Here's an archive of the Newsletters written by Jim Murrant and Ann Reynolds for The Boating Bible Manual of Seamanship.
2011 Newsletter index
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||I like the style of your newsletters - shorter and crisper than most, so people probably open them immediately, rather than putting them to one side if they're busy.
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Surviving Falling Overboard +
Ownership of error
How loggerhead turtles navigate
+ In their own words: Chester Nimitz - 5 Mar 11
SURVIVING FALLING OVERBOARD
Do you have a way of getting back onto your boat if
you were to fall off it? If not, you may want to remedy
this when you read what happened to a 57 year old man
The Petersburg Pilot described how a man got himself
rescued recently. But he is very lucky to be alive.
The man had had three beers earlier in the day. This,
he believed, slowed his reactions because he would
otherwise have grabbed at the boat or its rigging as
He fell in head first, rather like diving. Needless to
say, Alaskan waters in February are cold. The immersion
would have taken his breath away.
[Ann once sat in a sauna and then dived into a lake in
Finland in May and experienced this.]
The beers plus the depth and darkness of the water plus
the effect of the cold made it difficult for him to know
which way to swim to get to the surface. His brain kicked
in and he blew out some air and watched the bubbles.
He would have been surprised and shocked to find that he
was 30 ft from where he fell off his boat. His underwater
panic and confusion after his fall sent him a long way.
His first attempt to pull himself out of the water failed.
The hose he grabbed wasn't attached to a tap. It was a
good idea that didn't work.
Recognising he was losing energy and body temperature he
got himself back to his boat and tried to climb out with
the help of the mooring lines. That pulled the boat to the
dock and almost crushed him.
He had removed his boat's swimming step and taken it home
to refurbish it so his normal method of getting back onto
his boat was not there.
He then hooked one arm around a cleat so that he wouldn't
fall back underwater and yelled for help. It took a while
for people to find source of the voice because he was below
the level of the jetty.
He was pulled from the water and attended by emergency
workers who had been at a training session nearby. After a
few hours in hospital, his body temperature was restored
and was allowed to leave.
He then returned to the marina and climbed aboard his boat
where he was staying overnight. On arrival, the first thing
he did was rig a rope step.
Next day he recommended that everyone should have a method
of getting out of the water. Swimming ashore is not always
1. Ownership of error
"A navigational error caused them to run aground."
How often have you read this statement, or variations
on it? It's as though the vessel has deliberately run
Could it possibly be that human error is the real reason?
2. How loggerhead turtles navigate
Most of us have marvelled at the migration of birds,
whales and other sea life.
Nature programs show us mother turtles coming ashore,
laying eggs and then leaving. The hatchlings then emerge
and scamper down to the water, only to return years later
to lay their own eggs in the same spot.
Now researchers have worked out how loggerhead turtles
navigate. As Science Daily put it:
The loggerheads' secret is that they rely not on a single
feature of the magnetic field, but on a combination of two:
the angle at which the magnetic field lines intersect Earth
(a parameter known as inclination) and the strength of the
If mankind had this innate ability we wouldn't have to
rely on either traditional or GPS navigation!
IN THEIR OWN WORDS: CHESTER NIMITZ
A ship is always referred to as 'she' because
it costs so much to keep her in paint and powder.
Chester William Nimitz, (24 February 1885 -
20 February 1966) was a five-star admiral in the
United States Navy.
He was appointed Commander in Chief, United States
Pacific Fleet in December 1941, just days after the
Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour.
Nimitz spent the rest of the war in the Pacific and
signed for the United States when Japan formally
surrendered on board the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay.
As well as numerous military US awards, Nimitz received
the Légion d'honneur and recognition from 11 other
Although he retired from the position of Chief of Naval
Operations in 1947, his earlier appointment as Fleet
Admiral meant that he remained on 'active service', with
full pay and benefits for the rest of his life. His naval
career, thus, lasted 65 years.
* * * * * *
Dangerous diesel + Inspiration for Moby Dick + Pinchgut looked small + Wooden boat heaven + In their own words: Derek Hatfield
- 25 Feb 2011
The UK has been confronted with an EU directive
to lower the sulphur content of its diesel from
1,000 parts per million to only ten parts per
million. Additives are being mixed in to restore
the lubricating effect of the sulphur.
