Friday 28 December 2007

Wild Oats takes Line Honours for third time in Sydney Hobart

28 December, 2007 9:45:00 AM AEDT

Racetime 01:20:45:00

The Sydney maxi Wild Oats XI, skippered by Mark Richards, has made yachting history this morning, crossing the finish line of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race at 10:24am to secure her third consecutive line honours victory. Richards has been at the helm each time.
Wild Oats XI is the first yacht to achieve this feat since Claude Plowman’s Morna made it three in a row between 1946 and 1948, today’s result confirming her place as one of the most successful yachts in the history of the Rolex Sydney Hobart, with three consecutive line honours, an overall win and the race record. Her elapsed time for the race was one day 21 hours 24 minutes 32 seconds, the third fastest time for the 628 nautical mile course.

“We came here to do a job and that was to claim the treble,” said a jubilant Richards soon after crossing the finish line this morning in a nor'west breeze which fluctuated from 10 to 25 knots just in the Derwent. “We were challenged, we were chased and we were constantly looking over our shoulders but we are here now and it’s time to celebrate.

“Back next year for a fourth? You never know, you’ll have to talk to Bob,” Richards added. Bob Oatley’s 30m maxi Wild Oats XI was the pre-race favourite and has dominated since the opening minutes of Australia’s premier yacht race which began from Sydney Harbour at 1pm on 26 December. She led the fleet out of the Harbour and never looked back. In the opening 10 hours of the race she surged down the New South Wales coast reaching speeds of 22 knots in almost perfect conditions, but light southwesterly winds in Bass Strait yesterday quashed hopes of bettering her own record set two years ago.

Northerly winds overnight allowed her to make up a lot of time as she sped down the Tasmanian coast, reviving faint hopes of a new record, but it was always going to be a big ask.
Wild Oats XI crossed the finish line ahead of the British maxi City Index Leopard, skippered by Mike Slade. Slade staged a dramatic comeback over the course of the morning. At one stage the two frontrunners were 21 nautical miles apart and by the time the crew of Wild Oats heard the sound of cannon fire, thanks to members of the Militaria Association of Tasmania who dress in period costume to fire the cannon historic Battery Point, City Index Leopard was in the Derwent River and only four miles short of glory.

The result is an extraordinary achievement for Mark Richards who assembled a line up of international yachtsmen with an extraordinary 233 Rolex Sydney Hobarts between them to mount the historic challenge. In September Wild Oats XI was dismasted during the Rolex Maxi Yacht Cup in Sardinia and it has been a massive job getting a new mast and sails in time for the race, the boat only re-launched in the first week of December.

Currently in third place is Matt Allen’s modified Volvo 70 Ichi Ban which this morning bore down on Grant Wharington’s Melbourne maxi Skandia which is limping to Hobart under jury rig after snapping the top of its mast at 2.30am this morning. Skandia is currently third but set to overtake is Roger Sturgeon’s Rosebud.

Morna, which sealed her third consecutive win in 1948 with an elapsed time of 4 days 5 hours and 1 minute, was a Fife design, a 65 foot Bermudan cutter which took line honours three times as Morna and went on to finish first over the line a further four times as Kurrewa IV. Morna was built in Sydney for the then Commodore the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, Dr Alexander MacCormick, and was owned by a number of prominent Sydney yachtsmen including the late Sir Frank Packer.

Reproduced courtesy Rolex Sydney Hobart official website.

Photo reproduced courtesy Rolex/Daniel Forster

You can read more about sailing on the website

Thursday 27 December 2007

Captain Cook and Point Venus, Matavai Bay,Tahiti

Extract from the ebook 'Voyage of the little Ship 'Tere Moana'

Our little ship reminds them that if they are to make Point Venus today, then they need to set
off now. Extricating the anchor from the mud, the hose and scrubber come into use, removing with some vigorous pokes and vigorous strokes, the thick grey goo from the flukes. Snubbed home with the anchor washed down, she turns into the gentle breeze and sails out of harbour on a reciprocal course from her entry just a few days before. A short sail eastward along the breakwater brings her into Matavai Bay proper where she drops anchor in about eight metres of water, into black sand. These are the same black sands that the anchors of Cooks’ ‘Endeavour’
would have embedded themselves in in 1769.

