Posts by Simon Jollands

Keel design – options to consider when choosing a yacht

By on Mar 16, 2017 in Practical, Yacht ownership | 0 comments

Keel design is constantly evolving and nowhere is this more apparent than in modern racing yachts such as the Imoca Open 60 class. These fast offshore monohulls use highly sophisticated canting keels to help them stay upright when sailing upwind. The boats are designed to be as light as possible while at the same time being solid enough to cope with ocean racing. While cruising yachts are not designed to win ocean races, there are several options of keel design available. Traditional yachts tend to have long deep keels which are an integral part of the hull, which make them heavier than modern designs, but stable and seaworthy. Many modern yachts have fin shaped keel designs, which are bolted beneath the hull. This produces lighter, faster and and more manouevrable yachts than deep keel designs. Below is a summary of all the common keel designs found on types of sailing yachts on the market today. Long keel design Long, deep keels are common on traditional yachts. They form part of the hull structure as opposed to being bolted on to the hull. They provide plenty of strength and stability but are less efficient than modern designs. Fin keel design A fin keel is bolted on to the underside of the hull. Fin keels vary from shallow fin to deep fin. Cruising yachts tend to have shallow, wide fin keels, sometimes with heavy bulbs at the foot to minimise the yacht’s draught. Racing yachts tend to have thin and deep keels with heavy bulbs to improve performance. Bilge keel design Twin, or bilge keels enable a yacht to remain upright when dried out at low tide. They have a shallower draught than fin keels, making them suited to cruising in shallow, coastal waters. They do not perform to windward as well as a fin keel and are used for cruising as opposed to racing yachts. Lifting keel design A lifting keel enables a yacht to stay afloat in very shallow water. Lifting keels work in a similar way to a sailing dinghy’s centreboard. They are an alternative solution to bilge keels, with the advantage that when lowered they perform as well as a fixed fin keel. Their design is ideal...

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What boating skills should you have before you buy a yacht?

By on Mar 14, 2017 in Boat Handling, Yacht ownership | 0 comments

Many people dream of owning a yacht and sailing off into the blue yonder. What boating skills should you have before you buy a yacht? Handling a yacht requires a range of boating skills that enables a sailor to sail, navigate and berth a yacht safely. If you are thinking of buying, here are a few questions to consider before you make a purchase. Boating skills questionnaire Am I familiar with how to sail and manoeuvre a sailing yacht? Do I know all about sail controls, winches and reefing systems? Can I sail a boat on all points of sail confidently? Am I ok with rope work and knot tying? Can I do an engine check? Could I spot a potential engine problem before it is too late? Do I know how to prepare a passage plan for a day trip? Can I plot a course to my next port of call? Can I manoeuvre my boat out of a crowded marina with a strong tide running? Do I know the meanings of all the channel markers? What does a North Cardinal mark look like and what does it mean? What is the significance of a buoy with a yellow light? Do I know the collision regs? Do I have a VHF Short Range Certificate (SRC) ? What channel should I be monitoring for the Coastguard? Do I know how to convert a magnetic compass course to true? Can I plot an estimated position if my GPS fails? How are my meteorological skills – do I know how to read a pressure chart? How much chain will I to need to let out when anchoring in 5 metres of depth? A crew member falls seriously ill when I am out at sea, what do I do? What training have I had? Should you be unsure about any of these questions and topics, then it would be wise to get some training to improve your boating skills before you commit to buying. The usual way to do this is to sign up for a liveaboard sailing course.  Ideally, it is best to chose a location close to where you plan to sail most. Boat training A good place to start searching for a sailing course...

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10 Essential Sailing Apps

By on Aug 10, 2016 in Preparation | 0 comments

The East Fremantle Yacht Club in Australia has selected 10 Essential Sailing Apps they would recommend to anyone with an interest in sailing. In the infographic below, their selection includes Sailing Education Apps, Apps for Tides and Navigation & Charting Apps. The East Fremantle Yacht Club’s 10 Essential Sailing Apps are a great recommendation for all sailors. When it comes to sailing on open water, knowledge really is power. You should never attempt to leave dry dock without first conducting plenty of research into the intricacies of your planned route, predicted weather and tidal conditions and how to respond to emergency situations. If you take to sea hoping you’ll know what to do instead of actually knowing what to do, it is quite likely that you’ll find yourself in a lot of trouble if a tricky situation arises. 10 Essential Sailing Apps Carola Bruce of East Fremantle Yacht Club ( produced this infographic guide to the best apps for sailors and it’s great to see that Safe Skipper is included in her selection. Check out the infographic to see the list of recommended apps and find out why they have been endorsed by a long-standing Australian sailing...

