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Smartphone navigation: Pip Hare’s top tips for sailing by iPhone (23 Jan 2020, 12:03 pm)
When all else fails, smartphone navigation can be a great back up to help get you home. Pip Hare explains how it’s done
No matter how good navigation apps have become, using your smartphone as a main method of navigation is just not a good idea. The screen is tiny and you’ll struggle to get a global view of what is ahead and how quickly you may arrive at critical points on your passage.
But when all else fails it can be a great back up to get you home and a useful tool for situational awareness. I have ended up using my phone on several occasions when caught out. Here are a few of my tips for making the most of your pocket-sized computer and staying safe on passage.
However you navigate it’s always a good idea to have a ‘road book’ or passage plan made up before leaving the dock. If you haven’t done this preparation and end up reverting to emergency smartphone navigation then get yourself to a known position – head offshore to deeper water if necessary – and hit pause for a while.
This could be hove-to, or just plodding along with the jib rolled at a low, controllable speed to give yourself enough time to map out a course.
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When you open up any electronic navigation program you usually see a disclaimer telling you not to rely on its…
Visualise your depth
Due to screen size it’s difficult to ‘walk the course’ on a phone, but before heading straight into ‘following the dot’ try to get an overview of your passage and write down the key points where you need to change course or pay attention.
An easy way of getting this overview is to adjust the depth shading on your app. Most apps will allow at least two areas of shading in different colours. Initially set one of these up to reflect the draught of your boat and current conditions.
For example, if sailing with a draught of 2m and conditions are relatively flat, set the first shading to 4m and leave the second one white. This will allow you to zoom out to view the whole passage.
Although you will lose the detail you will still clearly see any areas that could pose a problem, enabling you to route around them.
Identify each of these areas, make a note of where they are and roughly what time on passage you will near them, and then zoom in to see the detail.
Looking at the data in this way will enable you to set up a course quite quickly before doing a final check ‘walking’ along your line at full zoom.
Go old school and use a pen and paper to make those notes, then when the planning has been done leave your shallow water shading set up to suit the passage.
If a second shading option is available then add this to allow quick verification with your depth sounder of where you are on the route, for example, by setting it to 10m.
Inserting a waypoint into your phone can be as easy as touch and go. Press the screen and a line to follow will appear with a course and distance. But there are a couple of common sense points to observe when marking these positions:
- Ensure you are zoomed in enough to place the waypoint at exactly where it needs to be. It’s tricky to get this level of accuracy on smaller screens.
- Once a route has been established, carefully search down it to ensure there are no surprises or dangers along the way – the depth shading tool can be useful for this.
- Auto-routing functions, which automatically create a route from destination to dock, are a great way to quickly get going, but ensure you have the correct specifications for your boat in the settings.
- Especially if you regularly sail on different vessels, having the correct draught and safety margin is essential.
- Never follow the auto-route blindly, always check the length of the route zoomed in before following it.
- Use markers to highlight areas of concern or ‘guard zones’. Depending on which app you use, markers are often placed on a different layer of information and so will stay visible even when you zoom out and lose other information. It can be useful to use markers instead of waypoints.
As good as smartphone navigation apps are, the limitations should be taken seriously so never set out with your phone as a primary means of navigation.
If there is any chance you’ll be using smartphone navigation as a back up make sure you have downloaded all the charts you might need.
Zoom in: The dangers of navigating at too low a zoom level are well documented.
Wet weather: This is a perennial problem for touch screens and, in the wet, phones can be impossible to operate.
Look out of the boat: Always back up your position and your plan with visual real world data. Look out of the boat and match your surroundings to the screen. Use the depth sounder to confirm your location.
GPS: The GPS in an average phone is reasonably accurate but can lose signal, or have a delay in position reporting. Never rely on it to be 100% correct, so if it becomes your only means of navigation set higher margins of safety on your course.
Here are a few tricks for using the in-app tools to help with navigation:
Clearing bearings: Use the measuring tool to mark clearing bearings, which can be visually checked with a hand-bearing compass as you sail. This is great for making landfall.
Record your track to show the effects of tide and wind shifts: Displaying the track can show the distance between COG and heading, as well wind shifts if sailing to wind.
Laylines: To estimate where you should tack, work out what your next heading should be based on current course and estimated tide, then place one end of the measuring tool where you wish to end up and lay the other end across your projected track.
First published in the January 2020 edition of Yachting World.
The post Smartphone navigation: Pip Hare’s top tips for sailing by iPhone appeared first on Yachting World.
Sailing the Falkland Islands: A life-changing voyage on board Pelagic (22 Jan 2020, 9:14 am)
Silvia Varela reflects on how a farewell sail around the Falkland Islands on Skip Novak’s Pelagic became a turning point in her life
In spring 2016 my partner, Magnus, and I delivered Pelagic, one of two yachts owned and run as a high-latitudes adventure charter boat by former Whitbread Round the World Race skipper and Yachting World columnist Skip Novak, from Puerto Williams in Chile to the Falkland Islands.
Having sailed to Antarctica, Cape Horn, and the Chilean channels during the southern summer, Pelagic was due to overwinter in the port of Stanley. This delivery was also a farewell for Magnus. After many years skippering Pelagic and her big sister Pelagic Australis, this was his final season in southern waters before embarking on new projects.
The Falkland Islands lie in the South Atlantic, at 52°S and some 300 miles northeast from Cape Horn. During our three-day delivery, a lively downwind ride, Magnus told me about his love for the place and the exceptional people he’d met there over the years.
The archipelago comprises the two main islands of East and West Falkland, as well as numerous smaller islands. Usually under time pressure of charter schedules, Magnus had only visited Stanley and a few other sites, but the places in between make fantastic cruising grounds with safe anchorages.
He dreamt of exploring the dramatic landscapes and abundant wildlife. As a photographer, I too am drawn to remote places and barren, windswept islands, and as a longtime resident of Argentina, I was already curious about the Falklands. By the time we made landfall in Stanley three days later, we had firmed up a plan to come back.
Skip kindly lent us Pelagic so we could cruise the islands at our leisure, and less than a month later we were on the short flight back from Punta Arenas, Chile. But our fantasy of island-hopping in calm seas and idyllic weather was soon shattered.
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The problem is that Stanley sits at the far eastern end of the islands, in an area of severe westerlies, which pinned us to the dock for the next week, blowing relentlessly over 40 knots. We drove around Stanley in an old military Land Rover – ubiquitous as the sheep that dot the islands.
We provisioned, filled the tanks with water and diesel, met friends and got to know the pub very well. We waited and waited, and were beginning to worry that our trip might never happen. Finally, a week later, the forecast gap in the weather arrived. The wind dropped to 20-25 knots, and we sneaked out as quickly as we could.
The wind was forecast to blow from the south-west over the following days, so we chose to make our westing to the north of the islands, where the seas would be more sheltered. Given how unreliable the weather had been so far, we had no idea how long the lull would last, so our first priority was to sail as far out west as we could while the conditions were relatively benign, then cruise slowly back.
This made sense particularly in the light of our second priority: to travel under sail whenever possible. After many years working to schedule in the charter business, Magnus was determined to avoid motoring unless absolutely necessary.
With all of this in mind, we left Stanley, turned round the north of the island, and headed west. We sailed through the night, since the north coast of East Falkland offers only a few safe harbours, and none particularly remarkable. Our first port of call would be West Point Island, off West Falkland, to visit Magnus’s old friends and cruising legends Thies Matzen and Kicki Ericson.
It was a rough passage. On the first day we struggled to make progress, with 25 knots on the nose and a short, choppy inshore sea. The following day the wind eased off slightly, but obstinately maintained its direction.
We sailed as far as the west end of Pebble Island before heading south-west inside Carcass Island and finally north-west up Byron Sound and into West Point Cove at West Point Island. We arrived very late on the second night, in darkness, relying on instruments alone. It was nonetheless an easy entrance, and we anchored in eight metres in the middle of the cove.
The next day we were woken by Kicki’s singsong voice on the VHF, inviting us to come ashore for lunch. We were feeling rather dizzy after two bouncy days at sea, and both perked up at the prospect of homemade food, good company, and a long walk.
With high sea cliffs and abundant bird life – especially large colonies of black-browed albatrosses, as well as gentoo, jackass and rockhopper penguins, and striated caracara, known locally as the Johnny rook – West Point Island is one of the most popular cruise ship destinations in the Falklands outside of Stanley.
For the last three years, Thies and Kicki have been running the sheep farm and looking after the tourists. Last summer they arrived in record numbers: Kicki told us that season she’d baked cakes and made cups of tea for over 4,000 cruise ship guests on their short stopovers at West Point en route to South Georgia or Antarctica.
Thies and Kicki greeted us in their sunny kitchen, which would’ve been perfectly at home in an English country house. We hugged like old friends; I was instantly at ease in their company. The couple have spent their entire adult lives sailing in Wanderer III, the iconic 30ft wooden sloop in which Eric and Susan Hiscock famously circumnavigated the globe twice.
For the last 15 years, they have focused mostly on the Southern Ocean. Most impressively, they lived in South Georgia, on board Wanderer III, for 26 months, from 2009 to 2011, and published an extraordinary photobook of their time there. In 2011, they were awarded the Cruising Club of America’s Blue Water Medal.
