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...

need changing?

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?
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.
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


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
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
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


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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