More of your correspondence from the September 2006 issue of YM.

Hook on to the boat
As you rightly comment, the website of the month (YM July 2006) shows how difficult it is to recover a MOB, and a reader’s letter comments on Tom Cunliffe not wearing a lifejacket. We should all ask ourselves, what’s the sense in wearing a lifejacket when getting back onboard is nigh-on impossible? The answer is to stay with the boat by securing yourself with a properly adjusted harness and line. A lifejacket then becomes unnecessary.
Yes, I know that many lifejackets come with an integral harness, but how often is it used? And I also know that there are times when a lifejacket should be worn – in fog or in the dinghy, for example – but the continual pressure to wear one at all times is surely approaching the problem from the wrong direction and gives people a potentially dangerous sense of security. Hook on and stay with the boat!
Andy Du Port

Caravela query
I know that our newly acquired 1983 Caravela was built in Southampton and that only about 200 were built at the time. I wonder if any other readers own one? A previous owner removed the brass plate bearing the registration number. Is there any record kept anywhere or any way to re-register our boat? If any readers can help please email c/o
Deirdre Stewart

The Croatian Met office
I think it was C Northcote Parkinson (who famously declared that work expands to fill the time available to do it) who also said that an advisor who was 100% wrong was as valuable as one who was always right. You simply had to reverse their pronouncements.
One such valuable body I suspect might fall into this category is the forecasting arm of the Institute of Meteorology of Croatia. I have just returned from what may fairly be described as an unexpectedly eventful sailing trip in the Adriatic where I had frequent recourse to the predictions of the Institute of Meteorology of Croatia. These were found daily tacked onto Port Captain’s doors and Marina notice boards across the whole offshore island chain like ‘wanted’ noticesfrom a Hollywood western.
Invariably they began (in bold caps) with dire warnings as to the location of Heavy Thunderstorms, 40-knot Gusting Winds & High Seas, etc. That these occured I do not dispute. We experienced them. But they seemed to appear in the South Adriatic when predicted for the north and in the north when predicted for the south. If thunder/showers were forecast we experienced general rain, whilst anticipated continuous light rain yealded only thunder. Wind directions were similar. Early on in the week I cleverly dropped the anchor in a beautiful, secluded anchorage well defended from the quarter of expected nightime gusts only to wake in the small hours to a rocking boat and a lee shore.
Clive Langmead

Peter Pan sailor
I read the query regarding ‘Peter Pan’ (YM readers’ letter June) and I can throw some light on Nils Bennich-Bjorkman’s yacht, ‘Peter Pan’, which has a canoe stern.
We met Nils last year whilst cruising the Queensland coast on our way to attend the Townsville Australian Festival of Chamber Music on our Moody Halberdier ‘Lady Lonsdale’. Nils was one of the kindest and most gentle people we have met cruising and a consummate sailor. He donated his copies of charts and other material he no longer needed to other yachtsmen at the marinas as he headed north. Peter Pan was neat, small and well equipped with windvane and tiller electronic steering. He had a VHF but that, I believe, was his only radio.
We met up with him first at Bundaberg, then heard him on the radio at Mackay and met him again at Townsville. He gave us a meal of Swedish meatballs (delicious) and in return we gave him some dried ‘Adventure Foods’. He continued north and we returned south.
Chris and Rhonda Ayres, Qld Australia (S.V. Lady Lonsdale)

Radio check, please
One of the irritating things about sailing in the Solent is the constant stream of yachtsmen demanding VHF radio checks from the Coastguard who are polite and professional in a way I couldn’t be in their position.
Why not call another yacht – or yourself? Most yachts also carry a handheld VHF and I call myself up (occasionally) on a working frequency to establish that both are transmitting and receiving. It would be interesting to hear the Coastguards’ view on this issue.
Duncan Heenan (by email)

Swan wrong
I was interested to read The Top 100 boats supplement (YM June issue). One important note and correction. You chose a Swan 44 in place of the 37. But whilst the article rightly extolled the virtues of the fine S&S designed Swan 44 from the early 1970s the picture was of the later German Frers designed Swan 44 Mk 2 from the late 1990s!
Simon J Turner
Nautor’s Swan Spain – Portugal

Snubbed by marine industry
I have just completed my second year at Portsmouth University and achieved a 2:1 in Marine Technology. As a part of my degree I have been looking for a 36 week long work placement year in and around the Portsmouth and Southampton area. After approaching forty plus companies I had no luck in this search. This has made me slightly worried about the career prospects for undergraduate students within the industry. After all what is our future if our enthusiam cannot be put to good use?
Units on my course include Naval Architecture, Materials and Manufacture and Business aspects also. I would welcome your advice, as regards the next best this to do.
Any suggestions would be welcome. I am keen to work in any marine related job in the Portsmouth / Southampton area, and applied to sail manufacturers, yacht brokers, yacht designers with placement letters but had no luck.
Ben Baker (by email)

Editor’s note: you con contact Ben by email at ( or by post: Rose Barn House, Spring Lane,Langley, Stratford Upon Avon, Warwickshire CV37 0HW