We chatted about life, sailing, South Georgia, photography, literature; our conversation flowed into the evening. One evening after dinner, they invited us on board Wanderer III for coffee and more thrilling stories, from rolling the boat near Cape Horn, to the challenges and serendipity involved in procuring firewood in treeless South Georgia.
Wanderer was one of the cosiest spaces we’d ever been in – intimate, full of books, lit by paraffin lamps, kept warm by a wood burner. A real home, as charming and hospitable as its owners.
Our original plan was to go to New Island next, reckoned to be one of the most beautiful in the Falklands. In order to catch the tide, which can run up to six knots through the Woolly Gut between West Point Island and West Falkland itself, we left in the gloaming.
We headed south-west under headsail alone on a sea as smooth as oil, motoring occasionally when the wind dropped below five knots. In the perfect silence of the morning, we could hear birds flapping their wings as they took off in the distance.
We altered our course many times, trying to anticipate where the next whale would surface, listening out for the otherworldly sound they make when they blow out spray. From that morning on, we were permanently escorted by dolphins. At one point we counted 22 all around Pelagic!
As we neared the island, we veered off course to take a close-up look at the Colliers, a striking pair of sea stacks that I wanted to photograph. We spent hours going round and round the rocks, under sail alone, just for fun. The sea stacks are made of layered shelves on which dozens of sea lions were enjoying the sun.
However, with each lap of the yacht, the young males became increasingly vocal, until they finally drove us off their territory with their cacophony of barking and an intense stench.
We’d taken quite a detour to see the Colliers, and by the time we left, the sun was going down. Going to New Island would’ve meant doubling back on ourselves, so instead we steered Pelagic toward Beaver Island.
Beaver Island, the westernmost of the Falklands, is the home of southern high latitude sailing pioneer Jérôme Poncet and his family. In 1978-79 his Damien II was the first yacht to winter in Antarctica, and to this day remains the only yacht to have wintered so far south (67°45’S). Sadly, there was nobody on Beaver Island – Poncet was at Buckingham Palace, receiving a Polar Medal from the Queen.
Still, we hiked around the perimeter of the island and had a picnic at the top of one of the impressive cliffs, followed by curious and bold caracaras, and, at a more prudent distance, several flocks of reindeer. These are not native to the Falklands, but imports from South Georgia where, in turn, they were introduced by Norwegian whalers in the early 20th Century.
In 2002 and 2003, Poncet sailed 31 reindeer from South Georgia to Beaver Island on his yacht Golden Fleece. One can only imagine how disconcerting the voyage must have been for the reindeer, but they made it to the island and thrived.
Our delightful experience travelling under headsail alone from West Point Island set a precedent, and we continued under the same sailplan early the following morning, all the way to Pit Creek, on Weddell Island. The anchorage is very narrow and shallow, so even with Pelagic’s lifting keel, we couldn’t get to the head of the cove.
Dolphins known locally as puffing pigs, after the noise they make when they come to the surface, escorted our dinghy to shore. These are Commerson’s dolphins, only found in narrow passages; rarely offshore. Out at sea, the sleeker Peale’s dolphins take over, often leaping playfully alongside a vessel for hours.
By now we’d developed a cruising routine: arrive at a new anchorage; drop the anchor; take the dinghy ashore and go for a hike around the island. On our walk around Pit Creek we found vestiges of earlier human settlement – an old fishing buoy, the ruins of a house with only the fireplace and chimney still standing – but again we had the island to ourselves.
We weighed anchor at first light and sailed in light airs around the north of Weddell Island, toward Weddell settlement. We called into the bay hoping to meet the owners of the settlement, but nobody answered on the radio, so we decided to use the last light of the day to continue on to New Year Cove, where we spent the night.
From New Year Cove, we sailed down the Smylie Channel. Crossing Race Reef and heading out to the open sea was very rough, with tremendous overfalls. Heading south-east, we passed the impressive cliffs of Port Stephens and Cape Meredith, toward the settlement at Port Albemarle, famous for its abandoned sealing station.
At the southern end of Falkland Sound, the channel that divides the two main Falkland islands, Port Albermarle has some of the most striking scenery in the Falkland Islands, with white sandy beaches and large patches of seaweed in prominent shapes and textures. We followed penguin footprints leading up from the beach and found a large colony of gentoo penguins, which were initially shy, but eventually waddled up to us, won over by curiosity.
On the way back to Pelagic, we were again escorted by puffing pigs, which seemed to be making fun of us by leaping up and belly flopping all around the dinghy, soaking us with icy water. We laughed and cursed them in jest, reminding ourselves never to forget that such moments are magical and a large part of why we live the way we do.
Although we were running out of time, Magnus was keen to explore Chaffers Gullet, a long, thin channel at the end of which there was a very appealing anchorage at the foot of a hill called the Little Mollymawk, which would’ve made for a perfect hike.
Motoring up this narrow channel – at times only 80m wide – took longer than we anticipated, and by the time we got to the anchorage it was almost dark, so we never made it off the boat. But it was a worthwhile detour that reminded Magnus of his childhood sailing dinghies on England’s Norfolk Broads.
Overnight, the barometer started to drop, and by first light the wind had got up and the air felt much chillier. We’d been very fortunate so far, but given what we knew about the weather in the Falklands, we didn’t want to push our luck. It was time to head back.
The days remained cool but sunny, and the winds light, as we sailed up Falkland Sound and on to Stanley almost in one stretch, stopping only at Shag Harbour and Salvador Waters.
At Salvador Waters – a large expanse of water joined to the Atlantic by a narrow channel of varying depth, about seven miles long – we encountered some interesting tidal effects: at one point, Pelagic was making 11 knots over the ground with the engine at idle! While this was a particularly extreme case, it was by no means unusual.
Throughout our circumnavigation, we’d been puzzled by the tides, which rarely seemed to do what they were supposed to be doing. Eventually, we concluded that, while there is extensive tidal information for the Falklands, it has no bearing in reality.
Or, as our local friend Paul Ellis put it: “The tides around here just seem to do what they want: sometimes they come in and go out; sometimes they come in and stay for a few days.” The prevailing westerlies play a significant role, but seldom in the way one would expect.
Pelagic’s chartplotter has a waypoint at the door of the Victory pub. I assumed this was a joke or a mistake until we tried to get back into Stanley in a hurricane-force westerly. It was a long day beating into the wind, by the end of which we were yearning for a pint and a hot dinner.
Still, we were sad to see our time on Pelagic and in the Falklands come to an end. In the three weeks since we’d left Stanley, we hadn’t seen or spoken to anybody other than Thies and Kicki; we’d had the wild, idyllic playground of the islands all to ourselves. We’d travelled mostly under sail, saving energy by going to bed at dusk and getting up at dawn, as well as reading by candlelight to avoid turning on the engine.
We’d learned to work together on a boat efficiently and joyfully, and we realised that the time we had spent with Thies and Kicki at West Point had planted a seed in us: what if we took up cruising full time? We’d both been travelling constantly for some years and were eager to call somewhere home, though we weren’t ready to stop exploring the world. The solution was staring us in the face: we would live on our own boat.
A few months later, we were heading for the Caribbean to start a new chapter on our 39ft steel-hulled home: Lazy Bones. And so it was that our time in the Falkland Islands heralded the start of our cruising life.
About the author
Photographer Silvia Varela and professional skipper Magnus Day live aboard their 39ft steel-hulled cruising yacht Lazy Bones. They offer charter bookings and polar expedition support via highlatitudes.com
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Anna: The modern classic yacht that conceals some serious technology (21 Jan 2020, 8:56 am)
Anna is a custom 65ft Spirit of Tradition yacht with some very high-tech features concealed beneath her classic exterior, reports Alison Langley
When approaching Anna moored at the dock, it’s hard to immediately tell whether she is a restored classic or a recently built replica. In fact, neither is true; Anna is a new build designed to include both the virtues of a classic yacht and the technical achievements of a modern cruiser.
Anna’s story began two decades ago when owner Tony Merck began thinking about stepping up from small classic daysailers, like the Herreshoff 12 1⁄2 and the Bjarne Aas-designed International One-Design, into a larger cruiser that could maintain a classic aesthetic.
Merck had watched the birth of the Spirit of Tradition genre and had followed boats like the Pedrick-designed carbon beauty Savannah, as well as the Joel White-designed W-Class day racers. But his ambitions lay less with recreating an early 20th Century racer. Instead he admired the sturdy, able cruisers from past designers such as Fife and Alden, while he also loved the modern construction and high specification of this new generation of classics.
In the summer of 2015, Tony approached Robert Stephens of Stephens Waring Yacht Design and work began on proposal sketches for the boat that would become Anna at their design offices in Belfast, Maine. Stephens has had a lot of experience with modern wood construction, having worked in the Spirit of Tradition genre since before it even had a name.
Tony and his wife Ann knew they wanted her to be built in Maine, but were not set on a yard. Robert Stephens and business partner Paul Waring took Tony on a guided tour of five top Maine yards before deciding to go with Lyman Morse, of Thomaston. Coincidently, Tony had played soccer and rebuilt old cars with yard founder Cabot Lyman in prep school some 50 years before.
Lyman-Morse is well-respected in the custom boat world, but were not then as well known for building wooden boats as many other Maine yards with expertise in cold-moulded wood construction. Lyman-Morse did, however, have a reputation for high-quality glassfibre and carbon boats, but won the job thanks to their systems expertise and a modern approach to construction, including the integration of old-school hand craftsmanship with cutting-edge equipment like five-axis CNC machines.
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I was hired by Ann Merck and Lyman-Morse early in the project to photograph the entire project from start to finish, and make a coffee table book about Anna as a surprise gift for Tony. Project manager Lance Buchanan made sure my visits were timed so I could capture the build at the right moments.
Anna was built using a wood composite cold-moulding system. Her hull is planked in four layers of wood – an inner layer of tongue-and-groove Douglas fir strip planking, screwed and glued to the laminated Douglas fir frames. That’s followed by two layers of diagonal veneers, and a final layer of longitudinal strip planking, the whole sheathed in two layers of biaxial/mat glassfibre and epoxy.
Her deck is built as a sandwich, separate from the hull: plywood laid over a temporary mould, covered with CoreCell foam, then another ply skin, with a laid teak weatherdeck. Once interior components were in place the deck/cockpit/deckhouse assembly was installed as a unit.
Lyman-Morse built Anna’s interior in modules, allowing them to fabricate the galley, head, and main saloon off the boat and then lift each completed section into the hull. When each module was installed, the bulkheads mated against the curvature of the hull perfectly, with no trimming or additional tweaking required. Anna’s construction adage became, literally, ‘measure once, cut once’.
Since Anna’s design brief called for a classic ambience, that meant that hundreds of feet of hydraulic lines, electrical wires, and even halyards needed to be concealed beneath the yacht’s joinery. The designers at Lyman-Morse and Stephens Waring worked closely to come up with innovative ways to hide these wiring runs and mechanical spaces. By creating a complete 3D model of Anna they were able to plan these tiny crevices before construction began.
Stephens Waring brought in interior designer Martha Coolidge to contribute her fine eye to the style and detail of the interior, which was painstakingly developed with a combination of hand-coloured sketches, computer renderings and tactile examples. “I think we went through 17 iterations of the brass light-switch covers!” recalls Stephens.
Anna is intended for easy daysailing, and her deck layout reflects this. A roller-furling boom from Southern Spars makes simple work of the large, high aspect ratio mainsail. A self-tacking jib will be the go-to sail for most of her career. Anna’s captain, Jim Murphy, enjoys sailing with guests aboard. “I love to call ‘Ready about’ and watch the guests ask ‘What happens now?’ and see their faces when I say ‘Nothing’, and just spin the wheel,” he comments with a grin.
But ease of sailing has not dulled the experience. Murphy explains: “Under sail, Anna is like a wonderful dancer. Her motion, her response to the sea and helm are like no other boat that I have sailed. An absolute joy.” For Anna’s forays onto the racecourse, she switches to the ‘race jib’, a 100% working jib that fits on the furling headstay. A Code Zero and masthead asymmetric round out her inventory.
Hidden high tech
Anna’s traditional style masks lots of high-tech systems. Sail handling systems are all push-button: electric winches, roller-furling boom and jib, and hydraulics to drive the sail controls. Two hidden systems maintain her classic lines while adding 21st Century functionality: a below deck anchor deployment system, and a side-boarding platform that eases access from a tender and provides a swimming ‘porch’.
Beneath the saloon is a state-of-the-art engine room with turbodiesel motor, lithium ion batteries and multi-compressor air conditioning. A touchscreen nav plotter in the raised saloon disappears into the furniture with a touch of a button. Her deck saloon windows are power-operated at rear and sides, allowing airflow and communication with people sitting in the cockpit at the push of a button.
Following her launch in April 2018, Anna has completed two sailing seasons, split between Rhode Island, Maine, and Nova Scotia, with a good mix of day sailing, Spirit of Tradition racing, and overnight sails. She’s earned silverware in both Sprit of Tradition races and design awards but, more importantly, she’s fulfilled the ambition her owners had 20 years earlier to expand their world of classic sailing.
LOA: 19.96m (65ft 6in)
LWL: 14.58m (47ft 10in)
Beam: 5.13m (16ft 10in)
Draught: 2.28m (7ft 6in)
Displacement: 25,855kg (57,000lb)
Sail area: 190m2 (2,040ft2)
Design: Stephens Waring Yacht Design
Builder: Lyman-Morse Boatbuilding Co
About the author
Alison Langley is a Maine-based marine photographer and journalist with a particular interest in wooden and classic boats.
First published in the January 2020 edition of Yachting World.
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And the winners of the European Yacht of the Year 2020 are… (18 Jan 2020, 9:00 pm)
Having tested 15 yachts shortlisted for the European Yacht of the Year 2020 awards, Toby Hodges reveals the winners and why they won
Yachting World has been a jury member for the European Yacht of the Year awards since its inception in 2004. This involves shortlisting the best annual prospects into categories before testing them all to elect the winners.
The awards have grown to include 12 judges from across Europe, each leading voices on boat testing in their respective countries. Each judge sails every boat before we discuss the competition at length. The result is the largest, most influential and widely respected boatbuilding prize worldwide.
In October we were able to gather the 15 shortlisted yachts together in one location for the first time – Port Ginesta, Barcelona – for six days of testing.
The five European Yacht of the Year 2020 winners were announced on the opening evening of the Düsseldorf Boat Show, on 18 January. Look out for our March 2020 issue, which features the winners and nominees in more detail.
Nominees: Beneteau First 53, Italia Yachts 11.98, RM 1180, X 4.0
X Yachts took already excellent boats in the X 4.3 and X 4.6 and refined and refined them to produce this, arguably the benchmark for today’s 40ft performance cruiser.
The X 4.0 is a sailor’s yacht with plenty of modern styling and proved a lot of fun to helm in comfort. Although the focus is on cruising, the ergonomic cockpit set up can still suit racing.
The proportion of space is also superb throughout, from the cockpit to the accommodation. It’s a design that’s hard to fault.
Price: €257,500 (ex. VAT)
Nominees: Amel 60, Grand Soleil 42LC, Oyster 565
Winner: Amel 60
Another beautifully built and finished boat by Amel, this is a similar, refined and extended version of the award-winning Amel 50.
It features tried and tested traditional Amel concepts including the central enclosed cockpit (which might not suit an active helmsman), huge watertight engine room and solid guardrails but in a modern looking package.
The Amel 60 boasts enormous volume and stowage, has a truly luxurious feel to the interior, and comes with an impressively high standard spec including a carbon mast for €1,650,000.
Nominees: ClubSwan 36, Dehler 30 OD, J/99, Jeanneau Sun Fast 3300, JPK 1080
Winner Race: Dehler 30 OD
This is a very well executed concept, one with up-to-date looks in an appealing, versatile design. It can be sailed short-handed or crewed, and has a proper little interior – a mini offshore racer that you can sleep on.
Dehler has packed in the features, which include a carbon mast and carbon-reinforced hull structure, water ballast, a retractable propeller, and serious sail area including a square top main, which is balanced by a deep keel and twin rudders.
It’s as fun to sail as it looks. A stiff, responsive, current and fun sportsboat at a respectable price.
Price: €108,900 (ex. VAT)
Winner: ClubSwan 36
To my mind, this is the coolest looking production yacht afloat and the most fun to sail – in both directions! Why would an owner-driver even consider a TP52 or Fast 40 when you could have a sportscar like this for so much less?
Even without the C-foil (which, counteracts leeway upwind but still needs some fine tuning to get the best out of it), this is the most exciting boat – bravo Swan for doing something radically different, once again.
We featured a full test on this missile in the February 2020 issue.
Price: €385,000 (ex. VAT)
Nominees: Beneteau Oceanis 30.1, Elan Impression 45.1, Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 410
Winner: Beneteau Oceanis 30.1
Credit to Beneteau for addressing the entry-level market with a modern, easy-to-handle, spacious and affordable 30ft cruiser. Polish build helps keep the price low, a clever hull shape buys volume, the cockpit and rig design help make it easy to sail, while an options list that includes four different keels provides versatility and will attract sea and lake sailors alike.
Tall headroom, saloon berths long enough to sleep on and an L-shape galley is all somehow fitted in below decks. This is an appealing, small family yacht on which to enjoy simple sailing and overnighting.
Price: €69,400 (ex. VAT)
Nominees: Excess 15, Lagoon 46, Neel 47
No winner announced
Despite the recent explosion of cruising multihulls, this was a disappointing category this year. The Lagoon wasn’t able to make the trials and we had concerns over steering problems with the Excess and the finish quality of the Neel 47.
The post And the winners of the European Yacht of the Year 2020 are… appeared first on Yachting World.
Rival to the Fastnet Race is launched by Plymouth yacht club to ‘bring race home’ (17 Jan 2020, 10:40 am)
The Lonely Rock, a race mirroring the classic Fastnet Race route starting from the Isle of Wight and finishing in Plymouth, has been launched by the Royal Western Yacht Club
A new race to the Fastnet Rock and back has been launched by the Royal Western Yacht Club of England in Plymouth to bring a classic format offshore race back to its home city.
