Friday 20 July 2012

Man Over Board practice for Day Skipper Qualification

One of the elements of a Day Skipper practical course is Man Over Board (MOB) practice. 
A real person is not used for such practice, rather a rope tied to a fender or a bucket!  Day Skippers are shown and get to practice how to get to the object in the water and then work out how to get it back on board imagining that it was the size and weight of a person.
If someone falls overboard the first thing that should happen is someone should shout ‘Man Over Board’ and point at the person in the water.  Someone else should make a May Day call on the VHF Radio.  There are various ways of getting back to someone that has fallen over board.  The quickest and easiest way is to do it under power and there are a couple of methods, both of which are practised on a Day Skipper Course, which can be employed to do this.
Typical Fasnet Race conditions where knowing Man Over Board skills is critical
One option is the helm should be placed hard over, as if heaving too, so that the boat heads up into and though the wind.  This stops the boat very quickly.  The sails should be sheeted in and the engine started.  As the yacht comes around close to the person in the water the MOB lifebelts can be thrown to the person and the throttle can be used with short bursts or ahead and astern to position the boat next to the person in the water ideally bringing them alongside the beam.  Care must be taken to ensure no ropes that could get caught around the propeller are trailing in the water and that the propeller is kept a suitable distance from the person in the water’s legs.

An alternative would be to head downwind of the person, turn the engine on, furl the headsail, sheet the main in tight, and position the yacht so that it can be motored from a downwind position up to the person in the water.  An aspiring Day Skipper will get to practice these manoeuvres a number of times on a course until he or she becomes proficient at it.

If use of the engine is not possible then it becomes a sailing exercise.  The yacht can be stopped dead in the water by putting the helm hard up into the wind.  The sails should be sheeted in tight and the helm left hard over.  The resulting effect is for the boat to go round in small circles quite close to the person in the water.  MOB lifebelts can be deployed.  The yacht should head off on a beam to broad reach for a short distance.  The headsail should be furled (assuming conditions will allow the yacht enough power to windward under main alone.)  A tack should then ensue and the boat placed on a fine reach, or rather pointed at the person in the water which should turn out to be a fine reach.  Day Skippers should by now be quite comfortable of placing a yacht on a fine reach.  The reason for a fine reach is that it is a point of sail that allows you to spill all the wind from the main without it being restricted by the shrouds.  At the same time it allows the yacht room to manoeuvre to windward if need be.  So back pointing at the person in the water.  Someone should ease the main sail right out so that it flaps. The main sheet span can then be grabbed as a whole and used to put power in the sail if required, whilst letting go of it allows the sail to very quickly become depowered.  If the sail cannot be let fully out when pointing at the person in the water the yacht should be steered downwind for a very brief period and then bought back up to point at the person in the water.  This can be repeated until the sail can be eased fully.

As the person is approached all way should be taken off the boat by completely releasing the main sheet span and the yacht rounded up so that the person is picked up on the beam of the leeward side.

You then have to work out how to get say an 11 stone man, clothes waterlogged, possibly unconscious, back on board…

This is a Guest Post by First Class Sailing, a leading UK sail training and boat chartering company with on the South Coast, London and more. First Class Sailing offer, amongst other RYA Courses, Day Skipper Practical courses on which you get plenty of Man Over Board practice.

Saturday 7 July 2012

UK Safety Regulations for Pleasure Vessels; Part 1 of 3

For United Kindom flagged boaties, to understand, for your and yours safety, the applicable Regulations is quite an exercise in itself. As we are all equally affected by these Regulations, this article attempts to give an overview of them, what applies and what doesn't, so you can be confident your boat is properly equipped. In essence, the Regulations are the expression of the 'minimums' to adequately ensure safety of life at sea. 

As a sea-goers, we must never forget that the knowledge that has led to the current Regulations, has been in the majority of cases, very hard-won, based on many tragic historic events - in other words, the Regulations have been arrived at a very high human cost. Therefore, while small pleasure vessels may not have a formal need to comply, we suggest it is in your interest to adopt as much of them as you see fit to give confidence that your boat is adequately equipped for the ''black swan'' event at sea.

For UK-flagged Pleasure Vessels (i.e. not for commercial gain or reward), these Regulations have applicability:

United Kingdom Government prescribed:
1. Merchant Shipping (Life-Saving Appliances for Ships other than ships of Classes III to VI (A)) Regulations 1999;
2. Merchant Shipping (Life-Saving Appliances for Passenger Ships of Classes III to VI(A)) Regulations 1999;
3. Merchant Shipping (Fire Protection: Small Ships) Regulations 1998;
4. 'Information on the Regulations Applicable to Pleasure Vessels' dated 21 December 2007 (Version 12).