Dragonfly 800
As a recent purchaser of a 10-year-old Dragonfly 800, I enjoyed reading your review in the July issue. Just a few additional points worth a mention:
1) Dragonflys are excellent on a running point of sail. A preventer is easily rigged and the jib or asymmetrical can be “winged” to the opposite hull. She will do 7 knots dead downwind with no rolling.
2) The lines onboard will seem a “maze” at first, but those with some racing experience will not find it excessive. The very clever “Barber Haulers” that allow optimum jib trim at any offwind point of sail are worth a mention.
3) Buyers should be aware that the mast rotates. This can unsettle monohull sailors. Also, the jib hoist is unusual. The spinnaker halyard is used to lift the jib to a halyard lock. There is a release trip-wire sewn into the jib. It works, but it would not be easy to manage in a seaway!
4) The jib furlers can wear over time. They are located below deck, which is clever, but makes a modern retro-fit a challenge
5) Dragonflys are easily driven. My 8hp outboard drives her at 7-8 knots on the GPS.
Paul Erb, Seabrook, Texas, USA (by email)

Calling Belgian sailors
I am a member of the RYA and a Belgium citizen living in Brussels and would like to contact other RYA members here so we can organise some sailing activities. If anyone is interested please contact me.
Dr.Stan Nagorski (email: )

Irresponsible navigation in fog
I am the senior Master of the last passenger/cargo-carrying steamship to fly the British flag. SS Shieldhall (1762 grt, loa. 83m) was chartered for a trip from Dartmouth, to observe the recent Tall Ships Race from off Berry Head on Monday 10th July 2006.
We steamed into reduced visibility approaching Brixham. Visibility reduced to less than 100 yards and the vessel was observing all regulations required by the International Regulations for the prevention of collision at sea. There were three experienced deck officers keeping watch. one of who being the former coxswain of the Broughty Ferry Lifeboat and Training Officer for the RNLI.
At 1415 the visibility was so bad that we made the decision to return to our departure port, having so many targets moving out of the Brixham area towards the Start Line. It was considered too dangerous to proceed any further.
A continual radar plot was carried out for the entire passage back to Dartmouth. My speed was about 2 knots and several times I stopped “Shieldhall” to allow passing craft to clear. Then one sloop which had no name or marking on her main sail or bow suddenly appeared heading straight for the midships area of my port side. With Shieldhall stopped this lunatic steamed across my bow before motoring down my starboard side and in so doing having his “Nautical experience verbally” questioned by me. Not content with his display of madness. he then turned round to photograph our stern. All of this was witnessed by the passengers who included many very senior retired Naval Officers amongst their number. At no time did we hear any sound signals or see any sign of navigation lights.
Very soon afterwards we came across another old wooden sloop sailing again without any sign of sound signal, which passed down my starboard side less than 50 feet off! The elderly crew (two) were stretched out in the cockpit seats with their legs hanging over the top of the coaming. Action is needed to stop this madness. The sea does not look after idiots who obviously have no qualifications or respect for others. If one of these craft had collided with us there would have been a multitude of enquiries by The Marine Accident Investigation section of the MCA through no fault of my vessel.
We may not be a maritime nation any longer, but the Collision Regulations apply to everybody when navigating at sea. Comments from the RYA would be interesting to say the least!
Captain Peter Tambling RD, Commander RD Master Mariner.

Lead Acid Batteries and the effects of Sulphation.

I read the article ” Taking Charge” in the July issue and was interested in the comments made under the heading “Sulphation”. The article states “When both plates have been converted to lead sulphate, they should be immediately recharged. Delay on this will lead to the sulphate crystallising and once this has happened, it will never come back to lead, however much you charge it. At this point the capacity of the battery will be permanently reduced.” (the underlining is mine).

In fact, there is an electronic device that reverses the effect of sulphation in Lead Acid batteries and it was developed initially in the USA in the late 1960’s and more recently by an Australian company. There are currently more than 30,000 of the Australian developed devices in use worldwide. The Australian product is Megapulse FAB-MK3. It is connected across the battery terminals and consumes less current than a car’s dashboard clock. The unit operates on a continuous basis, with each cycle measuring the battery internal resistance and then sending the appropriate DC pulses through the battery so as to break up the crystalline lead sulphate on the battery plates and returning the negative battery plates to lead and the positive plates to lead dioxide. The battery returns to near-new condition as the Megapulse technology cleans the plates on a continuous basis. An interesting aspect of the Megapulse unit is that the electronics are designed for a 20-year life so when you sell your boat or car, you can transfer the Megapulse unit to your new boat or car. The Megapulse unit cost me £53 and I consider it amazing value when you consider the cost of replacing boat or car batteries every 3 years or so. Vehicles with multiple batteries would get even greater value from the technology.

I purchased two 108 AH batteries (Starter and Service) for my Sadler 25 way back in 2000 and since then, the performance of each battery has deteriorated considerably. Recently, I fitted a Megapulse unit to each of the batteries and already I can measure the improved battery performance as the sulphation is being removed. So now, I can save money by not having to keep replacing batteries.

Readers will be interested to know that Megapulse FAB-MK3 is available in the UK. Their website is
Roy Froud, via email.