Archive for September, 2008

Have you registered your new EPIRB?

Monday, September 29th, 2008

Recently I wrote about EPIRBs and where they should be located on your boat.

However, there’s no point having an EPIRB unless it’s one of the 406 frequency beacons. Monitoring of the 121.5 MHz beacons will be discontinued worldwide from February 1, 2009. So it wouldn’t really matter where you put it if you didn’t have the right kind of EPIRB.

One of the key advantages of the new EPIRBs is that they have to be registered. When you have done this, you and your yacht will be immediately identified by the signal from your beacon, speeding up the search and rescue.

They are also more accurate in their location of a signal from a distressed yacht. Where the previous unit took two passes of the satellite to get a position, the new ones get a position from the first pass.

For more information on safety equipment, see:

Cutting the cant about canting keels

Friday, September 26th, 2008

Let’s start facing facts about yachts with canting keels. They are not yachts, they are motor boats and, as such, should be banned from competing with genuine yachts.

As long as they have to keep their motor running day and night to provide hydraulics for the keels and electrics to drive their winches, they are, and will remain, motor boats.

I am not a Luddite. I am not against the development of canting keels, I simply believe that development should take place separately.

Read more of my thoughts on canting keels.

Boating – who can afford it now?

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

The world’s financial turmoil is already having an effect on the boating industry.

Once yachting was traditionally seen as a luxury sport for the ‘silvertail’ market but lately, as people became wealthier, more could afford a yacht or motor boat. These people were not mega-rich but had enough disposable income to take up the sport. Now, with savings and superannuation under pressure, they are much more cautious.

Does this mean that J.P. Morgan’s famous aphorism “If you have to ask the price you can’t afford it” will apply again?

EPIRBs – where do you put them?

Thursday, September 18th, 2008

I have been thinking about EPIRBs and where best to stow them. Some people favour putting them in a grab bag. Others believe close to the companionway is better. I think there is a good argument that they should be outside the boat so that they can be activated by water pressure in the case of a really quick emergency.

Then I thought the best bet of all would be to have one packed in the liferaft itself. After all, you cannot then forget it. And now that they are so much cheaper than they used to be, why not have two? One in the raft and another wherever you like.

What to avoid when tying a boat up

Monday, September 15th, 2008

There are far too many boating websites – particularly some of the free ones – that offer spurious advice. The latest one to really annoy me gave the ‘advice’ that, when tying up a boat, the cleating arrangement should end with a half hitch. This is arrant, dangerous nonsense.

Imagine needing to leave the jetty in a hurry, at night and in bad weather and the first thing you have to clear is a frozen half hitch.

There is plenty of friction with a round turn, a figure of eight and another round turn. And it will undo easily when you want it to.

This is the first of my two paramount, invariable, must-never-be-disobeyed rules. Nine knots and how to tie them are part of Skipper and Crew, Knots and The Language of the Sea

And what is the second? Click here to find out.

Make your own wind

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008


No, I don’t mean have beans for breakfast. I mean learning how to build up an apparent wind speed which is greater than the actual wind when very little is blowing.


Here is the scene. The boat is in a near calm and will have lightweight sails on and, with a good crew, lightweight sheets as well. The main should be pinned in the middle of the boat as it will have little to do until some speed is attained. You can apply the preventer to hold the boom really still. The headsail should be let out as far as it can go while still keeping some curve and shape in it. As much crew weight as possible should be on the leeward side of the boat to give some shape to the headsail.

Read more about creating apparent wind: