Emergency Tillers—Easier Said Than Done

Reading Time: 3 minutes
Is your emergency tiller usable?

At the beginning of each working season we used to take our old boat out on a really breezy day and push the boat hard to check that everything was in good working order. Whilst we had run through our winter maintenance schedule with great care, winter always seemed to find a chink in our armour. And so it proved on one occasion—two hours beating in a good 25 knots, and suddenly there was a loud bang and she rounded up with the helmsman spinning the wheel merrily to no effect—steering failure. A cable had parted up inside the binnacle, so we dug out the emergency tiller, clamped it on, and within two minutes we were making slow, steady progress back to shelter.

Friday 13th and The Importance of Testing Engines

Reading Time: 3 minutes
Just when you think you’re safe.

Sailors can be a superstitious lot, and the idea of setting sail on Friday 13th has always alarmed mariners. But as the latest one came around we weren’t worried. As we were simply minding our own business alongside a pontoon, and planning on going nowhere we were in a risk-free place – or so we thought.

Upwind from us lay the travel hoist at the boatyard, and the usual stiff north-easterly was whistling through the harbour. A slow stream of boats came and went from the hoist on their way to or from their annual spring clean. We took no notice of their comings and goings, getting ready, as we were, to return to the UK for work.

Nobody’s Perfect

Reading Time: 4 minutes
There are times when only a tripping line will do

One of the strangest exchanges I have ever had occurred in my days as a sailing instructor. My manager sidled up to me one day and asked, “Do you demonstrate all of the manoeuvres to your students in advance, before asking them to do it?”. Thinking this might be some kind of trick question, I thought for a moment, before replying that of course I did—how else would they know what to do? He then floored me by loudly proclaiming that “I never do—what if you get it wrong?”. I could have told him that surely that was the whole point of it—it would show that we can all make mistakes. That it’s how you recognise your error, take the appropriate action to stop it getting really messy, draw breath, and then go round again and do it right that matters. Mistakes are what we learn from, and that in itself was a valuable lesson for the students. But somehow I recognised that I’d be wasting my breath.

The Bug Is Taking Over

Reading Time: 4 minutes
You need a large aperture to gain access to all corners of a tank

Following our arrival in the Canary Islands last autumn we watched an endless stream of yachts line up at the pontoon alongside the boatyard, all of them with fuel contamination problems. In my experience, it’s usual to find that in cases like this the outbreak can be isolated to one or two suppliers who have a problem with storage or maintenance – the word soon gets around. But the engineer, who seemed to spend his entire time doing nothing but pump out and clean tanks said no, there was no common source for the fuel, but it was in his view part of a rapidly increasing problem linked to the increasing use of biodiesel blends, as there had been a major spike in the level of boats affected since its more widespread uptake.

Thinking About a Steel Boat?

Reading Time: 15 minutes

Considering buying a steel boat? If so, you owe it to yourself to read Colin’s chapters that examines a beautifully built steel boat and shares what it really takes to do steel right.

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Wildlife Photography—The Gear

Reading Time: 4 minutes

John has written about cameras for general travel photography, but what if your interest is wildlife? Well, then, Colin is your man and in this article he zeroes in on the gear you need to make great images of wildlife from a boat.

Watch Out For Whales, Part II

Reading Time: 3 minutes
Watching whales is a great cruising experience—but not too close, please!

Collisions with whales and dolphins are becoming an increasing concern for offshore cruisers, as I outlined in a previous post. But up until recently there has been no serious attempt made to quantify the level of actual collision events, or to plot their geographical distribution. Obviously, having some idea of where and when collisions might take place would be really useful information for any crew intending to sail through areas where whales are prevalent, especially as the consequences of a collision with a whale can have dire consequences for both yacht and whale.

We Can Cope With This

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Colin and Louise really enjoyed Morocco, and found it hard to leave, but the anticipation of a new landfall in the Canaries made the break less painful.