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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


Man Overboard: Step by Step proceedure

Teki DaltonRehearsing your Man Overboard proceedure is a vital part of your safety briefing, particularly at the start of the Season. We are pleased to offer a 'Step by Step' proceedure by Teki Dalton. 

Teki (pictured left) conducts ISAF Safety and Sea Survival courses in Australia, Hong Kong, China and Turkey. He is a Yachting Australia offshore instructor and examiner as well as instructor and examiner for International Yacht Training Master of Yacht certificate. He was an inaugural board member of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority and has a Yachting Australia accredited sailing school in Mona Vale, Sydney.

We believe this article would be very useful for yacht skippers to keep in their safety brief on board, so we have made it available as a downloadable pdf.

Teki writes:  "When I was in China in 2007 conducting the first of the ISAF Safety and Sea Survival certificate courses I was asked to provide step-by-step procedures for a number of safety elements. The first was man over board:"

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Basic principles of Sail trimming

sailSail trim can be a bit of a mystery to the inexperienced sailor. Most of us know the basics - letting out the main and the headsail as we come off the wind, or tightening the sheets as we come closer to the wind. But the rest can seem a bit like magic. In fact simple steps will help you get the best from your sails no matter where the wind is coming from.

Trimming your sails to get the very best from your yacht will help you gain a knot or two, and so save an hour or two on a longer passage. But above all, it will ease the load on your crew, and the helmsman will love you for it.

Read more: Basic principles of Sail trimming

Anchoring - which Anchor to buy?

Rocna AnchorOne of the first questions that most people tend to ask about anchors is 'what kind is best'? Well, it depends to some extent on the nature of the seabed. Some anchors are better in mud and sand, others in seaweed or rocky bottoms.  There's no doubt that for seaweed and rocky bottoms, the good old fisherman is better than the plough. But it's an awkward anchor to stow, or to have ready on the bow roller. So most people compromise, having found one that works for them.

But don't think that all anchors are the same.  Last year, I spent a weekend teaching on a charter yacht that still had the anchor that had been fitted by the yacht supplier.  It was under-weight, and frankly awful.  I enjoy anchoring, but we spent the weekend dragging our way around the Solent.It really does pay to buy a decent anchor.

Read more: Anchoring - which Anchor to buy?

Anchoring - Catenery & Scope

Rocna AnchorYou do need to understand two basic principles about anchoring. The first is that the task of the anchor is to keep the end of the anchor chain, not the yacht, anchored to the same spot. To do this, it has to be properly bedded in.

The second is that there needs to be enough weight of anchor chain on the sea bed so that, no matter how strong the pull from the yacht, the last few metres of chain always remain on the sea bed, so that the pull on the anchor is always horizontal. No matter what depth you're in, the pull transferred from the anchor chain to the anchor should always be parallel with the sea bed.

Read more: Anchoring - Catenery & Scope

Anchoring - check it's ready!

Rocna AnchorChecking the anchor should be part of your safety check before putting to sea. The first thing to do is to make sure that it can be easily released, and that the anchor cable can run smoothly. Check the locking pin, and replace it if it's bent, or stiff, or rusted.

If you've got a swivel between the anchor and the chain, I suggest you replace it with a shackle. A swivel is, in theory, a good idea, but in my view this is one place where theory and practice differ. [Editor's note:  see the discussion on this point in the forum here]

Read more: Anchoring - check it's ready!

Anchoring - a key safety issue

Rocna AnchorRocna AnchorRocna AnchorA few years ago, while on passage I overheard a conversation between Solent Coastguard and a small motor vessel whose engine had failed. It went something like this:

“Hello, hello? Can anyone help us? Our engine has stopped and we're drifting towards the shore.”

“Vessel calling for assistance, this is Solent Coastguard. Please give your position. Are you able to anchor?”

“Hello Coastguard. We are about half a mile from some rocks. What is an anchor?”

(Somewhat ironically): “Vessel calling for assistance, this is Solent Coastguard. The anchor is the thing you use to tie your boat to the seabed. Please count slowly up to ten so we can get a bearing on you. Over.”

Read more: Anchoring - a key safety issue

Passage Planning - crew competence

yachtThe Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) requires yachtsmen to take account not only of routeing, tides, weather, and navigational hazards: it also requires us to bear in mind the competence of the crew.

“The MCA expects all mariners to make a careful assessment of any proposed voyage taking into account all dangers to navigation, weather forecasts, tidal predictions and other relevant factors including the competence of the crew.”

For those crews who sail together regularly, it's a fairly easy call. We know that Jim hates being out in rain and gets sea sick. We know that Sally is a bit weak on navigation, but a brilliant helm. But even if you think you know your crew well, it's easy to get it wrong.

Read more: Passage Planning - crew competence

Passage Planning - weather

barometerWhilst most of your passage planning can be done in advance, the weather is something that you have to check, and keep checking. In our technologically advanced society, and particularly in home waters, there really isn't any excuse for anyone putting to sea without a good understanding of what the weather is likely to do.

I say 'likely', because, even with the best forecasting service and the most diligent skipper, it's possible to get caught if the wind is stronger than predicted, or the front arrives a lot sooner than expected. But the risks are minimised if we take care to check the weather first.

Read more: Passage Planning - weather

Passage planning - tides

LighthouseMuch of the passage planning can be done days, if not weeks, ahead. Anticipation of the voyage can be part of the fun, particularly if you're making a passage in foreign waters. Checking the routeing is the first thing to do, along with any ports of refuge, any 'difficult bits', and of course, making sure that you have the necessary charts and pilot books on board.

The next thing to do, and it can also be done in advance, is to check the tides. Of course, if you're sailing in the Mediterranean, you won't have to worry too much once you get a reasonable distance from Gibraltar.

Read more: Passage planning - tides

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