The post bag overfloweth


 Some of your letters that couldn’t be included in the March issue?

YM doom and gloom?
Is it just me, or was there a lot of doom and gloom in the January issue? The touching column by Libby Purves (Ed’s note: about her son’s death and writing legacy) and then Tom Cunliffe’s ‘Skippers dilemma’? then I started to skim through Nigel Calder’s account of his perilous journeys and tiller-beaten babies and moved on to ‘We’re sinking!’ (Learning Curve) and ‘Pitchpoled!’ (Ed’s note: 50th anniversary of Miles and Beryl Smeeton’s famous survival story). What more could you wish for in a magazine I bought to read during the Christmas Break!
I bought my small cruiser for a few thousand pounds last year and thanks to a modest income and the inevitable problems brought by my inexperience and a shoestring budget, I managed only to sail locally in Lyme Bay but a handful of times last season. Apart from the subdued panic when mishaps loomed, I had the time of my life on almost every occasion that I stepped aboard. But if I am to take to heart the tragedies and perils, the hours of tedium stuck in foreign ports, and the fortunes gambled on adventures far a-field then perhaps I have entered a world where I do not belong.
David Tilley (Exeter, Devon)
Editor’s note: They say ‘Worse things happen at sea!’ because they do. We try to keep a balance in our coverage, but when it comes to seamanship and skills the real lessons are learned from mistakes and disasters. The January issue also had accident-free inspirational cruising stories with ‘Living the dream: the Ultimate cruise’ (Blue Water Rally); Andy O’Grady cruising 30,000 islands in Blue Water Letter; the magic of Scotland trailer-sailing Shrimpers; plus Mike Peyton’s ‘Blue waters or Homewaters?’; Miles Kendall’s ‘Croatia Laid Bare’; Ken Endean heading Westward Ho! And don’t forget light relief with The Confessional, plus a joyful used boat test on the Twister 28.

Lifejacket debate
I very feel strongly about wearing a lifejacket. I think your magazine is very good, but you don’t make it clear that lifejackets are important. I looked through your January issue of Yachting Monthly and not in a single picture was anyone wearing a lifejacket. But you have an article about an inquest into the death of two sailors and the point is that they were not wearing lifejackets. In your next issue could you think about the pictures you use to encourage more people to wear lifejackets and that means less people who die or get seriously ill.
Wilf Whitehouse
Editor’s note: There would be a lot of blank spaces in the magazine if we were only to publish pictures of people wearing lifejackets. That’s because a lot of the photos we receive are sent in by readers and freelance photographers and reflect the real-life scenario on board yachts. Ultimately, it’s up to the skipper to enforce the wearing of lifejackets according to circumstances. In the absence of ‘seatbelt-type’ legislation, we feel that most readers don’t want YM to be an agent of the ‘nanny state’ imposing on the last bastion of freedom – the sea – and turning into a hand-holding PC safety manual.

Windlass wear and tear
Doug Innes’s reply to Jeff Pearman’s question regarding the use of a windlass to pull the boat to the anchor was spot on. However, the reasoning was not quite right. The windlass will not see any of the boat’s weight, that is being taken by the water. The windlass only has to overcome the hydro and aerodynamic forces acting on the boat and then the force required to break out the anchor. As Doug points out these can be substantial. A useful way to consider this situation might be to think ‘How could I do this without a windlass?’ It would save a lot of wear and tear on equipment.
Tim Pilcher

Sparkling Hallberg-Rassy 37
I read your test report on the Malo 37 with great interest but, having this year taken delivery of a new Hallberg-Rassy 37, I was surprised by your comment under “Rivals” that ‘performance-wise, she lacks a little sparkle.’
During three months of sailing this summer, bringing the boat home via the Baltic, we found that the HR 37 to be a sparkling performer! Having previously owned a Beneteau of equal size, we had to revise our passage planning speeds upwards from 5 knots to something more like 7.5 knots. A glance at the specifications you quote will show why. Of the three 37 to 38 footers you quote, the HR 37 has the longest LWL, the lightest displacement, the narrowest beam and is mid-way in sail area. Add to this a German Frers design and one is almost bound to obtain good performance although I do, of course, acknowledge that other factors come into play. Having said that though, we regularly got 6.5 knots on the wind in around 16 knots apparent and off the wind she consistently cruised at between 7.5 and 8.8 knots, occasionally touching 9.3.
Peter Melson