So what is the UK Cruising Association concerned
about? A bio-fuel called Fatty Acid Methyl Ester
(FAME), when added to diesel, can have a destructive
effect on marine engines and dramatically shorten
the storage life of the fuel.
Although the Federation of Petroleum Suppliers (UK)
says that FAME will not be added to diesel to be
supplied to marinas, the Cruising Association
recommends that everyone ask their diesel supplier:
* What is the age of the fuel and its sulphur content?
* Does the diesel contain FAME?
In the USA there's been a long campaign against increasing the ethanol content of
petrol from 10 to 15 per cent. So boat owners need to
be careful where they source their fuel.
Here in Australia service station pumps clearly state
that using petrol with 10 per cent ethanol is harmful
to outboard motors. Its use can cause performance
problems and permanent damage to the motor, fuel
tank and fuel lines.
So, be warned!
1. Inspiration for Moby Dick
US marine archaeologists have discovered the wreck
of the Two Brothers, a whaling ship captained by
George Pollard. His previous ship, The Essex, had
been the inspiration for Herman Melville's novel - it was rammed by a sperm whale and sank.
The Two Brothers was found off Hawaii, where it
had hit a coral reef in 1823.
"To find the physical remains of something that
seems to have been lost to time is pretty amazing,"
said Nathaniel Philbrick.
He has researched both ships and their captain, a
native of his home, Nantucket, and written a book,
In the Heart of the Sea: The tragedy of the whaling
ship Essex. Nathaniel's other books include Mayflower and Sea of Glory.
2. Pinchgut looked small
When the two queens -Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth- came into Sydney harbour the other day they made
Pinchgut/Fort Denison look tiny.
QM2 was due to visit Lyttleton, NZ - at the epicentre
of this week's earthquakes - when she left Sydney.
She has been re-routed to Wellington, due on Saturday.
3. Wooden boat heaven
In this month's Afloat Bruce Stannard reports on Hobart's
Wooden Boat Festival. If you like wooden boats, it's worth
a read, Wooden Boat Heaven.
By the way, if you live outside Afloat's circulation area,
this 'Priceless' magazine is available by free subscription
- http://www.afloat.com.au/mailing-list. Each month you'll
receive an email with links to the feature stories and all
sections of the magazine.
IN THEIR OWN WORDS: Derek Hatfield
I had to slow the boat down she was going so fast.
It sounds funny that I would be trying to slow the
boat down in a yacht race but it's all about getting
that balance between speed and safety.
Going too quickly can get very dangerous very quickly
and we are not in a place where you can afford for
anything to go wrong.
So said Canadian Velux 5 Oceans competitor, Derek Hatfield,
after he had been woken by the humming of the keel of his
yacht, Active House. Pulling on his wet weather gear and
hurrying on deck, Derek found his yacht was screaming along
at 21 knots in a 35 knot wind.
Derek was near Point Nemo in the Southern Ocean. It's the
place on Earth most remote from land.
The 'we' he was referring to is himself and his yacht - which is common among solo sailors.
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Heavy fine for safety breaches + Keeping safe on the water + Overfalls - why officials close ports + Fastnet entries filling fast + In their own words: Don Bamford - 17 Feb 11
1. Heavy fines for safety breaches
For people who take sea safety and seamanship seriously
this will just be an interesting flexing of the muscles
of the regulator. For those who want to take sea safety
and seamanship seriously it should be an incentive to
step into the difficult task of doing so.
People like George Haworth of In2Sail Ltd and Colin Thomas
of Straits Sailing who are now operating in the no-doubt
less closely controlled Caribbean show themselves to be,
to say the least, contemptuous of the regulations.
Haworth and Thomas have received heavy fines - £16,000
and £17,549 - for taking paying students across the
Atlantic in yachts not allowed to sail further than 60 nm
from safe haven. The fines were issued by the UK Maritime
and Coastguard Agency.
Haworth's yacht was relying on VHF for communications,
had only one liferaft and a skipper who was inadequately
qualified for the crossing.
