Preparation

ColRegs Rule 14 – Head-on Situation

By on Sep 12, 2015 in Boat Handling, Navigation, Preparation | 1 comment

ColRegs Rule 14: Head-on Situation (a) When two power-driven vessels are meeting on reciprocal or nearly reciprocal courses so as to involve risk of collision each shall alter her course to starboard so that each shall pass on the port side of the other. (b) Such a situation shall be deemed to exist when a vessel sees the other ahead or nearly ahead and by night she would see the mast head lights of the other in a line or nearly in a line and or both sidelights and by day she observes the corresponding aspect of the other vessel. (c) When a vessel is in any doubt as to whether such a situation exists she shall assume that it does exist and act accordingly. (From Nautical Rules of the Road – ColRegs for power boating and sailing – a Safe-Skipper...

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Rig check – how to prevent failure at sea

By on Sep 8, 2015 in Boat Handling, Practical, Preparation | 0 comments

Regular rig checks prevent the risk of mast and rigging failure at sea. This includes regular rig inspections of the spars,  rigging and fittings, especially before a major passage at sea.   Most rig failures are caused by poor maintenance and breakage of the fittings and connectors, especially those that attach the shrouds to the mast, rather than the actual spars or rigging themselves failing. A quick visual rig check is sometimes all that it takes to deal with a potential problem.  However, attention must also be given to reducing metal fatigue through correctly adjusting and tuning the rigging.   Rig inspections A more thorough inspection of a yacht’s spars and rigging should be carried out at regular intervals by a trained rigger, ideally on an annual basis, or as recommended by the manufacturer. It is also advisable to do an inspection before a major sea passage. The inspection will comprise a visual inspection, sometimes aided by ultrasound tools, where wear is recorded and monitored for future inspections. The inspection will look for items such as cracks in rigging components, misalignment of stays and corrosion. Rig tensions should be checked and adjusted as necessary. A written record should be completed listing existing or potential concerns. Every 5 years or so, more thorough rig checks should be carried out, which involve disassembly of the rig. This may include Dye Testing or Liquid Penetration Inspections which reveal surface flaws not visible to the naked eye. Here’s a useful checklist of things to look out for that we’ve put together with the help of the KZ Marine Group in Auckland, New Zealand: Checklist Deck check – split pins, adequacy of threaded fittings, chafe or breakage of stranded wires, rig cracking, rust streaking, condition of mast collar sheaves, halyard alignment, halyard chafe guards, forestay condition. Masthead – halyard sheaves rotate freely and are sound, bushes, split pins intact, electrical wires are clamped correctly and are chafe free, lights are operating, halyard shackles in good condition, Windex and wind gear operating correctly. Forestay – roller furling headstay, halyard leads at correct angle to swivel car, inspect halyards for wear on sheaves, fairleads and check swivel cars, mast tang pin hole, corrosion around mast tangs, threaded fittings,...

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Know your Navlights & Shapes – essential for all skippers

By on Jul 17, 2015 in Communications, Navigation, Preparation | 0 comments

Know your Navlights & Shapes International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (ColRegs) Anyone who is responsible for a vessel at sea, from the smallest dinghy to an ocean going supertanker, day or night, must be able to recognise other vessels and quickly interpret what they see around them. This is not always easy, especially in crowded coastal waters. Rule 21(b) – “Sidelights” means a green light on the starboard side and a red light on the port side each showing an unbroken light over an arc of the horizon of 112.5 degrees and so fixed as to show the light from the right ahead to 22.5 degrees abaft the beam on its respective side. In a vessel of less than 20 metres in length the sidelights may be combined in one lantern carried on the fore and aft centreline of the vessel. Rule 23 – Power-driven vessels underway (a) A power-driven vessel underway shall exhibit: (i) a masthead light forward; (ii) a second masthead light abaft of and higher than the forward one; except that a vessel of less than 50 metres in length shall not be obliged to exhibit such light but may do so; (iii) sidelights; (iv) a sternlight. (b) An air-cushion vessel when operating in the non-displacement mode shall, in addition to the lights prescribed in paragraph (a) of this Rule, exhibit an all-round flashing yellow light. (c) A WIG craft only when taking off, landing and in flight near the surface shall, in addition to the lights prescribed in paragraph (a) of this Rule, exhibit a high intensity all-round flashing red light. (d) (i)A power-driven vessel of less than 12 metres in length may in lieu of the lights prescribed in paragraph (a) of this Rule exhibit an all-round white light and sidelights; (ii) a power-driven vessel of less than 7 metres in length whose maximum speed does not exceed 7 knots may in lieu of the lights prescribed in paragraph (a) of this Rule exhibit an all-round white light and shall, if practicable, also exhibit sidelights; (iii) the masthead light or all-round white light on a power-driven vessel of less than 12 metres in length may be displaced from the fore and aft centre...