The event was created in reaction to the controversial announcement by the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) last year that the two next Rolex Fastnet Races in 2021 and 2023 will finish in Cherbourg, a course it says was chosen to allow the event to accommodate larger numbers of competitors.
The Lonely Rock Race will start from Ryde on the Isle of Wight and go out to the Fastnet lighthouse off the south-west corner of Ireland before returning to a finish in Plymouth. It mirrors the traditional 600-mile course of the 95-year-old Fastnet Race and will also run every two years, but take place in the years between the RORC’s biennial Rolex Fastnet Race.
The first Lonely Rock Race will start this year on 16 August.
The RORC’s decision to move the finish port to France was highly controversial. Many previous competitors feel that it changes the DNA of this classic British offshore race, and the decision was met with dismay in Plymouth, where the race has traditionally finished on every edition since its founding in 1925.
The Royal Western YC’s event seeks to redress this by creating an alternative format that brings it back to the club’s home city.
Plymouth has long been associated with major offshore and short-handed races. Beginning in 1960, the Royal Western ran the OSTAR solo transatlantic race and, from 1966, the once star-studded Two-Handed Round Britain & Ireland Races. It still runs the OSTAR for yachts up to 60ft, but sold the rights to the event for larger yachts such as IMOCA 60s and big multihulls. What became known as The Transat has since also been moved from Plymouth to France, and will begin from Brest in May.
Plymouth also lost out to a French bidder for the 2018 Golden Globe Race, after organisers said they did not have sufficient support from local council and businesses.
The club will have been eyeing the numbers attracted to the Rolex Fastnet Race which, in the last few editions, has sold out online in minutes. Organisers say they believe the Lonely Rock Race will be a sell-out too.
It is open to monohulls and multihulls between 30ft and 60ft. A Notice of Race is to be published shortly and more information is available from the RWYC, email@example.com.
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Road to the America’s Cup podcast episode 5: Designing the AC75’s hull (9 Jan 2020, 9:22 am)
In the latest episode of our America’s Cup podcast, Ben Ainslie explains the key differences between the four AC75 hull designs launched to date
Four AC75s have now been launched, and each of these brand new America’s Cup class boats reveals the thinking of its team’s designers and sailors. There are more differences than similarities in the four boats, particularly in the hull design. So we’re going to take a look at what’s driving the design choices.
There is one point of consensus and that’s the divided cockpit. Each one has a deck layout with a trench down each side of the boat, separated by what’s effectively an extension of the foredeck that runs all the way to the stern.
“The thinking is to create a pod from the bow of the boat through to the stern of the boat, and to endplate the mainsail to that pod,” explained Ben Ainslie. “There’s some really, really strong aerodynamic gains to doing this.
“That effectively means you end up with two trench-style cockpits on either side of the yacht. And once you’ve got that pod in the middle and the trenches down the side, your crew is ideally hidden from the wind as much as possible to reduce the [aerodynamic] drag.”
The end-plate effect is well understood; the lift generated by an aero- or hydrofoil comes from the pressure difference created between the high and low pressures sides. If the air can flow from the high to low pressure sides over the ends or tips of the foils then it reduces the pressure difference and the efficiency. So an endplate is just something that stops this flow over the end. In this case, the deck of the AC75 is an endplate for the bottom of the soft wingsail.
So much for the similarities, what about the differences in the deck layouts? “There are definitely different approaches here as to whether all of your crew move from side to side – as is more traditional in yacht racing – or split, so are fixed on one side of the yacht, come what may, and whatever tack you’re on or manoeuvres you’re doing.”
In the first approach, where everyone moves as they normally would, then the big advantage is righting moment, because all the crew weight is always on the windward side. The disadvantage is the time lost getting them from one side to the other when they are no longer winding handles or sailing the boat. It remains to be seen where the fleet settle on this issue.
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When it comes to the design of the hulls themselves, the most striking thing is that the boats can be split into two pairs. The INEOS Team UK and American Magic boats both have a flat bottom, while Luna Rossa and the Kiwis have a ‘bustle’. On the first pair it’s a V-shape, and in the second a more rounded longitudinal protuberance; both run fore and aft down the centreline of the hull.
“It’s a really fascinating dilemma with this style of boat, and we’ve seen the Italians and Kiwis come up with a bustle or blister which has two effects, really: a hydrodynamic effect in terms of the boat going through its acceleration phase; and lifting up out of the water.
“And then it also has quite a strong aerodynamic impact. We talked about endplating of the main to the hull of the boat. Can you effectively do the same thing with the hull of the boat to the surface of the water? Again, if you can achieve that, it has really big aerodynamic performance gains,” said Ainslie.
So the bustle is designed to both ease the separation of the hull from the water as it tries to lift off, and at the same time make it easier to recover a touch-down. These hydrodynamic effects should make it possible to fly the boat very close to the water and collect the aerodynamic gain from endplating the whole of the boat against the water’s surface.
Copy cat technology
Will it work? Technology now allows the teams to take images of each other’s boats, build a CAD model from those pictures using a process called photogrammetry and then analyse the design with their own tools.
“From that, you’ve got to try and work out why has that team come up with that design concept,” explained Ainslie. “It’s no good just copying because you don’t really understand what the emphasis is or what the priorities are of that particular design; why it is that particular shape? And then once you try and understand that, you can then perhaps incorporate that into your own design philosophies.
“So, what are the trade-offs there in terms of the endplating to the surface of the water, how close can we get the boats to the surface? That’s really interesting with these boats; the dynamics of how these boats are sailed – and that will ultimately define which boat has the best performance out of the water.”
This is something that can best be worked on in a simulator, where the sailors can sail a virtual version of each design and learn about its dynamic characteristics.
“The straight-line speed is obviously really important, but then that comes with your overall design; having the right sail shapes and all the rest of it. But the actual hull dynamic performance – how it sits in the water, lifts out of the water, how it performs in the manoeuvring touchdown phases – that’s really what we’re trying to explore and, yes, we can see marked differences between all of the teams in that respect,” concluded Ainslie.
About the author
Ben Ainslie is the most successful Olympic sailor of all time, and Team Principal of the British America’s Cup challenger. INEOS Team UK will be challenging for the 36th America’s Cup in New Zealand in 2021. Each month he talks to Mark Chisnell about the innovations and technology behind the new AC75 foiling monohulls.
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Spinnaker wraps: Pip Hare’s tips on dealing with a tangled kite (9 Jan 2020, 9:20 am)
From prevention to recovery, pro sailor Pip Hare explains how to handle spinnaker wraps
I can still feel the pain of my first really bad single-handed spinnaker wrap. I was in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, took my eye off the sail for just one second to dunk a biscuit in my tea and my fate was sealed.
Four hours later I had managed to get the sail down. It had wrapped around the forestay as well as a spare halyard, and the more I unwrapped the bottom the worse the top got. By the time I had finished I was exhausted and my fingertips were bleeding from pulling on the fabric. No one in their right mind would want to go through that pain, so here are my top tips to avoid spinnaker wraps.
Preventing spinnaker wraps
When hoisting straight from the bag, the aim is to separate the clews then get the head to full hoist as quickly as possible. Always sheet the guy or tack on first; if it’s breezy you can wool this front corner. Hoisting behind a jib will keep wind out of the head for longer and avoid it spinning on the halyard swivel. If you are sailing with crew, your bowman can also run the leech of the sail as it goes up.
Hoisting from a snuffer, the head will already be in the air so you only need to stretch out the foot. Get your tack or guy on before hoisting the sock, then steer a deep course to reduce apparent wind. As the sock goes up, sheet on as hard as you can. Be ready to ease the sheet the minute the sail fills.
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Wraps while hoisting and gybing
With the jib still up, the foredeck crew should grab the spinnaker leech from behind the jib and pull down on it hard, gathering the material in their hands to try and make a straight line down the leech. This will deflate the sail and can often chase the wrap out through the top.
If the wrap is not moving and the halyard is at full hoist, ease the head by a maximum of 3m, this will allow the sail to fly away from the mast giving extra room for the swivel to work. Pull on the leech again, but if the wrap will not come out you may need to drop the spinnaker.
For sails in snuffers, easing the halyard will not help the head spin, your only option is to pull down on the leech. Take extreme care: consider clipping on and be ready to release the sail if it suddenly fills.
Asymmetric spinnaker wraps while gybing can normally be pulled out by sheeting on and heading up after the gybe – it’s all about how quickly you can get leech tension on the new sheet. If that doesn’t work, sometimes the best option is to gybe straight back. If you can see the spinnaker wrapping during the gybe, go back, then try again.
Spinnaker wraps around the forestay
These are the worst kind of wraps, as they can stop the spinnaker from coming down. They normally happen when the sail has been momentarily deflated, often at nighttime, in sloppy seas, when sailing dead downwind or when the helmsman is distracted.
