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GMDSS A User's Handbook

By Denise Bréhaut

GMDSS A user's handbook








The Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) provides a fast and efficient way of calling for assistance at sea, whatever the size of craft or its geographical position. Since it was first published, this book has helped explain the system for anyone using GMDSS and has been excellent pre-course reading for students.


Jerry Tremain - 18 Days in April

Respite in Gibraltar

Respite in Gibraltar!We've been following Jerry as he makes his way in Cushla from the UK to Southern France. Gibraltar and onwards!

Ordinarily after such a demanding few hours of sailing one would expect to crash and burn. Not the crew of Cushla's Adventure - it must be the thread of 'Matelot' still running through our veins because within 5 minutes of securing alongside all but two of us had left to find a bar! Bob tidied up a bit and dusted off his crutches whilst I booked us into the marina.

Half an hour later we joined the rest in a nearby bar where we chatted with some lads from RFA Wave Knight whilst enjoying the hospitality of the owner who graciously supplied a number of free Sambucas! Despite fatigue, we managed to hold the bar upright until around four o'clock in the morning before collapsing into our sleeping bags.

Read more: Respite in Gibraltar

The Long Haul South

The rest of the journey down the Atlantic coast of Portugal was perhaps quite typical. The wind was pretty constant from the west, albeit not very strong. The temperature rose steadily, the water turned bluer and the dolphins continued to tease every now and again. Bob and I broke into two watches of four hours about whilst the rest of the crew enjoyed 1-in-3 with all the down time that offered. We stayed relatively close inshore with light winds on the stbd beam averaging around 5kts, clocking the 1000 mile point late that evening.

Early the next morning the wind began to increase slightly and veer around to the NW. Andy and I were on watch for the sunrise but had a bit of a scare close inshore on our way towards the Peniche peninsular. We were only about 3 miles or so offshore when Andy noticed that the depth sounder was unexpectedly reading 4 metres!

"Is that correct?" he quizzed. "Shouldn't be," was my reply.

Read more: The Long Haul South

The Long Haul & the Disaster..!

Brixham HarbourThis week, Jerry leaves Brixham harbour with a full crew, and heads for northern Spain.... 

Our stopover in Brixham was planned for two reasons; firstly I didn't want to over-do the initiation to offshore sailing for the novice crew and secondly, I needed to pick up my 'spare' Watch Leader Bob. However, Bob had had his own 11th hour disaster as he was struck down with Gout the previous week and had still been in hospital a few days earlier! It was going to be very much a case of lets 'suck it and see' to determine if he was going to be fit enough to make the trip.

I was keen for my old friend to join us and Bob was determined that if it could be done he would give it a go. However, when an 'older, well rounded chap' (we hadn't seen each other for over 15 years) turned up with the help of two crutches my heart sank and for a moment I thought about how ridiculous the concept would be for both of us! My gut reaction was that Bob would not be fit enough to undertake such an arduous sail and this wasn't helped as he struggled to climb aboard!

All the same, Bob gingerly dragged himself into the boat, took a look around and then declared himself fit, providing I was happy of course. It was a tough decision and had Cushla been a monohull I think we would both have agreed that it would be a non-starter. But with the prognosis that Bob's leg could only get better with the drugs he was taking I decided that we could cope. Anyhow, he was only going as far as Gibraltar; a mere 1000nm, where we had a date with the 'Rock' for a few reminiscent beers - what could possibly go wrong?

Read more: The Long Haul & the Disaster..!

Corunna to Lexoes

Jerry & friends arrive in La Corunna, and discover a problem:


"We've thrown the prop." I casually exclaimed. I was certain of it but the only way to know for sure was to 'go take a look!'

The plan was for me to don the mask, dive in and come back up thumbs up or down. Strangely, I sort of wanted it to be the prop because if it was still there then it would indicate a greater problem to resolve. In 15°C water it only took one gulp of air and about two seconds to confirm that the prop was away. Thumbs down it was then; I guessed that the prop was probably resting somewhere in the harbour near to the pontoon. I reckon that it had been fine until we went astern on the first approach, winding off against the thread. The spacer washer was still sat on the spline and would surely have gone as well if it had happened hours earlier.

A check of the starboard prop found it still in place but the cone nut was also slightly loose so I set about tightening it up, bending the shank of a screwdriver in the process to pile on the torque. It was all I could do under the circumstances.

Ordinarily the loss of the prop would spell disaster had we been a monohull. For me it presented a big headache but not one that couldn't be overcome. I knew that we could press on but for how far? We needed the push from the engines but could we really go the whole distance on just one? The obvious option was to get hold of another prop but just how easy was that going to be at short notice? I needed to make some enquiries and we were already into 'Siesta'; it was going to be difficult. Thankfully, staff at the marina office were still in attendance and an extremely helpful and fluent English speaking lady set about making some calls to the local Yanmar dealer. Meanwhile Steve went off to speak to a diver he had seen to see what options he could offer.

Read more: Corunna to Lexoes

First port of call - Part 2

Last week, we saw how Jerry Tremain started to plan his passage from Southampton to the South of France.  This week we hear about the start...  Jerry writes:


Cushla in refitThe preceding days in March proved to be quite worrisome. Having gotten most of the gear, mostly second-hand from Ebay, there was the matter of a lift which was planned for two weekends in the middle of the month at Saxon Wharf. As it turned out, the lift was delayed due to the launch of Superyacht Hetairos taking longer than expected. I now only had the one weekend to do all the painting and gearbox servicing and with no spare leave to call on I was in fear of not getting it all done in time for a test sail and the departure.

Fortuitously, Cushla's hull was in a very good shape despite having been immersed for the last two years without break. There was very little weed; just some barnacles on the waterline and over the props. The base antifouling was sound and would only need a scrub and top coat. That said, catamarans have two hulls and it is always frustrating to look over your shoulder and notice that 'the other' hull needs doing as well!

Read more: First port of call - Part 2

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