series of yachts which are very popular here and in several other countries. He used the name Endeavour in recognition of HM Bark Endeavour, the ship in which Captain Cook 'discovered' Australia in 1770.

Reg's passing was noted in a Sydney Morning Herald obituary.

I want to register my own thanks to Reg as I owned one of his very good boats for some years - an Endeavour 28 - which actually was designed for the Quarter Ton Cup. It was in fact longer than 28 feet and had a most remarkable quality, apart from being a good sailer.

My crew and I called it "Tardis" from Dr Who's extraordinary spaceship although her real name was Electra. From the outside Electra looked like a 29 ft boat but inside she seemed far bigger. Even though we were used to the fact we would still sometimes gasp when we went down the companionway into the seemingly bigger boat.

I entered her in many short offshore races from Sydney and the whole of the CYCA's short ocean point score series. Our best performance in that was in 1981 with two wins, two seconds and a third, giving us a beautiful piece of silver- ware, but not the winner's cup.

4. Watch this space

For next week we will have some interesting facts about VHF radios and why you need a radio operator's licence, particularly if you are cruising internationally. And, of course, a follow up on 2. above.

5. In their own words: African proverb

Smooth seas do not make skilful sailors.

This African proverb encapsulates my concerns about young people who undergo training to gain yachtmaster qualifications.

For safety reasons, most sailing schools will not allow their students to go offshore if the wind is, or is predicted to become, greater than 30 knots.

But how will that prepare them for the conditions they may experience when in charge of, say, a 50 ft yacht halfway across the Atlantic? Even if they are participating in the ARC rally, i.e. sailing in company, they have to show their leadership and good sense in how they approach heavy weather sailing.

© 2010 Bevanda Pty Ltd

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How to get blood off your sails + Good response to Nautical Knowledge + Sailor of the Year awards + In their own words: J.R.R. Tolkien - 24 Nov 10

1. How to get blood off your sails

Oh no! One of your crew has cut themselves and is bleeding on the mainsail. In this case, it's unlikely that you'll be able to soak the sail effectively before the blood dries.

You will be busy steering the boat while another crew member is staunching the blood and exercising their first aid skills bandaging the wound.

Also, as the stained sail is the boat's main 'engine' it will be needed until you reach your destination.

So what's the best way to deal with the stain? Ullman Sails in San Diego recommend: "Soak the stained portion for 10-20 minutes in a solution of 10 parts water to 1 part bleach. Scrub and repeat if necessary. Rinse thoroughly."

Their site has cleaning methods for a wide range of stains, from rust to paint, oil to mildew.

2. Good response to Nautical Knowledge

We were both very pleased to receive some detailed feedback from subscriber, Laszlo Horvath, following his purchase and use of the Nautical Knowledge to prepare for his boating licence exam.

"What I found most helpful was the animated buoyage system and being able to see the markers during the day, and the lights only during the night. It made it extremely easy to learn," he said.

Read Laszlo's review of the Nautical Knowledge.

3. Sailor of the Year awards

Tom Slingsby last week was named the 2010 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year. He's the first Australian to win this award.

His recent sailing record of winning two world championships in two weeks - the Laser Standard 2010 World titles and the Etchells titles - shows he's a great sailor on his own and as part of a crew and in two very different classes.

He became inspired while watching the 2000 Olympic sailing events from Bradley's Head on Sydney harbour. He now has his sights firmly on an Olympic gold medal in England in 2012.

The Female Sailor of the Year is world champion windsurfer, Blanca Manchón of Spain. It was the third time she had been nominated for the award - no mean feat at just 23 years of age.

Like Tom Slingbsy, she will be going for gold in 2012, and hoping to be the first Spanish windsurfer to win a medal.

4. In their own words: J.R.R. Tolkien

There isn't no call to go talking of pushing and pulling. Boats are quite tricky enough for those that sit still without looking further for the cause of trouble.

These words were spoken by Ham Gamgee, known as 'the Gaffer'. He's the father of Sam Gamgee, Frodo's down-to-earth offsider.

The quotation is from chapter one of book one of The Fellowship of the Rings, the first volume of Tolkien's trilogy, The Lord of the Rings.

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born in 1892 in Bloemfontein, South Africa where his father was a bank manager. With his younger brother, he was taken by his mother to England when he was three.

His father died of rheumatic fever before he could join them. His mother died of type 1 diabetes (before the discovery of insulin) when he was 12 and his guardianship was given to a Roman Catholic priest.

After graduating from Oxford University with first class honours, he married his childhood sweetheart, Edith, when he turned 21.

J.R.R. Tolkien died in Oxford, England in September 1973, 21 months after his wife.

© 2010 Bevanda Pty Ltd

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Good time for a sail + Changing weather patterns? + Never too young + In their own words: John Vigor - 10 Nov 10

1. Good time for a sail. Oops, we mean sale!

The Aussie dollar surprised us by reaching parity with the US! As result, we've decided to celebrate with all our subscribers and website visitors.

And what better way than by reducing the price of The Boating Bible Manual of Seamanship by an amazing 50%?

If you've been looking for a Christmas gift for a family member or friend, now is your chance to pick up a bargain. And we can even post your gift direct to its recipient.

From now until the New Year, you can buy a set of the
six CDs
for just AU$97. Plus you'll receive our complementary DVD, The Joys of Sailing.

Don't delay - get yours today!

If you're not already familiar with The Boating Bible Manual of Seamanship please download The Introduction.

2. Changing weather patterns?

This next item is rather outside our normal range but I hope you will bear with me while I ask your opinion of a theory I have formed from watching the weather very closely.

As it's longer than our usual Newsletter items, we'OurBlog/?p=917" class="one">on our Blog.

3. Never too young

Wyatt Workman, a 7 year old Californian, spent his summer holidays creating a claymation movie encouraging all of us to help him overpower the Trash Monster that is killing our oceans with plastic.

As sailors, we are aware of the damage plastic bags can do to a boat when one gets wrapped around the propeller. But when sea creatures swallow plastic, it can kill them.

Take the pledge to do what you can to save the ocean.

Wyatt also shares some interesting facts on his did you know? page.

Thanks to the Plastiki crew for bringing Wyatt's project to our attention.

4. In their own words: John Vigor

The true test of seamanship is how a sailor reacts when things go wrong, as they surely will.

That's not a bad definition of seamanship.

John Vigor should know. He's a well-known American
sailing writer who blogs three times a week.

He's also written 12 boating books, including Things I Wish I'd Known Before I Started Sailing.

© 2010 Bevanda Pty Ltd

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Rescue should have been easy + Why I don't like multihulls + A boat to dream about + In their own words: Lao Tzu - 5 Nov 10

1. Rescue should have been easy

A 73 year old was rescued by the US Coast Guard recently after two days adrift on his 38 ft yacht. Sailing single-handed, Richard Steg, was left to rely on engine power, after losing the mast in heavy weather. But then the engine failed.

He sent out a mayday call which, fortunately, was picked up by a tug boat and relayed to the Coast Guard. But his batteries failed and rescuers knew only the general area, not a specific position, to look for him.

Lucky for him, he was rescued, uninjured and his yacht taken in tow.

What amazed us was that the Coast Guard found that he had an EPIRB aboard - but didn't know how to use it!

And, if you still haven't replaced your old EPIRB with a 406 MHz beacon, get one with GPS encoded so that your distress signal provides rescuers with your location.

2. Why I don't like multihulls

Did you see this week what happened to Tony Bullimore's  33m catamaran? It capsized off Cape Finisterre. Tony was not aboard, but a crew member, Ben Jones (29) described how it happened:

There wasn't that much wind - only about 15 knots. We were sailing fast and close to the wind. We then had a big gust and because it's a multi hull, the apparent wind induces a much worse effect. So the boat powered up a lot very quickly.

At the same time the windward hull came off a wave, which got the hull lifting out. The rudder stalled. We couldn't get the sheet off quickly enough so we couldn't depower the boat.

3. A boat to dream about

From time to time we like to admire the totally unaffordable. In this case, it's Lang and Sue Walker's award-winning Kokomo.

'Award-winning' is a term often bandied about to drum up interest while, on further investigation, the award turns out to be minor and unimportant.

That's not the case with the 58.4 metre Kokomo. She has just won the International Superyacht Society's Award for Best Sailing Yacht 40m+ at the 20th ISS Design Awards in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Built in New Zealand by Alloy Yachts, she carries a set of huge sails:

  • the mainsail is 883 square metres,
  • the genoa 1,151 square metres, and
  • the asymmetric gennaker is 2,227 square metres and is the largest single sail ever built by Doyle's. That is really massive - think about it!

Fully equipped with everything you could imagine, Ed Dubois, Kokomo's designer said "the aim for Kokomo was to combine total seaworthiness, reliability and comfort, all within a package which sails very well in any and all conditions".

Oh, well. One can only dream while looking at images
of Kokomo

4. In their own words: Lao Tzu

It is easy to maintain a situation while it is still secure;
It is easy to deal with a situation before symptoms develop;
It is easy to break a thing when it is yet brittle;
It is easy to dissolve a thing when it is yet minute.
Deal with a thing while it is still nothing.
Keep a thing in order before disorder sets in.

This quotation from certainly provides good advice for sailors.

It is from The Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu.  His name means 'venerable master'. It is not known whether Lao Tzu lived in the 4th or 6th century but he is known as the Father of Taoism. 

© 2010 Bevanda Pty Ltd

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Good response + Lifejackets and personal flotation devices - important rule changes + Velux update + In their own words: Horatio Nelson - 27 Oct 10

1. Good response

Thanks to all of you who have joined our celebration and downloaded our eBook: "How to Survive at Sea".

We were delighted to receive an email from one of our subscribers, Andre Wildeman who, with his wife Suzanne, owns and sails a Victoire 933.

He wrote about his plans for the off-season - he lives in the Netherlands - and how reading our eBook will help his preparation for next year.

He kindly agreed to our publishing his comments, which you can read on our blog, How to Survive at Sea: Feedback from a reader.

2. Lifejackets and personal flotation devices - important rule changes

Despite ongoing reminders from maritime authorities around the world, too many people die each year from drowning. And most of them are not wearing lifejackets when it occurs.

It's hard to keep up with the changing regulations surrounding the sport of sailing.

And, if you are a racer as well as a cruiser, you have to know your local regulations and country's regulations as well as what we in Australia call 'the blue book' - the Racing Rules of Sailing.

If you're in the USA, the Boating Safety Resource Center is a good place to start but as we've already said, you also need to know the regulations for the State where you intend to sail.

NSW Maritime is introducing new regulations applicable from 1 November 2010 covering more situations when sailors, boaters and users of other watercraft will be required to wear lifejackets.

The NSW Maritime document, Lifejacket Reforms has details of the changes. Note that these NSW regulations are additional to those already in force. 

3. Velux update

Christophe Bullens, skipper of Five Oceans of Smiles too, while passing Cape Finisterre reported:

"Here there is no wind and the problem is I don't have any electronics. No wind speed or wind direction, no boat speed, no radar and my autopilot doesn't work anymore. Apart from that the boat is going really well and each day I hope to repair one more thing."

Many fully crewed boats have pulled out of long distance races with far fewer problems. Christophe, however, is confident he can repair the failed equipment and get back into the race.

Meanwhile, Zbigniew 'Gutek' Gutkowski received a bad head wound from an altercation with his wind generator which was installed too close above the right rudder on his yacht.

He's posted a blog and photo on the Velux website (please note: this site loads very slowly).

Interestingly, instead of seeking help from the Medical Offshore Support team, Gutek has been in regular contact with his wife, who is a veterinary surgeon!

4. In their own words: Horatio Nelson

I cannot command winds and weather.

But Nelson certainly could command ships and men!

An email from the Commodore of our yacht club, the RAN Sailing Association reminded us to celebrate the 205th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar on 21 October.

That day was, of course, also the 205th anniversary of the death of England's greatest naval commander, Vice Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson at the age of 47, having joined the Royal Navy at 13.

© 2010 Bevanda Pty Ltd

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Velux 5 Oceans + Classic and Wooden Boat Festival + Don't miss out + In their own words: Hugo Vihlen - 20 Oct 10

1. Velux 5 Oceans

Last Sunday (17 October) the Velux 5 Oceans race got underway. Only five competitors made it to the starting line due, in part, to lack of sponsorship dollars caused by the world economic situation.

The Belgian entrant, Christophe Bullens, had to return to La Rochelle after completing a 48 hour qualifying passage in his replacement yacht, renamed Five Oceans of Smiles too.

The yacht he'd planned to compete in lost its mast during the delivery to the start. Christophe and his team decided it would be quicker to find another Eco 60 than to order and fit a replacement mast. He expects to re-start tomorrow, Thursday.

The field is an international one, but without a French representative. In addition to Christophe, they are:

  • Chris Stanmore-Major (Spartan) - English skipper of one of the the 2010-11 Clipper Round the World yachts having his first solo race.
  • Zbigniew Gutkowski (Operon Racing) - hoping to be the first Polish sailor to race around the world.
  • Derek Hatfield (Active House) - former Canadian Mountie, who came third in the 2003 race.
  • Brad Van Lieuw (Le Pingouin) - American who is going for a third race win.

Meanwhile there's a virtual regatta on the Velux 5 Oceans website for those who want an active interest in the race.

2. Classic and Wooden Boat Festival

On display in Sydney last weekend were over 100 vessels, all showing hours of care by their owners. Some were over 100 years old, others had been built in the last year or two. Among them were:

An ex-crayfishing boat that in its previous life had been trapped in Port Davey in the SW Tasmanian Wilderness for 43 days. There are no houses in Port Davey*, let alone shops. By the end of their stay, the crew were sick of eating crayfish (lobsters).

*We have film of Port Davey in our DVD, The Joys of Sailing, which we give to people who buy The Boating Bible Manual of Seamanship.

Salacia II:
An S&S 48 owned by Arthur Byrne, built in 1969 by Cec Quilkey and member of Australia's 1971 Admiral's Cup team. It was good to see that her new owner, David Lovell, is maintaining her brightwork to a high standard.

The Festival theme was 'recycle, restore, reuse' and there were certainly some beautifully restored yachts on display.

It was fortunate that this Festival doesn't attract the swarms who attend the Sydney International Boat Show each year. To walk past each vessel Annie almost had to complete an obstacle course! Up and down stairs and ramps, and finding one pontoon that was so narrow it swayed sharply in the wake of a passing ferry.

But the Sydney Festival is quite small-scale compared with the Australian Wooden Boat Festival to be held on
11-14 February 2011 in Hobart.

3. Don't miss out

We thought we'd repeat our special offer from last week's newsletter. To celebrate our 100th newsletter we've made our eBook - "How to Survive at Sea: Six Emergencies and How to Handle Them" - available for you to download with our compliments. Enjoy!

4. In their own words: Hugo Vihlen

I don't know who named them swells.
There's nothing swell about them.
They should have named them awfuls.

When we found this quotation, we thought it was amusing. When we found out more about Hugo Vihlen, we understood he may have meant it seriously. So, who is Hugo Vihlen?

Hugo crossed the Atlantic twice in tiny boats. In 1968, he sailed from Morocco to the States in a 5-foot, 11-inch (1.8 m) yacht named April Fool . He obviously hadn't got the Atlantic out of his system because in 1993 he sailed from Newfoundland to Falmouth in England in a 5-foot 4-inch yacht (1.6 m), Father's Day.

If you want to see what these tiny craft look like, we'OurBlog/?p=867" class="one">April Fool and Father's Day to our blog.

© 2010 Bevanda Pty Ltd

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Anniversary giveaway + Operation Boat Safe + A sad memory + More whales + In their own words: Captain William Dampier - 14 Oct 10

1. Anniversary giveaway

This is our 100th newsletter. And, by coincidence, we discovered that we sent out our first issue two years ago to the day!

That newsletter launched readers straight into a series of What if... scenarios that skippers need to prepare for.

Since then we developed the series into a downloadable eBook, How to Survive at Sea: Six Emergencies and How to Handle Them.

To celebrate our newsletter century, we have made our eBook available for you to download with our compliments.


2. Operation Boat Safe

NSW Maritime conducted on-water safety checks on 771 boats across NSW over the long weekend, 2-3 October.

This resulted in 24 infringements and 21 warnings. Most infringements were for failure to comply with safety equipment requirements - lack of suitable life jackets, in particular.

In an incident last weekend in the US, a skipper drowned after he was thrown overboard when his 65 ft yacht was hit by a strong gust.

