More of your thoughts and comments from the October issue

More of your thoughts and comments from October’s postbag

Securing alongside
I was surprised to read that Tom Cunliffe in Expert Aboard (YM September) was amazed to find only three cleats on each side of the Halberg Rassy on which he was demonstrating the correct way to moor a cruiser. Surely he has been on countless modern cruisers where the norm is exactly that. I would guess that 85% of production boats below 45 ft have this set-up.
Although he is absolutely correct in saying that there should be one line for each job and one line per cleat, this is impossible to do on most boats. Skippers have to make do with finding the most efficient way of making up lines using the three cleats they have at their disposal.
Also, the way that Tom describes that lines should be made up on the pontoon, with most of the free end on board, is, again, precisely correct but very difficult in practice with the average husband and wife team. The bow line has to be made up on the bow cleat with sufficient length of free line to enable the crew (wife) to stand at the shrouds and step on to the pontoon. This inevitably means that most of the line will be on the pontoon, not on the boat. To then adopt Tom’s approach would mean re-making the lines on the pontoon and taking the slack up on the boat during which exercise the boat is not secured on a short enough scope.
Is this an example of precisely correct but practically not workable? I invite Tom aboard our 40 ft cruiser to demonstrate, two-handed, how to achieve his method with 30 knots of wind blowing off the pontoon.
David Roache (by email)
PS the magazine is excellent by the way!!

Fulex fau pa
I’d like to pass on a sincere pat on the back for Furlex after a less-than-smart Calais crane driver put mine out of action. Users may be aware the Type A headsail reefing is full of loose ball bearings, easily dropped all over the deck by undoing a pair of harmless looking grub screws – which this chap did on my Westerly Centaur during a summer cruise to the French canals. Selden Mast, the makers, sorted my problem with charm and efficiency. The moral is buy Furlex, but keep it away from Frenchmen.
Phil Heming

Med water shortage
During a cruise of the Balearics, in July on our Bavaria 42, based in Alcudia, Mallorca, we spent two days anchored off the stunning beaches of Formentera. With six on board, water levels were very low. Arriving in Ibiza mid-afternoon, no berths were available at either Marina Botafoch or Puerto Ibiza Neuva – with no berth we were not allowed to buy water. The fuel quays didn’t provide water. At our last hope, Club Nautico, which the Islas Baleares Pilotage states, ‘is friendly towards visitors.’ we asked if they would let us buy water and were told: ‘Sorry, it is not possible. Come back tomorrow at 4pm’.
We sailed north(with a hot disgruntled crew)and berthed at Puerto Sta Eulalia where we filled our water tanks . If our experience in the high season is typical, readers should avoid Puerto Ibiza and choose a berth at Club Nautico San Antonio or Puerto Sta Eulalia, where the staff are friendly and water is available!
Steve and Jordan Crewe (By email)

As we were leaving our yacht moored at Gunwharf one evening, a number of Sunsail yachts being single-handed apparently, by one person on each, were being brought in. We returned later in the evening to find a raft of 5 of these Sunsail yachts moored inches behind us, and a further raft of 5 immediately behind them. On each raft only the inside boat is secured to the pontoon. No other boats have shore lines. The breast ropes of the inside boat look maginally adequate for one boat and are snatching viciously as the wash from passing ferries runs through the marina. It appears that none of the boats were attended and all had been left moored this way for the night, which was quite windy. We kept a night watch in case the wind got up and they started breaking loose. What is your view of this practice?
Regards, Paul Davies

Fox’s Chandlery Ipswich
Whilst it is customary to moan about suppliers in the marine industry, I would publicly like to thank Fox’s chandlery of Ipswich for its excellent service. When on an extended mostly single-handed cruise this season, an old but critical piece of electronic gear failed. Contact with Fox’s via telephone resulted in new replacement being despatched the same day to my next port of call. This new unit worked admirably for six weeks when it failed apparently due to water ingress most likely due to condensation. A call to the manufacturers, which are well known and highly regarded, from the North of Scotland could only result in advice to take the unit to the nearest agent many miles away with no assurance of a cure. Fox’s in contrast were astounded at the failure of the unit and immediately despatched a replacement at no charge which arrived the next day. This is service beyond expectations. Well done Fox’s
Incidentally, I have no special relationship with this firm beyond that of a regular customer.
Ken Moss

Bilge keelers
I read with interest your article on SHOAL DRAUGHTSMEN (YM May) paying appropriate respect to Maurice Griffiths. As an antipodean yachtsman with coastal sailing in our own vessels for over 30 years, first with an Alan Wright designed 22 footer (VARIANT class), then a 28 footer (NOVA class) and now in later years a 36 foot (NERISSA class all have twin ballast keels i.e. not bilge keelers as developed by Maurice Griffiths, where the ballast is usually bolted on the centre line as demonstrated with the EVENTIDE.
Our present vessel, called “JOCASTA” and over the last 15 years she has looked after us well – performed brilliantly, ‘gunkholing’ on New Zealand’s northern and eastern coasts of the North Island.
Our vessel at 36 feet LOA points well on the wind @ 30 -35 degrees – a masthead sloop, cutter rigged with a yankee jib and a staysail, regularly sails at 6 – 7 Knots in apparent wind of over 10 Knots. Goes like a train just fwd of the beam, often touching hull speed. Down-wind she is very steady and enjoys the use of a masthead MPS asymmetrical spinnaker.
Of six tons displacement with a ton of lead in each keel and a full depth supported rudder she provides us with many quiet nights at anchor in shallow (1.3 metres) water.
We reef, (slab), early, keeping both jibs up and she heels a modest 10 degrees which keeps our three generation family happy. Our sailing season starts in early October through until the end of May.

