Here are a few of the letters plucked from our bulging post bag over the last few weeks
I am a great admirer of Tom Cunliffe and I feel somewhat uncomfortable at taking his advice to task in Expert On Board (YM September), but why does he ignore the most important aspect of preventing damage when ‘stern-to’ mooring – using two large fenders overhanging the transom?
My Moody Eclipse has been based in the Balearics for the past seven years, and it didn’t take me long to work out that the easiest way of getting damaged was to arrive ‘unfendered’ and as Tom points out elsewhere, careless marineros will pull you back onto the concrete quay when your engine is in neutral.
David Williams, Moody Eclipse Mk11 Selene
In your kettle article (The Earl Grey Whistle Test, YM September), you state that the Simplex No 4 kettle has an ‘induction coil’. To an electrical engineer this means a coil that produces an electrical current when in the presence of an alternating magnetic field – transformers and many other everyday devices.
How is this term applied to a gas-heated kettle? Is this a variant of the heat pipe used in solar heating systems or something else? The web site says nothing about such a coil. What is induced from what and how? Or have I missed a trick?
Chris Beeson replies:
At the kettle’s base there is a ventilated tube containing a spiral of thick stainless steel wire and this acts as a heat inductor, making more efficient use of the gas and resulting in a faster boil. All very clever.
The term ‘anchor angel’ was specific to a version of chain snubbing device designed by Dr Claud Worth, eminent yachtsman, amateur designer and author of Yacht Cruising. With a bit of imagination, the saddle, which was lowered along the chain, looked like an angel’s wings. I have sailed on yachts that had these but do not know where they came from. Incidentally, the 1933 book Cruising and Ocean Racing does not mention any manufactured device but suggests one can be made up when needed using ‘a pig of ballast, or half-hundredweight sinker’ and ‘An ordinary large shackle’.
I would rather be writing that I had received good service from a firm that advertises in your magazine, but the opposite has happened. I ordered six aluminium washers for my Taylors paraffin cooker from Mailspeed. They arrived in a few days. The cost of the goods was £2.16 includiing VAT. The total came to £7.15. I have been charged for a Jiffy bag and postage to the tune of £4.25. On this they have charged me £0.74 VAT. Had some used some common sense they would have put the 6 washers in an envelope – it would have cost no more than £0.50 and Mailspeed would have had a satisfied customer. Needless to say, I will not be using its services again.
Superb service from Seago
I read your report (News, YM July) on the tragic consequences of a failed Baltic 150 Winner lifejacket. At the end of May, we received a letter from the importer, Seago, telling us that the product was recalled.
We were due to leave for a week’s sailing holiday, so I explained to Seago that we needed them back urgently. Within 48 hours, we received replacement lifejackets plus a free safety line for our trouble. Thanks, Seago, for your ethical and excellent service.
Mike and Glynis Wellock, North Wales
Sardinian Yacht Tax
I recently sailed my boat from Palma, Majorca to Corfu, Greece, and had hoped to call in at one or more marinas on the south coast of Sardinia en route. My boat has a registered length of 14.16m, so we would have been caught by the new tax.
This levy applies to all boats over 14m and, according to Imray, the charge is the same whether you stay for one day or a whole year. Even with the 50% reduction for being a sailing yacht rather than a motorboat, we would have had to pay ?500 (£393).
We emailed ahead to one marina, which explained that the tax was actually just ?60 (£47) for up to a week’s stay. However, the ?60 must be paid in advance by money transfer or via a website. We tried to pay online, but the site rejected our payment. Another option was to queue up at a local post office upon arrival, but the nearest one to our chosen marina was a long taxi ride away. The marina staff were helpful in most respects, but refused to take our money and deposit it on our behalf.
In the end, we sailed on by. But our experience shows that, with a bit of advance organization, it may be possible for yachts to berth in Sardinia without incurring the ?500 tax.
I was interested in the Trailblazing Sailors article in the July edition of YM about Fred Rebell. I have a copy of his book “Escape to the Sea” (published by John Murray, London 1938 reprinted 1939) and there are some odd variations in the two accounts. The book says that Rebell could not afford tinned food, that when his main blew out he bent on another one, there is no mention of anchoring off Costa Rica and he arrived in Los Angeles on 8th January 1933 not 8th April. How come?
From the very well presented loss of Tahiti Bell in the Learning Curve (YM, September 2008) should one not consider another overall lesson to be learned? Trimarans seem to me basically fragile constructions. Having very limited displacement, the construction has to be light. Wasn’t the boat overdriven beyond safety at 18 knots in Force 8 weather? It might be a container, it might be fatigue, but one should not exclude it was just an extraordinary wave side the yacht was slamming into, breaking the trimaran to pieces.
In the article Bump and Grind (YM August) the author Alistair Buchan wrote: ‘The canal is only 3m deep.’ Your readers should know that the canal (Dokkumer Grootdiep) is about 2.2m deep and sometimes less. Yachts with a draught of 2m need to ask permission to sail the canal. In addition yachts with a draught of 1.80m sometimes touch the ground in the Dokkumer Ee (the Dokkumer Ee is the connection between Leeuwarden and Dokkum).
Frans van der Kruk, Nederlands (by email)
Isle of grime?