Following in the anchor prints of our most famous explorer did not go unnoticed by her crew. They chatter on about what it must have been like back then and if there may be any charming south sea maidens, bedecked with leis to welcome them as they step ashore. Whether it is because they have not arrived in a three master and given the traditional full navy salute, or they are not dressed in their grand uniforms, their arrival on the strand is marked only by the attention of a small band of screeching gulls, whirling over their heads. Other than this mild irritation, the beach is pretty much empty, a black curving band stretching away equally either side of them. For maximum effect they have landed dead centre, so are a little surprised at the absence of gleaming brown bodies dashing down the beach, ecstatic at their arrival! Several disdainful hurrumphs and grunts are exchanged as they labour the dinghy up the sandy incline, but these dissipate rapidly on the realisation that directly in front of them, edging the shoreline, is a small seaside café serving cool drinks and beer.

‘Huh, Cook didn’t have one of these waiting for him when he landed!’ offers Anglo crew - dignity is preserved.

Swinging gently on her chain, our little ship chuckles affectionately at the false vanities of these folks called humans.

Lazy late afternoon sun slips clammily down their backs as they head further eastward toward the point where they expect to see the treasures of the Transit observation. A couple of cold beers washing around in their system seems to infect the male crew members’ legs with a jelly like effect, reducing their ability to place one foot steadily in front of the other without meandering. Sibling crew, striding ahead, sniffs that they would have been better sticking to carbonated water as she had done! The cackling response from behind only serves to increase sibling crews’ tempo, leaving them even further adrift. The small clump of battered and paint flaked stores huddled at the juncture in the road pass slowly by to the right as they make their way out to the end of the promontory – windswept and barren. A few straggly bushes, struggling in their attempt to retain a foothold, dot the bleached white coral. Surprisingly, the rather impressive Point Venus lighthouse constructed in eighteen sixty eight at the knolly point is surrounded by a bunch of palms and casuarinas. It is here that our fearless crew become conscious, belatedly, that they must have passed the ‘Museum of Discovery’ on the way in. Looking around, that apart from the lighthouse, there are no other buildings in the area looking anything like a museum. For such a monumental event our crew were expecting, if not an edifice likened to the Palace de Versaille, some respectable construction recognising the stature of what took place on this spot two hundred and fifty years earlier. On enquiring from a local it is established that the museum was a very little more than a humble stone hut. It was demolished recently with the contents removed to Paris, where they are now on display, location unknown.

They now understood how the characters in the Da Vinci Code felt when coming up against a blank wall when unravelling a mystery. However, in the case of our crew they neither had the resources nor the inclination to board the next flight to Paris to continue their search. Admiring the stone and intricate brick work of the lighthouse once again, our crew turn away, ambling into the advancing dusk.

Extract from the ebook ‘Voyage of the Little Ship ‘Tere Moana’. You can read this on my website

Wednesday 26 December 2007

Sydney Hobart Race start - Boxing Day Dec. 24th. 2007

Wild Oats XI leading the pack
December 26, 2007 - 4:31PM

Wild Oats XI is maintaining its place at the front of the Sydney to Hobart yacht fleet.
The New South Wales maxi is leading from British boat City Index Leopard, with Victoria's Skandia in third place.

The fleet of 82 is tipped to enjoy freshening north-easterly breezes through the afternoon and into the evening before a forecast southerly change in the early hours of tomorrow morning. Earlier. hat-trick chasing Wild Oats XI struck the first major blow of the race by beating its rivals through Sydney Heads.

Bidding to become only the second boat in the history of the event after Morna (1946-47-48) to take line honours three successive times, the maxi made a blistering start. The boat went through the Heads first ahead of the other two maxis, City Index Leopard and Skandia, the 2003 line honours winner.

The gaggle of boats behind the maxis included American yacht Rosebud and a quartet of local NSW representatives, Wot Yot, Yendys, Toyota Aurion V6 and Ragamuffin. The fleet started the 628 nautical mile race under east to north easterly breezes of five to 10 knots.

One boat, DHL-The Daily Telegraph, was forced to turn back after breaking the start. However, it made good progress and clawed its way back up the fleet following its early setback. City Index Leopard was the leading boat among the eight overseas entries six of which were from the United Kingdom, with one each from Mexico and the United States. As usual a large fleet of spectator craft was on hand for the start of the race.

Eighty-year-old Michael York, the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia's longest serving member, fired the starting cannon for the race.

Reproduced courtesy the Sydney Morning Herald.

Photo credit Craig Golding

You can read more about a yacht race in 'Port of Refuge' Vava'u, Tonga in the ebook 'Voyage of the Little Ship 'TereMoana' on my website

Monday 24 December 2007

Downwind run all the way forecast for Sydney Hobart

THE skipper and owner of British super-maxi City Index Leopard, Mike Slade, says this year's Sydney to Hobart yacht race will be his boat's only shot at the race honours. Slade said the cost of mounting a Hobart campaign - upwards of £300,000 ($700,000) - and the desire to quickly establish the pedigree of his new 45-tonne boat, which has already won the prestigious Fastnet race in record time, meant that this year's race fell in the "slot of time when it is the yacht to beat".