His three children, aged 13 to 18, immediately dropped the sails and radioed for help. Unfortunately, they lost sight of him and he never resurfaced. The Coast Guard were unable to locate him but assisted the yacht back to harbour.

It's notable that the children were all wearing life jackets. The skipper was the only one aboard who was not. A life jacket would have given him the buoyancy required to remain afloat. A tragic loss.

3. A sad memory

Speaking of losses, it's now 12 months since the deaths of Andrew Short and Sally Gordon. At the time we wondered how two such experienced sailors could lose their lives. But it was found that Andrew was not wearing a Personal Floatation Device (PFD) or harness.

Early this year we drew readers' attention to the report published by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia. A number of its recommendations have already been implemented in an effort to prevent a recurrence. You can download the full report.

When the coroner's inquest is held we will share any additional findings that are made.

4. More whales

On a happier note, just hours after we sent out last week's newsletter we saw reports and photos of a whale and calf in Sydney Harbour.

Their antics would have been observed by the crew of HMAS Darwin, seen leaving port at the time.

5. In their own words: Captain William Dampier

William Dampier (1651-1715), when captain of HMS Roebuck, was the first Englishman to explore and map parts of Australia and Papua New Guinea.

Before and after that voyage, as a privateer he made three circumnavigations, on the final one rescuing the castaway, Alexander Selkirk, who became the model for Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe.

Here's Dampier's description of sailing through the eye of a storm:

Typhoons are a sort of violent whirlwinds. Before these whirlwinds come on... there appears a heavy cloud to the northeast which is very black near the horizon, but toward the upper part is a dull reddish colour.

The tempest came with great violence, but after a while, the winds ceased all at once and a calm succeeded. This lasted... an hour, more or less, then the gales were turned around, blowing with great fury from the southwest.

Until I read A Pirate of Exquisite Mind: The Life of William Dampier: Explorer, Naturalist, and Buccaneer by Diana Preston and Michael Preston, I was unaware of the extent of his sea-faring experiences.

© 2010 Bevanda Pty Ltd

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Must be nice + Not that I'm in favour of killing whales + In their own words: Benjamin Franklin
- 7 Oct 10

1.  Must be nice

We received an email with the above subject line from Canadian subscriber, David Wysocki, owner of a 25 footer he sails on Lake Ontario. He was somewhat envious of all of us Down Under preparing for our summer season.

In fact, there are very few days in Sydney when you wouldn't want to be out on the water - and they can happen at any time of the year.

What this means is that we, like sailors the world over, have to keep an eye on the marine weather forecasts AND our own observations of weather conditions that we've gathered over the years. This week's quotation (below) says it all.

Neither of us is keen on the idea of ice sailing. The closest we like to be to ice is when it's in a gin and tonic!

2. Not that I'm in favour of killing whales

From my own experience - spread over more than 50 years - whales have become a greater hazard for ocean-going mariners.

I can remember coming around the south-eastern corner of Australia, out of Bass Strait, and seeing from the corner of my eye what looked like land in the distance. This was pretty disturbing since I knew that there was no land in that direction until you got to New Zealand.

When I adjusted the focal length of my vision I was able to see what looked like a little island awash in the water. It was a whale travelling in the same direction as me.

That experience was quite harmless. Not so that of a friend of mine in the Atlantic Ocean. He was sailing from the UK to the US when his yacht was attacked by a pod of killer whales. I use the verb 'attacked' deliberately. This was not an accidental occurrence.

The whales charged again and again, bashing into the side of the boat with the obvious intention to smash it. My friend, an oceanographer, doesn't know what provoked that, but he does know that he was very frightened.

The point is that the number of whales is increasing. Very likely the number of ocean-going yachts too. In almost any circumstance you can imagine of the two elements meeting, the whales are going to come off best.

3. In their own words: Benjamin Franklin

Some are weather-wise, some are otherwise.

Franklin (1706-1790) was one of the first to observe that North American storms tend to move from west to east, and predicted that a storm's course could be plotted.

He also invented the lightning rod which protects buildings and ships from lightning damage.

© 2010 Bevanda Pty Ltd

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Safety begins at ... + In a building wind + In their own words: Herman Melville - 1 Oct 10

1.  Safety begins at ...

In a couple of weeks our yacht club, the RAN Sailing Association, is celebrating the beginning of the new sailing season with two events.

Firstly, there's a cocktail part on the Friday evening - an opportunity for members and their guests to get together over a drink. On the Saturday, there'll be a Parade of Sail and all boat owners are encouraged to dress ship and take part.

There's also a third activity scheduled - the annual safety checks. All yachts that compete, whether offshore or in the harbour, must pass a safety check for the relevant category before their race entry can be accepted.

But, before you submit your vessel to the safety officer, you must lay out and check off all the items for your category. This gives you the opportunity to check not just the presence of all the items but that they are in good working order and match the requirements. 

Cruising sailors don't have this same incentive and yet it's possibly even more important that they undertake annual safety checks. Why more important? Cruisers may sail in less frequented waters whereas racers are part of the racing fleet. If they get into trouble, they may need to be self-reliant.

So, when did you last check the expiry date on your fire extinguisher(s)?

2. In a building wind

You're out on the water and find that the wind is slowly but steadily building. You have your boat fully rigged - No. 1 genoa and full main.

Sitting to windward, you find yourself having to pull the tiller hard towards you in each gust. Time to remind your main trimmer to help you keep the boat sailing optimally - to ease the traveller as the gust hits and pull it back up the track as it subsides.

As the wind strengthens the main trimmer's job becomes more difficult, almost impossible. The traveller is now near the bottom of the track and only the mainsheet can be eased. But it takes the trimmer too long to recover and bring the main back in as the wind lessens.

Looking around, you see all your competitors have taken a reef and are handling the conditions much better. They are not rounding up, which means the power of the sails is being transferred through the hull and driving the boat directly forwards.

In the meantime, your boat is producing a scalloped wake and sailing inefficiently.

Now is not the time to realise that you haven't led the reefing lines!

3. In their own words: Herman Melville

Here's a quotation by American author, Herman Melville (1819-1891). It's from Chapter 1 of his well-known Moby Dick and obviously applies to the Northern Hemisphere:

Whenever I find myself growing grim about
the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul ... then, I account it
high time to get to sea as soon as I can.

As Annie will attest, I generally just say:

I want to go to sea!

© 2010 Bevanda Pty Ltd

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Sailing goose-winged + Good for shipping + The secret of the sea - 22 Sep 10

1. Sailing goose-winged

We have uploaded this in our 'Article' section. Here's a link straight to where you can read more about sailing goose-winged.

2. Good for shipping

We've been interested to read that the shipping industry has cut carbon emissions by 11% by reducing ships' speed. That's a significant step towards the International Maritime Organisation's goal of 15% by 2018.

Some owners have ordered their ships to reduce speed from 25 to 20 knots. Even owners of many modern cargo ships have adapted the engines to allow 'super-slow steaming' at approx. 12 knots. As well as cutting greenhouse gas, the slower speed is also cutting fuel bills.

What other measures can we introduce to lessen our impact on the marine environment?

3. In their own words: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Longfellow (1807-1882), the American poet and translator, was probably best known for 'Hiawatha' and 'Paul Revere's Ride'. He did, however, compose poems about the sea, such as 'The Wreck of the Hesperus' and the following:

The Secret Of The Sea

Ah! what pleasant visions haunt me
As I gaze upon the sea!
All the old romantic legends,
All my dreams, come back to me.

Sails of silk and ropes of sendal,
Such as gleam in ancient lore;
And the singing of the sailors,
And the answer from the shore!

Most of all, the Spanish ballad
Haunts me oft, and tarries long,
Of the noble Count Arnaldos
And the sailor's mystic song.

Like the long waves on a sea-beach,
Where the sand as silver shines,
With a soft monotonous cadence,
Flow its unrhymed lyric lines: --

Telling how the Count Arnaldos,
With his hawk upon his hand,
Saw a fair and stately galley,
Steering onward to the land; --

How he heard the ancient helmsman
Chant a song so wild and clear,
That the sailing sea-bird slowly
Poised upon the mast to hear,

Till his soul was full of longing,
And he cried with impulse strong, --
Helmsman! for the love of heaven,
Teach me, too, that wondrous song!

Wouldst thou, so the helmsman answered,
Learn the secrets of the sea?
Only those who brave its dangers
Comprehend its mystery!

In each sail that skims the horizon,
In each landward-blowing breeze,
I behold that stately galley,
Hear those mournful melodies;

Till my soul is full of longing
For the secret of the sea,
And the heart of the great ocean
Sends a thrilling pulse through me.

© 2010 Bevanda Pty Ltd

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Recent experiences + Tying up your boat + Don't forget your socks + In their own words: Lin and Larry Pardey

1. Recent experiences

The last ten days for me have been very similar to the progression that often happens on boats on longer voyages. In my case it started with a toothache, which was found to be a tooth with an abscess beneath it and, finally, to a tooth that needed to be removed under general anaesthetic in hospital.

I returned home after its removal and initially felt much better - my system was no longer being poisoned by the infection and I was taking antibiotics to kill any remaining bugs.

Trouble was, three days later I was growing more and more breathless. A visit from my son made me realise that I was puffing while lying in bed talking to him!

So Annie kindly took me to our nearest hospital where I spent the day being monitored and tested and thoroughly checked over. As time passed and my condition stabilised we both thought I'd be sent home.

Imagine our surprise when I was admitted and kept in for three nights! One of the problems diagnosed was pneumonia and I am still taking a course of antibiotics to beat it.

How does this relate to boats?

When some part of your boat is not working quite as it should, you have two choices. You can either check it out straight away or ignore it.

If you check it out, you may be able to pre-empt the problem developing into a potentially life-threatening situation. Problems tend to escalate and the sea is a challenging environment, particularly for electrics and electronics.

If you ignore it, the problem will almost certainly develop and may do so in a way that is much, much harder to remedy than if you had checked it out thoroughly and solved it.

It's rather like the story of why the battle was lost - all for the sake of a horseshoe nail.

2. Tying up your boat

Do you know what to avoid when tying up your boat?

I've found far too many boating websites - particularly some of the free ones - that offer spurious advice. The ones that really annoy me give the 'advice' that, when tying up a boat, the cleating arrangement should end with a half hitch. This can be extremely dangerous.

If you have to leave the jetty in a hurry, at night and/or in bad weather, the first thing that you will have to clear is a frozen half hitch.

I've always found that there's plenty of friction with a round turn, a figure of eight, followed by another round turn. If you cleat your mooring lines off in this way you will be able to undo them easily whenever you want to.

This is the first of my two paramount, invariable, must-never- be-disobeyed rules. And what is the second? Have an educated guess then click here to find out.

If you would like to learn about nine good maritime knots and how to tie them, you will find them on our Skipper and
Crew, Knots and The Language of the Sea CD

3. Don't forget your socks!

Many yachties don't bother with socks when wearing sailing shoes but in the following story socks were lifesavers.

The US Coast Guard was called out at night in response to the sighting of a flare. Arriving at the location the boat started working a search pattern. It was tricky as there were lots of lights on the shore being reflected in the water.

One of the crew thought she saw a white light but lost sight of it several times. No one else on board saw this light and the others joked with her that she was seeing things!

After spending quite some time searching, the skipper turned the boat for home, putting the flare sighting down to an error. At that moment, a number of the crew saw a white light.

Motoring towards it they found a broken-down motor boat with seven teenagers aboard. After they had used their only flare and when they saw the lights of the Coast Guard vessel, they had burnt their socks, one by one, in the hope that someone would see them. They were very happy to be rescued.

The moral of the story is that whenever we go out on the water, wherever it may be, we must ensure we have aboard at least the minimum safety equipment required by the local regulations. And, in addition, know that it's in good working order and how to operate it.

4. In their own words: Lin and Larry Pardey

Having sailed around the world twice in yachts built by Larry, he and Lin have written numerous books about sailing and cruising. With more than 200,000 nm sailed between them, they have plenty of experience on which to draw.

The following is particularly important if you are sailing two-up, wherever you are:

The first and most important piece of safety gear you have on board is a partner who has the knowledge and skills to handle the boat. There is not one piece of man-overboard gear that is going to help if the person left on the boat does not know how to get the boat back to you.

© 2010 Bevanda Pty Ltd

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How many more regulations will there be? + Census of Marine Life + Laura Dekker and the pirates + In their own words: Not known - 1 Sep 10

1. How many more regulations will there be?

Whenever a coroner investigates loss of life on the water, he or she compiles a number of recommendations for the various regulatory bodies involved to consider implementing.

In most cases, the recommendations are readily adopted as regulations and the lives of everyone who spends time on the water, whether commercially or for leisure, become safer.

But there will always be a few who ignore the regulations- whether it be by ignoring speed limits or being in charge of vessel while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

A local pilot who was to take a ship out of Wellington harbour recently found the ship's master to be so drunk that he was barely conscious. The ship's departure was prevented and the boat's owners, in Japan, had to fly a sober skipper in to take over command.

That was an extreme case, but we read recently that maritime laws in Victoria have changed to include drug and alcohol testing while a boat is at anchor. A press release announced:

"Allowing testing for drug and alcohol impairment when a vessel is at anchor, so at least one person is fit to operate a boat safely and legally in an emergency."

Does this mean an end to overnight raft-ups and other weekends away?

In Sydney harbour we have seen the banishment of PWCs*, but unfortunately the commercial tours by high-speed jet boats remain, to the annoyance of most other harbour users.

*The Marine Safety Victoria defines a PWC as "an aquascooter, jet bike, jet ski, wave runner, ski free, motorised surfboard and any similar vessel that has an engine used for propulsion. They are also known as 'powerskis'."

2. Census of Marine Life

While we sailors enjoy spending time on the water, the Census of Marine Life has been preparing a report for release next month on all ocean life, from microbes to whales.

There's a website, as you'd expect, and a photo gallery showing some of the more interesting looking creatures:

3. Laura Dekker and the pirates

Nelson Struck, one of our subscribers, commented:"I hope Laura avoids the Somali pirates."

In fact, looking at Laura's planned voyage there is a risk of pirate attacks pretty well from when she leaves Australian waters until she reaches the Med.

From the publicity her circumnavigation is attracting, pirates will know that her yacht is fitted out with all the latest communication and navigation equipment.

4. In their own words: Not known

After a prolonged search we found two versions of the following definition, but neither was attributed. If you know who wrote these words, we'd love to hear from you so we can add the author's name to them.

What is a seaman?

Between the innocence of infancy and the recklessness of adultery comes that unique specimen of humanity know as the Seaman. Seamen can be found in bars, arguments, in bed, in debt and intoxicated. They are tall, short, fat, thin, dark, fair but never normal.

They dislike ship's food, chief engineers, writing letters, sailing on Saturdays and dry ships. They like receiving mail, paying-off day, nude pinups, sympathy, complaining and beer.

A Seaman's secret ambition is to change places with the owner for just one trip, to own a brewery and to be loved by everyone in the world.

A Seaman is a Sir Galahad in a Japanese brothel, a psychoanalyst with Reader's Digest on the table, Don Quixote with a discharge book, the saviour of mankind with his back teeth awash, Valentino with a fiver in his pocket and Democracy personified in a Red Chinese prison cell.

A Seaman is a provider in war and a parasite in peace.

No-one is subjected to so much abuse, wrongly accused, so often misunderstood by so many as a Seaman. He has the patience of Job, the honesty of a fool and the heaven-sent ability to laugh at himself.

When he returns home from a long voyage no-one else but a Seaman can create such an atmosphere of suspense and longing as he walks through the door with the magic words on his lips:

"Have you got the ale in then?"

© 2010 Bevanda Pty Ltd

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First aid for hypothermia + Paper charts: how to check if they're up to date + Another young sailor sets off + In their own words: Lewis Carroll
- 24 Aug 10

1. First aid for hypothermia

Mike Kingdom-Hockings responded to our recent article on hypothermia:

You might like to point readers to an article on the first aid site , (unless you know a better one).

Hypothermia is a serious problem in temperate climates. A Royal Navy study many years ago came to the conclusion that MOBs didn't drown in the English Channel - they died of hypothermia.

Here in Australia we access the information provided by the Better Health Channel.

Otherwise, as mentioned in our most recent newsletter, the Mayo Clinic.

But that's only helpful if you have internet access available where and when a crew member becomes hypothermic. The best solution is to keep your first aid training and certification up to date.

2. Paper charts: how to check if they're up to date

Yachting Australia has drawn our attention to an Australian Hydrographic Service alert with a link to detailed instructions on how to check if your paper charts are up-to-date.

