More of your correspondence from August's YM
As one of many critics of the organisation of this year’s Round the Island race by Island Sailing Club, it is only fair to say now that I feel the club has responded properly to yachtsmen’s comments, in that they have issued full apologies and set in train proper procedures to ensure the event does not suffer similarly in future.
It’s a refreshing change from the blame shifting approach or cover-ups we are so used to from politicians or other public figures nowadays when something goes wrong. Instead, ISC has stood up to be counted quickly and openly, accepting the blame and doing something effective about it. This will do far more to encourage sailors to try again next year than any number of excuses could. We have all made mistakes in the past and can much more readily forgive a contrite approach than an argumentative one. Well done Island Sailing Club.
The Boatshow that never was!
We and many other exhibitors paid a great deal of money to the show organisers County Exhibitions Ltd and expected to be attending a quality event. Exhibitors came from as far away as the Netherlands to show their vessels.
It soon became evident that hardly anyone attending the venue was aware that there was even a boatshow happening! There was no signage and seemingly inadequate advertising as numbers attending were minescule less than 50 on the pontoons despite entry charges being dropped! We even had to loan the organisers a ladder to put up a sign (on day two) above the ramp entrance to the pontoons.
We held our usual free prize draw-similar draws in the past have attracted hundreds of entries- we had 33 entries over the three day non-event!
In our opinion the organisers were well and truely ‘out of their depth’ and the event was a complete shambles.
Shoal Draught Special
I was amazed that Parker Lift Keel yachts did not receive a mention in your
Shoal Draught Special. Your review of the Tony Castro designed Parker 31
in September 1987, concluded, “anyone looking for a 30ft fast cruiser
should put her on the shortlist and those looking for a shoal draughted one
as well should put her right at the top”. The slightly expanded lines of
the 31 are the basis of the 335, still in production and 1995 RYA Yacht of
the year. You do not see Parkers advertised very often, because they are
so sought after they largely sell by word of mouth, and brokers are always
very keen to get their hands on them. A sharp contrast to the other shoal
draught boats the article mentions. Readers can see an example of the
elegant Parker 31 in Ken Endean’s photos of Turnerware Point in your last
issue where “Sula” is tucked neatly inshore of the Iroquois catamaran and a
lugger! How about a boat test of one of Parker’s popular designs by way of
recompense? You will not be disappointed!
Ian Wilson (by email)
Rope and knots-June 06
It does not feel right to take you to task as I have learnt so much from articles in your magazine and take them with me when trying to put things into practice but…..I was taught and, as a Scout Leader for over 40 years, have been teaching that the two hitches in a round turn & 2 half hitches should go round the same way. In your photo you show a round turn and a clove hitch. Clove hitches are renowned for slowly pulling through and if used to tie a dinghy to the pushpit overnight will result in a missing dinghy in the morning. It is a bit more difficult to see if the hitches in the Fisherman’s bend have been similarly tied but is someone refers to a knotting book they will find a different knot with just one hitch through the turns. The photo seems to show three hitches and the last two look like a clove hitch. A Double Fisherman’s bend has two hitches with the first going through the turns and the second going round the standing part. The bitter end can be made more secure when joinng rope to anchor or chain by either using a stopper knot or seizing to the standing part or finishing with a bowline. Your photo of the Fisherman’s Knot shows a Grapevine or Double Fisherman’s Knot. A Fisherman’s Knot is formed from two identical overhand knots pushed together but it is only suitable for small diameter ropes or twine. The Double Fisherman’s Knot is more like a pair of slightly complicated figure of eight knots pushe together and as your tests indicate, is one of the strongest knots for joining ropes or forming slings. Climbers tape the ends to stop them catching on the rock face. If you do any more testing with Marlow in Hailsham, can I help please? I fell in love for the first time and had my first kiss with a lovely Hailsham lass called Avril one long hot summer long ago. Oh! Happy days.
Toby Hodges, technical editor replies: The close up pictures of the actual knots were ‘mocked up’ by our photographer afterwards in a studio to try and show them more clearly as opposed to trying to do them while we were testing.
And I am glad you have raised the subject – as I did exactly the same – when I first saw the pictures before we went to press – namely the picture of the round turn and two half hitches. I am used to seeing this knot, as are you I imagine, in one way – the way I tie it! But the picture makes it look different unfortunately – but it is still the same knot. Try tying it then looking at it from the other side – or simply rotate the free end by 90º – and you’ll see that you have the same knot as in the picture. A round turn and two half hitches does effectively form a clove hitch on the standing part, which is why it looks like this.
The Fisherman’s bend is again correct – but Graham (our snapper) tied an extra hitch in the end. He did one with and one without, but we used the one with the extra hitch, so apologies about that.
And you are quite correct, the Fisherman’s Knot is indeed a double Fisherman’s knot and should have been labelled so. While testing, we knew how to tie one, and what to use one for, but couldnt agree on the correct name, so I think ‘Fisherman’s Knot’ stuck without being checked!
No RNLI in South Pacific
Following your coverage of Gipsy Moth IV’s rescue from a coral reef in the South Pacific, I’d like to pay tribute to the rescuers on the island of Rangiroa, in the Tuomotus, where the incident happened. Imagine the rescue taking place on a dark night, in dangerous waters with the added complexity of mixed communications (parachute flares, VHF radio, satellite phones).
Gipsy Moth was stranded several miles from the nearest village of Avatoru, The photos of Gipsy Moth on the reef underlined my shock when I first saw her stranded against a backdrop of black storm clouds and roaring surf.
There is no RNLI in the South Pacific, merely a duty officer of the National Gendarmerie, a local municipal policeman and Deputy Mayor. It fell on them and local fishermen to risk their lives in small fishing boats to effect the rescue.
They had no idea when they left their village that they would not have to rescue the crew on the ocean side of the reef and they first had to negotiate the Avatoru Passe, both outbound and inbound, with no choice of timing to obtain best conditions. For those who cannot imagine the Pacific lagoon passes, currents rip in and out at up to 9 knots with standing waves, difficult and dangerous to negotiate, even in daylight.
Enormous credit must also be given to Blue Water Rally yachtsmen who conducted a difficult, complex comms operation in an impeccable fashion and were prepared to take considerable risks to help others in distress.
During the long night of the rescue I acted as the main liaison between the French authorities in Tahiti and the UKSA and started the process of finding suitable contacts for the salvage operation. I was also able to reassure the crew members, who had been taken to the local police station in the village of Avatoru in Rangiroa, that they would be met and looked after on arrival in Tahiti the next day.
The next morning I flew to Rangiroa to assess the overall situation, including damage to the yacht, and gave early assistance to the skipper and mate, who were still out on the reef with Gipsy Moth.
The 45-minute trip up the inside of the reef was in an open dory, crewed by two local men and a woman, all informally dressed in T-shirts and shorts – it was only after opening up a discussion with them that I discovered that one was Felix (the Deputy Mayor) and the others a local policewoman (Teipo) and a policeman! The three of them had been instrumental in effecting the rescue of the crew the night before and I was able to discuss their involvement with them at length before my return to Tahiti that evening, where I obtained firsthand reports from the Rally skippers concerned.
Gipsy Moth was the fourth yacht of the Blue Water Rally to leave Rangiroa that day. Furthest ahead of her was Paulina III (Bernard and Dominique Rocquemont). Much closer were WhiteWings (Klaus and Marlies Schuback) and Onyva (Glenn and Rebecca McMillan). Remaining in Rangiroa’s lagoon were Blackbird (Niels Jahren) and Baccalieu III (Mike and Donna Hill).
Onyva and WhiteWings saw two red parachute flares at about 7 pm local time on Saturday 29 April, which they judged to be about 10 miles behind them on the NW corner of Rangiroa. They were by then in full darkness with a NE wind of 10-14 knots and a west-going current of 1 knot. At almost the same time as the second flare was seen, Baccalieu III called on VHF, advising that Gipsy Moth had gone aground, were in trouble and needed assistance. (Baccalieu had heard from Paulina, who had received a call from Gipsy Moth by Iridium telephone and had already contacted the French rescue authorities in Tahiti.) Immediately Onyva and WhiteWings turned round and headed for the NW corner of Rangiroa.
Both Onyva and WhiteWings reported to me that they did not receive any VHF or MF/HF emergency calls from Gipsy Moth and, having made several attempts to contact the yacht throughout the evening, believed neither equipment was working properly, if at all.
This resulted in a complex series of Mayday relays, using both VHF and Iridium between Onyva (no Iridium), WhiteWings, Blackbird and the local gendarmerie (no Iridium). The gendarmerie had responded to calls from Tahiti from the French rescue service there and were already commandeering two small fishing boats (around 25 feet) to assist with the rescue operation. Blackbird had been given a Lat/Long by Gipsy Moth, which initially indicated that the yacht had gone aground about 1 mile off the coast and for the time being the rescue operation continued with the gendarmerie working to a slightly different, but similar, Lat/Long. (The EPIRB had not been set off and the MRCC and local RCC had no other position to work on other than that passed to them by telephone.) Glenn on Onyva (a French speaker) did a superb job throughout in managing the comms with the gendarmerie rescue team.
Whilst in transit outside the reef towards the indicated position the gendarmerie on the two fishing boats assessed that the yacht was on the reef rather than afloat, as had been previously thought. A landing would certainly have been too dangerous “ocean-side”, so the two vessels had to return through the passe to the village of Avatoru, where one of the fishing vessels was left behind and a dory taken in tow.
The rescue team then proceeded up the inside of the reef (no easy thing to do in complete darkness and given the continuous rows of shallow coral reef areas) and reached the point opposite the stranded Gipsy Moth some 45 minutes after leaving the village. In the meantime the rescuers had asked Onyva to relay a message to Gipsy Moth asking them to walk across the reef to meet the rescue boat “lagoon-side”. This Onyva succeeded in doing by contacting Blackbird on VHF, who relayed the request to Gipsy Moth by Iridium. By about 2100 hours Onyva and WhiteWings (by then around half a mile from the reef and in dangerous shoal waters) saw the lights of the rescue boat the other side of the reef and heard from the gendarmerie that the crew had been picked up safe and sound. As there was no more they could do, Onyva and WhiteWings were “stood down” and continued towards Papeete.
My account of the incident is undoubtedly somewhat bland. However, I hope your readers will understand something of the incident and imagine it taking place on a very dark night, in dangerous waters and with the added complexity of mixed communications. One might easily dismiss their efforts because of “all’s well that ends well”. However, enormous credit must be given in the first place to the yachtsmen involved, who conducted the difficult and complex comms operation in an impeccable fashion and were prepared to take considerable risks with themselves and their yachts to offer assistance to others in distress.
I also think it is important to underline the fact that there is no RNLI in the South Pacific, let alone Rangiroa, merely a duty gendarme of the National Gendarmerie and a local municipal policeman and Deputy Mayor to manage the whole affair. It fell to them and local fishermen to risk themselves in small fishing boats to effect the rescue. They had no idea when they left the village that they would not have to rescue the crew at sea and they had first to negotiate the Avatoru Passe, both outbound and inbound, with no choice of timing to obtain best conditions. For those who cannot imagine the Pacific passes in the lagoons, currents rip in and out at up to 9 knots with standing waves, difficult and often dangerous to negotiate, even in daylight.
Some days later I was able to return to Rangiroa to thank Felix (the Deputy Mayor), his policemen and Punoa (the local “Mr Fixit”), who played an important part in assisting with the recovery operation. I also asked Felix to express our thanks to all those at Avatoru who were involved in any way. Felix assured me that “c’était rien” (it was nothing) – I profoundly disagree!
Peter Seymour( Director, Blue Water Rally) by email
Seaworthy small yachts
I was delighted to see Sopranino in your 100 best yachts (YM June). Her role in demonstrating the seaworthiness of small yachts is not that well known, but she was very significant in so many other ways.
