Dear YM... More opinions and discussion from YM readers

 Tales of reefing with Tom
There has been a Readers’ Letter each month commenting on Tom Cunliffe’s article in last Junes issue, on Mainsail Reefing. Now that there is none this month I thought I, as skipper of the Halberg Rassy 36 would comment.

The object of the exercise was to compare Reefing Methods .. In the July issue Mr Pratt condemns the In-mast style, however since he writes that his experience is only when he charters I would suspect that he is less than familiar with the system and being a charter boat it may not be in the best condition .I have stood on the coach roof as the wind picks up and my wife is not happy left on the helm with me hanging on with one hand as I fight to get in another slab

In the August issue Mr Camper seems to think In-mast is best for him he has two Metal hips, as my wife has one she agrees ..In the September issue Mr Simpson makes interesting comment reference to the advantage of vertical battens that can have additional roach to help performance but the test was not comparing performance, his comments about headsails which might also jam having similar “mechanics” is also interesting.

In the October issue Mr Zimmerlin makes favourable reference to the In-mast system.I started all this by E-mailing Tom asking him to do an article on getting the best out of In-mast sails, he and Miles Kendall then cooked up the idea of comparing the three systems. A date was set, and we were all to meet of the N. Sturbridge buoy.

The 40 Knots across the deck however was not part of the plan !!! I was carrying more sail than the other two and was distinctly more comfortable, and indeed was able to take in or shake out mainsail reefs at ease on any angle to the wind

There is, in my opinion, no such thing as “The Perfect Boat” its which compromise suits you best, I have owned light boats with Slab reefing at the mast, with Lazy jacks with and without a “Stacker” and also with the American “Dutchman” which I preferred ..On my Rassy everything is controlled from the cockpit, perhaps I may go to Vertical Battens one day ???……… Tom was most kind in referring to my age as being seventy, actually both my wife and I are both in our eighties, and still able to sail together alone, SURELY THAT’S ALL THAT MATTERS”
Rex and Joyce Woodgate

Hurricane aid thanks
The sight of Mayreau in the background of the splendid photo of the Tobago Cays (pp 6-7, YM November 2005) reminds me that I have not yet reported on the result of my appeal for funds for six new computers for its school which you so kindly mentioned in YM October 2004. Several kind-hearted readers responded. and by virtue of consequential donations the charity Computer Aid International provided and shipped the six computers required to replace the ones disabled by Hurricane Ivan in 2004.

By pure chance the six crated machines arrived at the Sunsail base in St Vincent on the very day that I myself arrived, and so they were loaded into my yacht’s saloon for the sail down to Mayreau.

The problem then was: how to get them safely ashore in Saltwhistle Bay. To my consternation the young headmaster loaded them into the dinghy and paddled them ashore – no doubt the very first time that computers have been so delivered. A day or two later hurricane Denis passed close and a week later hurricane Emily caused general panic in the Windwards and completely emptied the Cays of boats.
Sir Bryan Thwaites

Satellite phone costs
In the November’S YM, you featured the new Thuraya DSL Service. This technology has been in use for some time, and I thought I would share with you my experience with this equipment. If used incorrectly, users will incur very large bills. I’ve spoken to organisations who were surprised when they received bills in excess of $5,000 in the first month!

In 2003, Inmarsat launched its R-BGAN (Regional-Broadband Global Area Network) service, provided via the Thuraya Satellite (bandwidth was leased from Thuraya by Inmarsat). This year, Inmarsat launched its own satellite hence all subscribers were switched to the new system. The new Inmarsat service covers the same area as Thuraya and coverage will be extended into the Atlantic Ocean when Inmarsat launches its next satellite.

The R-BGAN (now BGAN) service is very good, but users must be careful. Whilst you mention in your article that the average webpage is 40-60KB, there are many other things on the computer which will eat up bandwidth. Automatic updates and other programs will be linking to various software vendors. With all this activity, bandwidth usage will increase along with costs.