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Rewiring a boat – overcoming the challenges involved

By on Apr 18, 2016 in Practical, Preparation | 2 comments

Skippers need to have a basic knowledge of boat electrics, to avoid potential problems and to be able to solve them when they happen. The basic principles are easy enough to grasp, but as I have found out in recent weeks, the challenges involved in rewiring a boat are more demanding   When I bought my present boat, the state of the wiring was truly shocking (excuse the pun). Although the 35 year old Contessa had two nearly new batteries the wiring itself was in a dismal state, with many exposed and corroded connections. It was also in a disorganised tangle made worse by the fact that a succession of instruments and electronics had been added, replaced or removed over the years. We made some temporary repairs in 2014 to get the nav lights working, but this year decided to bite the bullet and rewire the whole boat. I was in a bit of a dilemma as I had little electrical knowledge and hiring a marine electrician to do the job was going to cost a fortune. I needed to learn more about boat electrics. I bought a copy of Pat Manley’s book Essential Boat Electrics which has proved very useful and helped to demystify the subject. Reading this made me realise that doing the whole job by myself was going to be challenging, if not foolhardy. Luckily I have a good friend called Mark who is much more knowledgable than I am and he has very kindly helped me out, teaching me a great deal in the process. How we have gone about things: Step 1 – assessment We made a thorough inspection of the existing system labelling each wire and checking what it was connected to. At the same time we tested connections using a multimeter, making notes as we went. There were signs of overheated wiring in places, which could have resulted in a serious fire. It soon became clear that doing this job was an absolute necessity. The assessment took some time but it was worth doing as it made things much easier later on when we came to replace the wiring. Step 2 – the plan We made a plan for the new system, showing instruments, location of...

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Pleasure craft safety equipment recommendations

By on Dec 9, 2015 in Practical, Preparation | 0 comments

Safety equipment is an important part of boat preparation and it is advisable for all pleasure craft skippers to check their vessel is properly equipped. Below are some useful pleasure craft safety equipment recommendations from the UK’s Royal Yachting Association (RYA). All skippers should be mindful of any laws that exist in their country regarding pleasure craft safety equipment recommendations. It makes sense wherever you are to keep a vessel appropriately equipped and for that equipment to be serviced and up to date. Some boat owners are put off doing this because pleasure craft safety equipment can be costly and might never be used. It is unwise to ignore pleasure craft safety equipment recommendations and not to keep a check of equipment expiry dates. There are strict laws for commercial vessels and for pleasure vessels over 13.7 metres in length. However, no statutory requirements exist for pleasure craft under 13.7 metres in length other than those stipulated in SOLAS V. SOLAS V is part of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea and can be downloaded via the internet. The lists below cover essential, mandatory and recommended items for vessels up to 13.7 metres and over 13.7 metres in length. Pleasure craft safety equipment recommendations – vessels up to 13.7m in length Essential Lifejacket (or buoyancy aid) for all on board. Safety harnesses (varies with type of boat). Kill cord and spare (varies with type of boat). Marine Radio (VHF). Chart(s), Almanac and Pilot Book. Hand Bearing Compass. Handheld white flares or powerful torch (for collision avoidance). 406 MHz EPIRB/PLB (varies with area of operation). Distress Flares. First Aid Kit. Liferaft and Grab bag (varies with area of operation). Firefighting equipment. Equipment to deal with a man overboard (life ring, dan buoy etc.). Emergency tiller (for wheel steered boats) (varies with type of boat). Equipment to deal with water ingress (Bailer, Bilge Pump, Bungs). Bucket (strong with lanyard). Emergency VHF aerial for fixed VHF (varies with type of boat). Anchor and cable/warp. Tools and spares (engine, electrics, rig, sails). Boarding ladder. Spare fuel. Waterproof torches. Mooring lines and fenders. Knife. Pump and puncture repair kit (for inflatable boats). Alternative means of propulsion (oars, outboard engine etc). Ship’s log book. Accurate...

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