More of your letters to the editor

More of your letters to the editor that we couldn’t squeeze on the page

Gibraltar tides
As an RYA Yachtmaster Instructor, I read the letter re tidal training in Gibraltar waters (YM January) with interest. A line east of Gibraltar is considered tidal by the RYA and quite rightly so, as anyone who has sailed a few times through the Straits will verify. A combined tide and current of up to five knots is regularly encountered on high water springs and if a westerly beat is attempted between Gibraltar and Tarifa, without local knowledge or a good look at the tidal stream atlas, you will go nowhere. Having sailed this area, as well as the Solent, for years, I think both are extremely useful training grounds. The fact that Gibraltar is British and a lot warmer than the Solent makes it an attractive alternative, especially in the winter.
Jim Field (by email)

Tidal courses
Last month’s letter about the lack of tides in Gibraltar interested me. I too did an RYA Coastal Skipper course in Gibraltar, and the tides were certainly an issue. Without careful tidal vector calculations on our course to steer exercises to Morocco, we would have been way off course, I was surprised at how strong they were, and hourly estimated position fixes, using the local almanac tidal atlas were the order of the day.
The RYA syllabus encourages students to gain practical experience between courses and also stipulates a certain amount of tidal pre course experience. To have reached Coastal Skipper level without having previously encountered the effects of tide , as the letter seems to suggest, is surprising. I am a Devon based sailor and although I appreciate the tides are not as strong in Gibraltar as here, my experience there was certainly relevant and useful.
The world does not begin and end in the Solent, and as a winter location for a course Gibraltar is difficult to beat.
Jack Marshall

Gibraltar tides
As an RYA Yachtmaster Instructor, I was interested in last months letter re tidal training in Gibraltar waters.
A line east of Gibraltar is considered tidal by the RYA and quite rightly so, as anyone who has sailed a few times through the Straits will verify. A combined tide and current of up to five knots is regularly encountered on high water springs and if a westerly beat is attempted between Gibraltar and Tarifa, without local knowledge or a good look at the tidal stream atlas, you will go nowhere.
Having sailed this area as well as the Solent for years, I think they are both extremely useful training grounds, and the fact that Gibraltar is British and a lot warmer than the Solent makes it an attractive alternative, especially in the winter.
Rather than the area, I would suggest that it was possibly the schools training that was lacking, resulting in your readers unfortunate experience.
Jim Field

Exam without tides
Congratulations to the intrepid sailor who took his family sailing after an RYA course in Gibraltar. He certainly knows how to serve up a grand portion of adventure – taking a novice crew into unfamiliar waters in unfamiliar conditions is always going to be ‘character building’ and the instructors in Gibraltar clearly did a great job with his confidence and enthusiasm. It was reassuring to hear from someone who has inadvertently taken on an oversized slice of sailing adventure. I hope he puts his lessons with sandbanks and marinas down as “valuable experience” and I look forward to further articles from him in your “Learning Curve” series.
Chris Bashforth, Stockport

Tides in Gib
I read last months letter re tides in Gibraltar and I find it very surprising that your reader did not encounter any in three weeks of sailing in this area.
The Straits of Gibraltar have a permanently flowing easterly current constantly trying to replenish the evaporating Mediterranean. The tidal effect combined with this current can be significant and extremely difficult to predict. Almanacs on the area rely mainly on Royal Navy survey data, and with surface drift currents added when there are strong winds, they are unreliable at the best of times. In the days of sail, warships would hang anchors and warps at certain depths to drag themselves against a headwind. Likewise submerged U boats were known to enter the Mediterranean without running their engines and the consequent risk of detection from the allied base at Gibraltar.
Having sailed for over 40 years in many tidal areas I would suggest that the Solent with its more surveyed and predictable tides is not a lot more challenging than the Straits. Granted the tidal effect does drop off rapidly once in the Mediterranean, East of Gibraltar, but around the rock, in the bay and in the Straits the area is definitely tidal.
Keith Batchelor (RN Retired)

Tidal training in Gib
I am writing to reply to an article you published regarding RYA Sail training from Gibraltar and the Tidal aspects within the syllabus. Just for the record, I believe that all theory courses run at RYA training centres cover Tides, Tidal streams and their application and are genetic exams and are not specific to Gibraltar.
I have recently carried out my Yacht Master prep and Exam with ASA Sailing in Gibraltar and received first class tuition and preparation. The external examiner (from the south coast) definitely put me through my paces on all aspects of the syllabus including tidal work and boat handling in all conditions. I believe as with any qualification there is an aspect of currency, regardless of the level of qualification the individual holds if you are not current and using your skills there will be an eliminate of skill fade. To blame this skill fade on the tuition an individual received or syllabus they followed I believe is unfair.
Gibraltar provides first class sailing facilities 365 days a year. Since qualification I have sailed many times in tidal waters with no problems and in my opinion as long as the theory is applied to your surroundings, a safe passage can be experienced. Hopefully your article will not put off potential RYA candidates from experiencing the fantastic sailing around the waters of Gibraltar including the straits (tidal) on route to North Africa and the quality tidal waters around Tarifa.
Neal George (by email)