If the end user is using BGAN to read a 4KB email through Hotmail, login pages will need to be loaded with lots of graphics and advertising. By the time a reply has been written, somewhere between 250KB and 500KB will be used. The most efficient way to use the system is to use a pop/SMTP program such as outlook express. Downloading a 4KB email and sending a reply will use a fraction of the data. Companies providing BGAN/Thuraya can place controls to limit the units use to email only (i.e. by blocking full access to the web)

This equipment is great and will keep you in touch. As long as you take the precautions, it will be cheap to run. If you are careless, you will get stung by potentially massive bills (unless you use pre-pay).

Remember that you have the choice of both Thuraya and Inmarsat networks. Look closely at coverage areas. Choose the system which covers all of your cruising area. Maps can be found on Thuraya and Inmarsat websites.
Mark Hawkins MRIN

Missing VHF channels
I have just read your article on VHF DSC radios with interest, as I purchased a Raymarine 54E last Christmas ready for this season. I was pleased to see that it is a recommended product as it is a nice unit which is easy to use, I did plenty of ground work before parting with any money and I am very pleased with my purchase, except for one small detail, the unit I received does not have channels M1 or M2. The radio was bought in the UK for use in the UK and I was expecting all UK channels to be programmed in (had I bought it abroad I could understand it not having these channels or being incompatible, i.e. for use in America). Fortunately I have a hand held radio with these channels so I was able to communicate when necessary.

I have been in contact with Raymarine and they say I must have purchased a European set and that I can take the radio to any dealer to have the channels programmed in, so this is another job for the winter season. more work, more hassle and no doubt more expense. I don’t know if this is a one off problem but I would recommend anybody buying a radio of any make to ensure it has all the necessary channels before they part with their money.
Trevor Hawkes

Note from Technical Editor:It’s not a legal requirement to have these channels programmed in, but UK ICOM sets should have it in anyway, they say. We plugged the same set (a 54E) in to our tester here at the office and it has both M1 and M2 programmed in. Any dealer will install them for you and it will be free of charge.

Now and Then sailors
First Tom Cunliffe and now YM’s editor speaks of sailing as we used to in days gone by (November’s editorial Then and Now ) I am very much one of the ‘then’ sailors, who enjoy sailing with a minimum of gear. Yet, Yachting Monthly is full of advertisments for the latest equipment. Tom’s article on navigation reminded me of what we were taught for second mates in the Merchant service and, of course, it was simply explained.

Later, in ‘Expert Aboard’, Tom explained how to manage without an engine, bringing to mind Lin and Larry Pardy and their yacht Taleisin. I hope your excellent articles will have some effect on some of your readers when they find out sailing isn’t just all about how many gadgets you can pile onboard.
Neill Carslaw

More on “Now” and “Then”
How interesting your editorial was in the November Edition Like many others I often talk of the old days with sailing friends and how much some things have changed.

The old style Y.M. had those beautiful reproduction of the lines of the latest designs of yachts printed on beautiful art paper as a centre fold. You could sit around the fire on a winters evening studying the lines and dreaming of the summer, the paper was pleasant to touch rather like the wood on wooden boats and all was printed in black and white. Today we have glossy paper and colour in keeping with today’s boats which also are glossy but lack colour.
One thing that hasn’t changed is the people who sail; the boats so do you mind if I append my thoughts on the ideal crew based on the 4 Ls.

We hear a lot these days from experts, the yachting magazines seem full of them, me I always thought an expert was a drip under pressure but then I am usually wrong about these things. It did lead me to think however as to who I feel comfortable with on a boat. You know the sort of person who never seems to be in the way and knows what to do while your still thinking about it. These people are not experts they are just seafarers, they are well practised in the art of L no 1, lookout , they notice things from the horizon to a shackle pin coming loose on the mainsheet, they notice a change in the weather and a thousand other things. I don’t think you can teach a person these skills they are acquired after years of practice.

Some 50 years ago I was apprenticed to the Bank line for the princely sum of £1. 50p a month and I remember the first thing we did was to be on lookout and you were in serious trouble if the mate of the watch saw something before you which they invariably did because they were more practised at this skill. Don’t get me wrong we were not flogged as the lookout would have been in the grey funnel line but life was made pretty uncomfortable and you stared into an empty horizon with great care and 2 hours on lookout seemed like eternity but not quite as bad as your two hours on the wheel each watch.. I suppose we learnt to be observant and to know when to say something was amiss and when to keep our mouth shut, isn’t that the sign of a true seaman, some one you feel safe with and can depend on.

