The postbag overfloweth…

JANUARY 2007 Letters EXTRA

Here’s some of the correspondence that we couldn’t squeeze into the January issue?

Lifejacket drill
I have returned to sailing, after 30 years away, at the age of 60. After years of inland waterway cruising and narrow boating my wife’s main criteria is safety and comfort, so we purchased a Coaster 33 with a deep centre cockpit and semi-enclosed wheelhouse with all running rigging for jib, main and mizzen leading into it. The in-mast reefing system works very well. There will, of course, be occasions when we have to go forward and fix snags, but the vessel has deep, wide sidedecks and the shrouds don’t try to decapitate as you walk between them.
We have a fairly new and well serviced 50hp diesel engine with two fuel tanks, plus a MOB recovery system, liferaft, new lifejackets, a large RIB-type tender on davits, new outboard engine, jackstays, safety harness, radar, GPS… and so the list goes on.
We never put to sea in high winds or when conditions look unfavourable. Our boat was ashore for six months and everything possible was checked or replaced before going to sea, after a full survey. We purchased a copy of YM, an excellent publication which we will continue to buy, but, we were surprised to see photos of people, including a child, on deck not wearing lifejackets. The case of David Clear (YM November 2006, p9) and the subsequent findings are very sad and illustrate that experience and confidence are not always in the best interest of safety. I, like many, would not wish to see the regime of Health and Safety Executives descend on our pastime/industry but sometimes it is not difficult to see why it could happen.
Ken Giles, via email

Chaff and avoiding collisions at sea
I guess that commercial ships’ radar sets must have a built-in automatic ‘collision course’ warning system, designed to set off an audible alarm on the bridge if a threatening object appears ahead of the vessel. So why don’t we challenge flare manufacturers to design a chaff-dispensing rocket for the leisure market, similar to a parachute flare, that a threatened yacht’s crew can fire off above itself to massively increase its radar presence in an emergency, thus remotely triggering the bridge alarm?
Similar kit exists for military missile-defence purposes, so surely very little research and development would be required? The potential environmental damage caused by waste chaff from occasional emergency firings would be negligible compared to the emissions from the tons of fuel burnt by the emergency services searching for the wreckage of run-down yachts.
Robin Wade, via email

Mistaken identity
The photo accompanying your news item about traditional hire yachts at Hunters Yard in Ludham, Norfolk, (December 2006, Around the Coast, p112) showed a very fine Broads yacht, but it was not Lucent, as captioned. Your article described the back-to-basics concept of all the yachts at Hunters, which have no engines or electric lights and only basic cooking facilities.
The yacht in your photo is Leda, from Eastwood Whelpton’s hire fleet. She is the most recent addition to a fleet of modern GRP yachts with a luxury galley, shower, warm air cabin heating and an inboard engine – an experience for discerning sailors totally different from the Hunter fleet.
Although Hunters yard has been in existence since the 1930s, it was only operated by the Hunter family a mere 30 years until about 1960 and has changed hands through the County Council and the recently formed Heritage Fleet Trust.
Anne and Tim Whelpton at Eastwood Whelpton can claim a longer pedigree, having operated the yard in Upton as a family business for nearly 50 years since 1958, and they are recognised for their unrivalled service and their knowledge of sailing on the Broads.
Peter Howe, Eastwood Whelpton, by email

Excellent service
After three frustrating seasons trying to get our Simrad Wheelpilot to steer a course, we finally sent the unit back to the manufacturers. It was tested and found to be faulty. Even though it was out of warranty, Simrad repaired and returned the unit for no charge. An excellent service – thanks Simrad – we now look forward to some less tiring passages!
Tony Summers, via email