Thomas's yacht had failed to meet stability tests but he
went ahead with the voyage, although unqualified and
without taking on a mate. He, too, had only one liferaft.
Possibly the worst aspect of this is endangering the lives
of the novice sailors, who saw the RYA endorsement and
trusted that the standards would be met. Anyone paying for
a passage across the Atlantic with a reputable firm would
expect that all safety requirements would be met, if not
As soon as it was notified and well before legal proceedings
were instituted, the RYA withdrew its recognition from the
This editorial was particularly scathing of the "Zero to Hero" courses
that have been offered.
We originally saw this story on Sail-World.com.
2. Keeping safe on the water
Boating safety officers in NSW carried out more than
500 on-water safety checks of boats and yachts last weekend
during a campaign to ensure safe boating offshore and around
Across the state, 12 of the 33 infringements issued by
NSW Maritime related to safety equipment and 15 of the
34 formal warnings likewise.
By far the majority of boaters (including sailors) do
comply with the regulations. But there are always some
who think of saving money instead of saving lives.
3. Overfalls - why officials close ports
This short video shows the
overfalls at the Corryvreckan, Scotland, near where George
Orwell wrote 1984.
As you will see, on a fairly calm day they are quite
obvious, while in bad weather they would be very dangerous.
The graphic showing the varying depth of the channel makes
it easy to understand why the water behaves the way it does.
It also shows a striking similarity to the entrance to
Port Phillip Bay in Victoria, where the water goes from
about 60 feet inside the bay to 140 feet in Bass Strait.
I don't know what the tides are like at Corryvreckan but
the full flow of the ebb at Port Phillip - through what
is locally known as The Rip - can run at seven knots.
When that runs into a full gale from the south west anyone
going to sea passes through overfalls, whirlpools and
upwellings before facing a wall of water. It is perhaps
the most frightening example of wind against current (or
vice versa) I have ever seen. (I was on the 300 ton pilot
boat which kept station in Bass Strait.)
Obviously in those circumstances the authorities close
the port. I've had to stand off on a number of occasions,
waiting for its reopening.
As an aside, I remember waiting once on a relatively calm
day to go into the Bay. While stooging around a mile or so
away from The Rip I saw splashes which looked exactly like
wavelets lapping at rocks. Then I thought: "Come off it,
there are no rocks there!"
What I was seeing was a killer whale chasing a seal. It
caught the seal and then proceeded to throw it in the air,
re-catch it, then repeat the whole procedure again and gain.
It was like a cat with a mouse, with the same, to us, cruelty.
But that's life.
4. Fastnet entries filling fast
We were interested to see in the Irish Times that, despite Europe's slow
recovery from the GFC, more than 250 entries for the Fastnet have been received.
In fact, the official Fastnet race website reports that all
300 places have been taken. Owners are encouraged to put
their yachts on the waiting list, as yachts often withdraw.
Maintaining a yacht to the meet the safety requirements is
a significant expense, as any Cat 1 owner would attest.
The Fastnet is a Cat 2 race but AIS is required.
5. In their own words: Don Bamford
Only two sailors, in my experience, never ran aground.
One never left port and the other was an atrocious liar.
Don Bamford, a Canadian author, sailor and boat builder
has written two practical how-to texts:
* Enjoying Cruising Under Sail (1978)
* Anchoring: All Techniques for All Bottoms (1985)
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200,000 Lasers + 2010 Blue Water Medal + Cruising in company + Making landfall at night + In their own words: Sterling Hayden - 13 Feb 11
1. 200,000 Lasers
That's a lot of yachts. Designed by Bruce Kirby,
a Canadian yachting journalist and boat designer,
the prototype was built in 1970 and named TGIF (Thank God It's Friday).
For more on the laser: http://tinyurl.com/4fqtabp
Its popularity grew fast and the first laser world
championships were held in Brazil in 1974, with
competitors from 24 countries.
It took until 1996 in Atlanta for the laser to become
an Olympic event. Meanwhile the laser radial, designed
for women sailors, was first contested at the 2008 Olympics. http://tinyurl.com/4jne2wq.