Red diesel
Regarding red diesel de-regulation, I don’t think that much mention has been made about sailors possible reluctance to answer distress calls. I am based in NW Scotland and I’ve answered many distress calls. My boat is an elderly Sealine 350 and could cost me approx £60 per hour to run.
Steve Grycuk (by email)

Collision Risk
I’m sure I’m not the only person to note Brian Alexander’s navigational error (January reader’s letters). His Rustler 42 was probably averaging 6 knots (he must have been making decent way to have even thought he could beat the ship whose bearing had remained constant). The ship’s track was half a mile on from his hove-to position and, he said, it was five minutes getting to his position? It doesn’t take too much of a calculation to see that had Mr Alexander stood on, the ship would have neatly bisected his Rustler! Perhaps he is suggesting that his Rustler was making greater speed? but surely not with any proper safety margin!
David Carr, Kent (by email) Muirgen, Westerly Storm

Flag issue
Congratulations Mr Jarvis for being so observant. I was delighted to learn we have in Cornwall and Wales so many of our nationals proudly displaying the ensign of their respective country. We are two quite separate countries to England; Cornwall’s rightful name being Kernow, renamed Cornwall by the English, we, too, had many who sacrificed their lives in two world wars. It is not what we owe England, it is what England owes us.

Great British seamen
Your article in tribute to Chay Blyth and the demise of his Global Challenge businesses uses ‘Over the Top’ language. It states “No other British seaman in history, except Nelson, has made such a widespread reputation without the use of gunfire.”
Nelson would have no reputation ‘without the use of gunfire’. His career and reputation were built entirely on military engagements. Have you never heard of Captain Cook? Sir Walter Raleigh? Sir Ernest Shackleton?. In 200 years it will be difficult to find any references to Chay Blyth but I suspect plenty of other peacetime sailors will still be celebrated. I don’t want to belittle Blyth (whom I have spent some time with and who’s achievements I respect greatly), but to put him at the top of the all time maritime list is, I think to lose a perspective on history. The article ends by saying: ‘Chay took the man-in-the-street and put him in the desolate wastes of the Southern Ocean. Who’s going to take them there now?’ I suggest he asks Sir Robin Knox-Johnston’s Clipper Ventures who do almost the same thing as The Challenge Business, except the other way around.
Duncan Heenan (by email)

Challenge business refunds
It is surprising that you did not research the facts before preparing your eulogy on Chay Byth (and the demise of the Global Challenge Business) in your January issue. Contrary to what is asserted, the 2008 race crew are as much out of pocket – at the time of writing – as are all Challenge Business’ other creditors.
My daughter was a crew volunteer for the 2008 race. When the possibility was first mentioned to the crew that there might be a problem, they were reassured that their money was in any event safe and so they should continue their monthly payments to Challenge Business. However, after three months of checking the books, the administrators have yet to be able to say unequivocally that the crew will definitely be reimbursed. Consequently, at the time of writing, my daughter – and presumably all the other crew who believed the advice given – has lost £12,000.
Perhaps Mr Jeffreys could investigate where exactly this money has gone?
Bob Crighton
Editor’s footnote: We spoke to Grant Thornton (the administrators) and we understand money is safe in a fund is being paid back now.

Forbidden France?
What an uncharacteristically negative article by Dick Durham about ‘Forbidden France’ (YM Jan 07)!
On no account be put off sailing to/around these gorgeous unspoilt islands, with outstanding anchorages…great marinas/moorings…wonderful coastline…and of course, superb sailing (even the Mistral a few years ago, gusting from F7-9!, hasn’t put us off). You’ll get dolphins, flying fish…even a sunfish once – and loads of excellent little bars/restaurants, not to mention swimming/walking/cycling. And the people who live/work in this part of the world couldn’t be more helpful and charming – especially les capitaineries.
On second thoughts, if I sing their praises too loudly, this part of the world will get too crowded – but seriously, DO go especially (as ever) just out of high season.
Boat show snobbery?
My wife & I have both sailed for the past fifteen years, and we decided to visit the London Boat Show for the first time since it moved from Earls Court.
This new location must be a fantastic location for those who are based in the South East but for everybody else it’s a nightmare.
Having eventually found the place we were pleasantly surprised with the new look show, although in January the boats outside were a bit of a waste of time and we missed the central theme of the old show.
The biggest disappointment for us was the way the staff on the more expensive boats treated those who were only there to look around.
I am always the first to defend “snotty yachties” but we were treated with more respect on the Sunseeker stand and were welcomed on board a £1m yacht with great enthusiasm even though they knew we were not potential purchasers.
The show has moved away from the simple enthusiast, and there is this air of snobbery around the place which we will not visit again.
James Hawkesford (by email)