NOTE: If any pleasure vessel carries more than 12 passengers (i.e. excluding the operating crew), the vessel classification moves from "Pleasure Vessel" to "Passenger Ship" and the full Regulations Item 1, 2, 3 and 4 above, apply (limited duration exemptions may be given by the MCA).

International Marine Organisation IMO prescribed:
5. International Convention for the 'Safety of Life at Sea'/SOLAS Chapter V.

Beyond the passenger count, the degree of applicability of the Regulations is fundamentally governed by the Pleasure Vessel size; by [load line] length (then weight for very large pleasure vessels):
- Length less than 13.7 metres (45 feet);
- - there are NO STATUTORY requirements as far as "life saving" or "fire fighting" equipment is concerned;
- Length more than 13.7 to 24 metres (45-78 feet);
- -  a vessel is classified as being a ''Class XII vessel'' and must comply with Items 1 and 3 above.
NOTE: This discussion does not address Pleasure Vessels over 24 metres - we have our limits!

To complicate the understanding of the applicability of the Regulations, the Requirements (or the details on how to properly comply with the Regulations) of Item 1 appear in two Marine Shipping Notices MSN issued by the UK Marine and Coastguard Authority MCA (part of the UK Department of Transport DfT):
- MSN 1676 for Items 1 and 2;
- MSN 1677 for Item 1.

To simplify the application of the above-Itemed regulations, the MCA has issued an un-numbered document, Item 4 above, which details the how to comply with the Regulations, plus it gives Exemptions (after discussion with the British Marine Federation and Royal Yachting Association) from:
- Item 1 Regulations 21, 48, 69, 71, 72, 78 and 84;
- Item 2 Regulations 23, 35 and 36;
This document also addresses the application of Item 5 'SOLAS V'.

So, to take advantage of 'Information on the Regulations Applicable to Pleasure Vessels', in Part 2 and 3 to follow, we examine the two equipment types in some detail:
- Life Saving Appliances;
- Fire Protection Equipment.

Boat and ship wheels - symbol, style, innvovation

A ships wheel is probably the most recognisable symbol of boats or ships around the world

It is therefore understandable as to why the European Union chose to use the symbol of a ships wheel to indicate the compliance of boat equipment with the Marine Equipment Directive (also known as M.E.D. 96/98/EC and often called M.E.D/MED)

While aircraft now use joysticks and "fly by wire" technologies to "steer" them, pleasure boats generally still use the a wheel for primary directional control. With boats from over a hundred years old still in operation and new models appearing every year, the boat wheel manufacturers, between them, have worked to supply boat wheels for all generations of boats.

There are three general styles available: traditional spoke wooden wheels, contemporary round-rimmed wheels and a blend of the traditional and contemporary.
Vetus Traditional Style 6 Spoke Boat or Ships Wheel in Mahogany
Vetus Traditional Style 6 Spoke Boat or Ships Wheel in Mahogany
The traditional wooden (usually mahogany) six-spoke boat wheel is still very much sought after. Where the new versions excel in in their underlying strength provided by a steel frame to which the wooden parts are attached. The steel frame of the traditional style boat wheel also provides a strong mount hub to ensure that the wheel and the steering input shaft remain intact even under the worst conditions.

The contemporary style boat wheels, often made of polished stainless steel, are both affordable and very durable - virtually indestructible one could say. A variation of the contemporary style are the powerboat steering wheels made of modern reinforced plastics.

The blended style, combining stainless steel of contemporary boat wheels with the smooth polished spokes borrowed from traditional boat wheels and mahogany rims, really look sophisticated and would grace many a boat - whether a sailboat, yacht, motorboat or powerboat.

One special version of the contemporary boat wheels is the Goiot Steer'n Go™ range for sailboats/yachts. These are a really great idea, as they are designed to be removed and mounted on the safety railing when the boat is moored, giving freedom of access from the cabin to the stern. This is of course really useful for Mediterranean sailing when mooring stern-in is close to the norm.

Saturday 14 April 2012

Inflatable boats are the modern boat tender

We don't know how lucky we are!

Navimo Plastimo Light Inflatable Boat In Use
 There are old-timers who used to climb (literally) mountains to ski down - twice on a good day; in summer (we observe that many skiers are also boaties) they lugged the near-indestructible clinker dinghy down the the beach (marina was a female name only back then) and then row it out to the yacht moored in the bay or river. Then it would be lugged yet again on board by many and various blocks and tackles and lashed, upside-down to the topsides. Maybe we'll just tow by it's painter instead... Whew; what will we do tomorrow?