We wonder whether it would have done so well if it had
retained its original name, Weekender.
2. 2010 Blue Water Medal
Last year the winner was world famous yachtsman Robin
Knox-Johnston. This year it's Alex Whitworth.
The Blue Water Medal is a prestigious award and Alex
has joined such other yachting greats as Sir Francis
Chichester, Eric Tabarly, Pete Goss and Bernard
Alex will be presented with the medal at the Cruising
Club of America's annual Awards Dinner at the New York
Yacht Club in Manhattan on 4 March 2011.
The award is given for "for a most meritorious example
of seamanship, the recipient to be selected from among
the amateurs of all the nations".
Once more we applaud our friend's seamanship and nautical
achievements aboard his yacht, Berrimilla.
We reported periodically on Alex's voyages in earlier
newsletters, in particular: http://tinyurl.com/46ak655
3. Cruising in company
While it's not everyone's cup of tea, cruising in
company can be a lot of fun. Some years ago I enjoyed
a number of Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron Cruises,
taking along my children and some of their friends.
It was a great opportunity to spend some of the
school holidays afloat and away from home.
So we were a little envious of the 44 yachts that
have signed up for the 2011 Van Diemens Land
Led by Cruise Commodore Graeme Dineen on board Sea
Esta, the cruise leaves Hobart on 16 Feb and then
picks up the mainlanders at Beauty Point before
heading down the west coast to visit both Macquarie
and Bathurst Harbours.
Jeremy Firth, a world circumnavigator, is the
communications officer aboard his yacht Rosinante in which he made the world voyage, the fleet radio
relay vessel. The hosts of our Tasmanian wilderness
adventure in 2008 were his brother Simon and Simon's
Read more on the Tasmanian cruise.
4. Making landfall at night
Among the most dangerous times for a skipper are
making landfall and leaving.
Anyone can be hit by storms out at sea but it's how
you handle them close to shore that is the true test
of seamanship, as the following tragedy shows.
Three British sailors were delivering a yacht from
Southampton to Gibraltar. They had set out from Vigo,
in Spain, encountered bad weather and had planned to
drop off a crew member at Póvoa de Varzim in Portugal.
Although the port was closed - signals raised and hourly
Portuguese and English broadcasts to that effect - they
apparently tried to enter the port at 3.30 am.
Unfortunately, their 33 foot yacht was overturned by a
wave near the port's entrance and then smashed to pieces
One man clung to a yellow lifebuoy and was spotted by a
local fisherman and saved, although suffering from
hypothermia. The other two have not been found.
Having read several forum threads about this accident,
it underlines several things that went wrong:
- Sailors need to be flexible in their passage planning and
- It would have been far safer to go out to sea and wait for
daylight and conditions to improve before attempting
to enter the port.
- It's always better to have plenty of sea room in bad weather.
More of the story and pictures of the remains of the yacht.
5. In their own words: Sterling Hayden
A sailing ship is no democracy; you don't caucus a crew as
to where you'll go anymore than you inquire when they'd
like to shorten sail.
Some readers may recognise the name, Sterling Hayden (1916-1986)
as a Hollywood actor - he played General Jack D. Ripper in the
1964 film, Dr. Strangelove midway through his 40 year movie
But few would know him as a master mariner and yachtsman,
well placed to make the statement we selected for this week's
As Wikipedia puts it:
He dropped out of high school at the age of 16 and took
a job as mate on a schooner. His first voyage was to
Newport Beach, California from New London, Connecticut.
Later, he was a fisherman on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland,
ran a charter yacht, and served as a fireman on eleven trips
to Cuba aboard a steamer.
He skippered a trading schooner in the Caribbean after
earning his master's licence, and in 1937 he served as mate
on a world cruise of the schooner Yankee.
After serving as sailor and fireman on larger vessels and
sailing around the world several times, he was awarded his
first command, aged 22, skippering a square rigger from
Gloucester, Massachusetts, to Tahiti in 1938.
Sterling didn't like acting but made films to finance his
series of yachts. He infinitely preferred life at sea to
that in Hollywood.
