This month's additional letters cover everything from predicting weather to the America's Cup - however they begin with a few comments on Colregs...

I read the article regarding the Colregs in the September issue with both interest and alarm. Valid points are made that a number of the distress signals are outdated, but nevertheless they may be appropriate forms of indicating distress in some circumstances. These signals only make up a small section of the IRCPS, namely Annex IV, and it is disappointing that the author chooses to major on this Annex.The true substance of the rules is contained in Parts A through D and specifically the steering and sailing rules of Part B. For most yachtsman an understanding of Part B is what matters and for best appreciation it is beneficial to study them through the titles of the three sub sections, namely Section 1 – Conduct of vessels in any condition of visibility. Section 2 – Conduct of vessels in sight of one and other. Section 3 – Conduct of vessels in restricted visibility.

The key to basic understanding is comprehending that vessels are free to act until risk of collision is deemed to exist. Interpreting when risk of collision does exists is related to experience, but it is only when risk of collision does exist that vessels become mandated to do something. A pass mid channel by a container ship at 10 cables may not seem ‘seaman like’ to a yacht and the container ship may seem huge but it is acceptable. It should also be noted that in restricted visibility (rule 19) there is no give way or stand on vessel. As a Master Mariner and an enthusiastic yachtsman I have no problem with the IRCPS and would suggest that only minor updating is required to the supporting annexes and sections but the main body Parts A through D are left unchanged.

Richard Davies
Seaview, Isle of Wight

No French connection
Sailing along the north coast of Crete I decided to have a night in the marina at Gouves about one hour east of Heraklion, because it is big and the last time I was in there, about four years previously, there were only about four sailing boats there. Thought I would just check by telephone before arrival. The conversation went like this:

Me: “Good morning, do you have space for a 10m sailing yacht for tonight please.”
Marina: “Good morning sir, but you are not French”.
“That’s correct, I am not.”
“Then you are not allowed in as it is a French club.”
“Really? So you are discriminating against me because I am not French?”
“No, but only French boats and people are allowed.”

I signed off without further ado but how they make money I don’t know. There are not enough French boats on the whole of the combined islands to fill that marina.

Yours, perplexed
Steve Swain, Crete

Predicting weather

Tom Cunliffe gives good advice on using the barometer and the Mark 1 human eyeball as useful weather information in your September issue. GRIB forecasts such as Passageweather (Practical Seamanship, YM October, 2013) can only give average winds although some, such as zyGrib, do give expected gust speeds. The CAPE index (Practical Seamanship, YM June, 2013) can be used to assess the risk of lightning.

Showers and thunderstorms are examples of chaos that we all know is ever present in the atmosphere. They will not be predicted in detail; Tom’s advice is good and should not be forgotten. Good and careful observation will often add to the wealth of weather information now available to the sailor.


Why no America’s Cup?

I have always taken an interest in all aspects of sailing, including the America’s Cup, but if I want to see this event on television I need to live anywhere in Europe except the UK, or find out when it is being broadcast by NBS.

Why is it that everything on the media in the UK has to be associated with a ball? I do follow some of these sports, but why should I go to Austria, a land locked country to see anything about the Auld Mug and find that they have a Red Bull junior team also at San Francisco?

I do hope that Ben Ainslie’s team do well and then we might get some meaningful media coverage here.

Where are the RYA in this? And can someone explain why (as far as I have been able to find out), none of the UK main TV channels are covering any of this event, which really is the pinnacle of our sport.

As an aside, I had also hoped to see some coverage of the Fastnet Race . None…. except perhaps in the South of England where the local channels may have provided coverage, but not up here in Scotland.

Ian W Gray

Us or them?

I am in my 48th season as a yachtsman, and have looked forward to my YM each month almost without a break during this time. In the seventies I drudged up muddy East Coast creeks to a safe anchorage when the Stuart failed thanks to the technique described by dear Bill Beavis, and was on a nodding acquaintanceship with MG when he lived at Kings Hard, Mersea Island and I lived close by. Also during the seventies I crossed the North Sea from Essex to Holland in a Virgo 23 partly in a
Force 8 in the middle and then fog when approaching the New Maase with only a Seafix, compass, and mark one eyeball but with a solid reliable skipper who had developed an instinctive ability to assess his ‘Circle of Probability’ position with uncanny accuracy.

In the eighties I crewed on a 3/4 tonner in the EAORA Series for a couple of seasons and since then I have found my way into most harbours from Orford in the East to Helford in the West on the English side, and Ijmuiden to La Corruna on the ‘other’ side, the latter when I two handed with a friend during the 2008 YM Biscay Triangle Rally.

