Posts by Simon Jollands

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 | 0 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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An explanation of the IALA maritime buoyage systems – IALA A and IALA B

By on Nov 24, 2015 in Navigation, Preparation | 0 comments

What are the differences between the two IALA buoyage systems, IALA Region A and IALA Region B, and where are they used?   As recently as the 1970s there were more than 30 buoyage systems in use around the world. This caused confusion and accidents and it was after two fatal incidents in the Dover Straits in 1971 that the IALA (International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities) was established.  There followed a worldwide effort to develop a safe, unified maritime buoyage system that could be followed by all vessels at sea. This resulted in the IALA Maritime Buoyage System and by 1980 there were just 2 systems in use, IALA A and IALA B. Although there is not as yet one unified system for the whole world, this was a major achievement nonetheless and the differences between IALA A and IALA B are only minor. The IALA chose the two systems in order to keep the number of changes to existing systems to a minimum and to avoid major conflict. IALA REGION A IALA A is used by countries in Africa, most of Asia, Australia, Europe and India. IALA REGION B IALA B is used by countries in North, Central and South America, Japan, Korea and the Philippines. The differences – lateral marks The difference between the two systems is the colour and light characteristics used for lateral marks, as follows: •  IALA REGION A port lateral marks and lights are coloured red.  IALA  A starboard lateral marks and lights are coloured green. •  IALA REGION B port lateral marks and lights are coloured green.  IALA B starboard lateral marks and lights are coloured red. Lateral marks indicate the port and starboard sides of navigable channels. These are used in accordance with the direction of buoyage for the region or specific location, as indicated on marine charts. Where a channel divides a modified or “preferred” channel mark may be used to indicate the preferred route to take.  In IALA Region A the lateral marks on the starboard side of the channel are coloured green and should be passed on the starboard side of the vessel. Those on the port side of the channel should be passed...

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VHF DSC radio – how best to communicate at sea

By on Nov 2, 2015 in Communications, Emergencies, Preparation | 0 comments

There are many ways to communicate with others at sea. What makes the VHF DSC radio the best form of short range communication and why is it recommended?   The controls of a basic VHF DSC radio There are many ways to communicate with others at sea, ranging from signal flags to satellite phones. While it is not a legal requirement in most countries, leisure vessels are strongly encouraged to use VHF DSC (Digital Selective Calling) radio as their primary means of communication, since this is used by the rescue authorities and commercial shipping.  VHF has a maximum range of up to about 30 nautical miles, but for ocean cruising SSB radio is the preferred option as it has a much better range than VHF. Is VHF DSC radio really necessary for inshore sailing? It is a mistake to believe that a mobile phone is all that is required for inshore sailing. Mobile phones are a useful back up means of communication but cannot be relied on, as even when close to the shore signal can easily be lost. VHF DSC radio features A VHF DSC radio allows users: to communicate with shore-based VHF users such as the Coastguard, harbour masters, lock-keepers and marinas to dial up other vessels by using a unique identity number to have one to one conversations with other vessels to send distress alerts at the touch of a button to automatically send your vessel’s identification number and position to others Operator’s licence Anyone who uses a VHF DSC radio must have an operator’s licence, the Short Range Certificate.  In an emergency, any crew member can use the radio, but it is advisable for those who sail regularly to do the one day course and get their own certificate, so that if for any reason the skipper is unable to use the radio, there are others aboard who know the correct radio procedure and can act quickly if the need arises. A VHF DSC radio that is linked to a vessel’s GPS shows its position on the display screen, as well as the current time Fixed radios vs handheld VHF DSC radios are available as fixed radios attached to a vessel or as handheld, personal...

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