His record of service in WWII was impressive but he fell
foul of the US government over communism, which he couldn't
have taken too seriously:
I wonder whether there has ever before been a man
who bought a schooner and joined the Communist
Party all on the same day.
In 1963 his autobiography, Wanderer, was published,
followed by Voyage: A Novel of 1896 in 1976.
Towards the end of his life, Sterling bought a canal
boat and spent part of each year aboard it in Paris.
IMDB.com - the movie database - has lots more about
his interesting life.
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The waiting is over + Centenary of naval aviation + In their own words: Richard Brown - 3 Feb 11
1. The waiting is over
On 2 Feb 2011 the weather station on Willis Island,
243 nm off the Queensland coast, recorded a
gust of 100 knots before its radar and wind
speed equipment were wiped out.
Yasi, a Category 5 tropical cyclone, passed
directly over the island.
Yasi hit the Australian mainland late last night,
still at Cat 5, but has since weakened to Cat 2,
with a centre pressure of 983 hPa, a
substantial increase from the 922 hPa earlier.
Wind gusts of 68 knots are still predicted
near its centre.
A yachting friend in Cairns moved his yacht
into the mangroves, his furniture upstairs
and himself to friends who live on higher
ground. We hope his preparations were adequate.
That said, he will need to look out for snakes
when he goes to retrieve his boat - snakes find
boats a safe haven in floods and torrential
To get a feel for the size of TC Yasi, News
Limited published a series of images showing
it superimposed over various maps.
The US one shows very little coastline
surrounding the cyclone. One blog we follow
had published this image, with a single word
2. Centenary of naval aviation
Just eight years after the Wright brothers'
flight, Eugene Ely, a 24 year-old barnstormer
pilot successfully landed his biplane on USS
Pennsylvania, anchored in San Francisco Bay. The cruiser had been rigged with a temporary,
133-foot wooden landing strip built above her
afterdeck and gun turret.
The biplane had a 60 hp V-8 engine giving a
maximum air speed of 50 mph and had a tail
hook installed, which caught on the ropes
laid across the ship's deck.
After receiving congratulations from the
ship's captain, he and his wife lunched with
the officers while crew turned the plane
around and readied it for take off.
After more interviews and photographs he
took off successfully and flew back to the
The 100th anniversary was on January 18.
Despite this success, however, it was not
until 1922 that the US Navy commissioned
its first aircraft carrier.
Photos and an eye witness report.
3. In their own words: Richard Brown
I know who you are, but you'll have to wipe your feet.
Richard Brown, captain of the schooner America reportedly
said this to Queen Victoria's husband, Prince Albert,
This is the America after whom the America's Cup was named.
Her history is interesting but she came to a sad end:
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Something worth celebrating + Keeping the air flowing + Freeze dried or fresh? + In their own words: Ernest K. Gann - 27 Jan 11
1. Something worth celebrating
On 26 January we celebrated Australia Day, the day on
which the First Fleet of 11 convict ships arrived in
Port Jackson (Sydney Harbour) to establish a colony.
After a heavy sea fog lifted, the harbour gleamed
in the sunshine. The 175th Australia Day Regatta was
held. It included a Classic Yachts division in which
49 yachts competed, mostly wooden boats, many gaff-
rigged and several over 100 years old.
That, of course, took place in the afternoon after
the excitement of the Ferrython, won by GenerationOne,
a movement seeking to end the disparity between
Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians in one
Another winner was Jessica Watson who was named
Young Australian of the Year - it's a job that will
keep her busy throughout the year as she continues
to encourage young people to believe in themselves
and follow their dreams.
I did also hear Jessica say that it wouldn't change
her life at home - her brother would still pick on
her and she'd still have to do the washing up!
It reminded us that, while Australia may not quite
be the biggest island in the world, we probably
have the longest coastline and we certainly have
responsibility for a larger slice of the world's
oceans than any other nation. A responsibility we
take very seriously.
2. Keeping the air flowing
If you're lucky enough to have a swing mooring,
you know how easy it is to keep your boat well
aired when you're not aboard. So long as you have
scoops that catch the breeze while keeping the
water out and, perhaps, a hatch with slats that
allow some air flow, you should be able to avoid
the dampness and mould that commonly build up.