If racing, you should be able to avoid this through good communication: if the trimmer feels the apparent breeze drop or sees the spinnaker start to collapse they can call the helmsman to steer up. On longer passages you can hoist something up the forestay to stop the spinnaker from passing through the gap. A small jib works well on boats with bowsprits or symmetric kites.
If flying a cruising chute from the bow, using a jib may smother the chute, so another method must be found. A spinnaker net is a sail made of mesh that is specifically designed for this purpose and can be made up by a sailmaker.
Alternatively, create a web yourself using a spare halyard and babystay or emergency forestay. Pass the halyard around the forestay, then the inner stay and back to the forestay a few times to create a web that the spinnaker cannot pass through. Bear in mind that this solution would make a quick gybe or jib hoist quite difficult.
If you do get a forestay wrap it can be an enormous job to undo. The important rule is to know when to cut your losses. It is possible to ‘sail out’ these wraps but is also easy to sail more in. Unless you are confident that you can sort the mess out, quit while you are ahead and get the sail down.
- Use luminous tape to make the leeches of your spinnakers visible in the dark. This will help you see the kite collapsing.
- If your spinnaker bags are old and soft, invest in new ones with good Velcro and solid sides to keep the sail well packed in the bag.
- If you’ve not used your snuffer for a while, lay it out on the dock, lift the sock and run the tapes.
- When the spinnaker is flying, always keep spare halyards at the mast, not on the pulpit to prevent the sail from tangling with the lines.
First published in the October 2017 edition of Yachting World.
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How shared ownership can get you more boating with less stress (9 Jan 2020, 9:14 am)
The sharing economy is booming, even on the water. Sam Fortescue looks at the new ways to own a boat
Traditional boat ownership is broken and outdated. At least, that’s the bold message coming from a shrewd and hardy collection of entrepreneurs who say there is no longer any reason to simply buy a boat and keep it waiting in the marina for the occasional foray.
They are trying to drag boating into the modern digital economy with fractional ownership, sailing time-shares and peer-to-peer charter – all of which can reduce the cost of sailing dramatically. It’s a brave new world of apps, bundled services and sharing.
“I think this is part of a societal shift we are seeing in multiple industry sectors away from longer term asset ownership, and towards quicker consumption of experiences, or access to services,” says Matt Ovenden, founder of Borrow a Boat.
It is a generational issue, agrees Todd Hess, managing director of Sail Time. “Millennials aren’t ready to own today, but they will pay to rent an experience. Our vision is that many will age and will become buyers.”
Fractional yacht ownership is not new, of course. As long as there have been watercraft, there have been part shares. But the manner in which you meet and deal with partners is changing.
The three founders of Boat Share Finder reckoned that they could improve people’s chances of getting afloat by setting up a kind of online exchange, where boaters can offer part shares in existing syndicates and register to receive alerts on suitable new listings.
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“With people no longer having the money or time to warrant buying a boat for themselves, BSF gives the best of both worlds, allowing people to keep their costs down while still being able to spend time on the water and hopefully meet some likeminded friends along the way,” says co-founder Alex Waldron.
“We have over 400 boats currently listed on the website and that number is steadily growing with more boats being added each month. Over half are sailing boats.”
Typical costs are around £45,000 for a one-third share of a Najad 391 in the Solent or an Oceanis 50 in the Adriatic, but the site also lists commercial syndicates and time-shares.
Uniquely the service is run on a non-profit basis, with users simply asked to donate at least £50 to selected charities when they find a share. “An ever growing number of boats listed [are] in Europe and further afield,” adds Waldron.
Run as a charity, Boat Share Finder is relatively hands-off, leaving people to get on with sorting out the details and contracts by themselves.
But at the other end of the shared ownership spectrum you can find a much more luxurious service that offers to take on many of the more onerous elements of boat ownership, including maintenance.
Well-known Solent-based yacht broker Ancasta saw a gap in the market here, launching its own fractional ownership programme for new boats at the 2018 Southampton Boat Show. The Beneteau, Lagoon and McConaghy dealer had been mulling over the idea for some time in response to falling boat ownership.
“The shell for our programme was there, but we had to go out and do the research, getting feedback from those who have been part of similar schemes,” says sales manager Scarlett Sykes.
“There are fewer and fewer people getting into boating, all with similar reasoning such as lack of time, being unable to justify the cost of ownership, or charter boats being of a low standard.
“We want to give that group of people the ability to get on the water, owning a brand new boat, without the hassle of maintenance, where their costs are in proportion to their usage – we wanted to tick all the boxes.”
Ancasta says that the programme has appealed to younger sailors, as it had expected. But it has also resonated with older sailors, too. “Retirees who want to avoid managing and maintaining their own boats would be a big chunk of our enquirers,” says Sykes.
Lichtenstein-based Smart Yacht is another example of a high-end service, but it has no brand affiliations and specialises in good quality second-hand boats.
Having headquarters in one of Europe’s most landlocked countries has not stopped the company from signing up more than 3,000 prospective yacht co-owners, for whom it acts as a kind of marine dating service.
It can be a slow process to get right, admits head of marketing Verena Brünings. “Due to high personal efforts in consulting our clients we cannot sell more than 15-20 shares (about five new yachts) per year.”
Matching up similar expectations in terms of yacht size, maintenance cost and so on takes time. Current offers on the sailing side include a Bavaria 44 Vision and an Oceanis 45 based in Italy, plus a First 45 in Croatia.
Co-owners book time online and can have as much or as little to do with each other as they want – they may not know each other at all, in fact. “Your anonymity can be provided upon request,” says Brünings.
The company also offers a €450 per year membership option which allows you to book days on owners’ yachts for a fraction of the market rate.
The membership route to getting out on the water has proved hugely successful in its own right. Market leader Freedom Boat Club runs more than 2,000 boats across the US, while Sail Time has been at it for 18 years, and is now expanding into Europe.
The company sets out its stall on ownership immediately: “There are very few reasons for owning a boat in a traditional manner any more,” says Todd Hess.
The premise is a simple one, akin to short-term charter. Club members choose how much sailing they want to do, and pay a monthly fee accordingly. So-called Lite packages start at around $485 for a one-year-old Beneteau Oceanis 35.1.
This includes three uses per month, with a single ‘use’ running from 10am to 6pm or overnight – enough for a weekend per month. Other options run to seven and 15 ‘uses’ per month.
You book in advance using the Sail Time app on your phone, and higher-paying members can take a slot for free if it is still available within 36 hours of its start time. With bases across Spain, Italy, Australia and the US, its reach is fairly limited now, but new European locations are on the cards.
“There’s a lot of space for growth in Europe, and a lot of room for competition,” says Hess, although he sounds cautious about returning to the UK. “At this moment Brexit is a real factor in opening up locations in the UK.”
The model becomes really interesting for owner-members, whose boats are used by other members. They receive a good discount to list price on their new boat, and have all their berthing, insurance and maintenance costs covered. Average net earnings are around $15,000 per year for a 38-footer, plus they get guaranteed monthly usage.
A former Sail Time licensee in the UK now runs Flexisail along very similar lines, with 18 boats between Poole, the Solent and Woolverstone, near Ipswich.
Monthly membership plans start at £478 for 18 days per year on a weekday-only basis and work up to around £950 for 42 days afloat. It also organises a range of social events on and off the water, with training available.
With nine sailing boats from 32ft to 46ft LOA, Pure Latitude is another growing UK scheme, based on the Hamble. MD Ian Bartlett is planning to grow the fleet further after a surge in membership last year.
Having a little over 100 people means that “it’s very rare that there isn’t a sailing boat and a motorboat available on the pontoon,” according to Bartlett.
Monthly plans start at £200/month if you are putting yourself up to crew other boats, or £350/month if you want a boat exclusively. You earn points depending on your subscription rate, and those points can then be spent to secure time on board different boats.
At the basic £350/m rate, you could expect between eight and 12 days aboard per year. For £750/m, you could have up to 36 days aboard over the year.
“Sailboats in the mid-30 feet are the sweet spot,” says Bartlett. “We are about the quality of the boats and the locations that they’re in. We all know you can run an old Westerly on the river and row about in your tender for £3,000 per year.”
Pure Latitude has found that one of the key draws for members are its social events, which allow people to meet and sail together. It also offers a popular £650/month training membership, which includes bespoke one-on-one training days aboard, including the RYA Day Skipper practical.
Bartlett is keen to stress that membership is not just a question of paper qualifications – something for which he criticises the peer-to-peer model.
“When members join, we run a full-day interaction and assess their competence off that,” he says. “They could have been sailing for 40 years and not have a single piece of paper, or have just passed the Day Skipper the day before.”
Boatbuilding behemoth Beneteau is also getting in on the act with the launch of its own Beneteau Boat Club. The company sees it as a way to get more people out on the water and build brand loyalty before they get to the stage of buying a boat themselves.
A growing network of dealer-serviced bases in France, Spain and Norway give members access to small sailing and motor boats.
Once you’ve chosen between a weekday or anytime subscription (€1,000/€1,500 per annum), there are no usage limits. Monthly charges run from €249 for a First 18, to €690 for a First 21 and an Oceanis 31.
“So far, the Beneteau Boat Club has attracted members who are younger than our average owners, mostly male,” says Beneteau’s director of communications Jean-Francois Pape.