During this time I have grown accustomed to the courtesies extended from one sailor to another. From the coincidental crossing of wakes at dawn which always results in a cheery wave, to the friendly acknowledgement from one to another during those ‘give way ‘ moments even when busy with short tacking in a crowded harbour…….until now!

Although I still enjoy the pleasure of passage making under sail with a friend on his Beneteau 411, having now reached the age of 70, I have crossed to the ‘ dark side’ and gone motor. Nothing ‘flash’ and certainly not a Gin Palace. Just a semi displacement 8/10 knot Scandinavian sedan cruiser on which I enjoy my local waters from Helford to Fowey from my base on the Fal. The roof has been particularly welcome this season when the earlier monsoon turned into a heat wave.

Now, I am having to get used to the ‘back of head’ syndrome from the sailing fraternity. Whereas during my first 47 years, the friendly wave has been the norm for about 90% of my seaborne encounters, now the figures are reversed. I do know what yachts can and can’t do and I pay particular attention to giving them a clear passage especially when they are close hauled. But I sometimes think I must be invisible. A few days ago I was proceeding north up the Fal and a yacht of about 40′ or so with sails furled was exiting the Mylor Yacht Harbour Channel and outside the buoys marking it’s start. It was a classic motoring situation with me quite clearly the stand on vessel. It rapidly became a potentially dangerous situation with collision a strong possibility so I reduced speed to almost zero and dropped under their stern. I expected at least some form of acknowledgment but no, just the backs of the heads of mum and dad and 3 teenage sized children who gave no impression they had even seen me, let alone were aware of the Collision Regs.

I have heard about the ‘them and us’ positions taken by motor boat and yacht owners, but have never experienced it until now, and all I can say from my current personal experience it is not us, it is them!

Geoff Frost

Binoculars at night

Robin Sjoberg (Letters, September issue) is not quite correct. Yes, a 7×42 is a bit smaller and weighs less than 7×50 but the maximum diameter of a human pupil in dark conditions is 8.8 mm, not 7.

A study carried out in March 2011 (see and scroll down to Exit Pupil) showed that even in the 60 to 69 age group, pupils could be as large as 7.5. Only in the over 70s was the max reduced to 6 but some in the 20 to 30 group could only manage 5.7 mm and some in the 40 to 60 bracket were down to 4.4. For them a 7×30 would be enough.

What I have not worked out is how to measure my own pupils in the dark!

Richard Biggs (t/a Action Optics)

Emergency aerials

Where is your emergency aerial? If you know where it is, have you taken it out of the packaging yet? I had an occasion to use mine in earnest, thankfully not due to loss of a major component on my yacht. I was having problems with my VHF radio and thought I could see whether it was the part up the mast by fitting the emergency aerial. There came my first problem, having taken it all out of its sealed packaging, there was no flexy aerial to fit to the top ! It was never going to work in
an emergency.

I wrote to the Italian manufactures who after some time sent me the missing part. Thank goodness, I was about to embark on a 3-4 week cruise and I still hadn’t fully worked out the fault with the VHF. Whilst away , the radio appeared to provide limited cover when compared to the hand held I had, which provided much wider coverage. So at one anchorage I decided to raise the emergency aerial up the mast using a spare halyard. It transformed, or seemed to, the reception, I was picking up transmitions much further away than before. On arrival at my final destination here at Cowes, I pulled the white cable to lower it whilst easing the halyard, the cable just came away. Leaving the unit up the mast!

On inspection later, having recovered the unit, it appeared that the weather insulator was the only component holding the cable in place. It had been pushed on but not twisted locked.
So before you next sail any distance with that smile, just take out the emergency aerial and see if you have everything you should have and then pull out the cable and give it a tug to make sure it’s been locked in place. In the end I had to cut the end of and re-make the connection before araldite the top back in place. There’s no point in discovering these thing when the emergency is upon you!

Jon Burgess,
Norse King

Halmatic claims

I read with great interest the Me and my boat Summer article and enjoyed it greatly. However as a happy Halmatic 30 owner I have a couple of points to make. You state that “the success of the Halmatic was noted by Camper & Nicholson, who then turned out the Nicholson 31”.

They (Campers) must have been prescient as the Nicholson 31 was shown first at the 1976 Boat Show and the Halmatic did not appear until 1979! I have seen this suggestion once before, but everything else I have read states that the Halmatic came after the Nic 31 and was a smaller development by Halmatic.

The other point concerns the cockpit lockers. You state that the lids sit flush on the lockers and that waves will get into the lockers. On mine anyway there are deep drainage channels in the cockpit moulding (see attached photo) which deal with any water on top of the lockers. I agree that a latch to prevent the lid opening is necessary, but not that seals are required.

Yours sincerely,
Leigh Baxter