"I want it [Hobart victory] badly, it cost a lot of money, a lot of effort and a lot of time," Slade said.

But the weather forecast is conspiring against Slade and his heavier boat, and strongly favouring the lighter super-maxi rivals, two-time winner Wild Oats XI, Skandia and the reconfigured Volvo 70 boat, Ichi Ban. Slade said the long range forecast of north-easterly winds of between 20 and 30 knots would mean all four boats would break the race record of one day, 18 hours, 40 minutes and 10 seconds set by Wild Oats XI in 2005. In those spinnaker-flying conditions, his boat would lag.
"It is horrible," he said of the forecast, which will be updated on Friday morning.

"We should buy an ice-cream and forget the whole thing. What we want is a sou'-easterly in more than 12 knots the whole way there, and I am sure that at some stage we will get them."

Wild Oats XI skipper Mark Richards(with line honours trophy above) said the forecast was "too good to be true", so much so his boat could even figure in overall handicap contention despite its very high handicap rating.

"We have got some big furling, reaching headsails, and a mainsail of 900 square metres so we could still be in there on handicap if the winds are right, but if it is upwind like last year, we will have no hope in hell," Richards said.

Slade said a Wild Oats XI victory would be exceptional because the Bob Oatley-owned boat would have beaten the newer and latest design boats. He said the advancements in technology were so rapid a boat usually only had an 18-month window before a newer, faster boat was launched.

"It is unusual for one boat to dominate repeatedly at this level, and to win three times is pretty exceptional - the reason is new boats are designed and the technology moves on," Slade said.

"Wild Oats XI is a narrower boat but now, after the Volvo 70's the [latest] design is wider, with a chine [more of a square shape] and the deeper canting keels. Already in New Zealand there is a boat being built that will probably be quicker than us."

Wild Oats XI is at $1.55 for line honours with Leopard at $3 with TAB Sportsbet. But Slade said he got $8 on Leopard back in England and forecast the odds for his boat would shorten further if the weather forecast changed.

Reproduced courtesy of the Sydney Morning Herald

Read more about downwind sailing in my ebook 'Voyage of the Little Ship 'Tere Moana' on my website

Friday 21 December 2007

Wild Oats going for historic triple in Sydney Hobart

December 21, 2007 - 10:09AM

A cluster of awesomely fast and modern boats, a trio of sprightly octogenarians and a handful of former football stars are set to add colour to a potentially record-breaking Sydney to Hobart race this year. Around 80 yachts drawn from around Australia and overseas are set to sail south on Boxing Day. Wild Oats XI will bid to become only the second boat after Morna (1946-47-48) to take line honours in three successive years.

While the withdrawal of New Zealand boat Maximus with a damaged keel removed one particularly dangerous rival, the NSW maxi and betting favourite should still have plenty of competition for the honour of reaching Hobart first. New British maxi City Index Leopard looms as an especially formidable challenger, especially in strong headwinds. Victorian maxi Skandia, the 2003 line honours winner, should also be up near the front of the fleet.

Ebullient Englishman Mike Slade, the owner of City Index Leopard, said he would he feel ambivalent if he was fortunate enough to get to Hobart first and deny his Wild Oats XI counterpart Bob Oatley a record equalling win.

"It's rather like your mother-in-law driving your brand new Ferrari over a cliff, you don't know whether to be happy or sad about it," Slade said.

Connections of Wild Oats XI and City Index Leopard believe their boats could smash the existing race record by between four and ten hours given favourable weather conditions.
Irrespective of the impressive technology and sailing acumen aboard the fancied vessels, weather patterns will invariably make or break each boat's prospects of success. A drop in wind can wreck a yacht's handicap hopes while a rising breeze and strengthening seas can literally wreck a boat. Size is irrelevant and almost every Hobart claims a high profile victim. Rarely does a year pass without one of the favoured big boats failing to finish with Maximus the major casualty last year.

"One is always aware in the Sydney to Hobart there are three things you've got to do," Slade said. "You've got to sail the right course, you've got to get there and you've got to cross the line first, the most important of those is getting there in one piece."

While the race attracts some of the most modern and expensive boats around, it still also draws weekend sailors who are essentially amateurs and remain true to the original Corinthian ideals of the event.

At the opposite end to the imposing 30-metre maxis is the 9.99-metre Western Australian yacht Palandri Wines Minds Eye, the smallest boat in the race.