London Boat Show memories from 1954.
Back in the 1920s and 30 s, a small number of boats, mostly runabouts had been tucked in with the cars at the National Motor Show, and it wasn’t until 1954 that a show just for boats was organised. The first one however was not at Earls Court but Olympia. At that time I was working for the old established company of Imray, Laurie, None and Wilson who, at that time had a chandlers shop in Cannon Street, London. The company decided to have a stand at Olympia and the staff, all five of us, were kept busy taking parcels of charts and books by bus to the hall.
There had been a heavy fall of snow in December and it was surprising to see deep ruts of frozen slush and ice in the main thoroughfare of Hammersmith.
I don’t believe any of us had been closely involved in an exhibition before, and were greatly excited by the prospect of meeting the boat-owning public in such numbers, and also others in the trade as it were.
In our innocence, we weren’t sure if we were allowed to sell the books and charts that were displayed, but we joined in when heard and could see money-changing hands at the other stands
The whole affair by comparison with today’s show was very simple. The only clothing on display was yellow and black PVC waterproofs, and a few items of cotton duck smocks and trousers in Breton red and blue with a young lady coyly wearing a pair of shorts of the same material.
However, we weren’t the only tenants in the Olympia Hall. Stretched across the building was a canvas screen which hid from view a circus, and although we couldn’t see them, we could hear and smell the circus animals, the smell early in the day was very pungent
At that time, practically every boat was wooden with just a very few of steel. One boat of interest was Wanderer 111 which attracted a lot of attention having just returned from long ocean passages. The owner Eric Hiscock and his wife Susan entertained a large audience at the Little Ship Club with a most interesting talk of their travels.
The doors at the Exhibition opened from 10 am until 9 pm and plus travelling time from home, it was a very long day.
After a few days of existing on coffee and rolls, we were given money for lunch and a hot meal in a nearby pub made all the difference. Along with manning the stand, the shop in Cannon Street was open all day, and there was much juggling with the staff.
An interesting feature at the rear of the stand was a wooden figure of an 18th century midshipman complete with sextant and which used to stand in the doorway of the company’s premises in Leadenhall Street and which was mentioned in Dombey and Son by Charles Dickens. The figure was usually housed in the Dickens Museum in Doughty Street, London
Among the boats on display were a number constructed of marine plywood. These had been professionally built, but when people like Maurice Griffiths, Kenneth Gibbs and Alan Buchanan started designing for amateur construction, using new methods and marine plywood, a tremendous surge of home boatbuilding took place from 8ft. to 30ft sail and motor cruisers.
I think we had all been exhilarated by the challenge and different routine, and there was lots to talk about when the Boat Show ended 10 days later.
John Copper , Whitstable,Kent (by email)

Copper antifouling
I hope you will allow me to comment, both on Cuprotect and Dick Durham’s article in Yachting Monthly (February issue.)
Our unique technology is a method of applying copper to a hull in a seamless surface layer that does not conduct electricity and thereby eliminates galvanic problems. Some other products use metallic copper but bury most of it in a coating that needs to be abraded regularly. I believe this gives us a significant advantage over other metallic copper based products.
Dick Durham’s article was a complete surprise to us. Minstrel Boy was coated with Cuprotect at Dick’s request in August 2004 and our only real contact with the owner since then was when he stopped at our stand at the London Boat Show last year to say how pleased he was. He then wrote an article for Yachting Monthly in April 2006 after 15 months protection from Cuprotect praising the product. “There was a band of slime the width of a door along each side of the boat just below the boot-top. But the rest of her hull was clean. Even the slime was easy to remove: a quick spray with the jet wash”.
We did send someone to inspect Minstrel Boy shortly after she was lifted last autumn and, as stated, we will refresh the copper before launching.
I believe the quote above explains the fouling this year. Slime cleans off Cuprotect very easily but if it is not done thoroughly there will be remnants of the tendrils left on the surface. These will dry out and die leaving a thin crust over the copper and forming a good base for future fouling.
It is also good practice to pressure wash before relaunching if the boat is out for more than a few days. Over time a greasy film of pollution will settle on any surface exposed to the elements – just think how dirty a car gets if left standing outside. That greasy film will also seal over the copper and prevent it from working when relaunched.
At this year’s London Boat Show we were approached by many satisfied Cuprotect customers, several of whom offered to write to you regarding the February article.
David Martin, the owner of “Blue Bird”, treated with Cuprotect in February 2005, lifted his boat in December 2006 after her second season in the water since treatment. He wrote to Ecosea enclosing photos of the boat to express his satisfaction with Cuprotect’s performance:
“The treatment was applied in February 2005 and this is Blue Bird’s second season with it. The boat went into the water in March this year and stayed there until the 8th of December. Hosing down took about 20 minutes and I am highly delighted because there is no scraping or repainting and the cost for two years has been zero!”
I also enclose some photos from an independent testing centre in southern India used by one of our industrial customers. It shows a piece of equipment as used on oil pipelines with one side coated with Cuprotect and the other side unprotected. Cuprotect is used in these applications because they expect a 30 year life, far longer than our guarantee to Dick.
I hope this answers in some part the criticisms in Dick Durham’s article and reassures anyone already using Cuprotect. As he states we are honouring the guarantee as we would for anyone, and will sort out any problems before the boat goes back in the water in the spring.
Peter Sims, Managing Director, Ecosea Ltd