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How to predict wind direction and strength by reading a weather chart

By on Jul 16, 2015 in Boat Handling, Navigation, Practical, Preparation | 0 comments

Weather charts, also known as surface pressure or synoptic charts, contain a lot of information that helps weather forecasters make predictions about the weather and sea conditions. Before going to sea it is always a good idea to study weather charts and work out how the weather is likely to evolve in the area you plan to sail in. This sequence of four synoptic charts predicts the weather over a 36 hour period. Isobars on a weather chart The circular lines are isobars, similar to contour lines on a land map, and join areas of equal barometric pressure.  Air moves from high to low pressure and when the difference in the pressure is greater, the airflow or wind will also be greater.  Isobars that are close together indicate stronger winds. Isobars that are further apart indicate lighter winds. The wind scale inset in the top left of the chart helps you to forecast wind speed. Wind direction In terms of the wind direction, in the northern hemisphere air moves around high pressure in a clockwise direction and low pressure in an anticlockwise direction, so isobars on a weather map indicate the direction and speed of the wind as well as the pressure. Fronts The lines with triangles and semi-circles represent fronts. Warm fronts on a weather map are shown with semi-circles and cold fronts with triangles. The way in which the semi-circles and triangles point shows the direction in which the front is moving. Occluded fronts and troughs Where a cold front and warm front meet an occluded front is created, shown by lines with overlapping semi-circles and triangles.  Black lines with no semi-circles or triangles are troughs and show areas where the air is unstable and showers tend to form. It is a good idea to print out the latest weather charts for your area before you set sail and refer to them on your...

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Weather forecasting tips

By on Jul 16, 2015 in Boat Handling, Navigation, Practical, Preparation | 0 comments

Most weather forecasts present a general picture of what to expect in your area over a given period of time. We rely on such forecasts to provide basic information, but the actual weather and sea conditions we experience don’t always tally with the general view. It is not necessarily the forecasters’ fault if the conditions we experience don’t tally with the forecast, as it is the local tides, topography and sea breezes that interact with the basic picture and give rise to the actual conditions we experience out on the water. Before deciding whether it is safe for your vessel and crew to go afloat, it is a good idea to study all available forecasts.  A major part of making that decision is done through observation and being able to assess where in the forecast weather pattern you actually lie.  Has that predicted front passed through yet, what are the clouds telling you, what is the wind strength, how has it changed through the last few hours and what is the barometer doing?  Study your charts and estimate when and where you can expect wind against tide.  Are the elements going to clash severely and if so when is this going to happen?  Will you need to avoid being in that area or will the conditions be manageable? Below are some weather forecasting tips to help you reach your decision. Sources of weather forecasts It is a good idea to gather as much reliable information as you can.  Sources of weather forecasts include: National meteorological offices. Internet – good source for GRIB forecasts (Gridded Information in Binary files),eg UGrib, weather charts, web services eg Windguru also back-up to VHF, NAVTEX, INMARSAT-C and SSB radio. MSI (Marine Safety Information) broadcasts on VHF and SSB radio. Public service broadcasts on radio and tv. NAVTEX, Weatherfax and INMARSAT-C. Harbour and marina offices. Local knowledge -talking to locals in the know, for example fishermen, can help you decide. With information gathered, compare a number of pressure charts to see how the weather patterns have been forecast to evolve in your area over a number of days. This will help you to judge when fronts will pass through, what local conditions will be as a...

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Anchoring – getting it right is not always straightforward

By on Jun 10, 2015 in Boat Handling, Practical, Preparation | 1 comment

If you can set an anchor correctly with confidence and know your boat will be safe in a secure anchorage, then you can rest in comfort and will not need to rely on moorings and marinas when cruising. Anchoring is one of the most important boat handling skills. If you do not know how to anchor correctly then you risk endangering your boat and also others who might be anchored nearby.  And if your anchor is unsuitable for the type of seabed beneath your keel then there is a high chance of the anchor dragging.  For some boat owners, the fear of the anchor dragging means they stay awake all night, as a result getting little or no sleep and most likely stressing out their crew into the bargain. Getting anchoring right is not always straightforward.  It can be confusing with the many types of anchor available and there will always be conflicting opinions on which anchors would be best suited for your boat and your chosen cruising ground.  Anchors and chain weigh considerable amounts, so loading up with excessive amounts of chain and anchors can affect a vessel’s performance and only really be necessary if planning a long distance voyage along a variety of potentially exposed stretches of coastline. Types of anchor  Choosing the type and size of anchors and cable to carry aboard will depend on the type and size of your vessel and the sea area it is being used in.  Most importantly, choose anchors that are big enough for your vessel and those which are recommended by the manufacturers.  Cruising yachts normally carry at least two types of anchor, plus suitable lengths of chain and rope cables.  Types of anchor include: Bruce – good power to weight, easy to handle, holds well in mud, sand and rock CQR or plough – good power to weight, stows well on bow roller, though awkward on deck. Holds well in mud and sand.  Very popular and reliable Delta – good power to weight, also plough shaped. Stows well on bow roller Danforth – stows flat, good kedge anchor, hard to break out of mud. Excellent back up anchor. Prone to pull out if the wind or current reverses...

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