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

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Surviving Falling Overboard + Ownership of error + How loggerhead turtles navigate + In their own words: Chester Nimitz - 5 Mar 11


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 in Alaska.

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.

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 an option.

Be warned!


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 itself aground.

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 magnetic field.
continue reading...

If mankind had this innate ability we wouldn't have to rely on either traditional or GPS navigation!


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 countries.

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.

© 2011 Bevanda Pty Ltd

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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 - 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.

© 2011 Bevanda Pty Ltd

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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 exceeded.

As soon as it was notified and well before legal proceedings were instituted, the RYA withdrew its recognition from the two schools.

This editorial was particularly scathing of the "Zero to Hero" courses that have been offered.

We originally saw this story on

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 coastal bars.

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)

© 2011 Bevanda Pty Ltd

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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:

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.

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 Moitessier.

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:

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 Circumnavigation Cruise.

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 wife Caroline.

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 on rocks.

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 scheduling.
  • 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 career.

But few would know him as a master mariner and yachtsman, well placed to make the statement we selected for this week's quotation.

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. - the movie database - has lots more about his interesting life.

© 2011 Bevanda Pty Ltd

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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 rains.

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 caption "Gulp!".

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 airfield.

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, in 1851.

This is the America after whom the America's Cup was named. Her history is interesting but she came to a sad end:

© 2011 Bevanda Pty Ltd

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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 generation.

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 on board.

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, eats four,
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 scripts.

His interest in sailing included purchasing a steel yacht in Rotterdam and sailing it across the Atlantic, through the Panama Canal to San Francisco.

© 2011 Bevanda Pty Ltd

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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 safety.

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 and anaesthetist.

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 progresses.

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 website.

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 Star-Telegram.

© 2011 Bevanda Pty Ltd

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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 Geoff Boettcher.

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:

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:

Dear Jim,

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:

Hi John

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 (potentially) conversations.

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.

Cheers, Jim

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
to chance.

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.

© 2011 Bevanda Pty Ltd

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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 an emergency.

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 so wealthy.

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 proper yachts.

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 efficient management.

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.

© 2011 Bevanda Pty Ltd

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