Of course, sunny winter or spring days would have been enjoyably passed (we weren't so time-obsessed then) rubbing, priming, undercoating and applying endless finish coats of varnish or a nice glossy topcoat.

We may exaggerate to some degree here, yet the ability to buy a tender for little relative cost, in a box, unpack, pump up, launch, jump in and row - or motor away, in minutes was beyond thinking.

Well the past we speak of is largely well past for the majority of water enthusiasts and inflatable boats are available to suit yachties, boaties, fishing people and for those who simply want to play around in boats. While a few of the inflatable tenders available are made just to row, most have an outboard-ready transom installed.

From here on it's all a matter of your defining your needs from construction, type of use, size and colour - from good old grey to bright yellow - even environmental green for fishing or as a work boat.

However, we still sometimes get a bit nostalgic for the clinker dinghy that we learnt to sail in - it was a trusty friend.

Thursday 29 March 2012

Outboard Shear Pins are essential spares

For those of us who use outboards for or around our boats, the reliability of modern models is so good that it's almost feels natural that they will run successfully forever. As engines they may seem to do so but the external world sometimes reaches out and makes itself known quite unexpectedly - like the outboard engine propeller hitting an unknown or unseen solid object underwater.

Or, with things mechanical, the loading of the propeller, through the shear pin, may gradually find a weakness in the pin material, leading to an unexpected fracture. Result in both cases - lots of sound and no motion; "disaster"!
Holt Outboard Motor Shear Pin-Blister-Pack
Now it really doesn't have to be like that; there is a list of essential spares for your boat and it's equipment and a shear pins are one them. Paradoxically they are cheap to buy yet have really high use value and may be reasonably considered an item of safety equipment when weighed against a bad sea and no propulsion.

When replacing a shear pin, there are a few simple actions you can take to ensure the best result. Firstly, as part of your pre-season maintenance programme, prevent a future stress fracture by ensuring the shear pin hole in the propeller shaft has no sharp edges at the hole edge; the simplest way to remove any burrs is to use a round needle file and patiently work around the hole at both ends to create a small radius on the hole edge circumference; with tools to hand this should only take 15 minutes to complete; and secondly, replace the propeller retaining nut lock split pin (if one is used); every time a split pin is bent over, it's metal is subjected to loads that can lead to a stress fracture failure over time.

So don't delay if this blog reminds you to stock up; Holt Marine Pre-Pack / MPP aftermarket shear pins are available for a number of popular outboards that includes these brands and models (2 per pack): Suzuki, 2 HP, 4 HP; Tohatsu, M4, M4A, M5, M5A; Tohatsu, M8, M8A, M9.8, M9.8A, M12, M12A; Yamaha Mariner, 2 HP, 6 HP, 20 HP, 25 HP; Johnson/Evinrude/OMC, 2 HP, 4 HP, 20 HP, 25 HP, 40 HP.

May your days out be sheer joy.

Wednesday 21 March 2012

A Boomstrut for every yacht?

In the long list of products we present, there are a number that stand out as being positively different. The are invariably simple and very effective and sometimes leads one to say "why didn't I think of that".

The one we would like to discuss here is the Barton Boomstrut. As the name suggests, it is a strut system to support the boom in all situations plus it provides a positive force to both keep the Vang tackle system loaded to prevent jamming and extend the Vang setup rapidly when required with no delay due to friction.
Boomstrut Fitted to a J80 - Note how the rods flex to create the spring action 
The key to the success of the Boomstrut is the two fibreglass rods used for the strut action. The rod is composed of polyester resin and fibreglass and is formed using a process called "pultrusion" - or extrusion of a product by pulling through a die. The base materials are fibreglass continuous roving filaments/bundles and they are drawn though a liquid resin. The process compresses the resin and so saturates the rovings then thermosets the mixture to give a high integrity bond between to give both strength and stiffness to the rod. The product resulting has a high strength-to-weight ratio, is corrosion and heat resistant, high dielectric properties, is dimensionally stable and weathers very well.

Which is very important when one is reminded of one the first and arguably successful uses of such a product was as electric fence posts on farms in New Zealand, pioneered by Graycol (sorry - we digress).

The Boomstrut rods are shown to be nigh-on indestructible so they are coupled to the mast and boom using high quality materials and marine grade stainless steel fittings, which leads to a "fit it and forget it" installation.

Speaking of installation, this really is a task that any boat owner can do; these tools and a short days work are all that's required: screwdriver, fine-tooth hacksaw, centre punch, ruler or tape measure, reversible variable speed drill, drill bit and Metric coarse thread tap (diameter of both varies according to model used) and lastly, a pencil.