Firstly, it shows where to find the Chart number and the edition of your chart. You can then check on the Index of Australian Paper Charts to see what the current edition is and the most recent Notices to Mariners (NtMs) that have been issued to update it.

By clicking VIEW you will see a complete list of all NtMs applying to that chart and click through for their details.

You should be aware, however, that the NtMs apply only to the Chart edition for which they have been issued.

WARNING: If you have an out-of-date chart, the NtMs cannot be used to bring it up-to-date.

And no, it's not good enough to rely totally on your GPS. 

3. Another young sailor sets off

Having followed Jessica Watson's blog and, last week, having watched her documentary, it would be churlish not to mention that Laura Dekker, the 14-year-old Dutch girl has set off from Gibraltar to attempt to sail solo around the world.

But she expects to take a year or more - she's planning a series of stops along the way and will transit the Panama Canal, rather than round Cape Horn.

In fact, she plans to avoid all the famous Capes.

4. In their own words: Lewis Carroll

As well as the well-known Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll wrote The Hunting of the Snark, An Agony in 8 Fits.

After our discussion today about keeping charts current, it's amusing to read Carroll's solution for the Navigator:

He had bought a large map representing the sea,
Without the least vestige of land:
And the crew were much pleased when they found it to be
A map they could all understand.

"What's the good of Mercator's North Poles and Equators,
Tropics, Zones, and Meridian Lines?"
So the Bellman would cry: and the crew would reply
"They are merely conventional signs!

"Other maps are such shapes, with their islands and capes!
But we've got our brave Captain to thank"
(So the crew would protest) "that he's bought us the best--
A perfect and absolute blank!"

I received a copy of these lines, together with the blank
'chart' for my 70th birthday present from a dear friend,
Ian Gray, who is sadly no longer with us.

© 2010 Bevanda Pty Ltd

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Rescue! And the risk of hypothermia + Info on charts: Part 8, Additional notes + Sydney International Boat Show wrap up + In their own words: Antoine de Saint-Exupery - 5 Aug 10

1. Rescue! And the risk of hypothermia

When someone falls or is knocked overboard, a well trained crew will know what to do even if they've only ever practised retrieving a PFD or life ring. What they will find challenging is getting the person back on board.

If the person is conscious and your boat has a ladder, it will be easy. If you have a life sling or Sea Scoopa you will be able to use your boat's halyards and main boom to hoist your crew back on board.

The third scenario, trying to lift a person out of the water and over the life lines on to the boat is very difficult to achieve.

In any case, whatever the weather conditions, make sure the rescued person changes into dry clothes, keeps warm and rests. And allocate one crew to keep an eye out for signs of hypothermia.

The Mayo Clinic lists signs as: shivering; clumsiness or lack of coordination; slurred speech or mumbling; stumbling; confusion or difficulty thinking; poor decision making, such as trying to remove warm clothes; drowsiness or very low energy; apathy, or lack of concern about one's condition; progressive loss of consciousness; weak pulse and shallow breathing.

Left untreated, hypothermia can lead to failure of the heart and respiratory system and death. So you can see why it's important to prevent hypothermia wherever possible.

2. Information on paper charts: Part 8 Additional notes

On every chart you will find additional notes. Most notes are printed in black and provide information about tide rips, marine farms, submarine cables, a local magnetic disturbance etc.

A few are coloured magenta to attract the navigator's attention to information about a Military Exercise Area or Traffic Separation Scheme, for example.

A single chart may have 10-15 individual notes relating to different areas and information.

A wise navigator scans these notes as part of the passage planning preparation for a voyage. This will avoid any unpleasant surprises, such as entering a Military Exercise Area or snagging the anchor on a submarine cable.

Next week we'll talk about how to check if your charts are up to date.

3. Sydney International Boat Show wrap up

This year's show was substantially larger than last, with extra halls filled with every gadget and gizmo a sailor, boater or paddler could dream of.

The free talks were well attended, particularly Jessica Watson's. Annie queued to get a copy of True Spirit signed by Jess, who must have writer's cramp by now as her book promo tour is in full swing.

Exhibitors were impressed by both the number of visitors and the keenness of their interest in the wide range of products and services on show. Good for the industry if interest translates into sales.

4. In their own words: Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Author of the well-known novella, The Little Prince (Le Petit Prince, 1943), Antoine de Saint-Exupery (1900-1944) trained as a pilot in 1921 while undergoing his two years' compulsory military training. In WWII he was shot down and killed on a reconnaissance flight over France.

Today's quotation is from The Wisdom of the Sands (La Citadelle) which was published posthumously in 1948:

If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people together to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the sea.

© 2010 Bevanda Pty Ltd

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Keeping a lookout and judging distance off + Information on charts: Part 7, Acknowledgements + Sydney International Boat Show + True Spirit at the Boat Show + In their own words: Jules Verne - 28/7/10

1. Keeping a lookout and judging distance off

Whether cruising or racing it is important to nominate a crew member to act as lookout. You still have to keep an eye on surrounding boats and any crew member should warn if they see a bad situation developing.

The nominated lookout's job is to check around the genoa to ensure there are no right-of-way boats approaching.

It is useful to have a 'boat system' - a language understood by all - to describe the location of the vessel. Use the hours on a clock face, with 12 being the bow, and emphasise by pointing.

Always tell the skipper the distance off. Some crew find this hard to estimate for a number of reasons:

  • The sea is a blank canvas, unlike a street where there are parked cars, houses, gateways, light poles, etc. to help gauge distance.
  • Both boats are moving, and not necessarily at the same speed.
  • On a windy day, one or both boats may be affected by the gusts and round up.

Get your crew to practise estimating distance off by judging distance off the shoreline when you're sailing parallel to it. If the distance is not changing much, you'll have plenty of time to discuss and agree.

Then try using other motionless objects - boats on moorings, buoys, harbour markers - as you sail past.

With practice your crew will gain confidence in using this important skill and be able to tell you, without hesitation, the distance off of any approaching vessel.

2. Information on paper charts: Part 7, Acknowledgements

This section acknowledges any other government instrumentalities that have provided input to the relevant hydrographic office for the preparation of the chart. It's of interest, rather than great value to the navigator.

What you may see on the chart:

Acknowledgements: Public Works Department, Waterways
(Port Stephens)

: Geoscience Australia, Great Barrier Reef Marine Authority (Hydrographers Passage)

On a US chart from NOAA's Office of Coast Survey it's shown:

Hydrography and topography by the National Ocean Service, Coast Survey, with additional data from the Corps of Engineers, Geological Survey, U.S. Coast Guard, and National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.

Next week we'll begin looking at the additional notes that may be included on a nautical chart.

3. Sydney International Boat Show

The Show starts tomorrow and Annie, our roving reporter, will be there to check out what's on offer and collect the latest information, which we'll share with you in coming weeks.

This year Terry Wise has kindly agreed to include our poster and a handout on the Pacific Sailing School's stand (Hall 135). We're promoting the Nautical Knowledge and using the slogan:

Have Fun - Keep Safe

Unfortunately for Don McIntyre, one of the Show's guest speakers, the Talisker Bounty Boat is still in transit from Kupang and won't be at the show in time for people to look at. 

4. True Spirit at the Boat Show

At one o'clock tomorrow Jessica Watson's book will be launched. As someone who has been involved with the media and printing all my life, it's still amazing how quickly this book has been prepared for publication.

Jess only arrived back in Australia on 15 May and on 9 June her website noted:

She has been kept busy writing the final chapters of her book, True Spirit, which will take a few more weeks to complete and is on a tight deadline to get it all finished in time for the launch in Sydney on 28 July.

That doesn't leave much time for final editing, design, production and printing! Let's hope the publishers, Hachette Australia, have done a good job.

5. In their own words: Jules Verne

Jules Verne (1828-1905) is one of the pioneers of science-fiction. In his novels he predicted the invention of things as diverse as air conditioning, automobiles, television, rockets, helicopters, jukeboxes. He even wrote about underwater hydrothermal vents that were unknown at that time.

The Jules Verne Trophy, currently held by Groupama 3, is so named in recognition of the challenge set in Verne's book, round the World in 80 Days. It is held by the boat that sails around the world non-stop and with no outside assistance in the shortest time.

The following is a quotation from another of his best known works, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea (1869-70):

The sea is everything. It covers seven tenths of the terrestrial globe. Its breath is pure and healthy. It is an immense desert, where man is never lonely, for he feels life stirring on all sides.

Had he written this today, Verne could not have included the third sentence. The pollution we are putting into the sea every day makes it far from "pure and healthy", as the crew of Plastiki, recently arrived in Sydney, can attest.

© 2010 Bevanda Pty Ltd

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Sailing into a pen + Information on paper charts: Part 6, Projection + Response to last week's newsletter + Micronesian navigator dies + In their own words: Mau Piailug - 21 Jul 10

1. Sailing into a pen

I've often said that it's good practice for anybody who is going to be in charge of a yacht to imagine stressful situations which might occur and pre-plan a way out of them.

I was reminded of that recently when I was thinking about a time when a friend and I chartered a famous yacht - Impetuous - to compete in the Sydney-Hobart race.

The race itself was incident free, but on the return delivery the motor failed, beyond our ability to fix it, about 100 miles from Sydney.

We sailed on but had to consider how we would get the boat safely into its pen at the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia which is at the 'bottom' of a deep inlet in the Sydney harbour foreshore. Luckily, when we arrived in the harbour, just after midnight, conditions were perfect - little wind and a slack tide.

When we neared the pen we dropped the headsail and let the main down on the halyard so that only about a quarter of its normal area was collecting the wind.

We stationed a man on the halyard so that the amount of main exposed could be increased or decreased at will. This way we were able to enter the pen under complete control and at a safe speed.

I recommend this technique to any skipper.

2. Information on paper charts: Part 6, Projection

What you may see on the chart:

Projection: Transverse Mercator.

This is the most widely accepted way of transferring spherical, three-dimensional data to the flat surface of printed charts.

Transverse Mercator is a 20th century adaptation of the original Mercator projection, developed by Gerardus Mercator, a Flemish cartographer working in the 16th century.

3. Response to last week's newsletter

Mike Kingdom-Hockings made two comments:

Annie, you're not the only person to have run over the dinghy when picking up a mooring - and nor am I.


I reckon Ted Turner would have included himself in the crew count. Great character. Not many people would enter a 12 metre in the Fastnet, but he did once.

The mind boggles! These days those competing for the America's Cup want to race on flat seas in little wind.

4. Micronesian navigator dies

Scuttlebutt alerted us to an article published in the New York Times about the death of Mau Piailug, a palu (master navigator) who, in 1976, used traditional wayfinding methods to sail from Hawaii to Tahiti and back in a doubled-hulled canoe, the Hokule'a - a 6,000 mile voyage.

5. In their own words: Mau Piailug

In my library, we found The Last Navigator: a young man, an ancient mariner, the secrets of the sea by Steve Thomas. The ancient mariner is, of course, Mau Piailug and these are his own words:

At sea, the palu is the chief, the father, the elder. To be a palu you must have three qualities: pwerra, maumau and reipy (fierceness, strength and wisdom) ...

If you are fierce, you are a palu. If you are not fierce you are not a palu: you will be afraid of the sea, of storms, of reefs; afraid of whales, sharks; afraid of losing your way - you are not a navigator.

With fierceness you will not die, for you will face all danger. Maumau is almost the same. It means 'strength directed by thought'; strength in your meat.

The knowledge of navigation brings all three: fierceness, strength and wisdom. Fierceness, strength and wisdom. Steve, that is a palu: a palu is a man.

Steve's book is available on Amazon.

These days Steve is the host of Renovation Nation.

© 2010 Bevanda Pty Ltd

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Plastic boat due in Sydney + Arriving too fast + When Annie ran over our dinghy + Some nautical terms and their meanings + In their own words: Ted Turner - 15 Jul 10

Plastiki's voyage from San Francisco to Sydney draws to an end this weekend.

Arriving at a marina pen or picking up a mooring takes practice and communication between all on board.

Learn some basic terms covering the motion of a boat - from illustrations.

Is Ted Turner's estimation of crew and mistakes right?

1. Plastic boat due in Sydney

All being well, weatherwise etc., Plastiki should arrive in Sydney this weekend, 17-18 July. [now due 24-25 July]

Earlier this week her skipper, Jo Royle, described the boat being hit by a SSEasterly front that came in with 62 knot gusts. The forecast had predicted the front would be well to the south.

It was all hands on deck (in their life jackets) to get the headsail down and three reefs in the main.

Here's the full story on how Plastiki's crew handled the heavy winds.

We look forward to welcoming boat and crew to our wonderful harbour.

2. Arriving too fast

After you've learned how your boat turns under motor, you need to gain confidence in maintaining steerage (for obvious reasons) but also being able to stop.

Many, many years ago the skipper of a boat berthed on the opposite side of a jetty from me came in so fast that his bow drove under the jetty and into my boat!

You may ask why he didn't simply engage reverse gear. He tried but it didn't work. At that point, he had no Plan B. Fortunately no crew attempted to slow the boat as they may have been crushed.

The simplest Plan B is to reduce speed early in your approach. It's not a matter of being scared - it's just prudent.

Our next story deals with arriving at a mooring too fast while under sail.

3. When Annie ran over our dinghy!

Some years ago Annie raced our Thunderbird (26ft plywood yacht) in our yacht club's Friday twilight series. She had a regular crew of two, both competent sailors.

After a quick race in a good breeze, she returned to the mooring. Her bow crew took her usual place, first dropping the headsail then holding the boat hook, ready to pick up the mooring. Her other crew was ready to drop the main as soon as the mooring buoy was safely around the post on the foredeck.

Annie's approach to the mooring was faster than usual, perhaps there was a gust. Normally, the foredeckie would have pushed the dinghy aside while leaning over the pulpit to pick up the mooring line. This time she didn't.

There was no time to go for Plan B, i.e. bear away and go round again.

There was a horrible scraping noise as the yacht ran over the dinghy and mooring line. But the important thing was that the boat had caught the mooring and come to a halt.

With the help of the boathook, Annie was able to retrieve the mooring line from around the tiller and hook up to a sheet winch. Only when the sails had been stowed and the boat fully settled down did she attempt to walk the mooring from the stern to its home on the foredeck.

So, what went wrong? The problem was lack of communication!

The telescopic boathook had been broken on a cruise and I had failed to mention it to Annie, neither had her crew mentioned its shortness when bringing it on deck to catch the mooring. She hadn't noticed it, assuming all to be as usual.

Interestingly, no one came up to us that evening to chide her for her unseamanlike arrival. Everyone had been focusing on their own situations or were too far away to see!

But the dinghy was never quite the same afterwards.

4. Some nautical terms and their meanings

The other day we found a delightful blog post about the following six nautical terms relating to a boat's motion, namely: heaving, swaying, surging, pitching, yawing and rolling.

We think you'll enjoy the sketches illustrating the terms. You can view them at six degrees of freedom and the drunken sailor. We particularly liked their depiction of movement, both of the vessels and the sailor!

5. In their own words: Ted Turner

Ted Turner, media magnate and founder of CNN, is well-known in sailing circles. He successfully defended the America's Cup in 1977 as skipper of Courageous and skippered Tenacious to win the 1979 Fastnet race on handicap.

The chance for mistakes is about equal
to the number of crew squared.

One wonders whether he included the skipper when he referred to "crew"?

© 2010 Bevanda Pty Ltd

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Drowning doesn't look like drowning! + Well cared for lines last longer + Sailing in the desert + Final words on docking and undocking HMAS Melbourne + In their own words: Thucydides
- 8 Jul 10

Do you know how to recognise when someone is drowning? We share information that may save lives.

Next we show you how to look after the lines on your boat to make them last longer. For news, we have a short piece on a regatta in the desert.

A quotation from Thucydides completes the newsletter.

1. Drowning doesn't look like drowning!

Some years ago we were beaten into second place in a winter series by a yacht named Not Drowning, Waving. It was probably named after the Aussie band in the 1980s and 90s. Now we've learned that it's true: people who are drowning don't wave.

Annie found a compelling report on the gCaptain blog dispelling the myth that people splash around, wave their arms and cry out for help when they are drowning. That's what TV and movies lead us to believe.
Read and share the article, Drowning Doesn't Look Like
, with your family and friends.

Of course, when out sailing, if you wear your PFD you will keep yourself afloat, should you go overboard.

2. Well cared for lines last longer

When did you last take your lines - headsail lines, mainsheet, halyards - off the boat to wash and dry them thoroughly? If you sail all year round, it's worth doing this twice a year. If you only sail during the summer months, you should do this at the end of the season when winterising your yacht.