“[They] want to enjoy boating without any hassle, and are more focused on experience than on ownership at the time when they join. One day, they want to go sailing, and the next they want to go fishing or wakeboarding on an outboard boat.”
Pulling all these strands together is the British start-up Borrow a Boat. Founder Matt Ovenden launched the company three years ago as a peer-to-peer charter company, but it has grown to include a boating club and an ownership arm.
Most of its business now comes from finding commercial charters for users, who can search and book via an app, or online.
Ovenden is convinced that his model reaches new sailors. “It is part of a societal shift we are seeing in multiple industry sectors away from longer term asset ownership, and towards quicker consumption of experiences, or access to services. This is reflected in the long-term trend away from boat ownership.”
He sees huge potential because the online model is reaching new customers. “British Marine’s Futures Project revealed that as many as one in three people want to go boating in the UK, but the industry is not currently getting close to that many people out on the water.”
Peer-to-peer rentals offer a cheaper way to get afloat anywhere
Borrow a Boat’s club provides another way in to its online charter brokerage, which now lists more than 20,000 boats across 80 countries. Members pay a minimum monthly fee of £50, which they can then use to buy charter time at a discount of up to 15%.
It’s a sum that goes further than you’d think with, summer charter prices as low as £70 per day (for a First 21 in Croatia). “It’s for regular boaters who know they are going to go boating, and want to get the savings,” says Ovenden.
With charter alone worth £50 billion annually, there is plenty of scope for sales growth in this market. Boatsetter is probably the world’s largest and best known, but there are plenty of others including France’s Click&Boat.
Taken together, all these services add up to a much cheaper way of getting out on the water, and perhaps the results are starting to tell.
The latest research by British Marine shows that the number of 16- to 34-year-olds getting out on the water is at last starting to rise again. As commercial director Dean Smith says: “Boat sharing looks to make boating as accessible as possible to a new generation of boating fans.”
Figures published by British Marine show that although some 3.93m people took part in boating activities in 2018 – a figure only slightly lower than in 2017 – nearly half of those reported that canoeing was their main activity.
When it comes to yacht racing, a 40% nosedive in year-on-year participation has reduced the numbers taking part to just 92,000. Yacht cruising numbers have held up better at 370,000 last year, but that still represents a 17% decline on 2017.
Ownership has also declined slightly. Some 0.22% of the population owned a sailing yacht between 2016 and 2018, compared to a high of 0.26% ten years earlier. More than ever – around one in eight – are kept overseas.
“Over the past ten years there’s been an increase in small sailboat activities, while we’ve seen a small decline in sailing yacht activities,” says Dean Smith, commercial director at British Marine. “This reflects the growing desire for more accessible, flexible and affordable consumer options.”
Mark Hammond was the first to sign up for Ancasta’s shared ownership scheme and is now one of three partners in a Beneteau Oceanis 41.1.
“I’ve been chartering for the last six years – mainly in the UK, but also in the Med. I wanted another programme with more ready access to a boat. The Ancasta scheme seemed to be the first of its particular type, and it ticked all the boxes for what I wanted to do: more regular sailing, but a stepping stone to full boat ownership in about three years’ time; knowing that all the costs were included in the management fee.”
On a three-partner basis, that fee amounts to £854 per month and covers maintenance, berthing and insurance. Just £34 of that is Ancasta’s fee. The £80,000 deposit and £1,966 monthly finance costs are also split three ways for a total monthly payment of just over £1,500. “It isn’t the cheapest option for having a boat. But if you weigh up the usage of that asset versus the cost of that asset, it works well.”
The spec of the boat was handled by Ancasta, as was the fit out – “down to the last teaspoon!” Hammond was also able to make a few personal choices in terms of equipment and sails.
He communicates with his partners via a Whatsapp group, although Ancasta’s online booking and damage reporting software means that contact can be more formalised. At present they take a ‘one week in three’ approach to divvying up time, but Hammond is hoping they can carve out some longer spells aboard and one-way trips to cruise more widely.
Typical costs for four partners in a Beneteau Oceanis 41.1
Typical specification: £269,337.60
Deposit per partner: £20,200.32
Monthly contribution: £1,966.00
Monthly finance contribution per partner: £491.50
Winterisation ashore: £706.27
Annual engine service: £500.00
Annual boat checks & service: £1,416.00
Anodes (mid-season & winter): £1,320.43
In-season monthly valet: £1,491.60
Out-of-season fortnightly washdown: £1,528.89
Hull polish: £733.99
Weekly checks: £3,432.00
Stowage solution: £1,500.00
Management fee: £1,200.00
Total annual costs for boat: £30,735.23
Annual costs per partner: £7,683.81
Monthly costs per partner: £640.32
First published in the January 2020 edition of Yachting World.
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Pip Hare’s 10 top tips on how to look after your yacht on passage (9 Jan 2020, 9:10 am)
People often ask me if I get bored sailing across oceans, but the truth is there is always something to do. Routine is king when it comes to regular maintenance. Here are my top ten daily checks for getting across an ocean in good shape
Stay clean and dry
Keeping immaculate bilges and lockers will not only make your living environment more pleasant but will help identify leaks early. Start with a dry, salt-free bilge (this includes under the engine) and aim to keep it that way. It’s worth wiping out even the tiniest pool of water to see if comes back again. In warmer climates I’ve used trails of crystallised salt to identify a small leak – only possible because the rest of the surface was completely salt-free.
Walk the deck
Take a turn around the deck every day, looking at what is around your feet and pausing by each fitting to give a thorough inspection. Often we are so focussed on the sails and looking towards the horizon that fittings at deck level can get ignored.
Check all the blocks at the base of the mast, looking for signs of damage to sheaves, loose shackle pins or any indication they are being pulled apart through a bad lead. Excessive ‘side to side’ movement in traveller or jib cars could be a sign that the bearings are wearing. Look for any pins, split rings or small items that might have fallen down from the rig and washed into the toe rail.
Make daily engine checks
My daily checks include oil and coolant levels, belt tensions and feeling the bolts on engine mounts and alternator brackets to ensure they have not come loose. I will also watch the engine while it is running. As with bilges, keeping the engine bay immaculately clean and dry should alert you to the first signs of leakage. Record engine hours against fuel levels, especially on longer voyages.
Check battery levels
Monitoring battery levels should be part of any watch rotation, with all crew knowing what voltage the batteries should not drop below. Battery monitors with alarms can help.
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Rotate your food
It’s painful to throw away fresh produce, but with large top-loading fridges it is easy to lose track. Check food stocks on a daily basis, bringing the items which need eating to the top of the pile. If sailing with a larger crew then have a daily notice in the galley listing the food that needs to be eaten. Every couple of days have a deeper look in the cupboards or lockers at how well they are packed and rearrange items to stop cans rolling around or more fragile foodstuffs being crushed.
Manage water carefully
I monitor fresh water levels daily to get an idea of how much is being used and constantly re-evaluate how much will be needed as conditions develop. Start rationing early if you feel it is going to be necessary. Seawater can be used for cooking, taking showers and doing the washing up so fresh water is only for drinking. The earlier you start this strategy the less it will impact the crew. If using a watermaker, run it regularly to keep the tanks always full.
Monitor crew health closely
Crew welfare is as important on an ocean voyage as keeping the boat together. Small problems which go unaddressed can escalate, so a good skipper needs to offer an open ear or delegate this role. Ensure everyone is drinking enough water, make sure skin abrasions are kept clean and dry where possible, and ensure every crew member eats at every meal. Check everyone is following a good hygiene regime, using antibacterial hand gel after going to the toilet and before preparing food.
Though embarrassing to talk about it is also important that everyone feels able to discuss with at least one crew member if they have any problems with their toilet routine. Be alert to signs of low mood or withdrawal, try to stay on top of any confrontational behaviour and ensure everyone feels they have someone to talk to.
Check for signs of chafe
Be on the lookout for chafe at all times to identify what could be changed or repaired. When you walk the deck run your fingers along the guard rails, feeling for any sharp wires or edges. Check sheets and halyards where they go through blocks and ease or raise halyards to check for wear in the clutches.
Look up the rig
On a daily basis I walk to the base of the mast and look up the rig. I look up the side of the mast to check that the backstays are still pulling the head of the mast backwards, and the mid-section of the mast is not excessively panting. I look up the front of the mast to check lateral alignment and look up the back for any issues with batten cars, or damage to the luff of the mainsail.
Check spinnaker halyards are not twisted and are ready for the next hoist – do this just before dark so you know exactly where they are. Use a pair of binoculars to look at the wind instruments and the VHF antenna to identify any movement on their brackets, which might lead to them coming loose.
Don’t forget to floss
When racing I floss the bottom of the boat every other day but check the rudders for weed all of the time. To floss, throw a line under the bow with one person on each end then walk slowly back to the keel pulling the rope to and fro. For cruising this is less important but it is well worth it every now and again.
If your rudder is not visible from the deck then you could use a robust waterproof camera attached to a length of batten or boat hook to have a quick scan under the boat (slow the boat down to get a better picture and minimise the risk of losing the camera).