We had a brief stop over in Alderney, July 23 and 24, arriving at around 0400 on the 23rd. The new leading lights are superb and make for a very safe landfall (excepting presumably in thick fog). However, never usually one to grumble, I was taken aback at the facilities which have progressively deteriorated over time. Granted there was work on the old quay that kicked up a dust, but there was no apparent attempt to clean anything at all, let alone maintain or improve it, and the servicing is perfunctory.
Any decent marina will usually scrub out every surface with plenty of disinfectant and detergent, plus a good hose down, daily. That was never so at Alderney, in my experience, but this is compounded by the current works and should be met with a doubling of usually expected efforts while the work is going on. I shall be giving the island a miss until reports confirm that it is clean enough to visit again.
Beware of Furuno technical support. I had radar fitted to my Beneteau Oceanis 411 when I bought her new in 2001. The Beneteau agent recommended Furuno and I went along with that advice.
Six years later the mast was taken down prior to delivering the boat by road from South of France to the Hamble and the radar cable from the dome to the display was cut where it went through the deck. Hamble Yacht Services, who re-stepped the mast, reconnected the cable using a standard electrical connecting block. Result, no radar images.
I contacted Furuno technical support who said I would need to re-run a new cable from dome to display, an intricate job now the mast had been re-stepped. When I next called Technical support to clarify a point I was told it would be much easier to reconnect the cut ends using a coaxial connector. Good news, or so I thought. The connector they recommended and which I bought proved much too large for the coaxial cable Furuno use, but they hadn’t pointed this out. So I called them again and was given the part numbers for plug and socket I required which were available from RS Components. The part numbers turned out to be wrong since they were both for plugs and, more worryingly, for two different types of cable. Furuno had not pointed this out. They also failed to identify the socket part of the equation. I am now on my ninth call trying to sort out this problem caused by uncaring yard technicians and inefficient technical support.
Sail for free
I have just seen Ben Meakins’ “Sail for free” in the September YM. I don’t know how he compiled his necessarily brief list of organisations that will put crew in touch with skippers (and vice versa), but he missed out the oldest and possibly the cheapest.
The Cruising Association has done just that for 100 years. 2008 is our centenary year and one of our earliest objectives was “To keep a register of Owners who are prepared to take amateur crews aboard their craft.” Skippers have to be full members but would-be crew can join on-line for £20 a year at www.cruising.org.uk
In the spring we hold informal “Get to know you” sessions for those who can get to London. This Summer we had over 150 sailors on the books. I personally sailed 2,500 miles this year with three different skippers, sharing running costs only. It is an ideal way to gain experience without the expense of ownership or being committed to one cruising area. We also run shore based courses at our centre in Limehouse.
(Chair of CA Crewing Service Group)
Editor’s note: See our special article celebratng the Cruising Association’s 100th birthday coming soon in the December issue.
Great Service from Simrad and Aztec Marine
This summer whilst cruising in the Baltic I experienced a couple of problems with my Simrad chartplotter system and I would like to acknowledge the good service I received from Simrad (Navico) and one of their UK installers, Aztec Marine, in resolving the issues. They promptly organised for a local Simrad technician to meet me in Denmark where the most pressing problem was quickly resolved at their cost. When I returned to the UK, the outstanding issue was dealt with efficiently, and again without charge, even though this second fault was, strictly speaking, outside of the two-year warranty period.
In recent times I have had to threaten two well known names in the marine industry with legal action to encourage them to honour their warranties. It seems to me that when component suppliers sell to a yacht builder, in my case Hanse, they lose sight of the fact that they are really selling to the boat owning public. I am therefore very pleased to say well done to a couple of companies who do understand customer service.
I sat down after work to have a quick flick through September’s YM (ironically with a cuppa) to discover five full pages dedicated to the subject of Kettles and Toasters. At this point I double checked that I hadn’t accidentally picked up my wife’s AGA magazine.
In August there was a comparable amount on infant lifejackets, whilst only five and a bit pages were dedicated to a whole range of interesting bits of blue water kit in the Great Gear Test. Meanwhile, I seem to recall that, back in April you only managed a miserly two pages on Solar Panels and barely a page and a half on wind generators.
There must be masses of other bits and pieces that desperately need testing before your readers go out and buy them at the show. Come on Yachting Monthly, live up to your cruising reputation!
Now where did I put Good Housekeeping?
Editor’s note: I’d say we’re doing pretty well, not only to maintain, but to extend our cruising reputation! Our readership varies from coastal sailors and creek crawlers to blue water liveaboard adventurers. Kettles and toasters are more prolific aboard than generators or solar panels. We’ve tested them all over the years, and will continue to do so, but we hadn’t tested kettles and toasters since Des Sleightholme more than 30 years ago! Recent tests include liferafts, flares, chartplotters, handheld GPS units, headtorches, binoculars, AIS and nightscopes, as well as babies’ lifejackets. We also looked at towing generators and fuel cells, in our look at the ARC in February 2008.
I was astounded to read in YM’s September issue the story of the Clipper Round the World yacht “Glasgow” I just couldn’t believe crewman David Jack went overboard at 0200 in total darkness and choppy seas whilst changing a headsail, and wasn’t wearing a lifejacket or a harness line attached.
The story congratulates Hannah Jenner the Skipper and the crew on a great rescue, and yes this was fantastic for David Jack. But how could this happen and why was a crew member on deck after dark in choppy seas without any form of safety equipment? I have been a great supporter of the Clipper series, however I am deeply concerned at the level of training and discipline demonstrated here.
Peter Robinson (by email)