Reproduced courtesy 'Sydney Morning Herald'

Keep up to date with this years' Sydney Hobart classic on my website

Tuesday 18 December 2007

Disaster strikes New Zealand maxi Maximus

New Zealand maxi 'Maximus' taken out of this years Sydney Hobart classic with cracked keel.

This article reported by the Sydney Morning Herald, Tuesday 18 December 2007.

THE co-owner and skipper of Sydney to Hobart favourite Maximus was close to tears yesterday when a severely damaged keel forced him to withdraw the Kiwi super-maxi from the bluewater classic.Bill Buckley had no choice but to pull the 30-metre yacht out of the race immediately upon inspecting the damaged keel when the boat was lifted onto a dry dock at Woolwich yesterday afternoon.

But as gut-wrenching as the decision was, Buckley also realised how perilously close he and the seven-member crew, who were delivering the boat from Auckland to Sydney for the race, had been to ending up overboard in the Tasman Sea on Sunday morning.

"We have had catastrophic failure and we won't be doing the Hobart this year," said Buckley, an engineer. "We will be going back to the drawing board to build a better keel. I am gutted, we have been working on it since the mast [collapsed in last year's race] and we have tried to do everything as best we could."

A large, 40cm horizontal crack from the fore of the keel just below the hull was clearly evident. It was also apparent that the entire keel was very nearly lost, which would have caused the mulitmillion-dollar yacht to flip in seconds and which would have either thrown crew overboard or trapped them underneath the boat. A huge bang had shuddered the boat on Sunday morning when it was 115 nautical miles from Sydney.

Even as the dockyard workers were lifting the 30-tonne boat by crane yesterday afternoon there were serious concerns that the keel might fall off.

"It was very close, we could have lost the boat quite easily, we took all precautions, we had lifebelts and everyone was in a lifejacket, we were worried," said Buckley of the 20 hours spent at sea after the bang.
A container ship on its way to Sydney had sheltered Maximus after Buckley had radioed an emergency call and Sydney Water Police also sent a vessel to the stricken yacht to accompany it as a precaution. Buckley said it would cost about $50,000 to $100,000 to replace the keel, which he intended doing to prepare the boat for the 2008 Sydney to Hobart. He said the revolutionary, retractable canting keel might have been "too complicated", although the keel had been used for two years of heavy sailing without a problem.
It is still unknown what caused the damage to the keel.

Maximus' withdrawal leaves the three remaining super-maxis, 2005 and 2006 victor Wild Oats XI, 2003 winner Skandia and the UK monster City Index Leopard to fight for line honours.
Up until yesterday afternoon's dry dock inspection of Maximus' damaged keel, everyone, including skipper Buckley, was confident the Sydney to Hobart line honours contest would be a four-way battle. But as she was cradled in the huge slings it was obvious there would be no quick fix. City Index Leopard motored past at one point, its entire crew standing silent and looking keenly at the keel. It was almost a funeral procession.

Leopard owner Mike Slade immediately came on dock to commiserate with Buckley.
"It is a great shame, we have sailed against Maximus in offshore races and she is always very quick and we always knew we had a keen Hobart race with Maximus and Wild Oats XI - the top three boats in the world were all together," Slade said. "Now there are only the two."
Slade has been dismissive of Skandia, believing it was off the pace. Skandia's skipper Grant Wharington has been critical of Leopard in the past, claiming the UK boat was too fat to win.
Slade said Maximus had been "way ahead in the world with the technology, but it had its problems". Maximus' keel is telescopic and able to be raised between 4.5-6.5m as well as canting. Slade said he had wanted such a radical keel for Leopard but the designers and engineers could not make the specifications work. Leopard, which is a much heavier boat than Maximus, has a solid canting keel that is 5.6m long.

Reproduced courtesy of Sydney Morning Herald.

Read more on repairing damaged keels in my '101Dollar Saving Tips for Sailors' on my website

Sunday 16 December 2007

ARC Rally 2007 - most boats already arrived in Rodney Bay, St. Lucia

A Wet and wild night …for some
07 December 2007

The Atlantic crossing with the ARC is often casually described by armchair sailors as “a milk run”; well for some ARC crews last night saw the milk well and truly churned as an area of concentrated rain and thunderstorms brought a wet and wild night for yachts in the middle of the fleet. The compact area of the weather system meant that yachts to the north or south enjoyed perfect conditions, whilst those coming through the middle, had a totally different night. In their log today Gull, wrote “We have been on the wheel now in 30 knot winds for the last 36 hours and fatigue is kicking in. We are rotating every 3 hours but it is wearing us down. We have not seen blue skies for two days however we are seeing shafts of light this morning. “ But there is a plus side to the weather – Gull again “The night before last we were entertained by frequent lightening and since then the seas and winds have been right up and only this morning abating. It has made for some exhilarating sailing with the boat frequently hitting 12knots surfing down waves.” With advance warning – preparations were made.