The swing mooring is ideal because your boat will
swing to the wind, keeping the scoops always facing
and catching any breeze. If you have a trot mooring,
it should be facing the prevailing wind.
But if your boat is in a marina pen, you won't be so
lucky. But at least you can get aboard to open her up
more easily than if you had a mooring.
3. Freeze dried or fresh?
Ever wondered what round-the-world yacht racers
eat? Derek Hatfield, one of the Velux 5 Oceans
competitors currently preparing for the start of
the third leg from Wellington, NZ to Punta del
Este, Uruguay on 6 February, took time out to
show how he 'cooks' at sea.
I know this little movie is by a man on a
single-handed race, but it points up something
I've been concerned about for some time - the
balance between decent sustenance and weight
It's hard to imagine how the sort of gunk described
in the movie is going to supply the greatly increased
amount of energy sailors need for long distance ocean
sailing, particularly when racing when even crews are
reduced in number to save weight.
This means fewer people have to do more work which in
turn means that they need more good sustaining food
than under normal circumstances. I'd be very interested
to read of research into the starting and finishing
weights of crews, provided both the first and the last
tests were exactly similar.
To try to cheer you up - certainly to cheer me up -
I'm going to stick to a couple of pressure cookers and
some real food.
4. In their own words: Ernest K. Gann
I want a boat that drinks six,
and sleeps two.
Ernest Kellogg Gann (1910-1991) was an aviator, author,
filmmaker, sailor, fisherman and conservationist.
Born in Lincoln, Nebraska - about as far as you can get
from the water, oceans or lakes - Gann graduated from
military college. He later studied at the Yale School
of Drama and worked at Radio City Music Hall in New
York and as a cartoonist making animated films.
After learning to fly, he became a stunt pilot and
barnstormer before joining American Airlines as a pilot.
His first novel was published when he was 40, his travels
as a pilot giving him ideas for his writing. As a
screenwriter, he adapted several of his novels into movie
His interest in sailing included purchasing a steel yacht
in Rotterdam and sailing it across the Atlantic, through
the Panama Canal to San Francisco.
* * * * * *
Stuck in concrete + New dangers + An-Tiki expedition + In their own words: William Arthur Ward - 20 Jan 11
1. Stuck in concrete
During the week we read about five people being
rescued from a 36 foot Bavaria-designed yacht
that had gone aground on the Goodwin Sands, off
the Kent coast, last Sunday. We've been unable
to ascertain the cause of their grounding, apart
from that they weren't where they thought they were!
The rescue was complicated by the falling tide so
a helicopter was called in to airlift the crew to
The coastguard crew tried to refloat the vessel on
the rising tide but had to abandon the attempt when
it began taking on water and then sank. The
yacht, known as Liquid Fusion, is said to have been
valued at £80,000.
Sailors who know the area well referred to the
texture of the Sands as being concrete-like. The
wreck is expected to be marked to warn passing ships.
I can attest to the concrete-like nature of the Sands,
having crossed them in a hovercraft. The grains
scoured up by the air cushion obliterated any possible
view through the windows. It was like driving through
a dark tunnel.
On another aspect, I wondered why it was necessary
to have a special mark on the Sands which have more
than 900 wrecks recorded on them over the centuries.
The next item will answer the question.
2. New Dangers
If anyone ever doubted that there is always
something more to learn about sailing and the
sea, the placing of the special mark on the
Goodwin Sands proves it. Because we wondered
about the special mark, we checked it out.
New dangers are newly discovered hazards to
navigation that have yet to be recorded on
official charts or Sailing Directions (Pilots),
nor have they been sufficiently published in
Notices to Mariners. They are most commonly
used to warn of recent wrecks, as in the case
above, or newly discovered rocks or banks.
3. An-Tiki expedition
Anthony Smith, an 84-year-old Englishman, came
to our notice as the leader of a team about to
set out from the Canary Islands to the Bahamas
on a raft constructed of polyethylene water pipes.
The other three crew members are aged from 57
to 61 - so there's plenty of life experience
on board. And one is a qualified medical doctor
While crossing the Atlantic the An-Tiki team
hope to raise money and awareness for WaterAid,
a charity helping people in the third world get
clean water and learn about hygiene and sanitation.