Once you have become proficient in no.1. L the rest of the L’s will come a lot easier you will notice that the sea ahead has slightly different look about it and you will turn to your depth sounder L no 2, to see what is happening maybe slow down a little or even stop until you are sure it is safe to proceed there we are L no.3. The Log ,gives us the distance through the water and possibly speed as well. I can tell you though that the GPS today are brilliant they give you your speed over the ground, no more having to estimate current etc. to see how fast you are really going. And so we come to L no 4. Latitude or perhaps put in a different way, your position.

There we have it the 4 L’s lookout, lead, log and latitude Attend to these and you won’t need to be an expert but you will be a dependable person to sail with, a good mate or master!
Thank you for your magazine I have to admit that I look forward to it arriving every month.!
John Beale

Cruise story
During a windy midsummer cruise from Lowestoft to Limehouse I experienced the following and talking to an owner of a similar yacht found out that he had had the same expereince. Considering the money we pay for a visitor berth today I expect the harbourmaster to be reasonable when a visitor expresses concern – in fact most are and will offer to help – but not all
“Berth XX21, third pontoon on the right, out onto the quay again looking for my slot in a seemingly impenetrable maze of masts and rigging – typical of a late afternoon arrival in a marina during a summer cruise. Next step, cast off, locate berth – after two approaches – decision – berth too tight, wind too blustery for safe access, speak to the Harbourmaster.

Hello again HM, do you have an alternative berth or may we remain on the visitor pontoon until the wind eases? Negative response in different marinas on two separate occasions -“You’re insured aren’t you? Don’t worry about it, if you hit something the insurance will cover it” and “Everyone coming in here tells me that their boats are difficult to manoeuvre astern in tight spaces – can’t handle own boat”.

I am proud of my old Nich 35, and have no desire to damage it or anyone else’s vessel. However, when myself and my crew are looking forward to a pint and a hot meal and instead I am faced with an awkward HM, I tend to ‘crack’. Solution – wait until HM goes off duty and wind eases – problem solved! To all you friendly and helpful HMs thanks!”

All marinas should have a Visitors’ Book, similar to ABP in Lowestoft, that can be very revealing. However, I suppose I am a bit biased as our HM in Lowestoft is female and the entire staff will do anything to help – well almost!
Simon Rayfield

Nigel can borrow mine!
I have followed the progress of Nigel Calder’s new Malo 45 (Choosing for Cruising) with interest in recent issues of your excellent magazine and am surprised Nigel wishes to sell his new boat so soon. I’m sorry he will have nothing to sail until his new Malo is built. Therefore, I’d like to offer him the occasional use of my boat.

Unfortunately, she has vintage, analogue instruments, reading in feet and fathoms, no wind instruments and no chart plotter. But she sails like a dream and I can definitely say the sun is just as warm, the wind as steady, the dolphins as playful and the harbours as welcoming as he is used to.
Trevor Jones

Nicholson 36, not 32
I write referring to an item about a Nicholson 32 involved with drug smuggling in Salcombe. We cannot find this as being one of our listed boats. We presume that if there is no evidence of this boat being Nicholson 32 and we would not like the Nicholson name to be shamed!
Mrs. Gill Cooper, Joint Sec., Nicholson 32 Association

Editor’s Note:We have had confirmation from the mooring owner, that the yacht Samphire is a Nicolson 36 not a Nich 32 as stated.

MG’s old yacht
How interesting to see the news note in the December YM about Maurice Griffiths old yacht Lone Gull, and congratulations to Steve Pickard for sending the e-mail with photograph I saw the yacht in Kelibia, in August 2003. I briefly met and talked to the owner, a local young man who seemed enthusiastic and to be enjoying the boat, but who spoke no English and French even worse than mine. I was quite unable to discover how he had acquired Lone Gull, or if he realised what a piece of yachting history he had. Kelibia may be the wooden boat capital of Tunisia, but the marina electrics would certainly not have survived EU health and Safety rules
Michael Lewin-Harris