On Johanem they used the weather advisory warning to plan ahead for the night. “We received a strong wind and thunder storm warning late yesterday afternoon so decided to have an early supper and reef down for the night” said skipper Steve Sugden. “With the boat rolling so much we decided to put the meal originally planned on hold and to have spaghetti bolognaise – the bolognaise had been prepared and cooked previously in Las Palmas and frozen. Fortunately a few meals were prepared in advance, in anticipation of conditions like last night. We even decided to dispense with the pre-dinner drink in favour of settling into our night watch routine ASAP. Despite some strong winds and pretty massive waves we all had a reasonably comfortable night although I think we are all feeling a bit tired. Good progress was made and we are confident about beating yesterdays 24 hour run which was our previous record.” It can be exciting “At about 3am we recorded a new boat speed record of 11.6knots - that’s twice our average speed!” reported Chris Latter on Gullvika; continuing “secretly I am praying for us to be becalmed - this is exhausting - but at least we are knocking off the miles in the right direction.” Who’ll stop the rain? It is the rain that has caused comment on Lagoon 500 Fat Cat – skipper Steve Glavine describes it in his log today: “We have been making good time over the last couple days as the winds have been strong. Unfortunately, with the winds has come a ridiculous amount of rain. I sat through 4 hours of it yesterday during my watch.”

Onboard Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 45.2 Trucial Coast, they describe their recent weather as “about 6 hours of very heavy rain followed by a further 12 hours of showers, many of which were heavy.” And with the wind comes the swell Trucial Coast continue: “The waves really are something else now. Whilst we’re not quite in Southern Ocean territory, it is still something to behold. There is an underlying swell of up to 15ft, with a huge wavelength of 20+ metres, local conditions then pile a further 10-12ft on top of this, in smaller wavelengths. If you get one directly on top of the other, you find yourself staring at a wall of water that comes some way above your head as you sit at the helm, and when on top of it, it’s like looking out from a second story window at the surrounding water.” Big waves have caused some damage with a broken boom reported by Southern Princess adding to the tally of four in the fleet so far. Five yachts have also reported loosing one of their two man-overboard lifebuoys, bright yellow horseshoe shaped rings, washed over the side when “pooped” - hit by a large wave from astern.

Reproduced courtesy of ARC Rally website

You can read more about heavy weather sailing in my 135 page ebook 'Voyage of the Little Ship 'Tere Moana' on my website

Friday 14 December 2007

Beach-List website

Royal Resort, Maldives / Photo Courtesy of Villa Hotels
Maldives - Floating on Cloud Nine / By Shalini Kagal
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Reproduced courtesy of

Check out this website to track down the most beautiful beaches in the world. The coverage is very extensive and will have you drooling for hours over the many fabulous beaches you could visit on your sailboat vacation. Begin planning yours now - visit my website to find out how to get started on your adventure of a lifetime.

Drake circumnavigation

David Berson

On November 14, 1577, Francis Drake departed London with 164 men and boys aboard five small ships. He was bound on a voyage around the world, but only Queen Elizabeth and a few highly-placed ministers knew that. The public announcement was that Drake was headed to Egypt to commence trading. This ploy was necessary to forestall war with Spain should King Phillip find out about Drake's real mission: To find the Strait of Anián, the western terminus of the fabled Northwest Passage. Drake had been a thorn in the side of the Spanish, and they viewed his departure with alarm. When Drake returned to England three years later with only one ship — the redoubtable Golden Hinde — he had plundered the Spanish colonies and completed a great circumnavigation. Drake broke the stranglehold the Spanish had in South America. More importantly, he opened trade with the Spice Islands. He both confounded and escaped the Spanish and the Portuguese. He arrived home safely, was knighted and became rich and famous. Not bad for someone who was basically a pirate! He never found the Strait of Anián. The method of navigation Drake and his contemporaries used was really nothing more than what we call dead reckoning. They had magnetic compasses, and course, speed and distance were still tried-and-true means of finding one's way. Some navigators used cross staffs to take a midday or noon sight. This was used to find latitude.

From noon observations of the sun, the height of the sun was entered into an early version of the Nautical Almanac where the declination was recorded. This precursor to the present day Nautical Almanac was called "Almanac and Prognostications.” Using these published tables, an observed altitude was established. Under the best of circumstances, a skillful navigator could determine latitude to within 15 nautical miles.

