Archive for June, 2009

Tortoise and the Hare

Friday, June 26th, 2009

Generally, when racing, the rule is to round the windward mark and pop the kite. Can you think of a time when this rule may not apply? A time when the closest you come to raising the spinnaker is rigging the spinnaker pole?

Find out the answer in our recent Newsletter, Spinnaker or …

Seven days sailing against the clock

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

What do you get if you take two successful single-handed round-the-world sailors and add a third and fourth crew member?

Answer: The team aboard Aviva, the yacht attempting to break the Round Brittain and Ireland race record which currently stands at 7 days 4 hours.

Dee Caffari, skipper of Aviva, and Sam Davies (sailing Roxy) completed the Vendee Globe race in February this year. Since then they have been preparing for this record attempt.

Their two crew mates are Miranda Merron, who has specialist weather forecasting skills, and boat captain Alex Sizer.

Aviva’s shore team is optimistic that the record will be broken, expecting the yacht to finish between 0600 and 0800 on Monday 22 June (GMT). It has until 0100 on Tuesday 23 June.

The crew is more cautious. The wind is lightening and, entering the English Channel, the yachtswomen will have to contend with shipping and the effects of the land and tides.

We wish them well!

The solstice

Sunday, June 21st, 2009

Today’s the solstice. Depending where you are, your day will either have the shortest or longest daylight – the hours between sunrise and sunset – and known as the winter and summer solstice respectively.

Of course, if you live within the Arctic Circle, you will be experiencing perpetual daylight. And the reverse applies to those in Antarctica – they are in darkness.

Here in Sydney, we are celebrating the passing of the shortest day and looking forward to the gradual decrease in the sun’s declination to the north.

Reefing the mainsail early

Monday, June 15th, 2009

The other day I talked about practicing reefing the mainsail in light conditions so that your crew know how to do it when the wind is stronger and you really need to reef.


The prudent skipper should not get caught out.


If you get a good marine weather forecast before you set sail and listen for updates while you’re underway, you should be able to reef the main before conditions threaten to overpower your boat.


Keeping an eye on the weather as you go along will mean you can judge for yourself the approach of any storm or change.


Reefing early will make you, your crew and boat comfortable and safe.

Reefing the mainsail

Friday, June 12th, 2009

During the week when I’m sitting at my desk and daydreaming about going sailing, I usually imagine myself skippering a well-found boat with an experienced crew, out at sea on a broad reach, before a stiff breeze. Perfect!


But the reality may be far different. Some people rarely, if ever, reef the mainsail on their boats. And, if conditions take them by surprise and they really need to reef, that’s when problems can happen.


Dropping the main halyard and easing the mainsheet to take in a reef makes the boom into a very dangerous weapon. The noise of the sail flapping madly in the wind makes communicating instructions difficult (unless you have a shout like mine!). How can this be avoided?


The wise skipper gets their crew to practice this manoeuvre in light conditions so that everyone knows their job. When conditions deteriorate and it’s time to take a reef, the crew will do the job confidently, day or night.

In Boat Handling 1 and 2, I show how to handle a boat in light, moderate and heavy weather conditions.

World Oceans Day – Monday 8 June

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

This year for the first time, the United Nations declared 8 June to be World Oceans Day. The 2009 theme is “one ocean, one climate, one future”.

The oceans surrounding the world’s continents and islands provide so much more than a medium for us to sail on.

Oceans moderate our climate, e.g. the sea breeze cools coastal areas.

Take The Seven C’s Pledge to Protect our Ocean

In several Sydney suburbs there are messages painted near the drains in some streets, naming the waterway that is the destination of the run-off. It’s an attempt to make people aware that what they drop and wash into those drains does not magically disappear but ends up in our waterways.

World Environment Day

Friday, June 5th, 2009

World Environment Day (WED), established by the United Nations Assembly in 1972, is celebrated on 5 June each year.

This year’s theme is ‘Your Planet Needs You – UNite to Combat Climate Change’. It is acting as a forerunner for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change which will be held in Copenhagen from 7 December 2009.

Although this may seem far-removed from sailing and the sea, the links are obvious. If you accept that global warming is happening, you must also accept its effect on climate and, therefore, weather conditions. And watching the weather is one of the most important jobs for the skipper/navigator.


PS: 8 June is another United Nations endorsed day – World Oceans Day. It will be marked by a separate post on our blog. In the meantime, you can learn more about it yourself:


World Oceans Day - visit the website