Washing will remove any build-up of salt and sand that will, over time, damage the fibres of the lines. In the case of oil and grease getting on any of your lines, you should remove it as soon as possible, not wait for your six monthly wash day.

Place the lines in separate pillow cases or mesh bags and use a mild detergent in your washing machine. The lines need to be in bags to prevent kinking, which would damage them. Do not tumble them dry. Hang them out on your washing line and avoid kinks.

When clean, the lines can be checked carefully for any damage or, perhaps, have their ends refinished.

Keeping your lines clean and dry will make your lines last longer and keep your maintenance costs down.

3. Sailing in the desert

Right now, in Central Australia, the Lake Eyre Yacht Club is celebrating its tenth anniversary with a sailing regatta. To those not in the know, that may sound obvious but last year, for instance, no sailing took place all year as there was insufficient water.

While Lake Eyre still has insufficient water to host the racing it's being held on Lake Killamperpunna, a lake on Cooper Creek, with access via the Birdsville Track about 650 km north of Adelaide. Owners and crews of 60 or so boats from all over Australia have gathered to compete, camp out and celebrate. The regatta concludes today.

And although the club may not always have water available for sailing, it does have a clubhouse! As the club's website says: "It is ideally suited for use as a Yacht club having a large hall with catering facilities." But it's 160 km from the regatta venue!

4. Final words on docking and undocking HMAS Melbourne

This time we heard from Jim O'Connor, who seems to have been well-placed to know what went on:

I spent 5 years onboard HMAS Melbourne over the years and yes we did use the Trackers to get alongside or to get off the wharf from time to time.  However I never heard the comment from aircrew that they were unhappy to fly the craft after their use to berth the ship.

So perhaps Bill McCabe's comment reflects his own view as a licensed pilot?

5. In their own words: Thucydides

Thucydides (c. 460 BC - c. 395 BC) was a Greek historian and author of the History of the Peloponnesian War:

A collision at sea can ruin your whole day.

He certainly got that right!

© 2010 Bevanda Pty Ltd

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The results are in! + Fibreglass and flammability encore + Using planes to dock the ship + Don't forget the sale + In their own words: Bernard Moitessier - 29 Jun 10

1. The results are in!

Thank you to everyone who participated in our recent survey. We have compiled a brief report on the responses we received.

2. Fibreglass and flammability encore

Mike Kingdom Hockings, one of our Affiliates emailed us during the week:

I'm curious to know more about the flammability of fibreglass structures. Did the BBQ generate enough heat to make the boat fire self-sustaining, or did something else (e.g. oil) bring it to the critical point?

Oil on the BBQ and fat on the meat would have been well alight before anyone reached for a fire extinguisher. Instead of stopping the blaze, the fire extinguisher scattered the flames.

Mike added:

It's amazing what will burn once you have a big enough heat source - it's difficult for a layman to imagine stone or concrete buildings becoming uncontrollable infernos, but it happens regularly.

The worst boat fire I have seen was a petrol-engined motor cruiser fuelled up ready for a trip. It burned out and ran ashore during the night. The propshaft drooped between the bearings when we saw it the next day...

Whether it's a motor cruiser or yacht, it's a crying shame to see any vessel go up in smoke.

3. Using planes to dock the ship

Bill McCabe's story about HMAS Melbourne in Fiji drew the following comment from Simon Firth, a Hobart Affiliate.

There are plenty of Hobart people who would remember HMAS Melbourne using the same technique to get alongside Macquarie no 3 or Princes no 2 in the 50s and 60s.

Who needs a tug?

4. Don't forget the sale!

You only have just over 24 hours to take up our special offer and get your copy of The Boating Bible Manual of Seamanship. The complete six CD package is just AU$135 - that's a saving of AU$60 off the normal advertised price. And we throw in our 75-minute DVD, The Joys of Sailing free of charge.

If you prefer, select one CD for AU$30 and you'll save AU$15.

But don't delay as our sale ends on 30 June.

5. In their own words: Bernard Moitessier

Bernard Moitessier was born in French Indochina (now Vietnam) in 1925 and imprisoned there during the Japanese occupation. At 25 he left by sea and cruised the Indian Ocean and South Atlantic to the Caribbean.

He is perhaps best known as one of the 10 competitors in the 1968 Golden Globe race, a non-stop single-handed circumnavigation. Approaching the finish line with a clear lead, he turned away and continued sailing the world, forsaking the 5,000 pound prize - then a good sum of money.

I hate storms, but calms undermine my spirits.

We know that, because nature abhors a vacuum, the next storm is always on the way. But timing and preparing for its arrival is the tricky part of long distance sailing, as Abby Sunderland found recently.

© 2010 Bevanda Pty Ltd

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Sale! + Fibreglass and flammability + Response to our Boat Handling Tip 1 + In their own words: Nathaneal G. Herreshoff - 22 Jun 10

This week we're launching our end of financial year Sale - see below for details.

We revisit the recent fire on Sydney Harbour to look at flammability and fire fighting. And share feedback received from one of our first subscribers on prop walk, in response to our first Boat Handling Tip.

We'd also like to thank everyone who has completed our survey of subscribers. As we are still receiving responses, we'll hold off reporting further on the findings for another week.

A quotation from yacht designer and builder, Nathaneal G. Herreshoff, completes this week's newsletter.

1. The Boating Bible Manual of Seamanship is on sale!

From today until 30 June 2010 we are offering our
complete package of six CDs for just AU$135 - that's
a saving of AU$60 off the normal advertised price - and
you receive free of charge our 75-minute DVD, The Joys of
Sailing as a bonus.

The CDs in package are:

  • Boat Handling 1 and 2
  • Navigation and Passage Planning
  • Safety and Emergencies
  • Skipper and Crew, Knots and The Language of the Sea
  • Weathercraft

Now is a great time to get yourself a copy of The
Boating Bible Manual of Seamanship

2.  Fibreglass and flammability

Two weeks ago we had an item about a boat fire in Sydney harbour where a coffee boat tried to go to the aid of a burning cruiser. Nothing so special about that, you say, because that's what one should do.

But the upshot was very sad. The BBQ fire on the cruiser had spread to the boat's hull and the flames also spread from the cruiser's hull to the coffee boat.

The point about this is that the cruiser was made of fibreglass. Because the glass method of construction has been around for so long now, many people have forgotten how extremely easy it is for a fire not just to reach the flashpoint for glass, but then to spread very quickly. So quickly, in fact, that anything short of an automatic fire-fighting system is unlikely to be successful.

Perhaps the only precautions that could be taken against the spread of a BBQ fire might be the use of fire retardant materials around the BBQ.

Certainly no one would recommend not going to the aid of a boat because it was fibreglass but one would recommend extreme caution in offering that aid.

In our Safety and Emergencies CD (on sale for AU$30 - save AU$15) we have video showing the 'blast' effect of a marine powder extinguisher on a frying pan fire in the galley. We also have video showing the effective use of a fire blanket in extinguishing the same sort of fire.

Perhaps a fire blanket near the BBQ is the answer.

3. Response to our Boat Handling Tip 1

Sydney yachtsman, Bill McCabe, sent us an email
this week:

I thought you might like to add to your piece about the turning effects while manoeuvring away from a wharf and mention the phenomenon of Prop Walk. Most yachts have a single screw and so will experience this. I suppose everyone knows their own boat but it is worth checking it when handling a boat for the first time. 

With the most common set-up the stern will be pushed to port when in reverse.  The opposite is true going forward but then you have the powerful prop wash over the rudder so it is much less apparent. 

For this reason and since we no longer have to worry about "Steering Boards" I tie up starboard side to whenever possible, especially if there is an on shore breeze.

Thank you, Bill, for this helpful advice. In fact, we cover Prop Walk in our Boat Handling CDs (on sale for AU$30 - save AU$15) which also include a series of animations showing boats coming alongside and leaving in different combinations of wind direction and tidal flow.

Bill added the following story from his time in Fiji, which is where I met him while I was running the Fiji Times in the 1970s:

Interestingly, when HMAS Melbourne was in Suva years ago the pilots were concerned about the SE Trade Wind that was pressing her to the wharf.

Apparently her hull was not strong enough for them to warp her off so, if the onshore wind was too strong they tied down all the Tracker aircraft along the flight deck and ran their engines at full throttle. The guys who had to fly them after that were not at all happy with the procedure.

(As well as being a sailor, Bill is a very experienced pilot.)

4. In their own words: Nathanael G. Herreshoff

Nathanael G. Herreshoff, (1848-1938), designed and built five America's Cup yachts between 1893 and 1920. During his 72 year career, he designed well over 2,000 craft and produced more than 18,000 drawings.

One of those designs was the H28. While living in Melbourne in the 1960s, I co-owned and raced one called Halcyon, the source of many enjoyable and sometimes successful outings.

Herreshoff would be horrified by some of the paint jobs on yachts these days:

There are only two colors to paint a boat, black or white, and only a fool would paint a boat black.

We haven't been able to determine whether his statement pre-dates Henry Ford's.

© 2010 Bevanda Pty Ltd

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Boat Handling Tip 1 + Quick stop innovator dies + Information on paper charts: Part 5, Navigational marks + Thank you and follow up request + In their own words: Sir Francis Drake - 16 Jun 10

Boat handling skills was one of the topics receiving a high number of votes in our recent survey of readers so we've begun a series of basic tips on the subject.

We recognise two of the safety achievements of John Bonds, the Quick Stop and inflatable life jacket. And then continue our series on the meaning of information found on paper charts.

Finally, our quotation today is from Sir Francis Drake.

1. Boat Handling Tip 1

Perhaps the best thing any new helmsman can learn about any boat's behaviour is how it turns. Both under sail and under motor a yacht pivots with the result that if the bow is turning to starboard the stern will be swinging equally to port.

It is easiest to imagine that the point of turn is somewhere in the middle of the boat, lengthwise.

It is immediately obvious when a skipper does not know this fact, particularly when leaving a jetty or wharf. The bow swings out and the stern hits the jetty.

This characteristic of boats also comes into play when boats are going alongside each other or departing from alongside. It is necessary to move forward in an almost straight line, or to have a crew member hold a fender over the stern of the boat that's leaving so that when the stern inevitably kicks in towards the other boat damage will be avoided.

2. Quick stop innovator dies

John Bonds, a former Executive Director of U.S. Sailing, died in his sleep on his yacht, Alliance, at Newport Rhode Island on June 8.

John was well-known as a safety innovator, having joined the Safety at Sea committee in 1981.

He immediately began testing ways of rescuing people from the water. After conducting some 600 tests on the water with midshipmen and a range of equipment, he concluded that the best manoeuvre was the Quick Stop.

But it was some years before the Quick Stop method gained acceptance around the world over the traditional broad reach method.

John then tested life jackets and found that the then recently available inflatable life jacket was the best option. Again, this went against tradition and took years to be adopted.

How many lives have been saved by this man's determination?

3. Information on paper charts: Part 5, Navigational marks

What you may see on the chart:

Navigational marks: IALA Maritime Buoyage System -
Region A (Red to port).

OK, so it says 'Red to port', but the novice may be confused by what this means. The conventional direction of buoyage is from the sea, towards the port or waterway.

So, 'Red to port' in IALA Region A means that you should keep the red lateral marks to port as you enter a harbour.

Charts may also show a symbol that defines the direction of buoyage visually for you.

4. In their own words: Sir Francis Drake

Well-known sea captain of the Elizabethan age, Sir Francis Drake, Vice Admiral of the English fleet that fought the Spanish Armada:

It isn't that life ashore is distasteful to me.
But life at sea is better.

I guess it helps when life at sea means that you are in command of your world!

© 2010 Bevanda Pty Ltd

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Two boats lost in BBQ fire + World Oceans Day + Warning to boat owners + We need your help + In their own words: William Arthur Ward - 8 Jun 10

1. Two boats lost in BBQ fire

It's always sad to witness a boat's destruction, but in this case one skipper lost not just his boat that he'd spent six months fitting out, but his livelihood.

A BBQ in the stern of a boat flared up, setting the meat alight and catching onto some cooking oil. The boat's owner and two sons were unable to control the fire with fire extinguishers.

As the oil spattered the deck the fire quickly caught on to the fibreglass hull and took hold.

The skipper of a coffee boat that was nearby came over to help put the fire out. Unfortunately for him, the blaze spread to his vessel and could not be stopped. Meanwhile, the boat's occupants escaped to their dinghy. Both boats were destroyed.

By obeying the law of the sea - going to the aid of a vessel in distress - the skipper of the coffee boat lost both his boat and his business.

2. World Oceans Day

Today is World Oceans Day. This year its theme is Oceans of Life, which makes us quite sad, considering the oil spewing into the Mexican Gulf and its affect on sea and bird life - effects which will continue to be felt long after the oil well is capped or the flow of oil controlled.

The estimates of the quantity of oil that will be dispersed in the water far exceed any previous disaster.

Governments around the world must regulate to protect our marine environment from a recurrence.

3. Warning to boat owners

Given the situation in the Mexican Gulf, it's not surprising to learn that Volvo Penta is seriously concerned about the effect of the oil spill on marine engines. The following warning was issued by them:

Volvo Penta's experience shows that ingestion of even small amounts of oil into the cooling system of the engine may cause damage to the engine and/or many of its subsystems. Sterndrive components or other running gear may also be damaged by submersion in oil contaminated water.

In order to avoid expensive repair bills and long term damage, owners are encouraged to contact their Volvo Penta dealer for service recommendations if a boat has been operated or exposed to oil contaminated water.

Volvo Penta has issued specific service and repair recommendations for its authorized dealers to address this unique issue.

4. In their own words: William Arthur Ward

William Arthur Ward (1921 - 1994) is one of America's most quoted writers of inspirational maxims:

The pessimist complains about the wind;
the optimist expects it to change;
the realist adjusts the sails.

Which sort of sailor are you?

© 2010 Bevanda Pty Ltd

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The mystery of the start line + Two approaches to landfall + Information on paper charts: Part 4, Positions + In their own words: Benjamin Franklin - 1 Jun 10

This week we share some thoughts on starting and note the homecomings of two very different circumnavigators. We also explain what geodetic datum is and its importance when reading and using charts.

We finish with a quotation from Benjamin Franklin, American scientist, inventor, statesman, printer, and philosopher, i.e. a Renaissance man.

1. The mystery of the start line

Where you start on the line may determine your overall result in a race, but how do you decide? In almost all cases the race will start with a windward leg so as a rule it's safest to start on starboard tack.

Port tack boats run the risk of being forced to tack or drop below their starboard opponents.

There are, of course, exceptions to this rule. You may find that one end of the line is favoured, giving a slightly freer course to the first mark. If it happens to require a port tack start, then that's ok because you will have greater boat speed. You will, however, need to keep a close eye on the boats crossing you on starboard.

Being the only boat starting from one end of the line could mean two things. Either you are taking a flyer or the rest of your competitors have misjudged conditions. In each case you will at least have clear wind.

Your choice may also be determined by the tide or, as has been the case in Sydney harbour recently, the effect of tide plus the outflow of storm water from days of rain and storms. The combined effect can severely hamper boat speed and push you sideways when you're forced to cross the flow.

When you've made your decision, do some timed runs to the line so that you know how far to sail away before bringing your boat onto the wind and trimming so that you cross the line at full speed just as the starting signal is made.

2. Two approaches to landfall

Jessica Watson and Dilip Donde are both to be applauded as successful solo circumnavigators. But both faced difficulties in timing their arrivals to suit formal welcome parties in Sydney and Mumbai.

In Jessica's case, she was criticised by some for slowing the boat down to arrive through Sydney Heads at 11.00 am on Saturday 15 May.

As it turned out and despite the planning, she had to put Ella's Pink Lady hard on the wind and make several tacks as she sailed for the finishing line, finally arriving about 2.5 hours after the advertised time.

Dilip Donde took a different approach, as he describes in his blog:

The uncertainty of the ETA proving once again that "Sail Boats do not have ETAs, they have destinations and that they go towards a destination and not to a destination".

He completed his circumnavigation at 12.30 am on 19 May, berthed in the naval dockyard and then, on 22 May, quietly left at dawn to re-enter for the formal celebrations. From what we've seen on the wires, his 'first arrival' was kept under wraps.

3. Information on paper charts: Part 4, Positions

Now that we've looked at depths and heights, we need to understand horizontal datum, correctly termed geodetic datum. Nautical charts may be divided into three groups, based on their geodetic datum.