Strong boats, good value
Westerly yachts are still solid boats that were built in the UK to a good standard, but prices seem to have dropped significantly recently. I saw a Westerly Oceanlord 41 advertised recently for £60,000. She was really good value. Might it be a good idea to remind people how good Westerlys were and what great value they represent now when compared to other boats? I went from a Westerly Sealord (1984 build) to a Beneteau 36cc costing a similar price. After two years, I realised that there is a world of difference in the build between the two and went back to a Westerly Oceanlord. The Beneteau was fine when the wind and waves were quiet, but having experienced a heavier and stronger boat, I felt I had to look back at a safer bit of kit for family sailing.
Andy Follett (by email)
Editor’s note: Westerly are, indeed, very solid and proven cruising boats. Only last month (p88 February issue) we were extolling the virtues of the Westerly Seahawk 35 in ‘The Brit’s greatest hits’.

‘Schoolboy error’
I have just been given a copy of your article about the loss of the Hooligan V’s keel and a copy of the accident report. There is clearly a mistake in the report (last paragraph, page 43) arising from use of the terms ‘safety factor’ and ‘safety margin’. I am very surprised that a university giving evidence to the MAIB should make a ‘school boy error’! The higher figure given for safety factor, 1.26, is 26% of the minimum recommended safety margin, and the lower safety factor figure of 1.12 is 12% of the recommended minimum safety margin – much worse than the 50% they suggest. It is vital that if new standards are being drawn up, the providers of expert advice do their maths! I have sat on Government committees and acted as a consultant and expert witness at public enquiries and I continue to be amazed at how careless so-called experts can be.
Rupert Armstrong Evans, Evans Engineering
Editor’s footnote: Dr Jason Smithwick, Wolfson Unit MTIA, University of Southampton has replied as follows: ‘This particular case did not focus on new standards but on existing ones, particularly the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) Guide for Building and Classing Offshore Racing Yachts. The ABS Guide used to assess the Hooligan V keel does not use the terminology ‘safety factor’ or ‘safety margin’; it uses assumed loads and allowable stresses. However, the MAIB and the Wolfson Unit opted to use the term ‘safety factor’ in their respective reports. The ABS allowable stress is half of the tensile yield strength. Therefore the ‘safety factor’ (i.e. tensile yield strength / allowable stress) is 2. The ‘safety factor’ applied to the Hooligan V keel was only 1.12, almost half or 50% of the required ‘safety factor’. It is not suggested that this was almost half or 50% of the recommended minimum safety margin. It is agreed that terminology is very important and while the letter writer’s comments may be valid, so too is the conclusion reached by the MAIB and the Wolfson Unit in terms of the ‘safety factor’ applied to the Hooligan V keel.’

Overtaking boat keep clear
It was disappointing to witness the yobbish disregard for the colregs displayed by Skippers and crew of some racing yachts in the Solent during Cowes week 2007.
We apologise for the delay in publicly describing this incident and hope that yotties will understand when we offer the fact that we have been cruising the Atlantic on our boats as our excuse.
On the morning of the 5th August 2007 we were motoring our two yachts, in tandem, to windward through the Solent. Both of us were single handed, which is normal for us. We’d picked a course such that we would avoid the majority of racing vessels and our formation was one behind the other.
Despite this, it wasn’t very long before something in the region of twenty racing yachts were bearing down on our two vessels from astern. Obviously, since they were overtaking, we needed only to maintain our course and speed and keep an eye on them. Imagine our dismay when we heard a chorus of shouted abuse from many crewmembers from several of these racing yachts as they closed on us from astern. “Get out of the ******* way!” was repeated a lot.
As the racing yachts passed my vessel, their crews’ verbal abuse continued until I shouted back that it was their duty to keep clear of us. After a short stunned silence, one crew member then indignantly shouted back; “We are under sail and you are motoring”. Clearly, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing! My reply?
“Rule thirteen, look it up!”
Since this is a report, We should point out that we are both Yachtmasters with thousands of ocean sea miles in our respective log books. We should also point out that in describing this incident to many fellow cruisers in different anchorages in the UK and other countries since that day, we have discovered that everyone we spoke to had a similar story to relate about Cowes week racing crews.
It is our sincere hope that those crew members and their Skippers did look up Rule 13 and that they subsequently learnt something. It is also our sincere hope that this report is published widely so that such disgraceful conduct is not repeated on the sea again.

Geoff and Sassy