The team will also study the building block of
marine life, plankton, in association with The
Sir Alistair Harding Foundation for Ocean Science
(SAHFOS) in Plymouth. Details of their studies
will be shared with school students as the voyage
Anthony is a long-time adventurer with a string of
mostly ballooning achievements to his name. He's
also the author of The Body (later renamed The Human
Body) which formed the basis for the seven-part TV
documentary presented by Professor Robert Winston.
There's lots more to read about on the An-Tiki
When we get to 84, both Annie and I agree that we
won't be seeking to emulate this voyage.
4. In their own words: William Arthur Ward
Today's quotation is a nice variation of the more usual
glass half full or glass half empty definition of an
optimist vs a pessimist.
The pessimist complains about the wind;
the optimist expects it to change;
the realist adjusts the sails.
So which are you?
William Arthur Ward (1921-1994), writer and poet, is one
of America's most quoted writers of inspirational sayings.
His work appeared in Reader's Digest and his column"Pertinent Proverbs" was featured in the Fort Worth
* * * * * *
Moths attracted to water! + More on satellite phones + In their own words: Annie van de Wiele - 13 Jan 11
Firstly, thanks to Mike O'Reilly, one of our South
Australian readers, who pointed out that we had made
a mistake with the name of the skipper/owner of
Secret Men's Business 3.5. His name is
2. Moths attracted to water!
If you thought that moths were attracted to light,
think again. The Zhik 2011 Moth World Championships
are currently being contested on Lake Macquarie.
View the highlights - including thrills and spills- from each day's racing by these amazing speedsters,
while applauding the fitness of the sailors: http://www.mothworlds.org/belmont/
And, after winning the Australian Championships last
week, Nathan Outteridge is leading the field into the
final day, to be held tomorrow, Friday.
**Update: Outteridge won the world championships and had the points victory before the final race of the series.
3. More on satellite phones
Last week's story about the rights and wrongs of using
satellite phones in the Sydney-Hobart race attracted a
strong response. And not everyone agreed with my stand,
although most did:
I have a different view to yours expressed in the
last newsletter, and with no disrespect (although
you didn't show Mark Richards any) I think it is
you that is missing the point.
The communication between Wild Oats 11 and the race
control is NOT needed to be a broadcast communication
- it is necessary for it to be between two people only.
HF (or often VHF) radio is not the be all and end all
you seem to think it is, but is a troublesome and
intermittent communication, grossly affected by the
vagaries of weather, and difficult for those not so
experienced in its operation.
Countless times I have tried to contact someone on HF,
and receiving no answer, have simply tried again &
again every half hour, only to get through after a
number of attempts. Hardly the sort of communication
you want in an emergency. A call by satellite phone to
a rescue centre is immediate, clear, and leaves you with
no doubt that someone is hearing your plight. Then, when
rescue chopper / rescue boats/ other vessels are in the
vicinity can you communicate by VHF. (If you are still
floating after all the time you wasted trying to
communicate by HF.)
Even VHF has its problems - how many times have I given
up trying to reach a VMR when travelling coastal, only
to call them on a mobile and be told "Oh, we're having
a bit of trouble with that repeater today"
I am not advocating dispensing with HF radio - it has
a place for a few years longer - and most of the time
would serve the mass communication requirement useful
in a rescue, but to mandate its use in place of a far
clearer, more reliable system like satellite phones,
is simply backward thinking.
If I were alone on the ocean in trouble, I'd rather
have a satellite phone than an HF radio!
I think Jim, you've let your feelings for "powered
sailing yachts" (which incidentally I share) colour
your thinking on this issue.
Cheers, John Harris
And here's my response:
Thank you for taking the trouble to reply to my
newsletter. Despite what you think I do not
disagree with you entirely. I am sure that if I
were alone in the ocean and in trouble I would
prefer to have a satellite phone. This is based
on my own experience of being dismasted in the
Southern Ocean and taking 24 hours before a Pan
message was acknowledged.