Will it fit your boat?
This is a list of boats known to have had a Boomstrut fitted:
Ajax 23, Atlanta 26, Attalia 32, Baron 76, Beneteau 345, Beneteau First 21.7, Beneteau First 210, Beneteau First 235, Beneteau First 25.7, Beneteau First 260, Beneteau First 27.7, Beneteau First 285, Beneteau First 31.7, Beneteau First 310, Beneteau First 32, Beneteau First 34.7, Beneteau Oceanis 320, Bepox 7.50, Catalina C270, Centurion 32, Chess 21, Colvic, Corribee 21, Dehler 25, Dehler 36, Dehler Delants, Dragon, Elizabethan 30, Fantasi 37, Farr 1020, Farr 31, Farr 33, Finn 26, Finn 26, Finnflyer 33R, First 211, First 25.7, First 285, Fox Terrier, Foxhound 24, Friendship 26, Furia 1020, Gibsea 26, H Boat, Hallberg-Rassy, Hanse 301, Hummingbird 30, Hunter Horizon 26, Hunter Horizon 30, Hunter Impala, Hunter Sonata, Hunter USA 31.5T, J-80, J-92, Jeaneau Symphonie, Jeanneau Sun 2000, Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 30, Kelt 7.01, Lacoste 36, Leisure 17, Limbo 6.6, MacGregor 26, MacGregor 27, Malo 40, Marcon 34, Maxi 100, Maxi Bermuda Sloop, Moody 27 Sloop, Moody 30, Moody 34, Moody 34, Mystere Clubman, Nicholson 35, Oyster 39, Rommel 33, Sadler 26, Sadler 32, She Traveller, Skippi 650, Sloop Moody 31, Smaragd, Snapdragon 890, Sovrel 33, Spaekhugger 27, Spirit 24, Sprinta Sport, Stortriss, Summer Twins, Super Seal 26, Trapper 300, Trapper TS240, Turbo 950 SP, Uragan 700, Van de Stadt 391, Vancouver 34C, Westerly Conway, Westerly Discus, Westerly GK24, Westerly Griffon Club, Westerly Konsort 29, Westerly Tempest. 

Tuesday 20 March 2012

Antifouling task and material list

It's that time again; sun through the window earlier, lighter clothing for outside and the need to go down to the boat, the lonely boat in the boatyard (apologies to John Masefield's wonderful poem "I Must Go Down to the Seas Again" - contained in "Poems of the Sea")

Every year (or two) the planning for renewing the antifouling starts and a typical list of tasks may well look like that below (you may well be very practised at this and probably know what's needed and how to do all by heart now).

To help you make your material list or bill of materials, create your own; here is a typical shopping list for these items .
  Materials research:
- Antifouling type: one season, two season, two-pack, racing, hard, soft, copper;
- Removers: paint and varnish removers;
- Treatments: corrosion/rust;
- Fillers: GRP and keel/metal types;
- Surface coatings: degreasers, primers, antifoulings, and thinners;
- Finishing: decorative/coveline tape.
Most products are accompanied by their companion products with a clickable link to them e.g. a paint and it's thinner plus related tools, equipment or how-to books.

- Season launch date;
- Days required (according to helpers);
- Dates available.

- Willing helpers;
- Personal: work clothes, wet/cold weather outerwear, warm hats and gloves;
- Stores: (on the way?);
- Refreshments;
- Transport: to and from boat;
- Accommodation?

- Access to yard;
- Position the boat: lift out/boat on hard, extra props;
- Preclean: water blast/mechanical clean, hand scrub, cleaning pads.

- Access equipment: trestles, stands, ladders (with safety straps);
- Personal protection equipment: protective clothing including overalls, work hats, disposable gloves, PVC gloves, leather gloves, filter face masks, "paper" dust masks, goggles; hand cleaners;
- Preparatory tools: buckets, scrub brushes, hand brushes  scrapers, wire brushes, putty knives, electric sanders, sanding blocks, sponges, hose with connectors/nozzles;
- Protection materials: masking tapes, plastic sheeting, paper, rubbish bags;
- Preparatory materials: abrasives, abrasive papers, abrasive pads, sanding discs;
- Safety devices: isolating transformer or similar protection for power tools?;
- Application tools: brushes, rollers, sleeves and trays;
- First aid kit.

Assemble/buy materials:
- Equipment;
- Tools;
- Personal protection gear;
- Protective materials;
- Preparatory materials;
- Surface coatings.

This is a basic task list that can be shaped many ways and experience will alter, add and refine it to suit. We hope this helps you in some way.