A question of seamanship
I really think the skipper missed the easiest and simplest trick to leaving the berth simply, easily and without necessarily relying only on the engine.
Simply run a long warp from the port bow fairlead out to a cleat or ring just astern of the middle yacht on the southern arm and make fast either to the windlass – if you
have one – or back to the starboard of the primary winches, three turns round and cleat off.
Next run the other long warp from the port stern fairlead to the stern fairlead of the east facing yacht in the southeast corner and belay that to the other primary winch.
Take up the load on these two warps and secure. Start the engine and use it to minimise the load being hauled by the person on the winch. Cast off the mooring lines and haul in on the bow line till lying just off the stern of the middle yacht. Get off and convert to slips and lay back to the bow slip. Then (this is the optional bit) move the warps to the fairleads of the westernmost vessel and convert to slips again.
Hoist the sails and haul in the stern slip until parallel to the pontoon. Sheet home as you slip and sail away . Use the engine if you need to for safety/to clear the north
western corner. This saves risking being swept onto the lee boats and is I
believe safer. Anyway that’s how I’d do it.
Ken Gill S/V Vitality (by email)

Garmin blues
I can confirm Mr Epton’s problems in trying to contact Garmin. Their helpline seems permanently engaged and letters do not get answered, even when addressed to The Managing Director. I bought a Streetpilot car navigator, which appeared to blow the mother board on my computer when I tried to update the software.
I took it back to Garmin for them to test. This led to a spasmodic sequence of e-mails, culminating in one advising me I could take it back to Halfords, where I bought it. There was just one snag. Garmin still had the Streetpilot. I have been unable to get any response to my e-mails pointing out this salient fact. As a result of my experience, I will never buy another Garmin product.
Trevor Doran.

Med freak weather?
Chartering in the Ionian in the last week of September 2005, we enjoyed good sailing all week in winds of Force 4-5. We were heading back towards Lefkas. Checking the forecast before setting off there were reports of a front coming down from the North West. As we set sail the weather was fair with some clouds bubbling up. Later thunder clouds began to mass to the North and North West of us. We watched from a distance as two storms merged over land. Fearing big gusts we reefed right down waiting for the breeze. In no time at all we felt hot air being pushed towards us from the land, it really did feel like a hair drier being turned on. Fortunately, we took down all our sail and turned the engine on and decided to run with the weather. The wind increased alarmingly, the sky was angry and the lighting intensified. A strip of sea of approximately half a mile by no more than a cable turned bright turquoise, without the aid of sun light. Rain flew at us horizontally, our instruments screamed a high pitch whine at us and our wind speed gauge gave up when the wind hit 48 knots. Fortunately the sea never built to any degree probably because the extreme weather only lasted for approximately 40 minutes and because we were between islands.
A few questions, can anyone explain why the sea might turn the colour it did? Can instruments be effectively knocked out by static in the air or the effect of lightening strikes into water? And finally, if anyone sees the kind of weather patterns we did I would thoroughly recommend reefing severely and early. We were in a gentle breeze and within a couple of minutes were experiencing winds of force 9 and beyond!
Steve Bedford (by email)

Bilge pump test
Further to your group test on bilge pumps (YM August) and ‘How to fit a submersible bilge pump’ (YM September) I would like to add a few comments.
Where gas is used on board it is good practice to pump even a dry bilge regularly to expel any gas that, being heavier than air, may have accumulated down below. Only the diaphragm type of pump, generally manually operated, will pump gas. This also checks the pump’s operation, confirms the handle is where it should be, etc.
Diaphragm pumps tend to be less prone to failure than their submersible impellor counterparts and are normally quite easy to service or repair. I would always have this type as the main pump.
Some authorities will not allow automatic pumps due to the possibility of oil being expelled (without the owner’s knowledge) into the surrounding water. Many of the smaller impellor pumps do not have sufficient head to allow the use of an oil separator filter.
Where an impellor pump is used, the bilge must be kept free of any debris which could jam it or its float switch. The chance of an electrical failure can be reduced by the use of tinned wire or at least tinning the terminal ends. Remember that for an automatic pump to operate when you are away it is necessary to by-pass the main isolator or to leave it on.
David Barham

I was appalled to read your leading letter (YM August) from someone admitting not checking their lifejackets before an ocean crossing. Anyone who buys a piece of safety equipment and then just sticks it into a locker without checking it is asking for trouble. Embarking on a trans-Atlantic voyage without testing life jackets is beyond belief. Every year, or at least every other year, all our lifejackets are inflated (using a pump rather than blowing damp air inside) and left for 48 hours. The cylinders are weighed, although periodically changed as best practice, with a little Vaseline on the threads to help avoid corrosion. When we do change the cylinders, we use the manual inflation whilst wearing the jacket, just to be familiar with the procedure. Unfortunately, as the test is carried out in Feb, I refuse to jump off the back of the boat to give the jacket its ultimate test!
Stephen Price (by email)

Can readers help me track down my first yacht, Jade? She was possibly the last of the original Seaview Mermaid fleet, or a Solent Sunbeam, bought by me as a Medway One Design in the early 1960s. I sold her around 1969 and understand she went on to win the West Mersea Old Gaffers’ Regatta about seven times. I would love to know where she is now.
I understood the Seaview fleet was sold to the Medway Yacht Club around 1923, when a new design was adopted by the Isle of Wight club that initially commissioned the fleet. I have always thought she was designed by G U Laws and built at Woodnut’s.
Russell Tapp, via email
Editor’s note: If you can help, email Russell at: