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How to avoid expensive mistakes when you buy a new or second-hand yacht. 

Available on Amazon here


Icom IC-M35We review the Icom IC-M35 handheld.  Read the full review here.

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.



SafaSail HatThe SafaSail Hard Hat looks just like a sailing cap, but will help protect you if you get a bang to the head.  See our review here


RYA Responds to Criticism

Richard FalkDear Editor,
In response to your recent editorial concerning the prosecution of two former principals of RYA recognised training establishments I would like to respond to several points that you have raised.
The RYA plays a diverse role in promoting and supporting safe and enjoyable boating. As a training body it has a rigorous recognition process for training centres to ensure that the standards of training and safety during RYA courses are up to the correct level. The highest level of certificated RYA practical training is the Coastal Skipper practical course which, as the name suggests, teaches the skills required to manage coastal and short offshore passages. Formal, recognised practical RYA training does not take place on long offshore or ocean passages and from a training perspective, therefore, there is no purpose in distinguishing between ‘restricted’ and ‘unrestricted’ levels of recognition as you have suggested.
Would it be easier for a member of the public to understand the significance of ‘restricted’ and ‘unrestricted’ recognition rather than that of coding to Category 1 and Category 0? I think not. Many vessel operators conduct a wide range of activities, of which RYA training is only a part. RYA training, charter, passage-making and racing activity such as participating in the ARC may each require compliance with different levels of regulation.  RYA recognition primarily covers the delivery of formal RYA training and therefore the compliance with additional regulations for specific voyages unrelated to RYA training does not come under the recognition process; nor should it, as the RYA plays no part in setting these additional regulations. This is the role of the regulator – in this case the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA).
The pay conditions for instructors are outside the control of the RYA. Instructors and other commercial skippers work in a wide range of roles from volunteers at clubs through to superyacht crew with pay being set by the employers. The suggestion that schools force instructors into making imprudent decisions about sailing is not based on fact or evidence.
The prosecution of yacht operators is thankfully rare, but yacht operators are required to comply with the law and may pay the penalty if they fail to do so. The RYA works very closely with the MCA, MAIB and other bodies to ensure centres and instructors learn from others’ mistakes in order to enhance the overall safety of the sport.

Richard Falk
RYA Training Manager and
Chief Examiner

Help us stop Illegal Drift Nets

From María José Cornax
Marine Scientist
Oceana Trust

10th July 2009


Dear Editor

The walls of death in the Mediterranean

The United Nations moratorium on the use of large scale driftnets on the high seas came into effect worldwide in 1993. At that time, the use of this fishing gear was widely extended around the world due to its high yield and was promoted by various administrations. However, the effects of these walls of death, which reached up to 40 km in length and 30 km in height depending on the area, were soon to be noticed. In the beginning of the 90s, it was estimated that these nets caused the deaths of 300,000 cetaceans around the world annually, while devastating the populations of other less well-known, although equally endangered, species such as pelagic sharks or sea turtles.

Italy harboured the largest fleet in the world with some 700 vessels targeting swordfish in the Mediterranean Sea. With nets that reached 20 km in length, it soon became impossible to sail in the Tyrrhenian Sea at night. These nets also constituted a mortal trap for cetaceans in one of the most important areas for their conservation.  It was estimated that 8,000 cetaceans died annually in these nets in the Italian seas alone. Sperm whales were amongst the most affected species and the population declined to only a few hundred specimens in the waters of the Mare Nostrum.

Read more: Help us stop Illegal Drift Nets

A solution to the ATIS problem

Dear Richard,

On the topic of the RAINWAT agreement and the problems that British flagged yachts face in the RAINWAT inland waterways.

I gather that a handheld radio with ATIS is not likely to be the desirable solution although it is the first that comes to mind.  In the RAINWAT agreement, it appears that, with the exception of The Nederlands and Switzerland, the handheld radio is only permitted to operate on channels 15 and 17.

Another complication is the requirement to disable dual-watch, while requiring simultaneous monitoring of two channels. Hence two radios are required.

Yet another is the requirement not to have the antenna higher than 12 m from the load line. My yacht has a 14 m mast and the VHF antenna is on top of that

Living in Brussels and over-wintering my boat there has meant that I needed to obey RAINWAT.  My solution is to use my old non-DSC radio with ATIS and a push-pit mounted antenna and my new DSC radio with MMSI attached to the mast head antenna.  I can listen simultaneously on both but only transmit on the old ATIS radio when inland.  At sea, it is the DSC radio that is used for transmissions.

Hope this helps others with the RAINWAT puzzle.

Richard Idiens

Wi_Fi Solution?

Vodaphone LogoDear Richard

Perhaps I've found an alternative to wifi - it's 3G, the new mobile phone system.

One of our peed off former BT users in the marina put me on to it, and although I'm already a Vodafone PAYG customer (I've used Vodafone ever since getting my first mobile 12 years ago or more and have no comnplaints!) I have to admit I've rashly signed up to their 3G Mobile Broadband Connection. Went into their Plymouth shop on Thursday and was on line soon after with only a few hassles.

OK, so what's 3G Mobile Broadband, what's it cost, what do you get, and what are the downsides?

Read more: Wi_Fi Solution?

Re: So What's all the fuss about

Dear Editor
You wrote inter alia in the Editorial:-  "But if you’re driving a RIB with an outboard, or even the rubber duck with an engine of the horsepower of a petulant donkey, and are over the limit then you will be committing an offence, because even if it isn’t over 7 meters long, it sure is designed to do more than 7 knots! "
I believe that this is a misinterpretation of the proposed S.I. which refers to:
"(a) a length overall less than 7 metres; and
(b) a maximum design speed not exceeding 7 knots".
Surely the operative word here is "and" so thus, to be committing an offence the craft would have to be over 7 metres LOA and designed for more than 7 knots.
I recently wrote at length to Richard Idiens on this subject because, much as I deplore the irresponsible consumption of alcohol, I  believe that the proposed S.I. to be unworkable and unpoliceable and, if it comes to Court, unenforceable. And may, in a perverse sort of way, encourage irresponsible drinking by those who believe themselves to fall outside the rules.
If I am wrong in this, do let me know!
West House
Waternish, Isle of Skye
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