We will do a noon sight, using a sextant and using the 2006 Nautical Almanac. The height of eye on Golden Hinde is 20 feet. Drake is in the Atlantic Ocean bound for the Strait of Magellan. The day is December 20, and he is at a DR position of south 20° 50' by west 35° 15'. The Hs of the sun at noon is 87° 12.2'. We are shooting, for argument's sake, a lower limb of the sun. Also to make the sight easier to solve, let us assume that the time of the sight is at 14:18 GMT.

A: What is the Ho(observed altitude) of the sun?
B: What is the latitude?

Reproduced courtesy 'Ocean Navigator' magazine

You can read more about the early mariners' navigation methods in my ebook 'Voyage of the Little Ship 'Tere Moana' on my website

Improve your furling gear performance


A well set up furler is a joy to use, but there are ways and means of making any furler, Harken or otherwise, perform just that little bit better. Here are a few tips to get the best out of your furler:

1) Fit a ratchet block on the furling line lead into the cockpit. This acts as a brake on the line, especially when unrolling the sail. Imagine the scenario, you are clearing the harbour on a breezy day and want to leave a few rolls in. You give a tug on the jib sheet and suddenly the wind catches the sail and whammo - it is fully out, the boat is on her ear and your tea is in your boots! A ratchet block only rotates one way and thus gives you control on the line going out. Kinder on the fingers too!

2) A tight forestay not only improves your windward performance but also makes a furler easier to rotate. Also, a sagging forestay will add fullness and thus generate weather helm making control just a bit harder. Next time you are sailing on the wind check for excessive forestay sag by looking up the forestay. If you have a spare halyard, attach it to the stemhead, pull it tight and you will have something to compare against. The Harken furler has built in adjustment that can remove that. Alternatively you can increase your backstay tension. Remember sag can also come from the mast tip falling off to leeward, so the shrouds might need taking up a bit too. Also consider there can be bed-down stretch in new rigging over a season so even new boats can do with a check. If in doubt take a selection of digital photos and ask a competent rigger to tune your rig up. It can be surprising how it can improve rolling the sail up, plus you gain control and improve performance.

3) Make sure your top swivel is as high a possible. If you have a short luff sail with a long exposed halyard, you run the risk of a halyard wrap, even with the very best furlers. One solution is to fit a strop between the head of the sail and the top swivel. That means the exposed halyard will be minimised. The easy way of checking this is on a calm day, in dock, unroll the sail, release the tack and see if you can hoist the sail further so that the top of the swivel is as high as possible. You shouldn't be able to raise it more than around 6" -150mm. (Check with a pair of binoculars.) If it is more than that, measure the distance between the bottom of the raised sail and the original tack position. That is the length of your strop (best make it a little shorter to allow for stretch.) Drop the sail, fit the strop between the head and the top swivel, re-hoist with the sail tacked down as per usual. That way you can get the swivel as high as possible and minimise the risk of halyard wraps.
Reproduced courtesy 'Yachting World'

Check this out and my '101 Dollar Saving Tips for Sailors', all on my website

Tonga Whale Tale

Tucking in behind the short reef, our little ship arrives just in time for her crew to anchor as the tropical night draws down on the western horizon, squeezing the last of the flaming orange crush over the edge and into eternity. Myriad stars from the east already puncture the black velvet, criss-crossed with a grid of shooting stars. Out here, with virtually no degrading onshore lights, these phosphor trails streak bright in all directions, across the firmament, their life finishing almost before it has begun. So stunning, so brief, so many, uncountable – this night is perfect – still, warm and dark, dripping sumptuously with shore fragrances drifting, blending with the unmistakable odours from the reef. The crackle coming upward through the hull, mixing with the reef sounds fifty metres off, tells them the battle of life goes on. Lingering over the remains of dinner, in the soft glow of the cockpit lamp and savouring their wine, life seems perfect. Cutlery clattering on plate, and bottle tinkling on glass is noise clutter bordering on intrusive, so their conversation, though eminently companionable, is reduced to an awe filled ‘sotto voce’.

Submerged in this almost comatose, suddenly, they are aware of another presence. Looking round they virtually jump out of there skins. There, not thirty metres away is a huge shape hanging in the dark, watching. The Humpback must be standing on her tail, between them and the reef, on the edge of the channel. Half her body is upright out of the water, it running off and glistening wetly in the lamps glow. Her all knowing eye inspecting them with mild interest locks their gaze. They say looking into the eye of a whale is like looking into the window of your soul! Whatever it is, in that brief moment as our three stalwarts, staring obliquely upward, eyes locked, feel something pass between them. She must have been there, looming, no more than half a second, but it seemed like an eternity – then she was gone – as silently as she had arrived, sinking straight down, water sighing softly up her dark flanks as she went and closing over her snout with a light hissing bubble. A smaller tail flipped the surface a little off to the right, affirming junior is close by.

