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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Boat Improvements

By on Jul 7, 2016 in Practical, Preparation | 0 comments

My Boat – practical improvements Author – Mike Rossiter Most boat owners who have had their craft for any length of time will have made what they consider are ‘improvements’. If the boat changes hands the new owner will scratch his/her head and think ‘what on earth did they do that for?’. In this article I will try and set out the alterations made to my own boat, a Vancouver 28. Perhaps some of these changes will help the reader make his/her own ‘improvements’. Saloon Table   The original drop-leaf table in the saloon has been replaced by a cockpit table which sits on a post bracketed to the side of the starboard bunk. This arrangement allows the table to be swung out of the way when not being used, making better use of cabin space, as shown above. The post and table can be removed and an additional bracket has been mounted on the side of the cockpit for ‘al fresco’ dining. (The port bunk lee cloth has been rigged to act as a storage area for loose items that do not have a home elsewhere) The original table has been kept in store in case a future owner wishes to reinstate the traditional table. A previous owner made an extension to widen the starboard bunk for sleeping. This is a length of 18mm ply shaped to fit the space between the bunk and mast post. You can see the small wood block on the post and the trim on the side of the bunk that supports this extension. A cushion shaped to fit the infill completes the extension. This is placed at the back of the starboard seat when not being used for sleeping. The ply itself stows under the bunk cushion when not in use. A memory foam topper which is rolled into a cushion/bolster by day adds to bunk comfort at night! On the door to the toilet is a magnetic cupboard catch to prevent it swinging when open. Cockpit working platform A number of nights each season are spent at anchor or secured to a mooring buoy. The inflatable dinghy is stored in the port locker. Boards have been made which cover the cockpit...

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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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A simple guide to understanding tides when passage planning

By on Feb 4, 2016 in Navigation, Practical, Preparation | 0 comments

Understanding tides when passage planning When planning a trip in tidal waters, check the tides before going afloat. Use almanacs, charts, tide tables and tidal stream atlases to gather all the data you need. It is advisable to have a written note of tidal data for your trip including: Your boat’s draft. The predicted times (in Universal Time) of high and low water. The heights of the tide. The tidal ranges. The direction and speeds of the tidal streams en route. Check when and how the state of the tide will affect local areas including shallows, harbour entrances, sand bars, headlands and estuaries. Check predictions and forecasts to determine if and when rough seas caused by wind against tide will occur. Be prepared to change your plan to avoid being caught in adverse conditions. Use all the data you gather to: Plan your departure time(s). Take advantage of tidal flow to shorten journey time. Estimate your journey time. Plan your arrival time(s). Avoid potential hazards caused by tidal conditions. Ensure there will be safe clearance under your keel at all times.   Tips: Double check all calculations. Remember to allow for Summer Time, if applicable. Avoid shallow water on a falling tide.  ...

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Sailing & Motoring in Fog

By on Jan 5, 2016 in Boat Handling, Navigation, Preparation | 1 comment

Sailing & Motoring in Fog You can only measure the visibility accurately if sailing & motoring in fog when you have another object in sight so assume that it is less than you think. It can take time to ‘see’ another vessel as you may not be looking directly at it when it first appears. Speed in fog You should be able to stop in half the distance of the visibility because a conflicting vessel will need a similar distance to stop. Slow speed is demanded. Keeping a lookout in fog at sea Post a crew member to keep a visual lookout, preferably stationed outside as you will be monitoring the radar and the chart plotter as well as trying to keep a lookout. Using radar at sea Radar is an important aid in fog but don’t expect it to pick up all the vessels around you particularly when the sea may be lively and wave clutter obstructs the centre of the display, obscuring small vessels. Using the autopilot The autopilot can be vital in fog as it avoids you having to concentrate on the steering and allows you to focus on the navigation. Make sure you know where the disconnect button is in case you need manual steering in a hurry. Navigation in fog You will not get many visual clues in fog so you will be heavily reliant on the chart plotter and/or the radar. Use both to check each other as well as the depth sounder. Types of fog Radiation fog is the one you get in the early morning mainly in harbours and it should clear when the sun warms things up. Advection fog is found at sea when warm moist air flows over a cold sea and needs a change of wind or sea temperature before clearing. Sailing in fog Ideally you should not be under sail in fog. You may not be able to manoeuvre quickly, the sail can obstruct visibility and white sails do not show up in fog. Safety margins Allow larger safety margins in fog particularly for making a landfall. Moderate your speed so you can stop or take avoiding action in good time. Make your boat more visible Have...

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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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