Here's an extract from an actual chart in the largest, most modern, group - WGS84:

Positions are related to the World Geodetic System

Positions obtained from the Global
Positioning System (GPS) in the WGS 1984
Datum can be plotted directly onto this chart.

What does this mean? Here the navigator is fortunate and does not have to apply any corrections when plotting GPS positions onto the chart. Most metric charts have been produced on or converted to WGS 1984 datum.

Note: North American Datum of 1983 (NAD 83) is NOAA's standard geodetic and it is equivalent to the World Geodetic System of 1984 (WGS 84).

In your chart library, however, you may find a number of older charts, both metric and imperial. Some of the more common are designated:
Ordnance Survey of Great Britain 1936 (OSGB36)
Australian Geodetic Datum 1966 (AGD66)
North American Datum of 1927 (NAD27)

However, there are many more varieties of old chart using different geodetic datums so that if you have some of which you are uncertain we would strongly advise you to contact your local hydrographic service to find out what corrections, if any, you need to apply.

In the third group you will find a number of charts where no geodetic datum is given. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority gives the following warning for navigators:

When using these older charts it is important that positions are determined only by reference to charted features; this means employing traditional terrestrial navigation techniques such as the measuring of bearings and/or radar ranges to charted features.

To date the greatest discrepancy found and reported to UK Hydrographic Office in 2009 is seven miles, in the Pacific Ocean. There could be quite a number of reefs in that distance.

4. In their own words: Benjamin Franklin

Whether you're a racer or a cruiser, sailing around the harbour or the world, these words from Benjamin Franklin hold true:

By failing to prepare,
you are preparing to fail.

If your boat has all the statutory safety equipment aboard, it's like having an insurance policy. It will be there when you need it.

© 2010 Bevanda Pty Ltd

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Road maps are for roads + Royal Navy respond to mayday call + Information on paper charts: Part 3, Depths and Heights + In their own words: Ernest Hemingway - 26 May 10

This week's newsletter brings stories of two very different rescues and continues our look at the information on paper charts. It concludes with a quotation from Ernest Hemingway, author of The Old Man and the Sea.

1. Road maps are for roads

Seasoned sailors heading north from, say, Sydney are often heard to say that they plan to "keep Australia on the left".

Recently an Englishman, whose lack of experience, preparation, safety and navigation equipment probably could have killed him, ran aground after running out of fuel after circling the Isle of Sheppey off the Kentish coast.

He had set out to travel from Gillingham to Southampton (approx. 180 nm away) but according to RNLI he had "somehow lost his bearings" while using a road map instead of a nautical chart.

He told his rescuers that he had kept the coast to his right which led to him going around and around Sheppey!

Neville Crane, member of the local coast guard,

We did tell him where places to refuel his boat
will be situated but we did impart the invaluable advice that in our opinion he'd be better off making the journey by train."

2. Royal Navy respond to mayday call

Imagine being on a well-found 18 metre yacht 300 nm north east of South Georgia Island, i.e. deep in the south Atlantic, and you hit an iceberg, as happened to an English couple and their two children recently.

Being self-reliant the skipper checked his boat, which appeared to be OK. The following day, however, it became obvious from the way the boat was becoming more and more unstable that there was some structural damage and it began to take on water and the engine failed.

Far from the shipping lanes, the couple did not expect their distress call to be answered. But fortune was on their side. A Royal Navy warship was on station about 300 nm away and came to their rescue, arriving soon enough that they did not have to get into their liferaft. 

They may have lost the yacht that had been their home since leaving home in March 2007 but they survived.

How lucky can you be?

3. Information on paper charts: Part 3, Depths and Heights

To understand what's written on a chart about Depths and Heights, first we need to define a few terms:

Chart Datum
The baseline of tidal height in use on a particular chart. It is the basis of the survey of the area, and tides are unlikely to fall below the datum in any but the most unusual circumstances. It's accuracy may vary according to when the most recent hydrological survey took place.

Lowest Astronomical Tide (LAT)
The lowest tidal level that can be predicted.

Highest Astronomical Tide (HAT)
The highest tidal level that can be predicted.

Mean Higher High Water (MHHW)
According to the Australian Hydrographic Service, it is the mean of the higher of the two daily high waters over a period of time (preferably 19 years). It is applicable in mixed and diurnal waters.

The following descriptions of depths and heights have
been extracted from an actual chart:

Depths are in metres and are reduced to Chart Datum, which is approximately the level of Lowest Astronomical Tide. Depths shown in upright figures are from old or inadequate surveys.

Heights are in metres. Underlined figures are drying heights in metres and decimetres above Chart Datum; overhead clearance heights are above Highest Astronomical Tide; all other heights are above Mean Higher High Water.

4. In their own words: Ernest Hemingway

In a letter to Esquire magazine, Hemingway wrote that the Gulf Stream:

... and the other ocean currents are the last wild country there is left. Once you are out of sight of land and of the other boats you are more alone than you can ever be hunting and the sea is the same as it has been since before men ever went on it in boats.

I love the idea of the sea being the same as it has been forever - its constancy is only in its existence, not in always being the same.

I'm sure all blue water sailors would agree with the phrase "the last wild country". Any skipper who fails to respect the power of the sea puts their own and their crew members' lives at risk.

© 2010 Bevanda Pty Ltd

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Mhadei almost home + In the wake of Bligh + Information on paper charts: Part 2, Scale + In their own words: Jessica Watson - 18 May 10

Before launching into this week's newsletter stories, we'd like to welcome all new subscribers and recent purchasers of the Nautical Knowledge via SailingMates and Sail-World.

1. Mhadei almost home

After leaving Cape Town in early April, Dilip Donde, the Indian naval commander on the final leg of his circumnavigation aboard Mhadei, has just 100 nm to go to reach Mumbai, where his voyage started last year.

While Jessica Watson had eaten all her favourite meals a few days before she arrived in Sydney, Dilip, referring to himself in the third person as 'the chef', had other food challenges: 

The chef suffered a bit of a setback today with the discovery or rather non discovery of any butane gas in the gas cylinder. That definitely is the end of any cooking on board and the chef will need to be at his creative best to make unheated canned food taste palatable till we reach home 1,200 nm away!

Nevertheless, his menu is bound to have been a great deal better than that on the Talisker Bounty Boat ...

2. In the wake of Bligh

Serial adventurer, Don McIntyre, recently left Tonga to follow Bligh's voyage to Kupang - the voyage following the mutiny on the Bounty. With three fellow crewmen, Don intended to use only navigation tools that would have been available in Bligh's time.

For safety reasons, however, the Talisker Bounty Boat was fitted with navigation lights and torches, GPS and other modern day equipment packed on board.

Don regularly comments in awe of Bligh's achievements,
e.g. after nearly hitting a reef and breaking out the GPS and plotter to ensure safe navigation away from danger.

The crew have also used torches several times to check their surroundings.

They've been living on short rations:
One/two biscuits in the morning, ditto at night plus one tin of corned meat between them.
Water is restricted to 1 litre per day.

They've collected limes and coconuts to supplement their diet. The other day they caught a fish which gave a lift to everyone's spirits. They even managed to preserve some fish by drying it.

I bet all are dreaming of their first meal ashore!

3. Information on paper charts: Part 2, Scale

In my chart library, I have a chart that shows the south coast of mainland Australia (from Cape Leeuwin to Port Phillip) and the north west coast of Tasmania. That's a distance of 1,800 nautical miles - it's a small-scale chart.

I also have a chart of my home port, Port Jackson (Sydney) which is a large-scale chart. Below the title of the former, it gives the scale as 1:3,500,000. For the latter, the scale is 1:20,000. As you can see, that's a very big difference.

So, a chart that covers a relatively large area is called a small-scale chart, while one covering a relatively small area is known as a large-scale chart.

For the navigator, this means that you can use small-scale charts for long distance voyages and when passage planning. However when you are approaching land or entering a port you need larger-scale charts.

In fact, as Sydney Harbour is a large area of water and a busy marine port there are several charts dedicated to it.

Chartlets have been prepared by the Hydrography office covering other ports on the NSW coastline. They're called chartlets because several ports can be portrayed on a single full-size chart.

4. In their own words: Jessica Watson

On her safe arrival back in Sydney, Jessica said:

I don't have to worry about the weather any more.

We're sure that it won't be too long before she does start watching the weather again.

© 2010 Bevanda Pty Ltd

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Jessica's choices limited + Around the world in a 21 footer + Plea to keep plastic out of the ocean + More on the Beaufort scale + In their own words: Seneca the Younger - 4 May 10

Jessica had to wait patiently for conditions to allow her to round the bottom of Tasmania safely, but there's more involved in her getting home safely than that.

What about sailing around the world in a 21 ft yacht? Well, add non-stop and unassisted to add to the challenge!

We've also found a really good reason to keep plastics out of the ocean. And one of our regular readers has queried my wish to sink the Beaufort scale. Finally, some words of wisdom from Seneca.

1. Jessica's choices limited

The news that Jessica Watson was getting big seas and swells west of Tasmania as she neared the last leg of her journey around the world was further evidence of something I've always believed. The closer you come to your destination at the end of a long voyage the more restricted your choice of courses becomes.

While Jessica has been out in the wide ocean stretches she has been able to avoid much severe weather, on the advice of her NZ weather router, but now she is nearing home she cannot so easily avoid nasty weather, or is more affected by unfavourable winds.

I do not for a minute suggest that she hasn't handled a fair amount of nasty stuff very well (the Atlantic gale for instance), it's just that any diminution of the conditions could only have come if she had gone further south (perhaps) and therefore further from her target.

Now she has turned the corner and is heading north she has the bulk of Australia to the west as a no go zone. Let's hope she gets nice firm south-westerlies, stays in the flatter water comparatively close to shore, and has a quick and safe ride home.

2. Around the world in a 21 footer

Always on the lookout for adventurous sailors, we found another circumnavigator who really is doing it the hard way.

39 year old Alessandro di Benedetto set out from Les Sables d'Olonne, France on 26 October 2009. He aims to complete the non-stop, unassisted voyage in the smallest yacht ever. At just 21 ft Findomestic Banca is, to my mind, more suited to harbour or other closed waters sailing but Alessandro is showing us otherwise.

But it hasn't all be smooth sailing. As he approached Cape Horn, his yacht was dismasted. (A photo on his
reveals that it was, I believe, grossly overmasted.)

His land-based support team expected that this would mean the end of his attempt. But no, Alessandro built a 20 ft jury rig and continued. He rounded the Horn, which he celebrated with champagne and 'foie gras', and is currently off the coast of Uruguay, heading for the Equator.

3. Plea to keep plastic out of the ocean

We can't do anything to stop the spread of oil from the collapsed rig in the Gulf of Mexico. But there are some ecological disasters that we can, as individuals, avoid.

The photo (below) should convince you that plastics must be kept out of the ocean.

Mature turtle's growth constrained by a plastic ring
Photo courtesy Dino Ferri, Audubon Institute

So next time you and your crew finish a six-pack, make sure you cut the rings so that marine life cannot get caught and tortured for life.

4. More on the Beaufort scale

 From Mike Kingdom-Hockings,

Here's a question:

If we abandoned the Beaufort Scale, what wind velocities would you suggest as thresholds for various sea area forecast warning levels? And should they, in fact be coupled with sea state?

(I say this because I was once caught out in a 16ft racing dinghy, along with 300 other dinghies of various classes, in a wind that hit Force 11. Since it blew onshore and came up from nothing, the sea was flat and nobody was seriously hurt. Thanks to quick thinking by my skipper, we got the sails off and well tied down before planing two miles home under bare poles - the only boat not to capsize.)

To which I reply:

Nothing need change. What's wrong with a forecast saying "gale force winds of 35 knots"? Sea state can be given although usually now that is separate.

In any case, Beaufort's sea state is as rough as Beaufort's wind. His generality will always be modified by local conditions, i.e. wind against tide, tide with wind, close to windward shore flat seas, etc. This is a matter of observation.

Incidentally, since the 1998 Hobart our local forecasts always say, winds gusts may increase average by 40 per cent.

Mike also commented on the Turkish gulet:

Daina is certainly a beautiful, real yacht. Most of these boats are available for charter - at a weekly cost of the same order as what most of us earn in a year...

My response:

Ah, isn't that right!

5. In their own words: Seneca the Younger

Born in Spain in 3 or 4 BC, Seneca was educated in Rome and became a noted orator, philosopher and tragedian. He was appointed tutor to 10 year old Nero, a position of great influence. But in 65 AD was accused of conspiracy against him and sentenced to death but committed suicide.

If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favourable.

In Jessica's case, she knows exactly where she wants to sail. We wish her favourable winds to see her home.

© 2010 Bevanda Pty Ltd

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Let’s sink the Beaufort scale + Navigation White Paper available + My dream boat + Abby Sunderland heads for Cape Town + In their own words: Lin and Larry Pardey - 28 Apr 10

Our leading story today is my suggestion that the Beaufort scale is long past its use-by date. We also share access to a White Paper encouraging safe navigation and then have a look at my dream boat.

We round out this week's newsletter with the news that Abby Sunderland has had to break her circumnavigation and finish with a quotation from that well-known cruising duo, Lin and Larry Pardey.

1. Let's sink the Beaufort scale

Isn't it about time we stopped using the Beaufort
? In its day - about 150 years ago - it was the first and a very successful attempt to create a common rough guide, understood by most seafarers, as to wind strength and the associated sea state.

But that's all it ever has been, a rough guide.

If you put three people together in a room who have just spent some time in the same conditions at sea it is doubtful that any two will agree on what wind strength, or measure on the Beaufort scale, they were in.

Think about this. If one of those three had never been in winds of Force 5 before, then Force 7 will seem like Force 9 to them. If one of the others had often sailed in Force 9, he or she will probably recognise it easily. But then what of the third?

The other two were familiar with Force 9, but were they talking about its lower limits or its upper limits. Remember, a Force 9 on the scale is listed as winds between 41 and 47 knots - a gap of 6 knots, or 11 kph or just under 7 mph.

Okay. So that indicates a very basic difficulty in communication using the scale but why use it anyway? There are perfectly good modern instruments using anemometers which will record the wind speed to a very fine degree. They can display in the cockpit and there can be a repeater below for the navigator.

If you have a depth sounder why would you use a leadline? Why would you use DR if you have a GPS system? So why would you use the scale if you can have a perfectly good instrument instead?

The only use I can see for the Beaufort scale is if an accurate instrument broke down, in the same way that you would have to use a leadline if the depth sounder broke down, and DR if the GPS failed.

If anybody wants to make a case for the Beaufort scale I'd be very pleased to hear from them.

2. Navigation White Paper available

The newly formed Alliance for Safe Navigation has released a white paper by Ken Cirillo of Jeppesen (producer of C-Map) on the importance of updating your charts - both electronic and paper:

It poses the following scenario:

There could be serious consequences from sailing  with outdated charts. "An act of omission is an  act of commission," Cirillo explained. What if  you have a chart plotter on your vessel and you're  using out of date charts? Say you run aground on  a reef that is marked on a new edition. You could  have your insurance claim denied because the updated  data was available and you weren't using it.

Is it worth taking the risk and endangering both your crew and your yacht?

3. My dream boat

When cruising in the Greek islands some years ago, I was deeply envious of the Turkish gulets. They seemed the perfect vessel for the region and since then I've often talked about chartering one, if I were ever to make a return visit.

Just this week Annie found a picture and story about a superyacht named Daima that has been built in Turkey combining modern technology with traditional design and creating a very beautiful boat.

She's 42.5m long, with an 8.5m beam and 3.5m draft, allowing luxurious accommodation for 10 guests and cabins for a crew of seven.

Now all I have to do is find someone to pay the bills. I'm sure I'll have no problem getting guests.

4. Abby Sunderland heads for Cape Town

American teenager, Abby Sunderland has been forced to
visit Cape Town for repairs. Both her main autopilot and her back up system have failed, putting an end to her non-stop, unassisted attempt. There's not much anyone could do about that at sea.

At this stage, after repairs have been completed, Abby plans to continue her voyage around the world. Good on her!

5. In their own words: Lin and Larry Pardey

The Pardeys have made two circumnavigations on two yachts they built themselves - neither of which had engines. They have sailed nearly 200,000 nm together.

If you can't repair it,
maybe it shouldn't be on board.

© 2010 Bevanda Pty Ltd

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Passage planning using the Wiley Nautical Almanac + Plastiki update + Clipper Round the World + In their own words: John Rousmaniere -  21 Apr 10

1. Passage planning using the Wiley Nautical Almanac

For those who need an almanac for the Channel - the south and east coast of England from Lowestoft to Padstow and for the continental coast from Vlissingen in the Netherlands to L'Aber-Wrac'h in France - the Wiley Nautical Almanac is available for free download.

