Archive for January, 2010

Make sure there’s an EPIRB in your grab bag

Monday, January 25th, 2010

Another recommendation from the Flinders Islet yacht race incident preliminary report* was that yachts should have “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.”

Personally, I don’t think the EPIRB should be optional. I’d be much happier knowing that there was one in the grab bag if I needed to abandon ship.

If you do plan to get one, it needs to be a manually operated EPIRB so that you can activate it when necessary. And preferably with GPS, which can update rescue authorities with details of your position – particularly important when being blown along in a liferaft.

* You can read our report on the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA) Board’s recommendations in our Newsletter Archive.

Spotlight vs floating torch

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

The recently released preliminary report* into the Flinders Islet yacht race incident recommended that:

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.

I must say that I appreciated the usefulness of such a spotlight when arriving in Southport, Tasmania long after dark. We were one of six boats sailing from Hobart to Port Davey, in the South West Heritage Wilderness. One of our fellow voyagers, Charlie, had arrived and anchored earlier. As we approached, we talked on the radio and he said he’d go out on deck and shine his spotlight to show us where he was. He also illuminated other boats, moored or at anchor in the bay. As a result we were able to find a safe place to anchor nearby.

A floating torch would certainly not have provided sufficient light to help us.

As a result I would certainly want to have a handheld portable spotlight on board any yacht I was going sail at night and recommend that other skippers do likewise.

* You can read our report on the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA) Board’s recommendations in our Newsletter Archive.

Carry your own torch

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

I remember one of the Christmas presents I received on the eve of my first Sydney-Hobart yacht race in 1987. It was a small, black Maglite torch, with a lanyard attached – my personal light to be used when working on deck at night. It was also very useful down below at change of watch when searching for my sheepskin hat or sailing gloves or other ‘missing’ piece of clothing or equipment. It meant that I did not have to switch lights on to find my way around, disturbing other crew members in the process.

After the recent loss of two crew members from the yacht, Shockwave, at Flinders Islet, the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA) set up an internal inquiry. The fourth of the six recommendations made by the Board of the CYCA recognised the importance of providing illumination below decks, stating that it “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”.

Lucky for me that Jim had years earlier provided me with this safeguard.

Read our full report on the Board’s recommendations in our Newsletter Archive.

Sailing highlights for 2009

Friday, January 15th, 2010

The other day I wrote about the overall winner of the Sydney-Hobart yacht race, Two True. It was also one of the sailing highpoints published in last week’s newsletter.

The other highlights for me were:

Three round-the-world yacht races:

  • Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09
  • Vendee Globe 2008-09
  • Clipper Round the World 09-10

Two short-handed/solo ocean voyages:

  • Berrimilla’s return to Sydney from Falmouth, UK
  • Jessica Watson’s solo, unassisted circumnavigation attempt on Ella’s Pink Lady

And, finally, the launch of our new product, Nautical Knowledge.

Visit our Newsletter Archive to read more about these highlights and, while you’re there, sign up to receive the newsletter direct to your email inbox each week.

Beneteau 40 wins the Sydney-Hobart yacht race

Monday, January 11th, 2010

I was pleased that the overall handicap winner of the Sydney-Hobart yacht race, Two True, is not one of the motor boat brigade. In fact, she’s a brand new Farr-designed Beneteau 40, that doesn’t have a canting keel, water ballast or button-controlled winches. In other words, the crew have to use their muscle power to work the boat. The engine is only used to replenish the batteries and keep the navigation and other lighting powered up and the refrigeration down.

It’s probably just as well that conditions did not deteriorate to match those in the 1993 or 1998 race. The Beneteau I sailed on in 1993, also designed by Bruce Farr, took such a pounding that all the furniture in the forward cabin came free. Luckily, no one wanted to sleep there, forward of the mast, as the boat’s motion was far too uncomfortable but we did have to tie the fittings down so that no further damage occurred.

As the picture shows, we slept on the floor and, just for the records, we made it to Hobart.