This month's mail bag has advice on downwind sailing and the correct use of AIS – but kicks off with some opinions on the Colregs...

Colregs

need changing?

Alistair

Buchan’s arguments for rewriting the Colregs, in your September issue, are

witty and persuasive. All that has to happen is for the International Maritime

Organisation to approve it.
The machinery is

massive (170 member states must agree), the timeline geological (often 10 years

or more), and the effort immense.
But are the

arguments about the Colregs and recreational sailors strong enough to galvanise

the IMO?
International

maritime conventions are written entirely from the point of view of commercial

shipping, which dominates the world’s oceans and global maritime economy. The

reluctance of the industry to change is legendary. Even when technology is

tried, tested and agreed it can take decades to implement, so we needn’t expect

archaic advice to be deleted too soon.
Recreational

sailing is scarcely a dot on the radar screen of the IMO.
And, anyway, is

the need for change so strong? What the rules advise throughout is good

seamanship and commonsense.
Unless something

unimaginable happens, Alistair’s excellent arguments are doomed to remain just

that, arguments.
Peter Cardy,

Former CEO MCA, former CEO Sail Training International

Downwind

sailing
Hugh Quick’s suggestion in

your September issue of having a very long sheet while flying a cruising chute

is a good one. But better is to have two long sheets. Run the lazy one round

the front of the sail and you can then also gybe the chute very easily and in

complete control, by letting it fly right forward and pulling up on the other

side.
Phil Slater

Fill in your

AIS details
On the way back

to the River Orwell recently, a gaggle of motor cruisers whizzed past us. One

of the four had AIS, but when we looked, our AIS information page for the

vessel showed it as type: unknown, name: unknown, length, beam and draft: all

blank.
AIS is a

wonderful aid in collision prevention and is becoming more widespread among

private craft, but we pleasure craft users are going to get a poor name amongst

water users if, having paid upward of £700, we cannot be bothered to fill in

the cover page information. This severely degrades the effectiveness of an

otherwise very useful addition to modern navigation.
Chris Walker

Reassuringly

steadfast
The marine

industry may have moved on beyond recognition in some parts of the country, but

here on the River Crouch some things remain reassuringly steadfast. Your cover

of February 1961 shows the yard at North Fambridge. The building has been

refurbished but not much else has changed over the years!
Jayne Toyne

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