Our crew have stopped breathing and our little ship wonders if they are going to start again! Their collective exhalation is sharp but slow, piercing the silence. Looking at one another, their lips working, trying to form something, but no sound comes – no need for words, their eyes convey all they feel. All they can manage between them is ‘Wow!’, ‘Crikey!’, ‘My God!’, ‘Did you see that?!!’, and several other equally intelligent remarks! Music is the answer, and someone puts on Mascagni’s ‘Intermezzo’ from his Cavalleria Rusticana, on repeat, and they sit in silence, playing it over and over, drifting, comfortable with their own thoughts. How can anyone wish to kill for commercial gain, these wonderful creatures?

Her captain, reflecting on this, is glad that he has made this voyage. A large part of his drive to do it was to experience this kind of event, and to come home in a manner other than the traditional one of flying. But also, and possibly more importantly, he wanted to make the trip before it becomes too late. With Global Warming, changing weather patterns, Climate Change and more extreme weather, there may be a time in the future when this kind of adventure is not possible. We really have to hurry now and take steps to reverse the damage we, the human race, have done to our planet.

Mascagni’s gorgeous strains float up the companionway, imbueing the dewy night air with a plump round sound – they hope the whales can hear and come back for more in the morning.

‘They really are a strange mob, these humans,’ she muses. ‘Fancy being moved to such emotions by a mere whale – my lines are just as svelte, and, I don’t have to come up for air all the time!’

However, she grudgingly admits that the music is actually quite uplifting, and also, that she was just a little intimidated by the size and proximity of that animal; ‘Must be going soft!’ she adds.

Extract from the ebook ‘Voyage of the Little Ship ‘Tere Moana’ by Vincent Bossley

You can read more of this and much more sailing stuff on my website

Thursday 6 December 2007

Panbo Marine Electronics Weblog

Hi folks,

Check out this RSS feed for Panbo for all you ever wanted to know about marine electronics. This guy presents a massive range of equipment which you can drool over endlessly to your hearts content.

The RSS feed is

There you will also find a link to his website.

He recognises that their are thousands of electronic nuts out there and even has an adaptation of John Masefields' famous epic poem 'Sea Fever' re-written in electronic terms - enjoy.

Meanwhile check out more of my articles published on the web at and others, on the 'Articles' page of my website

Monday 26 November 2007



406 MHz EPIRB Category II (manually deployable)
Product No. 2775Product No. 2775NH Non Hazardous Class 2 Battery Model No.: RLB-32 Cat II
Downloads Available: (requires Adobe Acrobat)
View the manual online
Get 406 EPIRB Registration Form here
Download Specification Sheet in PDF format

World's smallest 406 MHz EPIRB approvable worldwide
Built in strobe for enhanced location in poor visibility conditions
Single, three position switch for easy test and operation. Steady green LED indicates has passed full functional test, flashing red LED indicates unit is "ON"
Transmits on 406 MHz (COSPAS-SARSAT) with your registered, digitally-coded distress signal, and 121.5 MHz (SAR homing frequency)
Can be manually activated; self-buoyant - no external float collar to lose
Lanyard coiled on recessed spool for non-tangling deployment
Exclusive, polycarbonate blend designed for maximum resistance to UV and chemicals; maximum durability when exposed to extreme temperatures and shock
High impact plastic case designed to withstand exposure to UV rays, oil, sea water and raft packing
Field programmable - built-in vessel code can be reprogrammed by any ACR Authorized Service Center world wide (Maritime/Serialized/Radio Call Sign/MID Protocols, Country Code, etc.)
Product label includes universal test/operation symbols, English and French languages, plus ability to substitute other foreign languages
5 year limited warranty
5 year replacement life (11 year useful life) lithium battery
Operating life: 48 hours @ -40°C (-40°F)
3.7 x 7.2 x 4.3 in (9.4 x 18.3 x 10.9 cm)
7.4 in (18.8 cm)
2 lbs (900 g)
High impact polycarbonate blend case
High-viz optic yellow
Lift switch up, slide left, push back and down fully breaking tab. Also water activated when out of bracket
33 ft (10 m)
9372 Low Pro surface mounting bracket; 1096 Battery replacement kit (available to BRCs only)
Approved by COSPAS-SARSAT, FCC, USCG, Other international approvals
Limited Warranty:
5 years
Carton Dimensions:
4.5 x 5.2 x 8.2 in (11.5 x 13.0 x 21.0 cm)
Units Per Carton:
Carton Weight:
2.10 lbs (1 kg)
406 MHz, 121.5 MHz
Battery Type:
Lithium 5 year replacement life (11 year useful life)
Radiated Power:
5 watts ± 2dB (406 MHz) 50 mW ± 3dB (121.5 MHZ)
Operational Life:
48 hours @ -40°C (-40°F)
To find out more about 406MHz EPIRBS and the deployment of them visit my website