First published in the December 2019 edition of Yachting World.
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The great escape: Why there’s no bad time to drop everything and sail away (9 Jan 2020, 9:06 am)
When is the right time to cut loose and sail away? Any time, as Helen Fretter finds out from cruisers of all life stages
How do we untie the lines that bind us? Family, jobs, homes, schools, pets, friends… our lives are built on the myriad of small connections and huge decisions that we have made over a lifetime.
Appealing though it is to dream of handing in your notice, locking up the house and sailing off into the sunset, the reality is that it can take a daunting amount of planning and organisation to disentangle our land-based routines.
There is no ‘right’ time to go – there are cruisers who have enjoyed bluewater adventuring with a newborn baby, others who’ve waited until their 70s and plenty of others who found their life circumstances changed dramatically but their sailing plans could be adapted to carry on.
We spoke to those who have made the move to liveaboard or long-haul cruising to find out why they chose to go when they did, and what lessons they’d pass on to anyone thinking of making the leap.
When Kathleen Casey-Kirschling was born at 0001hr on 1st January 1946 in Pennsylvania, she became the USA’s very first baby boomer, the first of the generation that would redefine ‘retirement’.
It’s no surprise that when she and her husband chose to retire they did so aboard a yacht (albeit a motoryacht, their Grand Banks 42). It was named First Boomer.
The post-war generation who were born between 1946-64, are now in their mid-50s to early-70s, and statistically healthier, wealthier and more active than any previous generation, so in the best position to enjoy long-haul cruising.
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For many third age cruisers their yacht is the reward for four decades of working at a successful career or business. Final salary pension schemes – and, in the UK, tax changes which allowed lump sums to be drawn from pension funds without penalty since 2015 – have enabled many to bolster their income to contend with the costs of a bluewater trip.
It is not entirely straightforward for those in their 50s and 60s: elderly parents, ‘boomerang’ children who’ve returned to the family home, and new grandchildren are often emotive pulls back to shore. The increased expense of travel and health insurance for over-65s can be an added complication.
But there are many who have made it work, and for whom retirement afloat signals the best years of their lives. “They say that the time to reef is when you first think of it, but unless you have unlimited resources, casting off the lines is seldom that simple.
“For Terry and me, it started as an impossible dream, crashed on the rocks of various recessions and slowly morphed into a plan and then reality,” recalls Alan Ryall, who has been sailing with his wife, Terry, since 2013. Both are in their mid-60s.
Having owned boats for 25 years, the Ryalls bought their Island Packet 465, Seminole Wind, in 2011 with the specific aim of bluewater voyaging. After completing Yachtmaster, first aid and survival training, and a full year of shakedown cruising, they sailed across the Atlantic in 2013.
The couple initially tried downsizing from working full-time to part-time, “so we could try and get the best of both worlds,” recalls Alan. “It failed miserably.”
“We hauled out in Antigua where I jumped straight on to a flight to Singapore in time to run a major conference. We were constantly finding a place to leave the boat and it was just frustrating.
“We came back once to find a major lightning strike had caused over $70,000 damage because work pressure meant she had been left in Florida in the storm season, fortunately with the permission of our insurers.”
A health scare made them reassess. “We took a knife to the lines and left work behind for good,” Alan explains. “Our house in London was sold and we bought a smaller apartment to rent, so we had no emotional attachment to it.”
Possessions were dealt with ruthlessly. “They fell into two categories: a small pile of must-keeps and a large pile of dispose of (give to family, charity shop or sell). I can’t even remember what we disposed of so we didn’t need it – it was a cathartic experience.”
Other attachments were harder to break. “For a while we both had elderly and infirm mothers and so we flew home on a regular basis to share the load. We lost both of them within a year and it taught us that we always need a reserve fund to get us home in an emergency,” says Alan.
The trickiest thing for the Ryalls was finding the right moment to shift from working life to liveaboard life. “We had a clear financial plan that was originally over 10 years, but got stretched due to recessions and life getting in the way.
“We decided to wait until we were financially sound rather than going early and having to face going back to the workplace.”
Was it the right time for them? “For us the financial security and the achievement of many of our life’s goals means that this is a new phase rather than a temporary phase.
“We are very lucky. We have the health, vitality and financial resources to embrace our new life. It could so easily be different and so I’d say, when the time feels right, do it. Don’t wait for absolute certainty.”
The home schoolers
Taking your children on a family bluewater adventure is a dream for many – turning off social media and exam pressure, and exposing them to different cultures and hands-on experiences instead has huge appeal.
But picking the right moment in between critical school years can be a challenge. While some families do cruise successfully with toddlers and teenagers, for most there is a ‘sweet spot’ that makes primary school age the ideal time to go.
The Steventon family set off from the Isle of Wight last July. Tom and Philippa are sailing with their sons Stan and Ted, aged eight and six, aboard their Bowman 40, Bella.
“We had actually attempted to leave once before when Stan was 11 weeks old,” recalls Philippa. “We did a ‘gentle’ shakedown cruise to the Outer Hebrides and back, and then thought better of the whole idea. For us, it was just too hard work with a newborn.
“After Ted arrived we moved ashore for a few years. We did quite a bit of research into when would be the best time for us to take the boys out of school without disturbing their education too much – although we do believe the whole experience will enhance their education rather than disrupt it.
“The salient points for us were that the boys were able to read, write and swim before we left. We also wanted them to be old enough to remember this experience when they are older and be part of it as much as possible.”
The family have planned to cruise for two years initially, spending the first year in Europe before crossing the Atlantic to the Caribbean. “From there we will make a decision as a family as to what we do after that,” Philippa explains. They have timed their trip so they can return before their eldest enrols in secondary school, or continue to home educate.
After a summer off, Tom and Philippa started ‘boat school’ in September so the boys began lessons at the same time as their friends back home. “We try and do four 45-minute lessons a day and split them between us,” explains Philippa.
“We are trying to make school as related to what we are doing as possible. We are also trying to follow the boys’ interests, and map the UK national curriculum to them.
“Before we left, boat school was the bit that I was most daunted about. But, dare I say it, it’s actually been quite fun. Not least because, by splitting the teaching between Tom and me, we are both guaranteed a bit of child-free time each day. That’s important for everyone’s sanity!”
Keeping the family home is an additional complication for those wanting to retain a base. “Fortunately, we managed to rent our house out to good friends which meant that we could leave quite a bit of furniture in the house. The rest of our possessions we either gave away, sold or put in storage.”
Without the cash injection of a house sale, family cruising can depend on rental income and what Philippa describes as “some serious belt tightening.”
One of the most positive surprises the Steventons have found is that, although they have sailed as a family since the boys were babies, liveaboard life is a different rhythm to enjoy.
“We’ve actually learned to cruise. In recent years summer holidays have been hammering it to either France, the Channel Islands or Devon, where we collapse in a heap for a week or two before hammering back home again.
“This summer we did the odd longer passage but we finally seem to have learned how to do smaller coastal hops of a few hours every day or two, drop the hook, have a swim and a look around and move on again.”
The solo skipper
Donald Begg had always dreamed of sailing around the world on his Bowman 48 Lydia: “My problem is that my wife doesn’t like long-distance sailing,” he explains.
Nevertheless, Begg completed his circumnavigation by breaking the world tour down into sections and using a variety of approaches over three years. He joined the 2016-17 World ARC and sailed Lydia with friends from St Lucia to Tahiti, where he laid the boat up and went back home.
Later that year he returned to sail single-handedly from Tahiti to New Zealand. He and his wife spent some time in New Zealand, before he single-handed on to Australia, where the couple spent a month exploring.
Then in 2018 he rejoined the World ARC in Queensland, and completed his circumnavigation with the rally, using a mix of crew he had recruited from crew sites, and ‘floating’ crew who had been with the World ARC for previous stages on other boats.
“I started off sailing with friends, but I ran out of friends – not in a pejorative sense but there’s only a limited number of people who could get away for long periods of time. That floating pool of manpower on the World ARC has been quite handy for someone like me who hasn’t got a natural crew.”
Although Begg is confident in single-handing long passages, he admits: “It is a great challenge, and it’s a terrific thing to have done, but you’re also very glad to arrive. “You get bored in your own company, you get lonely. In my case you get very fed up with your own cooking! And it’s nice to share it with people.”
Practically speaking, solo skippers are not allowed on the World ARC, and while Begg was insured to sail solo prior to 2017, he has found it more difficult and expensive since.
Spending long periods away from home is not for everyone. “It’s been tough, but we’ve found a compromise,” he comments. “I’d always said when I had the time I wanted to sail around the world, but when reality comes it’s not that simple.”
The grown-up gap year
For older families who don’t want to disrupt the key school and exam years, one option is to go as a ‘gap year’. The Chatfield family from Gloucestershire chose to time their World ARC two-year voyage around their son Josh’s education, setting off after he left school on their Grand Soleil 56 Mad Monkey.
The trip was a long time in the planning. “About six years before we left mum and dad spoke to my head teacher at school and said, we’d like to do this trip with Josh, when’s the best time to do it?” recalls Josh.