One small correction – Sopranino departed Falmouth on 6 September 1951 and arrived in Barbados, via Ferrol, Lisbon, Casablanca and Las Palmas, on February 9, 1952, after a Trans-Atlantic passage of 29 days and 2,700 miles from Las Palmas. For a 20ft hull to average just under 4 knots for the entire trip in 1952 (not 1950!) without GPS or any other modern aids is remarkable. I wonder how she would do in the Jester Challenge!
It should not be forgotten that with John Illingworth and other JOG committee members, and based on his work with Laurent Giles, while Sopranino was being designed, her owner Patrick Ellam was instrumental in the creation of the first JOG rule. The JOG rule incorporated what must have been amongst some of the earliest offshore racing safety regulations. Sopranino herself was ‘unsinkable’ being filled with Onazote foam to provide reserve buoyancy of 250lbs. The cockpit was designed to the minimum working volume, to be watertight and drain to sea. It was located well forward to avoid a major trim change if pooped. The mast and rigging was specified to be strong enough to withstand Sopranino being rolled through 360 degrees with all sail set. She was designed to have negative stability inverted.
The hatch was the smallest possible size to permit exit from the hull. It was hinged outwards so that crew could always get out if trapped. The aft lazarette hatch was bedded on rubber and watertight. She carried an emergency rudder. While these sort of practices have become standard today, it was a far different picture in 1950.
Her Transatlantic rig also used twin boomed headsails rigged to a modified form of Braine steering gear that self steered her downwind even while surfing as shown in your illustration. She surfed because she was light – crew and stores probably massed as much as her displacement of 410lbs (and all done without carbon fibre!)
Myself and Mark Wynter, a fellow JOG member, were instrumental in the formation of a syndicate that rebuilt Sopranino in 2000 after returning her from the US where she had been stored for many years by the Museum of Yachting in Newport, Rhode Island. You may like to share the attached photo of her – in her restored state – with your readership. With us both on board this shows just how small she is. She can be viewed, for those that are interested, at the Classic Boat Museum in Newport, I-O-W.
Those who can obtain a copy of Patrick’s engrossing book of the voyage,”Sopranino”, will discover far more of her than I can possibly cover in this brief note. I would commend the book to anybody with an interest in the early small offshore yachts. Beyond Patrick’s book, however, we have very little material about Sopranino and would welcome further information. Early 1950’s Yachting Monthly articles by “Seneca” (who was he??) provided some insight into the beginnings of her career but any further stories of her would be welcome.
Brian Yeomans Captain, JOG 1998-2001
I have been searching for a year for information about a Wayfarer with the sail number 2696 and wondered whether your readers might be able to help me? The boat was built by my father in the mid 70s and was sailed by our family for several years at Keyhaven in the Solent.
When she was launched her name was “Javak ” after the names in our family – Jon, Andrew,Victor, Ann and Ken – the first three are the brothers and Ken and Ann our parents, both now sadly passed away .
We have traced, through the Wayfarer Association, the last but one owner in Fareham. He had sold her 7 years ago with tan coloured sails to a sailor in the Westcountry. But the trail ends there. We have emailed numerous clubs who have the Wayfarer class but with no success – although the helpfulness of the Club secretaries has been overwhelming.
Can any of your readers help?
Victor Tettmar email: email@example.com
Waldringfield Sailing Club on the River Deben were disappointed not to have been mentioned in your article on East Coast Cruising in the June Edition of Yachting Monthly. We have been welcoming visiting yachtsmen since 1923. The clubhouse is open every Saturday from March to November, serving hot snacks at lunchtime as well as traditional teas. The Clubhouse is also open on Wednesday evenings throughout the summer, when there is a hot meal served.