This Almanac provides detailed information on 150 ports, including aerial photographs, chartlets and pilotage instructions.

It also has weather forecasts, tide predictions and a searchable database of facilities available in each port.

2. Plastiki update

We're quite impressed with the progress made by Plastiki on her voyage across the Pacific. So far she has travelled 2,964 nm at an average speed of 5.2 knots. This puts her NNE of Line Islands, the first of her planned ports of call.

With her twin hulls and sail plan, she is unable to tack and is very much a downwind vessel. She has no deep keel or centreboard so there are times when she is pushed sideways.

As you may be aware, the hull is made from used PET bottles, but the sails also are made from recycled PET material:

And when the crew need to exercise, they can keep fit by pedalling specially fitted bicycles to generate power and supplement the solar panels, wind and trailing sea turbines!

3. Clipper Round the World

It's amazing how quickly the Clipper organisers were able to replace Chris Stanmore-Major as skipper of Qingdao. Chris has been caught in UK by the volcanic eruption in Iceland, therefore unable to fly back to the yacht.

Hannah Jenner has been called from her post, overseeing the work readying Cork to rejoin the race in Antigua. It's a bit like musical chairs!

Even more remarkable was the speed with which Team Finland was prepared for Race 8. Arriving in San Francisco just before dawn on Monday after 34 days at sea, she was fully cleaned, maintained and provisioned and took her place on the start line at 6.00 pm Tuesday.

Follow the race at:

4. In their own words: John Rousmaniere

This week we've found a quotation from author/sailor, John Rousmaniere:

The goal is not to sail the boat,
but rather to help the boat sail herself.

© 2010 Bevanda Pty Ltd

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Information on paper charts + The dangers of nearing home + Phoenician sailing tradition lives on + In their own words: Philip Beale - 13 Apr 10

Easter, a trip to the country to celebrate Ann's father's 93rd birthday, followed by a series of medical check-ups made it a broken week. But now we're back on deck.

This week, we begin a look at some of the information provided on printed charts. We also welcome Jessica Watson back into Australian waters and show you how the Phoenician sailing tradition is living on.

1. Information on paper charts

If you're new to navigating, one of the first things you need to learn is to use the latitude scale to measure distance. When you have measured a distance on the chart, set the dividers against the scale on the left or right of the chart.

We use the latitude because the distance between the parallels of latitude remains constant. (The distance between meridians of longitude varies from widest at the Equator to narrowest at the North and South Poles, where they all meet. Since they are not constant they must not be used.)

There's lots more information printed on every chart besides the land, rocks and reefs that we want to avoid.

We'll discuss some others in coming weeks.

2. The dangers of nearing home

As you may remember I had pretty severe doubts about Jessica Watson's adventure because of her lack of experience which was not improved by her collision with a large vessel before she'd even started the voyage.

But having got as far as she has she has successively shown her courage and her stamina and obviously, by now, her skill.

Far from being "nearly home" she is in one of the most dangerous parts of her voyage. Cumulative tiredness, increasing expectations of home and comfort and the fact that land is near for the rest of her voyage all can combine - and too often have combined - to cause a dangerous relaxation in sailors.

I am not trying to be Job's comfort. I have moved from being a semi-sceptic to a strong fan of Jessica. We both wish her all the best for the rest of her circumnavigation.

You can follow Jessica's voyage back to Sydney on her blog.

3. Phoenician sailing tradition lives on

We've been meaning to tell you about Phoenicia for a few weeks now. In fact, we learned of her voyage from Dilip Donde's blog when he met her crew during his stay in Cape Town.

Not surprisingly, her design is based on wrecks of Phoenician and/or other Mediterranean trading vessels. Traditionally built in 2007-08 and launched in Arward, Syria she is circumnavigating Africa, sailing clockwise around the continent.

The objective of the Phoenicia Ship Expedition is to bring history to life by recreating the voyage of discovery commissioned by the Egyptian Emperor Necho in 600 BC and described in 440 BC by Herodotus in The Histories (4.42).

Her progress is slow, but steady. Just this week Phoenicia left the island of St Helena, the island on which Napoleon spent his final years.

Normally sailing with a crew of 11, they're down to eight and found raising the anchor a great challenge. If you read on, you'll see what we mean!

4. In their own words

We quote from Position Report No. 133 by Philip Beale, captain of Phoenicia:

Pulling up the anchor and the 40 meters chain we had out was something of a struggle and needed all eight hands. That was followed by hoisting the yard and in no time we were sailing away from Saint Helena - a little out of breath and a blister or two to the worse.

As a result of the departures we have now all got to work a little bit harder to make up for the smaller crew. Interestingly we are managing to do the same work, as quickly and probably more efficiently than before.

If anyone doubted the value of small focused teams then here is a good example, communications are easier and just as much work gets done and we are having fun too.

It is interesting how well crews can cooperate and work together to get jobs done - particularly when they have no choice!

© 2010 Bevanda Pty Ltd

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Appropriate EPIRB activation + Graphic spinnakers + Mesoscale meteorology + In their own words: Joseph Conrad - 30 Mar 10

This week we raise the issue of whether the crew of California were right to set off their EPIRB after losing their mast.

Also, as you would know, technology has existed for several years allowing digitised photographs to be applied to T-shirt design and cake decoration for example. Now you can have a photo printed on your spinnaker!

We explain "mesoscale" as it applies to meteorology and conclude with a quotation by Joseph Conrad.

1. Appropriate EPIRB activation

We've been following a series of comments about Clipper Round the World yacht California setting off its EPIRB after it was dismasted last week. The question was asked: "Does losing your mast and all your communications warrant setting off the EPIRB?"

Some people expressed outrage that a US Coast Guard plane was sent out to search for the yacht.

From all reports, California was not in danger of sinking although she had lost her mast when rolled 120 degrees by an unexpectedly large beam sea. That meant their masthead aerial was gone.

They also lost all their communication systems when water poured down the companionway and swamped their navstation during the boat's roll and recovery.

California's crew are dependant on a hand-held VHF to communicate with the yachts that are currently accompanying her to San Francisco, the next stop in this round the world race.

It has been suggested that the water may have activated the EPIRB during the knockdown that broke the mast.

It's easy to criticise from our armchairs, but if the conditions warranted sailing with only the storm jib, the boat should have been fully locked up.

2. Graphic spinnakers

An English company with lofts worldwide is offering to print any image on spinnaker cloth. Using technology developed in association with a Danish company, UK-Halsey Sailmakers can transfer a jpeg image, either simple or complex, on to cloth prior to making the spinnaker.

Personally, I think there's enough visual pollution from sponsors' logos, but at least sponsorship helps keep some yachts out on the water.

It seems to me that it's the latest gimmick. My first question would be: "Will it make the boat sail faster?" I can't imagine the answer would be "yes" because the silicone-coated nylon must add weight to the sail.

3. Mesoscale meteorology

Last week the term "mesoscale" was used in one of our quotations by Stan Honey. After a brief internet search, we added "local" in brackets but made a note to explain in greater detail in this week's newsletter.

The charts and information we generally access are synoptic ones. Mesoscale meteorology deals with sub-synoptic forecasting, i.e. far more localised than the information drawn on synoptic charts.

Examples include local effects such as land and sea breezes, thunderstorms and up the scale to weak anticyclones. They vary in distance, both horizontally and vertically from 2-20 km up to 200-2,000 km and cover 3-30 minutes in the case of thunderstorms, up to 6 to 48 hours with small hurricanes.

And we should remember that any synoptic chart is a 2-D representation of the constantly moving 3-D weather patterns.

4. In their own words

This week we've found a quotation by Joseph Conrad, author of Lord Jim and other seafaring novels and himself a UK master mariner:

Any fool can carry on, but a wise man knows how to shorten sail in time.

Like the scouts' motto, sailing has a lot to do with being prepared.

© 2010 Bevanda Pty Ltd

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Plastiki leaves San Francisco + Rounding the windward mark + Around the world in 48 days + In their own words: Stan Honey - 24 Mar 2010

This week we report on a much bolder undertaking than the 50 Days Around Australia venture (see last week's newsletter) - Plastiki's voyage across the Pacific. Then we follow on from sailing upwind with what you need to do as you approach and round the windward mark. Finally, we congratulate Groupama 3's skipper and crew on their record and share some wisdom from her navigator, Stan Honey.

1. Plastiki leaves San Francisco

Over past months there's been some media coverage of Plastiki. It's David de Rothschild's 60 ft catamaran which has been built in California using 12,500 2-litre PET plastic bottles for flotation.

Even more interestingly, the hull structure itself is made of a self-reinforced PET (srPET) sandwich core and was 'welded' together by 400 degree Fahrenheit air welders, thus avoiding the use of resins! And its strength is 75% of fibreglass despite being only half the weight.

The catamaran left San Francisco last Saturday with the aim of crossing the Pacific, visiting various islands on the way and making her way through the Great Pacific Garbage Patch before reaching her final destination in Sydney. I say, final destination because the plan is to dismantle the catamaran and recycle all the PET plastic.

In the first four days, she has covered 309 nm. When you consider that Plastiki can sail no closer to the wind than 90 degrees and only has an outboard for emergency use, who knows how long it will take her to reach our shores?

srPET is also the material used to construct Plastiki's 5 ft tall biosphere. Hanging from the aft mast, the rotating cylinder uses continually recycled water to grow hydroponic vegetables for the crew.

Follow Plastiki's voyage.

2. Rounding the windward mark

Firstly, you should always aim to approach the windward mark on starboard tack. And, as you approach, you need to decide which gybe the boat will be on after rounding.

Will the spinnaker pole be set to port or starboard? Is the run dead square? If so, what's the best angle to sail at to get good boat speed? Do you expect to gybe during the run to the next mark?

Obviously, if you're following the leaders, you will be able to learn from their decisions.

When you've decided which gybe, you can get your foredeck crew to get the spinnaker up on deck in its turtle, attach it to the pulpit, clip on the sheets and braces and have the halyard ready.

Then there's the pole to hook onto the mast, the topping lift and downhaul to be attached and brace placed in the spinnaker beak.

And don't forget to check that the spinnaker sheets and braces have been led clear and not looped around a stanchion or the pulpit by mistake.

(Once Annie found herself on the end of a spinnaker sheet that hadn't been led through the aft turning block. Although the boat was only 24 ft, there was plenty of power in the spinnaker and it took some tense moments to re-lead the sheet correctly.)

Then the pole needs to be raised and brought back to roughly where it will be for the leg, and the topping lift and downhaul locked off so that the pole is held securely. Doing this will have pulled some of the spinnaker from its bag, so it's important to raise that sail as quickly as possible.

Don't let the spinnaker trimmer pull the sheet on until the sail is fully up or the sail will fill and be very difficult to control.

As soon as the spinnaker is up, the headsail should be dropped and made secure on the foredeck so that there is no risk of it being lost overboard. When your crew has completed this, they should get off the foredeck as quickly as possible to allow the spinnaker to lift the bow.

3. Around the world in 48 days

Groupama 3 achieved her goal of winning the Jules Verne Trophy. On Saturday 20 March she completed her circumnavigation, taking just 48 days 7 hours and 44 minutes. Doing so, she trimmed more than two days off the previous record.

Her average speed for the voyage was 18.76 knots! And that speed is calculated for the optimum course, i.e. the shortest distance of 21,760 miles, not the 28,523 miles that the 105ft catamaran covered. Hence her average speed over the ground was an impressive 24.6 knots.

Franck Cammas and his nine crew are to be congratulated, but the contribution by the land-based weather router should not be overlooked. This week's In Their Own Words features Stan Honey, Groupama 3's navigator.

4. In their own words: Stan Honey

In an interview published in Scuttlebutt No. 3050 on
17 March, Stan Honey was asked: "How much could you rely on your weather tools to make strategic decisions, or were you dealing more with your onboard observations?"

To which he replied:

Of course you race in the wind that you've got, which often varies from what the forecast predicts for the current time. One of the most important skills in navigation is dealing well with this discrepancy.

The right answer is to use your observations for the current time to correct the forecast, but blend out those corrections over time. The error in the forecast is often due to a weather system that is moving at a different speed or direction to that forecast, or due to a mesoscale (local) feature that is not reflected in the forecast.

In the present, your onboard observations are perfect and certain, and you need to race in the wind you're in. But in the long term you HAVE to bet on the forecast. The forecast is not always right, but if you instead play hunches, your competitors who use the forecast well will crush you.

And that's one of the many reasons it's important to have a dedicated navigator on board.

© 2010 Bevanda Pty Ltd

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Non-stop solo unassisted round Australia record attempt + When racing upwind + In their own words - 18 Mar 2010

This week we look at an Australian who is seeking a record while raising awareness of the devastation caused to sea life by our rubbish. We also talk about improving upwind sailing performance and the importance of being tethered when going to work on the foredeck.

1. Non-stop solo unassisted round Australia record attempt

In early May, Queenslander Ian Thomson will set off from Airlie Beach aboard his yacht SOS Ocean Racing aiming to circumnavigate Australia in 50 days. If successful, he will have cut 18 days off the existing record for a single-handed monohull, held by David Beard.

The purpose of Ian's voyage is also to raise awareness of the damage caused to the environment by our rubbish, in particular, plastic shopping bags. (The SOS part of his yacht's name stands for Save Our Seas.)

On Ian's website there's a photo, with the caption "Sea turtles don't shop". It's adjacent to the following paragraph, which is distressing:

"I once saw a turtle that had a plastic bag for a stomach. It had formed perfectly in its stomach that the opening was at its throat and no product was able to get to the digestive system. The turtle starved to death. The contents of that bag included 12 cigarette butts, a bottle cap and part of a coke can."

2. When racing upwind

While it's true that you can't beat a boat by following it, it's also true that if you're behind, the boats ahead of you are, most likely, on the winning tack. So you're faced with a dilemma.

But the basic rule is that you should not tack away from the fleet unless you have very good evidence that you are changing onto the winning tack and not just 'taking a flyer'.

When you find yourself being given dirty wind by one or more yachts ahead, you should take a short leg on the opposite tack before returning to the original heading, thus staying on the same side of the course.

All the while the helmsman should be watching the telltales on both headsail and main, looking at the windex at the masthead and, if present, the on-deck repeaters of the wind and boat speed instruments.

But that's not enough. Your crew should be watching the water and the other yachts, checking for wind gusts, headers and lifts and relaying that information to you and your main and headsail trimmers.

3. In their own words

Many people I've sailed with have cursed when their tethers caught around winches and other deck equipment.

Here's a quote from Jacques Caraes, bowman on Groupama 3, who really appreciates being tied on:

"When you go up forward to unfurl the gennaker, you hook yourself on. Stability is all relative and, with fatigue added to the mix, you have to remain prudent. It's fairly exposed.

"The helmsman is our guardian angel. He has our lives in his hands. The tether is very short on our harnesses so as we don't go over the side if we're ejected."

It really demonstrates his awareness of the dangers of his job.

© 2010 Bevanda Pty Ltd

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Satellites cause GPS errors, a reader's story + Blue Water Medal awarded to Sir Robin Knox-Johnston + Mhadei in Cape Town - 9 Mar 10

Last week's newsletter about the report into the loss of two lives and 80 ft yacht during an overnight race drew several comments, including from Mike Kingdom-Hockings who wrote "Some serious jolts back to reality here."

The reality is that when sailing offshore or anywhere at night, extra caution should be used. The following story shows a wise skipper who chose not to rely solely on a GPS.

1. Satellites cause GPS errors - A reader's story

After reading last week's newsletter, one of our subscribers, Nick Dyer, contacted us about his experience delivering a Beneteau 40.7 with two others from Robe, South Australia to Launceston, Tasmania, last August.

In his own words:

"I have a Garmin 400c. I lost satellites (for two hours, according to GPS log) south of King Island (Three Hummock). Good job I had charts. It was blowing 45 knots and miserable."

He continued with another warning about using this GPS:

"Another trap with the Garmin - make sure you calibrate (re-calibrate) the Compass (in the GPS) each time you go out. I must admit, I've been very, very impressed with the Garmin 400c, it has served me very well, although also good to have a hand bearing compass, charts and a 'deck log' being updated every hour, on the hour."

Nick added that the Garmin 400c can display its accuracy in metres, i.e. the more satellites acquired, the more accurate the device. He said that he's found that the Garmin accuracy is consistently is between two and five metres.