The family decided that after A-levels but before university would be ideal, but an early hurdle was that many universities Josh approached would not defer a place for two years. Thankfully, Lancaster University, one of his preferred choices, was willing to guarantee a place on his return.
For father Mark the trip was a chance to reconnect with his son before he left home: “I had spent a lot of time away from home with my job, so I had missed a lot of time with Josh.”
However, maintaining an 18-year-old’s social life while sailing around the world with his parents was a challenge. Fortuitously, and unusually, there were a handful of other ‘youngsters’ on the 2017-19 World ARC, who formed a tight-knit group.
“For me, it was very important to have other young people there,” recalls Josh. “You’re away for two years and I think the average age of a World ARC cruiser must be about 55 going on 60.”
Not all had such a successful trip – another father and son started the World ARC, only for family relations to break down and their trip to end in the Indian Ocean. It highlighted that cruising with family can intensify any tensions in the relationship.
“The first four months were very challenging,” Mark admits, “We were sailing in the Med with our friends, who were all around our age in their 50s, and Josh found that very difficult. He had left school, where he was with his peers every day, and then suddenly he was with adult company every day.”
To redress the balance, the family invited some of Josh’s friends to join them on the boat, but the timings didn’t work – something Mark says he would have planned differently with hindsight. “However, as soon as we got to Las Palmas to meet the ARC, the young adults group formed and he was just away!”
“I’d be lying if I said it was all plain sailing,” agrees Josh. “There were arguments, of course there were. My Dad is very regimental. Everything has a plan and so for me, as a 20-year-old living on the boat, it did cause some tensions. But we overcame them.
“In fact my dad and I got on best when the conditions were bad. I remember when we were crossing the North Atlantic, going from Bermuda to the Azores; that was possibly the best time I had with him.
“We went through 48 hours of about 50 knots. Dad and I just alternated one hour on, one hour off, which is obviously mentally and physically tough. But those are the times that I think will stay with us because we had to rely on each other.”
From the outset, Mark had also designated Josh as first mate, giving him the same level of responsibility as any other adult.
There were unexpected benefits: Josh found that other World ARC participants had had successful careers in the field he wants to work in, and was able to glean life and career advice from them.
For Mark, the trip achieved his goal of real father-son bonding time: “The one to one time that we had was absolutely perfect. You really do get to know somebody inside out.”
The novice adventurers
For most bluewater sailors the big trip has been years, if not decades, in the making, a dream of far horizons formed during days and cold night watches spent sailing familiar waters.
Not so the Eccles family. Formerly a motoryacht owner, Leo Eccles says he and his wife, Kate, had dreamt of cruising around the world, but always envisaged going after they retired and their daughters, currently ten and eight, had left home.
However, a few serendipitous events planted a different seed in his mind. When their motoryacht was out of service for six months after a lightning strike, a friend let them use their sailing yacht (with skipper) instead. The family instantly fell in love with sailing and decided to sell the motorboat.
Then hearing a talk about the Oyster World Rally one evening opened their eyes to the possibility of completing a circumnavigation.
“We realised that there were ways of doing it as amateurs that would give us a security blanket. Getting parts sent out, having visas taken care of – things that would take a lot of the stress away. So we decided, why don’t we just do it now?” said Leo.
“Our eldest daughter was turning nine,” recalled Kate, “And I realised they’re half way to adulthood already. In a few years time they’re not going to want to be with us – so why are we waiting?”
The family bought the Oyster 655 Man of War at the start of the summer in 2019 ahead of the 2022-23 Oyster World Rally.
“We wanted to have a couple of summers to check we were happy on board for an extended period of time,” says Leo. They spent their first eight weeks living aboard this summer, “And we loved it.”
Aware of their own inexperience, the Eccles family are going to be completing their rally with two full-time paid crew, and may take a third for the longer passages. However, Leo and Kate plan to get as hands-on as they can.
They have been learning from their skipper aboard Man of War and will take RYA qualifications, as well as attending courses for the world rally participants on topics like navigation and first aid.
“As a family it has been lovely learning something that’s new to all of us together,” says Leo, “and the girls have been putting us to shame on some of it already.”
The Eccles have wholly committed to their 18-month life changing adventure. They are selling their Monaco home and spending the weekends selling belongings at a French brocante. Kate will home school her daughters, planning to use the Laurel Springs online tuition programme.
A commodities trader, Leo will continue working throughout the trip. “I have got to slightly modify how I trade, so it will be more longer-term positions.” But otherwise, he says, “We made a conscious decision to really sever as many ties as we can for these 15 months and just really enjoy the time on the boat.”
First published in the December 2019 edition of Yachting World.
The post The great escape: Why there’s no bad time to drop everything and sail away appeared first on Yachting World.
2020 Olympics: Extreme heat and humidity will pose a huge sailing challenge (9 Jan 2020, 8:40 am)
The 2020 Olympics could see sailors having to deal with extreme heat and humidity. Mike Broughton explains how this can affect sailing performance
This year’s pre-Olympics in Enoshima, Japan, starkly illustrated for me the reality of being on the water in extreme hot and humid conditions. One day we saw a temperature of 42°C on the coach boat, along with very high humidity. Daytime temperatures in August in Enoshima are regularly in the high 30s. But it’s not so much the temperature as the humidity that makes you uncomfortable.
Between races, competitors swiftly made for their coach boats and never have I seen sailors so fervently grasping for cold drinks, cold towels and putting bags of ice on their heads. Some briefly ripped off their buoyancy aids to add an ice vest for ten minutes.
Enoshima is a small island 50 miles to the south-west of Tokyo, connected to the mainland by a bridge. Built specifically for the Olympic sailing competition in 1964, it is a good venue. The tricky bit is the timing. The 2020 Olympic regatta (27 July to 6 August) takes place at the height of the tropical summer and the relative humidity is mostly above 70%.
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Most races in the test regatta were completed on schedule, with a few delayed due to the late arrival of a sea breeze. However, one thing we did see in August was a typhoon. It made landfall in the south-west of Japan 36 hours before the first race.
Forecasting typhoons is well developed in Japan – not surprising given the magnitude of their effect on everyday life. They occur mostly from July to October, mainly in August and September. About 25 typhoons occur a year and 11 approach Japan directly. This year Typhoon Hagibis struck in October, late in the typhoon season, and was the worst in decades with 140mph winds and flooding causing fatalities.
August is the month that sees the most action from typhoons as they originate to the south-east of Japan, track north-west then re-curve to the north-east. Generally the strong winds only last about three days, but the waves will last another 48 hours.
Enoshima is open to waves from the south: the next land to the south-east is Papua New Guinea over 2,000 miles away. The August typhoon resulted in racing being held in 1.5-2m waves on two days in the pre-Olympic event, including one very tricky day, which saw these waves with only 6-8 knots of wind.
Humidity and windspeed
Humidity is the relative amount of water vapour in the air and is the main cause of everyone’s discomfort during a hot spell, thanks to its ability to make temperatures feel much higher. When we perspire, the water in our sweat evaporates, cooling the body as heat is carried away. When humidity is high, the rate of evaporation and cooling is much reduced, resulting in it feeling hotter than it actually is.
When the relative humidity reaches around 90%, your sweat does not evaporate. In these situations, your body temperature may rise and lead to heat rash, cramps, heat exhaustion and eventually heat stroke.
The ‘heat index’ (see below) is a way of measuring how we experience temperatures. This ‘feels like’ factor is now being incorporated into weather forecasts. Just as the wind chill with cold temperatures and strong winds makes it feel colder, so in hot and humid conditions, temperatures ‘feel’ much higher. The heat index also measures temperatures in the shade, so sailors in direct sunshine could easily experience an additional 7-10°.
Humidity also affects windspeed. Many people are aware that as temperature rises the density decreases in the atmosphere (molecules get further apart). However, it’s less well known that as humidity rises, density decreases a little further (H2O water molecules are less dense than the molecules they replace).
The result is that, in hotter climes, for a given wind speed, we sail a little slower due to the air being less dense. In meteorology, temperature forecasting is generally well advanced, but humidity forecasting certainly isn’t and adds an extra dimension to forecasting wind in the tropics.
When we see a slack pressure gradient (e.g. light winds in the morning) sea breezes develop the world over, from the equator to the edge of the ice at the poles. In tropical areas such as the east coast of Brazil, sea breezes can be strong and extend out to sea nearly 100 miles. In hot and humid areas like Japan, in very volatile air, sea breezes do still develop in the same way but usually only build to 10-12 knots.
The Japanese are working hard to alleviate the effects of the heat for athletes at the 2020 Olympics, but it is hard to do in sailing. Some national authorities requested that sailors be allowed to wear heart monitors during racing.
During training, the Spanish team have even been getting their athletes to swallow a pill that measures core body temperature. This information is then transmitted via Bluetooth to a device to measure how their athletes are coping with the extreme heat and humidity.
About the author
Mike Broughton is a pro race navigator who has won many titles including World and European championships. He is a qualified MCA Master to captain superyachts and previously had a successful career in the Fleet Air Arm flying Sea King and Lynx helicopters.
First published in the December 2019 edition of Yachting World.
The post 2020 Olympics: Extreme heat and humidity will pose a huge sailing challenge appeared first on Yachting World.