Seasoned skippers and Yachting Monthly experts give their advice on a whole range of issues for the cruising sailor

Bring back the sou’wester!

Moss Sou-wester by Helly Hansen

If I were to wear a sou’wester in public the sounds of laughter would only be drowned by the sounds of sides splitting.

Why is this? Let’s face it, a hood on a jacket is perfect for avoiding identification when committing petty crimes, but as an item of serious weatherproof headgear it falls a long way short for the following reasons:

1. Your head turns inside it as it remains firmly facing forwards

2. You cannot hear anything when wearing it

3. Rain and spray run down your face and down your neck

4. If you wear spectacles they become covered with water and are knocked off by the hood

Whereas a sou’wester has none of these faults:

1. It is attached to your head, providing good forward vision at all times

2. Ears are not covered so hearing is not impaired

3. It keeps the face and neck more or less totally dry

4. Spectacles are kept drier and are not knocked off

Its only disadvantage is that it is unfashionable, probably because hardly anyone these days goes out in the rain.

I think the time has come for the big fashion houses to ‘discover’ the souwester and restore it to its rightful position as the headgear of choice.

Vyv Cox

NB Helly Hansen has just included a sou’wester in their spring/summer 19 collection

Fine fendering

Two yachts colliding with fenders

Vyv’s Sadler with fenders secured top and bottom and stanchions removed to avoid damage

Headshot of Vyv Cox

Vyv Cox is a chartered engineer and has been sailing for more than 50 years

When berthed in marinas in strong winds there is always a need for effective fendering to avoid damage to our own and neighbours’ boats.

A common problem is fenders being blown on deck in gusts, with the result that the few remaining ones in position are overloaded and may burst under load.

This problem can be solved quite simply by threading a warp through the lower hole of each fender, preventing individual ones from being blown up.

It is most unlikely that all could be blown upwards but even if they did they could not slip under the guard wires

Vyv Cox

Continues below…

Don’t cave under pressure!

Sailing with children

Put safety first when sailing with children

A rising wind from astern, two children wanting to know ‘when will we get in?’ and a harbour just three hours away; most skippers who sail with family have been there.

Brian Black

Brian Black has survived nine Arctic seaons since the mid-1990s and often finds himself getting out of tricky situations at sea

The day had started well with a good sailing breeze but by mid-afternoon the barometer was on the way down, clouds were building behind us and everyone on board was looking forward to a secure berth well sheltered from whatever weather was on its way.

I remember trying to keep morale high while at the same time looking with growing apprehension at the breaking crests sweeping past.

The harbour mouth appeared out of the gloom and so did the awful truth – big seas were breaking across the entrance and we were travelling fast, a bad combination requiring the right decision.

That decision should have been to keep going with the expectation of finding a safe harbour further on.

But the howls of protest from below pushed caution aside and I rounded up, reduced sail and tried to judge the waves as they broke across the harbour mouth.

With the boat stalled, I was able to pick my moment to power across the seas and into the harbour.

OK, so I made it that time, but in retrospect was it wise? What would have happened had I mistimed the run in?

Brian Black

Setting up an anchor watch

yachts moored at an caribbean anchorage

In a crowded anchorage, you may need to keep watch overnight to avoid collision

Don’t forget that collisions can still happen when you’re anchored, especially at night, in inclement weather and crowded anchorages.

Polly Philipson

Polly Philipson is the digital marketing manager for Grenada Bluewater Sailing and has experience in the sailing industry

For a crew of four, a three to four-hour watch rotation works well. Before the watch starts check the forecast hasn’t changed significantly and work out tide times and heights.

You’re more likely to drag anchor at HW and the turn of the tide. At low water there’s more chain on the seabed, offering more security.

Just in case you need to ditch your anchor during the night, thread a long line attached to a fender through the last link.

This will allow you to retrieve it later.

Next, agree and set the scope of the anchor, establish your transits and set your anchor alarm. Brief the crew at what point they should wake the skipper – for example, if the anchor moves a certain distance, the anchor alarm sounds or your transits do not align.

Before the crew turn in for the night, prepare some snacks and a flask of boiling water for hot drinks so those sleeping won’t be woken by noises in the galley.

Finally, if you’re on watch, wear your lifejacket with PLB and harness attached and set a quiet alarm every 15 to 30 minutes in case you fall asleep

Polly Philipson