But I am talking about the Hobart race, which
amounts to a sail in company. In more than
20 years of ocean racing (14 Hobarts, one Fastnet,
three Noumea races and many other series - USING
THE PRESCRIBED RACE FREQUENCY - I have
never failed to make contact. Whether that would be
true if travelling alone without a race committee
keeping watch I do not know.
The other point is that the race committee has to
be considered. They cannot keep track of up to 100
Nevertheless, I am so pleased to have your response.
I want our website to be a place where serious
sailors can interact and discuss what matters to them.
We'll have to agree to (partly) disagree.
It's not too late to enter this debate!
4. In their own words: Annie Van De Wiele, Belgian circumnavigator
The art of the sailor is to leave nothing
Wherever you sail, you should take Annie's words to heart.
She and her husband, Louis, sailed around the world in their
yacht Omoo in the early 1950s.
Omoo was named after a boat in Herman Melville's book of
the same name and meaning, according to him, "one who
wanders from island to island" in Polynesian.
A ketch-rigged 46 footer, Omoo was designed by Louis, who
had worked for the Resistance during World War II. The
biggest problem was maintaining the paintwork on her steel
hull, using the post-war paints that were available.
Omoo's skipper, Louis, was awarded the Cruising Club of
America's 1953 Blue Water Medal for:
A circumnavigation by owner, wife, and one other, plus dog,
from Nice, France, to Zeebrugge, Belgium, July 7, 1951-
August 2, 1953, via Canal and Cape of Good Hope.
Steel 45-foot o.a. gaff-rigged ketch. Said to be first steel
yacht and first dog to circumnavigate.
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Communication on the water - or is it? + In their own words: Geoff Boettcher - 8 Jan 11
We wish all our subscribers a Happy and Healthy
New Year! We hope you received some good presents
from your friends and family.
We certainly have been very fortunate. Annie's
Dad offered to fund the purchase of a new stove!
The oven door seals on the old one, a 1960s model,
had perished so that we couldn't get enough heat
to cook anything at all.
The replacement is due for delivery today. We can
hardly wait to try it out, in particular, baking
ciabatta and other bread.
1. Communication on the water - or is it?
Most people, particularly Mark Richards the skipper
of Wild Oats XI, seem to have missed the point of
the communications brouhaha.
I'm not interested in the rights or wrongs of Wild
Oats' radio, or whether it was fit to cross Bass
Strait. But for Richards to have a straight face when
he said that all boats should have satellite phones for
communication during the race so misunderstands the
purpose of race communications that I think he's hardly
fit to be the skipper of anything.
Anybody using a satellite phone (or a mobile phone) can
have a conversation only with the person that they have
telephoned or who has telephoned them.
Imagine the scene if 20 boats were trying to rescue one
in distress and they could not communicate with each
other. HF is used to avoid that problem. Provided they
all have the same frequency they can all talk to each
other - a prerequisite for any sensible cooperation in
Probably a conference call can be instituted to make
sort of network out of satellite phones but think of
the time it would take and think of the expense. If,
in fact, satellite phones did become the preferred means
of referring position in the race etc. it would be yet
another aid to the wealthy and an inhibition to the not
Anyone who has followed our newsletter and blog would
know my view of so-called yachts which have to run
motors for the complete length of the race so that they
can use hydraulic and electric effects not available to
They should race each other somewhere separate and they
certainly are not enhanced by being run by people with
a gross misunderstanding of one of the most basic safety
measures in a very tough race, known worldwide for its
If you'd like to read the protest findings, here's the link:
2. In their own words: Geoff Boettcher
There was some good news from the Sydney-Hobart race, possibly
even a quote to go into the Australian language alongside
"tired and emotional".
The skipper of Secret Men's Business 3.5, Geoff Boettcher,
and his crew spent some nervous hours after they finished
and looked like taking out the only prize that matters in
the race, the handicap win.
The problem was that two or three other boats were in the
River Derwent and, if the wind held, they might well pip
Secret Men's Business at the post. They didn't and when
Greg was interviewed after his win was declared and was
asked how tense they were, he said: "We took some medication
for the anxiety". Well done, Geoff and crew!
And congratulations also to Flying Fish Arctos on their
overall win on PHS.
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