Tuesday 20 November 2007

South Seas Sailboat Anchorage - Rangiroa, French Polynesia

Bearing down on the Tuamotus, our crew are keeping a sharp lookout ahead. They know now that the first sighting of land is going to be the fronded crown of a palm tree, rooted in the sand of a coral atoll barely above sea level. The expectation of being the first to spy one of these occupies our crew with the formidable fervour of young boys. In the event, a number of these mop tops sluggishly grow out of the southern horizon, bathing in the western afternoon sunlight. Staring at an empty horizon for so long, these rising palms, eagerly awaited as they are, still bring with their languid appearance an almost unwanted intrusion.

‘Another of humans’ trivial life foibles,’ our little ship thinks. Willing as they are to have their daily routine disrupted once again, the actual arrival brings with it a momentary, but deeper level of reluctant resistance to the imminent change.

‘Oh my, if I was as confused as that, I would never know which direction to take!’

A quick check with the GPS and she is right on course for Passe de Tiputa on Rangiroa Atoll. Her crew always seem surprised and pleased with themselves that she is exactly where she is supposed to be – they have yet to understand that her fibres of glass are at one with the ocean currents and lost she will never be.

A coral atoll in this part of the world will normally have one or two entrances which have navigable channels, and possibly others which are too shallow to pass except in a canoe or outrigger with a shallow draft. These entrances are known as a ‘Passe’ in French and can vary in width from quite wide to terrifyingly narrow. They can be and mostly are, littered with coral heads with razor sharp teeth – teeth sharp enough that would crunch through her fibreglass hull as easily as chomping into a crusted meringue. Being advisable to enter on a flowing tide and exit on the ebb, she will be passing the channel at speed. The margin of error therefore for our deep keeled yacht is somewhat reduced. A lookout at the bow is required to ensure a safe path is steered through the passage before popping out like a cork drawn from a bottle of Hennessey cognac, into the lagoon beyond. With her sharp farmers’ eyes, sibling crew posts herself balancing on the top pulpit rail, wrapping one arm around the rolled in foresail.

Our little ship, drawing over two metres and also conscious of this potential to wreck and ruin, approaches their first one together with some trepidation. This level of anxiety is heightened by the sight of the white hull of a yacht lying up on the reef close to the entrance, looking very skeletal, bones bleached whiter than white in the tropical sun. Sails dropped and engine ticking over, she manoeuvres onto her course for their first ‘running the Passe’. Gunning her motor, she propels herself forward, all eyes on deck staring, looking for any obstructing and deadly razor coral heads, and sweeps into the crystal waters of the lagoon, cutting a pretty picture of white hull on blue as she comes up in a trim turn to starboard. Our doughty crew, unwittingly holding their collective breath, quietly release, heartbeats gradually returning to normal. She also feels a spurt of satisfaction, along with quiet competence tinged with pride, at safely conning her way in without so much as a scratch. No matter how many hundreds of these ‘Passes’ she will negotiate in the future, this very first one will always burn bright in her memory.

Rangiroa sunset

In, in the nick of time, she rounds up into the rapidly falling and short lived tropical dusk, smack in front of the resort hotel Kia Ora. By the time her scope is rattled out over her bow roller, anchor set and snugged in for the night, it is dark, and our crew turn to appreciate the twinkling lights of the hotel, mirrored in the gently gurgling lagoon. Kia Ora in Maori means ‘Welcome’ and the significance of this is not lost on our two thirds Kiwi crew, it perhaps being the first indication that they are coming within some kind of mental reach of their native land. A surge of emotion rises, and she hears them blathering on once again to Anglo crew about all good things Kiwi – more banalities being thrown around than plates at a Greek wedding!

‘Nincompoops! you would think from the way they carry on, New Zealand is the only paradise on Earth!......this place comes close’, she reflects in her reverie, swaying on her chain.

The same palms they observed from afar earlier that afternoon can be dimly seen, placidly waving in the constant trade wind on the seaward side of the coral strip. The rattling palms, accompanied by thundering surf beyond and the breeze sighing through the casuarinas, create a symphony only to be dreamed of. And dream they do, our crew tucking early into their bunks, contentedly drifting off to the melodic song of the south seas, sloshing lagoon gently slapping against her hull - tomorrow will be another day, bringing further adventures.

Extract from my ebook 'Sailing Adventures in Paradise' downloadable from my website along with much other sailing stuff.