Although a very successful dinghy racing club,(we currently have the Cadet National, Cadet Inland, the Lark Inland, The OK National, and the Lark Youth Champion, and one of the strongest Wayfarer Fleets in the country) we also have some 100 Yachts owned by members & their families. These active members take part in cruises in company to London, or more locally and some solo cruise abroad, some race in the local Haven Series, and others in Cowes Week. Some members’ yachts are based abroad and one yacht is in the Caribbean, but soon to return. We are a RYA Recognised Training Centre and are involved in both Adult and Junior Training. The Club, as well as the Yacht Class, has a very active Social Programme as can be seen on our website www.waldringfieldsc.com. Although we do not have any visitor moorings, Waldringfield Boatyard is only 100 metres upriver from the Clubhouse and they can usually arrange overnight moorings. We also have toilets and showers available by arrangement if the Clubhouse is closed.
We hope that it was a genuine oversight that resulted in Waldringfield Sailing Club not being included in your ” Other Clubs We Recommend in Norfolk and Suffolk” title page and not the result of an unpleasant experience in our part of the River Deben.
Saved by Tinker Super Tramp
Whilst cruising single handed on the Algarve I anchored near Faro off the ‘Island da Culatra’ and looked for a suitable spot to dry out my Westerly Seahawk 34 bilge keeler.
I went out to recce and spot what I thought was a good position in my Tinker Super Tramp and returned to the boat to move there and wait for the tide to drop.
What I didn’t notice was the small sand bar that separated my chosen place to dry out and where I was currently anchored! This is where it all goes wrong!
I motored towards my recced position and gently ran around! Stuck good and fast in the sand on a falling tide. I thought I would bluff out the mistake and carry on about doing the jobs that were planned, scrapping the weed of and repainting the water line anti foul.
The next tide was only 6cm bigger than the last and after that a week of the neaps meant that if I didn’t get of tonight I would be here at least 7 days! Plus my parents were flying out to start their holiday in 4 days time! My head was working over time to get me off the sand.
I repositioned all heavy kit in the centre of the yacht to try and balance it out when I had the brain wave of trying to use Tinker to re float me.
I reasoned that the buoyancy of the Super Tramp if positioned UNDER the hull and in between the keels would give me some lift. After all the maximum recommend pay load is 882lbs and the force to sink her must be at least double that, maybe more, and could give me about extra tonne of buoyancy. So I slid her between the keels and the fit was perfect! I attached extra lines at each corner and led them up to tie off on the deck along with the painter line. I took the precaution to remove the log impeller at the time, which turned out to be a good move later!
I waited for the tide and when there was still 20 minutes before high tide I could feel the rocking motion of Sea Hawk trying to lift, started the engine and engaged astern she moved! So I tried forward and she inched forward! My heart was in my mouth and it worked! I returned to my original anchor position, about ? mile, with Tinker still firmly under the hull and re-anchored in 4 meters.
Now, I thought (wrongly!) that when I removed the extra lines that I had attached and heaved on the painter line my Super Tramp would come ‘popping’ out of the water! Oh how I was wrong, no amount of pulling would make her budge! Not even with the painter line on the windlass! I really thought I was going to destroy her then with all the abuse! The force with which she was pinned firmly in between the keels was immense! It was now that I thought that after all that Super Tramp had done giving me the extra buoyancy to get of the sand I was going to destroy her by getting her up! So now, I either have to think of something quick or go back and re-dry out! (In a better position)
I had the second brain wave and took a chance.. I already had 20 meters of chain out so I attached the painter line to the chain at the bow roller and paid out 20 more, engaged astern and waited . I moved astern a boats length and Wooosh! Out came Tinker like a cruise missile launch! She was in one piece, apart from full of water and anti foul paint marks! I recovered the extra 20 meters of chain and hauled her aboard, after much bailing of water. A quick inspection only showed some scrape marks on the tubes and some blue anti foul marks only!
I was amazed that it had worked and so impressed with the strength of my Tinker Super Tramp. As I am quite sure that’s not what you had designed her to do!
Many thanks for building such strong craft, I know they are designed as life rafts as well, for which I have the kit, but not as a life raft for a 7 tonne Westerly to sit on!
I am now continuing my cruise back to the UK where I have promised to give Super Tramp a holiday from being abused!
Thanks again and by the way my Super Tramp was built by ‘Zoran Jovanovic’ – thanks Zoran for doing a great job
Anonymous (by email)