He also gave the Raymarine Autopilot he was using a good report:

"Another revelation to me was how well the Raymarine Auto did in fairy heavy seas. It steered better than I could, which is a bit scary. (Ha!)"

Nick gets my vote for having 'steam' navigation gear on board, including the relevant charts. A good rule of thumb is to have the charts for wherever you are going and also wherever you may end up, i.e. where the weather takes you.

He also maintained an hourly deck log, meaning that at any time the recorded position of the yacht was only one hour old and a proper departure could be calculated for the DR (dead reckoning) to safety.

I, too, use a Garmin 400 but I also carry a backup - a huge, clunky old Magellan which invariably raises a laugh when first seen.

I soon wipe the smiles when I defy the smirkers to tell me why they think I would carry such an antique relic. Only a few managed to think of the answer. Not only is it waterproof, it floats!

2. Blue Water Medal awarded to Sir Robin Knox-Johnston

Last week Sir Robin was presented by the commodore of the Cruising Club of America with "its prestigious Blue Water Medal, without date, for a lifetime devoted to the advancement of sailing, sail training and youth development and on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of his single-handed, non-stop circumnavigation of the world."

The significance of 'without date' is that in the 85 years that the Blue Water Medal has been awarded, only seven have been awarded without date.

At 70, Sir Robin remains the driving force behind the Clipper Round the World 2009-2010 race. He was inducted into the ISAF Hall of Fame in 2008.

3. Mhadei in Cape Town

Dilip Donde, the intrepid Indian Naval Commander, circumnavigating Earth, is in Cape Town, remarking on his blog that his yacht Mhadei was "the center of attraction of a rather loud group of admirers".

You'll see what we mean if you click through to his blog:

When he leaves Cape Town, Dilip will be on the final leg of his voyage - home to Mumbai. His first challenge will be to navigate the Agulhas Current.

Last year, on a shakedown for this trip, he sailed from India to Mauritius and back, so he does have some experience of the Indian Ocean.

When he reaches Mumbai, he will become the first Indian to complete a single-handed circumnavigation.

© 2010 Bevanda Pty Ltd

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How little things lead to big disasters + The plot against plotters + Navigating in the ninth century - 5 Mar 10

First of all, sorry about the delay. We've had great difficulties with our computer system. A bug got into it without us knowing and destroyed or infected a lot of files. We had to take the main unit to our maintenance company and so we were without computing power for a few days.

Anyway we're back on deck now so please bear with us as we pick up the threads.

1. How little things lead to big disasters

The CYCA has released its final report on the PricewaterhouseCoopers incident during the Flinders Islet race last year. The comprehensive and intelligent report is available for download.

We highly recommend that anybody who travels at sea whether they race or cruise should read the report thoroughly. In any case we'll give some highlights here of what describes a series of apparently unrelated incidents which led to the deaths of two highly respected and highly skilled sailors, Andrew Short and Sally Gordon.

a. Fatigue and boat organisation

A critical factor pointed out in the inquiry's findings was that of fatigue. The owner of PricewaterhouseCoopers (formerly known as Shockwave) was Andrew Short, a boat dealer who had done a full day's work in his business before getting to the yacht and preparing for the race which goes approximately 45 nautical miles south from Sydney, around the islet, and back to Rushcutters Bay which is the home of the CYCA.

On the boat he took the following roles - skipper, navigator, principal helmsman - and he was on the wheel for all but a few minutes of the seven hours before the yacht went aground on the islet.

The first of the things to go wrong was that the bowman popped his shoulder during a spinnaker manoeuvre and he had to be taken below and secured in his berth. The tactician was sent to take his place on the bow and the skipper added the tactician responsibility to his list.

Sally Gordon was a well-known and very experienced ocean race navigator but who was not taking any navigational role on this voyage.

b. Navigation of the vessel

The inquiry found several things about the navigation of the vessel. There was complete reliance on the GPS system which was relayed to two chart plotters, one below decks in the navigation station and the other attached to the frame of the starboard wheel in the cockpit. It was this plotter that Andrew Short was using to navigate the boat.

It was shown later in the report that at the time the boat hit Flinders Islet there was a serious anomaly in the GPS signals being received in the area of the race. The position on the plotter would have been at least 100 metres out.

However, as a photograph in the report shows, there were flares from the Port Kembla steelworks which created a clearly visible silhouette of the islet.

Note: I have done this race several times and the steelworks glare and the nearby lighthouse are the two factors which lead the navigator to the islet. But for this to work the vessel needs to have extremely good lookouts during the whole approach.

Some of the rescued crew gave evidence to the inquiry that the islet had been seen so it is hard to understand how a clearing bearing wasn't initiated for the approach.

c. Watch system

A final although small factor was that there had been no watch system initiated on the boat. It has to be remembered that this is a 30m boat capable of very high speeds both on and off the wind.

This is only speculation that it may have been that the attitude aboard was "this is a short race and it will be over pretty quickly and there is no point in splitting into watches". But it would mean that people didn't have dedicated duties, particularly that of keeping a good lookout.

d. Conclusion and lessons learned

There are so many lessons to be learned that we again strongly recommend that as many people as possible should read this report. The report has numbered paragraphs and the numbers listed below are the points that I found most relevant:
40, 46-47, 50, 62, 70, 78-79, 86, 107, 109, 111, 114-115, 174, 210 and finally 260.

Those who read the report thoroughly will be impressed with the behaviour of some of the competing boats in the race that stood by and helped in the search and rescue operation after the grounding. It should be remembered that there were 18 crew on board and 16 of them survived.

It was a very sad event but serious sailors need to learn from it.

2. The plot against plotters

Springing from the report above I would like to make some comments about how I view chart plotters.

I've never liked them as I consider them a toy compared with a properly devised GPS navigation system feeding on to charts that contain the same information as paper charts and which can be corrected in line with the Notices to Mariners so that they remain up-to-date.

I will tell you briefly when I formed this aversion.

For many years I had navigated with a laptop and a program called Ocean Vision which used charts as I described above, which relate completely to paper charts. I never had a problem with it even during quite severe weather in several Sydney to Hobart yacht races.

In the 1990s I went to Robe to help the late Megga Bascombe, deliver a 52ft diesel motor boat 900nm to its new owner in Sydney. After being delayed by a Bass Strait gale we continued our voyage and were nearing Wilsons Promontory using a chart plotter to navigate.

Both of us knew the area well as we had sailed it many times before. Both of us became nervous that we were being told an inaccurate position. At that moment we received a very welcome flash of lightning which showed us that the island which was making us nervous was much closer to us than we either wanted or expected.

Since then I have always considered plotters to be highly suspect. I believe that they can seriously mislead an unwary navigator because they show a simple outline of hazards, and not the detail of what that hazard is.

3. Navigating in the ninth century

The Jewel of Muscat, a replica of ninth century sailing ship, has been built in Oman and is retracing part of the historic trade route between Oman and the Far East. On her way to Singapore she will have stopovers in India, Sri Lanka and Malaysia. The project has been jointly funded by the governments of Oman and Singapore and is seen as important to the heritage of both countries.

Built without nails, its planks are sewn together with coconut fibre and the wood coated with a layer of goat fat and lime for protection. Her sails are made of woven palm leaves.

The Jewel of Muscat
(Photograph from Oman Daily)

Middle East Online describes how the ship is being navigated:

"The team on the ship will use ninth century navigation techniques, plotting the course for the 18-metre ship with a 'kamal' (a small block of wood connected to a piece of string that can calculate latitude), and the stars and the sun.

"Observation of the sky and sea colour, marine and bird life, and wind direction will also be used as aids to navigation. Modern instruments will only be used to check the navigation techniques."

Now, doesn't that make you think?

© 2010 Bevanda Pty Ltd

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The Bible on the ARC + Groupama 3 and the Jules Verne Trophy + An offer I did refuse + Avoiding bad weather by picking the weather patterns - 25 Feb 10

1. The Bible on the ARC

Last week we talked about the 25th ARC, this week we are pleased to let you know that one of our subscribers, Rui Soares, from Lisbon, Portugal, is participating in the ARC World Rally.

He emailed to say that he is currently in the Galapagos Islands, leaving soon for the Marquesas. He also confirmed that he has aboard his six disks of The Boating Bible Manual of Seamanship as well as many other references to prepare him and his crew for anything they may face.

We can't promise that we can get later reports on his intrepid voyage - but if we can, we will pass them on to you. Fair winds, Rui.

Which reminds me, some years ago I donated a copy of my book, The Boating Bible (on which the Manual of Seamanship is based) to the ship's library aboard the Young Endeavour, Australia's Bicentenary gift from the UK. Then as now, she operates as a youth sail training ship.

2. Groupama 3 and the Jules Verne Trophy

Although not big fans of multihulls, we've been following the progress of Groupama 3, a 105 ft trimaran skippered by Frenchman Franck Cammas, in its attempt to win the Jules Verne Trophy - awarded for the fastest round the world voyage.

At the moment, they're 60 nm ahead of Orange 2, the current record holder.

To give you an idea of the speed  Groupama 3 is travelling at, it took just under seven days to sail from Cape Agulhas (near the Cape of Good Hope) to Cape Leeuwin (Western Australia). That's a distance of around 4,000 miles.

On her biggest day so far, she covered 751 nm. To make a comparison, we consider a 200 nm day a great achievement in the sorts of yacht we generally sail.

Fred Le Peutrec, one of the nine crew aboard reported yesterday:

"Happiness is a funny thing! Not only are we getting used to these average speeds in excess of thirty knots, our enthusiasm is waning...

"We've noticed on board that when you're sailing at 28 knots, it feels like you've come to a standstill! At times you have to get it into your head that you're sailing at 33-35 knots, or even forty...

"We've got our bearings now since we've been sailing on the same tack for the past five days: we're organising ourselves to eat, sleep and keep up the maintenance on the boat.

"We're going to have one manoeuvre to perform during the course of tomorrow, Wednesday. A gybe will be required to reposition ourselves given that the low off New Zealand has filled in. At that point we'll hook on to a fluctuating W'ly breeze."

It's almost impossible to imagine travelling at such speed for days at a time. And staying on one tack for so long.

3. An offer I did refuse

Talking about  Groupama 3 reminded me of an 'almost' voyage I was offered a few years ago. A mature-aged student at Flying Fish class asked me if I would accompany him as navigator of his boat from Cape Town to Florida, USA.

I would be paid and "would have a cabin of my own". This last made me think of the sort of boat that had enough space to have one person in a cabin was either going to be bigger than anything I had complete knowledge of, or a multihull.

It turned out to be the latter so I politely refused what would have otherwise been an interesting voyage.

I refused because I do not believe multihulls can handle really extreme weather as well as monohulls.

4. Avoiding bad weather by picking the weather patterns

So I pondered the  Groupama 3 situation and came up with the following theory. I believe the reason a voyage at such speeds can work is twofold - one is the speed itself. The other is the modern ability to pinpoint dangerous weather and communicate its position to a boat's navigator.

At the speed of travel the multihull can outrun or avoid a storm with ease.

There is a lesson here for mere mortals in monohulls who travel at much lower speeds. They may get the information about a storm but they won't have the ability to evade it.

This highlights one of the recurring pieces of advice I give to student yachties - you MUST learn to watch the weather all the time because it is only by knowing well in advance that bad weather is coming, and where from, that you have a chance of avoiding it.

Most times, people who watch the weather every day, looking at the sky, will have up to 48 hours knowledge of a looming storm. In The Boating Bible Manual of Seamanship's CD on weather I tell you how YOU can do it.

© 2010 Bevanda Pty Ltd

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James Spithill wins the America’s Cup + Grib files + Vancouver + The ARC turns 25 - 17 Feb 10

After several days of not enough wind, the America's Cup has finally been competed for and won. And it did give Australia a place on the podium!

And, from little wind to more than enough. Alex Whitworth warns about his experience of the accuracy of grib files.

With the Winter Olympics in full swing, it's a good opportunity to find out a bit about George Vancouver, the man behind the eponymous city and island.

You know of the ARC as a vessel built by Noah and his sons to save pairs of animals and birds from the flood, perhaps during an earlier period of global warming. But read on to learn about this great annual event for cruising sailors.

1. James Spithill wins the America's Cup

While we didn't follow the legal battles around the America's Cup, we were glad when the boats were finally able to compete on the water. Although neither vessel appeals - their inability to handle any wave height, let alone a good blow - the winner was helmed by Australian, James Spithill.

Apparently, at the age of only nine, James stated that one day he was going to win the America's Cup. Now that he's achieved that, we wonder what his next life goal will be!

2. Grib files - just another weather forecast tool

These days every long distance racer and most blue water cruisers download grib files regularly. But many of us may not know what grib is. It stands for GRIdded Binary, i.e. computer-generated forecast files that provide sea surface pressure and wind speed information.

Alex Whitworth, skipper of Berrimilla who is returning to Australia from Falmouth via Lisbon, Cape Town and the Kerguelen Islands, commented recently on his blog that:

... the Grib files always underestimate the maximum wind in any low pressure system
- if you double the grib forecast you are in the ballpark.

Skippers in the Clipper Round the World race 2009-10 have echoed this observation.

With all the weather modelling that is available worldwide we'd like to see more accurate forecasts but we wonder if this will ever become a reality.

3. Vancouver

George Vancouver entered the Navy at 13 and a year later went to sea under Cook on his second (1772-1775) and third (1776-1780) voyages. Then, after nine years' service in the Caribbean, he was given command of an expedition (1791-1795) to chart the Pacific coast of North America, from near San Francisco northward, from 30° to 60° north.

Most of his detailed chart work was carried out in small open boats launched from Discovery and Chatham, the ships under his command. Part of this exploration included establishing that Vancouver Island was separate from the mainland by passing through Queen Charlotte Sound.

Vancouver's experience under Cook's leadership made him an excellent hydrographer, as is recorded by the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online:

The survey had been carried out with remarkable accuracy. Vancouver's latitudes vary little from modern values; the more difficult calculations for longitude show an error that varies from about one-third to one degree.

Vancouver was even more unlucky than Matthew Flinders, who died shortly after publication of his Voyage to Terra Australis.

Vancouver died in 1798, just three years after returning from his great voyage, leaving his brother, John, to complete the revision of his journals and publish the Voyage Of Discovery To The North Pacific Ocean, And Round The World In The Years 1791-95 posthumously.

4. The ARC turns 25

We've read that 150 entries have already been received for the 25th ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers). As there's a limit of 215 yachts - the number that can be accommodated in the marina at Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (Canary Islands) where the cruise starts - anyone wanting to join in needs to apply soon!

For those of you who don't know the ARC, each year the rally supports many first-timers across the Atlantic, ending at Rodney Bay marina in St Lucia.

And it's not just the back-up provided by cruising in company but also the opportunity to participate in associated seminars and courses to develop your sailing and passage planning skills before setting out.

© 2010 Bevanda Pty Ltd

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Clipper ship retraces the voyage of the Beagle + More charges to follow + Buddy Melges and the cows + Correction - 9 Feb 10

1. Clipper ship retraces the voyage of the Beagle

Randstad Clipper Stad Amsterdam

The beautiful Randstad Clipper Stad Amsterdam, pictured above, will arrive in Sydney on Saturday 13 February.  It is sailing around the world retracing the 1830s voyage of the Beagle, which carried Charles Darwin and during which he began to formulate his world-changing theory of the origin of species.

I am unashamedly a great fan of both Darwin and the theory. I have read the whole original On the Origin of Species - something I wish some of Darwin's nay-sayers would do.

Darwin's great, great grand daughter, Sarah Darwin, is onboard. The ship will be docked at Pier 2 Walsh Bay in Sydney for only four days, before setting sail to Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth as part of a documentary for a Dutch TV network.

Unfortunately, it will not be open to the public.

2. More charges to follow?

Last month a Queensland sailor was charged with "not preparing properly to go to sea, and unsafe operation of a vessel" after he allegedly ignored rough weather conditions and set sail with one crew member from Abbot Bay, north of Bowen.

Shortly after his departure the yacht started taking on water and he made a distress call, seeking help.

In response the Townsville Water Police sent a volunteer rescue vessel from Bowen and a helicopter from Mackay to assist the two men. In the meantime the pair managed to anchor the yacht and swim ashore, where they were met later by the police.

Question is, is this a dangerous precedent? Or merely a timely reminder of the skipper's responsibilities to his vessel and crew? If found guilty, should he be fined the cost of the rescue?

3. Buddy Melges and the cows

Well-known American yachtsman, Buddy Melges, turned 80 on 26 January. Since then Scuttlebutt  has published a stream of reminiscences of his sailing prowess and good humour including this:

* From Eddie Trevelyan, Gold medalist, 1984 Olympics:

At the 1980 Soling Worlds in Puerto Rico . I witnessed a display of Buddy's unique ability to apply both sailing skills and "animal husbandry" skills on the racecourse.

During one light-wind race (probably the first time in memory that strong trades didn't blow in PR), Buddy was the first (probably only) one to notice that cows grazing on a hillside were giving important clues.

He took a sharp turn toward the edge of the course, and proceeded to sail past the fleet with a new breeze signaled by the cows' rear ends. This sailor from the "Heart of America" was surprised that the rest of us didn't know about cows' instinctive tendency to graze downwind.

Happy Birthday, Buddy!

So the message is to use whatever clues you can to gain a better understanding of changing weather conditions. Your personal observation of the effects of local weather, coupled with published forecasts, will give you an edge over your competitors.

4. Correction - Sean Langman's boat is called Loyal

Our thanks to Lynn Forrester for pointing out this error in last week's newsletter, which has been corrected, below. OOPS! But we weren't wrong about Sean's seamanship.

© 2010 Bevanda Pty Ltd

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When did you last check your boat? + An example of good seamanship - 5 Feb 10

In the last few weeks, we've been watching some extreme weather around the world. There was a fantastic satellite picture of England totally covered in snow and ice. Then the whole of Europe was frozen, with days of subzero temperatures.

In Australia, we've had our share of extreme heat, torrential rains and strong winds. The rain in Sydney has come down in short, sharp falls causing gutters to overflow and roads to be inundated. One southerly that came through was particularly gusty, picking up litter and hurling it around.

Which made us wonder.

1. When did you last check your boat?

If you're a racing sailor who races all year round, you don't need to heed this as you already go aboard regularly.

If you're an occasional weekend sailor, you really need to check your boat, particularly after storms. If you're lucky, other club members may keep an eye on your floating investment but you shouldn't rely on that.

Debris can block drainage holes in the cockpit. Lines can come uncoiled and cause the same problem. Sail covers that haven't been tied down securely will flap and, in a really strong blow, the eyelets may be pulled out and the cover come free.

As your boat yaws on its mooring, or when traffic passes too fast and creates a big wake, rocking your boat violently, little bits of rubbish - paper, cardboard, grunge, etc. - may roll into the bilge and block your automatic bilge pump. No one likes to think that water can get down below in their yacht but rain falling heavily can find ways to do so.

If the yawing is severe enough, or goes on long enough, it will cause erratic shocks to the mooring system. Make sure you check that out, even if you have to employ a diver.

2. An example of good seamanship

We caught up, belatedly, with a story about this year's King of the Derwent, a yacht race held in Hobart on 2 January each where competitors from the Sydney-Hobart, Melbourne-Hobart and Launceston-Hobart races race against local yachts.

It's held after lots of racing crew members have flown home to the mainland, leaving yachts short-handed or gathering their delivery crews and taking on local sailors who are keen to experience sailing on ocean-racing yachts.

Sean Langman had entered his yacht Loyal but was concerned about the level of his crew's experience in handling a 100 ft yacht.

But as he still wanted to take part, so he called for the No. 4 jib and storm trysail to be rigged. This meant that the boat would be easy to tack and wouldn't get overpowered.

In fact, during the race a squall hit the fleet and, although still underpowered, Loyal sailed through the fleet and finished one whole leg ahead of the second boat over the line!

© 2010 Bevanda Pty Ltd

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Surviving four knockdowns + Response to our lighthouse story + Some thoughts on 'electronic kit' - 29 Jan 10

1. Surviving four knockdowns

We were interested to read how well Jessica Watson and Ella's Pink Lady came through a recent storm where winds reached 65 knots.

During the storm the yacht was knocked down four times, and the second time not just flattened but over 180°. Lucky for Jessica, each time the yacht righted herself and no major damage occurred.

It shows just how well S&S 34s are built and how well prepared this particular S&S was for surviving all conditions. Her mast builder and rigger should be congratulated.

During the eight hour storm she remained strapped in below.

Even though everything had been tied down or stowed below the boat was still a mess that took some time to clear up. The meth stove had to dry out before Jessica could fire it up. She also had to reassemble the head which had fallen apart and pieces scattered throughout the cabin.

After expressing some concerns early on about her level of experience, I am now impressed by how well she is handling herself, her yacht and her voyage.

2. Response to our lighthouse story

Mike Kingdom-Hockings of New commented:

Yet another sign of the UK becoming a Third World country? Since I am not in regular contact with today's cruising yachtsmen, I can't really comment. Everything I read (most of it published by the people who fit and maintain onboard electronic kit) suggests that it is now mandatory for larger yachts to carry an amazing collection of kit, but it doesn't seem to be mandatory for them to know what it doesn't do. Anyway that still leaves the smaller boats, particularly those under 7 metres long - and quite a few in that category have crossed the Atlantic.

Times they are a-changin'.

3. Some thoughts on 'electronic kit'

One of the hazards for the skipper/navigator is turning off layers of information to make the screen easier to follow and not realising what you're not seeing.

Also, if you want to learn how to use equipment properly, you need to find someone to teach you who is prepared to demonstrate each step slowly first and then allow you to practice yourself. And many technical people become impatient when learners take time to catch on - not a good learning environment!

I've always been a fan of reading the manual and bookmarking important pages. This is not so easy now that so many manuals are supplied electronically, but at least you can search them and don't have to rely on the accuracy of the index.

These days, finding a good video on YouTube may provide the help you need. Perhaps I should make one or two myself?

© 2010 Bevanda Pty Ltd

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Not all corks float + Lighthouses under review + Year of the Seafarer - 20 Jan 10

1. Not all corks float

Last week the Irish entry in the Clipper Round the World race, Cork, ran aground on a submerged reef near Gosong Mampango on the leg from Geraldton to Batam.

When it became obvious that the yacht was firmly stuck and that the effect of the tide could damage both it and its crew, Cork's skipper, Richie Fearon, ordered his crew to launch their liferafts. They then paddled from the stricken yacht to solid land.

Fortunately, it didn't take long for Team Finland and California to come to their aid, each taking eight crew members aboard, providing them firstly with cups of tea and comfort, then clothing and time and place for a well-earned rest.

It was also lucky that the crews had stocked up, not just for the current leg but also for the Singapore-Qingdao trip, so shortage of food was not a worry. They did, however, have to run the engine almost continuously to make enough fresh water for the 24 people aboard.

California resumed racing soon after, but Team Finland stood watch over Cork and made a preliminary survey of damage. Photos and videos were transferred to the Clipper race officials who, after consultation shipwrights and other experts decided that the yacht was not reparable.

Crew were able to board the vessel and retrieve personal belongings before Team Finland left the scene and continued racing.

Only the three yachts first to arrive in Batam were unaffected by the incident, so I expect there will be six claims for redress.

2. Lighthouses under review

Trinity House, the General Lighthouse Authority for England and Wales, recently published the findings of its 2010 - Aids to Navigation Review. Before naming the six lighthouses that it plans to close down, the report provided the following as justification, my italics:

In December 2008, the IMO Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) approved an E-Navigation strategy. Whilst the end result and the timeframe to complete are not certain, nonetheless navigational technology continues to advance*. At the same time, the reliance on the traditional system of lighthouses around the coast diminishes. With the exception of leading lights and "PELS", landfall lights and passing lights are now less important and their primary function is for coastal navigation, confirmation of position and spatial awareness. Thus the "traditional" AtoN's can be regarded as a secondary but complementary system to the primary navigation system of GNSS.

* The triumph of hope over experience?

IMO - International Maritime Organization
PELS - Port of Entry Lights
AtoN's - Aids to Navigation
GNSS - Global Navigation Satellite Systems

This raises some disturbing questions:

  • How many people go to sea without electronic navigation equipment?
  • How often do electronic systems provide inaccurate or no information?
  • To what extent should the needs of recreational boaters and sailors be taken into consideration?
  • And, in relation to the list below, will the increases in range of the adjacent lights be sufficient to compensate for the switched off lighthouse?

All aids to navigation will be discontinued at Orfordness, Beachy Head, Hartland Point, Blacknore and Skokholm. Negotiations will be held to hand over Maryport Lighthouse to the Local Lighthouse Authority. Some lights will be extended to 'compensate'.

Ocean voyagers will remember that lighthouses were spaced, generally, about 30 miles apart so that commercial vessels with a height of eye well above sea level usually would be able to see two lights at once. Smaller vessels would have dark gaps between lights.

What will the situation be for them now? I hope this sort of 'advance' doesn't catch on in other parts of the world.

Of particular interest is the Beachy Head Lighthouse, situated on the south coast of England, halfway between Brighton and Hastings. The head is quite a prominent landmark and it's hard to see how increasing the range of only the Royal Sovereign lighthouse at Eastbourne will provide adequate coverage.

Read the full TRINITY HOUSE 2010 - Aids to Navigation Review and take the opportunity to submit your views on the draft plan by 29 January 2010.

3. Year of the Seafarer

2010 has been designated Year of the Seafarer by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) with the aim of encouraging more to choose seafaring as their profession and of recognising the efforts of those already making their living at sea.

© 2010 Bevanda Pty Ltd

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Flinders Islet yacht race incident update + Radar, rain clutter and sea clutter + Around Cape Horn, Sydney-Hobart and London 2012 - 14 Jan 10

CYCA internal inquiry into the Flinders Islet yacht race incident

We've been waiting to read the full report by the committee appointed to review the tragic accident that happened in October last year when Shockwave was broken up on Flinders Islet and two people died.

A preliminary report was released by the Board of the CYCA in mid-December to allow Sydney-Hobart crews, in particular, to make any additional preparations based on the recommendations and findings.

Rather than paraphrase them, we thought it best to quote the six recommendations made here:

  1. Although it is not yet clearly determined, there is a possibility that GPS error contributed to the Flinders Islet incident, and in circumstances where there is need to rely upon a chart plotter, it should not be assumed that the GPS or chart plotter is necessarily accurate to the degree required for safe navigation.

    It is for this reason that manufacturers have a disclaimer on GPS and chart plotters referring to the variability of the readings from these instruments and to the fact that they should not be solely relied upon for safe navigation. It is suggested that the position should be verified by other means, including visual reference, visual bearings, depth sounding or reference to relevant maritime charts.
  2. A handheld portable spotlight be carried on board in a readily accessible position, as it has been demonstrated that the standard floating torch or equivalent does not have sufficient candle power to illuminate objects at a distance from the yacht, particularly in a search and rescue situation.
  3. In the event of complete power failure on the yacht, the yacht's electrical system cannot be relied upon to provide illumination below decks, and it may be useful to have battery powered emergency lights which are easily activated.
  4. The same end may be achieved by providing each crew member with a small portable torch for use in the event of complete electrical failure on the yacht or any other emergencies.
  5. The Board recommends that owners consider providing a 'mini grab bag' that is easily accessible from the cockpit of the yacht containing at least a VHF handheld radio, 2 flares and, if possible, an EPIRB.
  6. Although it is not a requirement of YA, the Board commends the use of PFDs, particularly at night time and where there is a chance that the sea state and/or conditions on the boat warrant their use.

Nancy Knudsen reported on the Sail-World website in "Basic seamanship recommendations after Flinders Islet sailing incident" and provided thoughtful comments on each of the recommendations and how they relate to the cruising sailor.

We have been checking to see if the CYCA Board has released more information from the full report that was to be delivered by the end of December. We may, however, have to wait until the inquest into the deaths of the skipper Andrew Short and crew member Sally Gordon to learn more about what took place that night.

In the meantime, we welcome your comments and thoughts on this.

Radar and the effect of rain clutter and sea clutter

When you first start to use radar to track other vessels it can be very confusing, even in good conditions - light breeze, clear sky and flat sea.

But you really need to be really alert when conditions deteriorate, which is just when you are most likely to need your radar. In pouring rain, you should adjust your radar settings to reduce the effect of rain clutter as far as possible.

Similarly, when seas are choppy, your radar may pick up a lot of sea clutter. If you're not careful, you may find it difficult to distinguish the images of actual vessels from the sea clutter on the radar screen. Adjust your radar to lessen this effect.

Always remember, though, that radar is just one navigational tool, and that you must maintain a proper lookout at all times.

And, when appropriate, get on the radio and call up because the ship you are tracking may be curious and trying to get a look at you and, therefore, it is following your every move while you are desperately trying to get away from it!

Around Cape Horn, Sydney-Hobart and London 2012

While we've mentioned Jessica Watson several times and talked about her solo, unassisted circumnavigation, there's another sailor who has just rounded Cape Horn. Commander Dilip Donde, aboard the Indian Navy's yacht, Mhadei. The 56 ft fibreglass yacht is named after the river in Goa on which she was built in 2008.

Dilip is the first Indian to attempt a solo circumnavigation.
His preparation for this voyage included a two-handed sail last May from Goa to Mauritius, followed by a solo return to India.

His circumnavigation includes a number of stops: Fremantle, Western Australia in October and Lyttleton, New Zealand in December. His next port of call is Stanley in the Falkland Islands, followed by Cape Town, before the final leg back to Mumbai. You can watch his progress via his blog, Indian Navy Solo Circumnavigation.

I have often wondered about the popularity of sailing in India. I'm sure Dilip's voyage is raising awareness there of sailing as both recreation and a way of life.

In our 24 Nov 09 Newsletter we wrote about Ajay Rau - an Indian laser sailor who crewed in the 2009 Sydney-Hobart on Merit. Merit, an Open 60, finished 19th over the line and 15th overall in PHS.

I'm sure Ajay has plenty of tales to share with fellow members of the Royal Madras Yacht Club in Chennai. We wish him well in his preparation for the 2012 London Olympics.

© 2010 Bevanda Pty Ltd

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Sailing highpoints for 2009 - 7 Jan 10

The first week of 2010 has already slipped away from us. We thought we'd look back briefly at some of the highlights of last year before resuming our more usual newsletter format of news and learning from the sailing experiences of others.

Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09

Following the eight yacht fleet around the world occupied us from its start in Alicante in early October 2008 through to the finish in St Petersburg in late June 2009. The overall winner, Ericsson 4, took 127 days to sail some 37,000 miles.

Interestingly, race organisers have announced a reduction in the number of pre-race sails each team may have (15, down from 17) and of sails built during the race (15, down from 24).

Although this will result in significant financial savings, teams will be challenged when selecting their pre-race sails and while at sea to preserve sails, rather than pushing them to (and beyond) their limits.

Vendee Globe 2008-09

Being a non-stop circumnavigation, the Vendee Globe kept us occupied for a shorter period - November 2008 to March 2009. One of the highlights was the rescue of Jean Le Cam by Vincent Riou. Le Cam's yacht had lost its keel 200 miles west of Cape Horn.

Riou, who sailed to his aid, was forced to make a number of passes before finally succeeding in getting a line to Le Cam. Unfortunately for Riou, his own yacht was damaged when the two boats touched. He was later given redress for the rescue.

Clipper Round the World 09-10

We've been interested in the Clipper race for several reasons:
* We know the skipper of Uniquely Singapore, Jim Dobie. Both he and I worked as Yachtmaster Offshore Instructors with Flying Fish Australia for several years.
* People with no previous sailing experience can take part.
* If you damage your sails and can't repair them yourself on board, you lose precious points, i.e. skippers and crews must read the weather and change down to avoid blowing out sails.


Alex Whitworth's blog covering his voyage home to Australia continues to amuse and instruct us. But even with thousands of sea miles behind him, he can still lose a drink by putting it down carelessly in the cockpit.

Launch of Nautical Knowledge

In September we launched Nautical Knowledge which presents the critical regulations which candidates for marine qualifications, students in sailing schools and anyone who sails in busy ports should know. It's a simple download and a great bargain at AU$9.95.

Jessica Watson

After a very poor delivery voyage when Ella's Pink Lady collided with a ship, Jessica Watson seems to be handling her solo, unassisted circumnavigation quite well. She's now approaching Cape Horn, experiencing colder temperatures and rugging up in many layers before venturing on deck.

Sydney-Hobart Yacht Race

After all the fuss made about the competition for line honours, the overall winner almost always goes without great acclaim. The 2009 race was won by Two True, a brand new Farr-designed Beneteau 40, with no canting keel, water ballast or button-controlled winches, i.e. a REAL sailing yacht!

Looking forward

Finally, we look forward to picking out for you interesting sailing and safety items that you might otherwise not find.

And don't forget, if you have a question, either we will answer it from our knowledge and experience or we will find out the answer for you.

© 2010 Bevanda Pty Ltd

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