Share your ideas, knowledge and concerns on the subject of safety at sea with
We'll present you with varying viewpoints, questions to ponder and do our best to appeal to beginners and old
Are you cautious or just plain lucky? Below we have a couple of items which give food for
thought, and discussion.
A bracing 40-knot breeze, to some people, is a
Force 10+ to others, in the marina bar...
When it comes to genuine stormy weather, it is my opinion that one should resist
the adages "beat the storm"; "press on"; "fight the
savage sea" (you'll lose); "meet it head-on" etc.
Codswallop! If Neptune and Davy Jones have had an upset over a game of cards,
don't interfere by trying to 'control the situation'.
Good policy is to take the line of least
resistance. Forget about deadlines and rendezvous times. There's a ship to be
taken care of. Don't press her to destruction.
The few heroes who have made it home, without extreme damage to boat and
equipment, despite all the odds, are both rare and very lucky.
At the risk of upsetting a lot of 'push it 'til it breaks' sailors, I would
suggest that there are sea conditions that no mortal, or group of mortals could
hope to best whilst driving the vessel on.
Believe it, or not, such conditions occur, regularly, in the dear old
Mediterranean Sea which was termed "The most dangerous sea in the
world" by no less than Admiral Cumberlege R.N., founder of the
Australian Royal Navy.
Sailing to windward in big seas, being crashed,
banged and walloped, with cooking almost impossible and the boat fast becoming a
If the barometer tells you it's going to get worse, get rid of what sail you
have and heave to.
Play a game or two of cards; read a book; above all, relax.
Let the hard noses and gimlet-eyed skippers "push on through", leaving
behind them a trail of broken booms; lost masts; burst sails; fittings ripped
out of the deck and so on.
Generally, we have found that, after a good sleep - eight to twelve hours - the
weather has either got worse; and you'll have to find something more serious to
read; or it has got better, in which case you may be able to be of some
assistance to the 'Ahabs' who took on Old Mother Nature and lost...
Keith 'Robbie' Robinson, Executive Editor of MarineZine and captain of the 71'
staysail schooner Leopard Normand III.
In case you are busy shaking your head in horror at the idea
of a full night's sleep, it should be pointed out that proper watches are kept
aboard the 'Leopard' at sea.
Every twenty minutes, whoever is on watch makes a visual check through the
saloon ports, which offer 360 degree views of the surrounding seas and, in
addition, uses the radar to check for shipping within range. Because this is
less tiring than a normal watch, it is kept going until the one on watch
cannot stay awake any longer and is obliged to raise the sleeping off-watch or
the other person has woken up naturally.
MURDEROUS OR SUICIDAL?
On April 14th 1999, early in the morning, Dag Blidback on his Arcona 36,
'Star Dust', and a number of other yachts, left Guadeloupe. Bound for Trinidad in a
racer/cruiser, Dag soon pulled ahead of the fleet.
At around noon he was ten miles off Antigua when he spotted a big sailing vessel leaving Falmouth
Harbour, heading south. Dag was reaching, on auto-pilot, doing about seven or eight
The vessel, heeled over, was now eight miles off Falmouth Harbour and coming right at
him, bow on. It was not a small yacht. Maybe 75 feet. She had no headsails up but was
motor-sailing with the main up only.
Dag moved to starboard but still the yacht came. He moved out of the way several times but still it
Turning off the auto-pilot, Dag ducked down under the vessel, to leeward of her. There was
no-one on deck and nobody in the cockpit. The yacht passed so close that Dag could have jumped
aboard. The vessel's name was 'Kodiak'. He hailed her and got no answer.
Behind him, the next closest yacht was being sailed by a Frenchman, known to Dag
and, following him, there were fourteen or fifteen others.
Dag warned his French friend and the others and looked back to see the fleet open up and let
the 'Kodiak' through.
This story was related to the editors of MarineZine and confirmed.
Can anyone give an acceptable explanation of how this came to pass? Are today's
leisure-craft skippers really that irresponsible?
If you are in charge of a vessel which is being steered by auto-pilot and powered by
engine, just because the ship or boat can make way in the chosen direction without interference from any human hand it does not mean you do not have any responsibility to other vessels in the
Apart from the fact that your vessel could run down another, whose skipper was unable to get her out of your
way, for whatever reason, you would also be running the risk of being run down
yourself, by a vessel larger than your own which, like yours, was also travelling
If you have been guilty of failing to keep a proper look-out whilst in charge of a
vessel, please remember:
If a life, or lives, are lost; injuries sustained or boats wrecked, as a result of your
you will have to live with yourself, knowing that you could have avoided it. If,
indeed, you live.
Dag Blidback is a veteran single-handed cruiser. He says he always dozes in the
cockpit, never below decks. He puts on the auto-pilot, sets his alarm clock for thirty minutes. He usually wakes up,
instinctively, just before it is due to go off. He gets up, checks the area for
shipping, checks the sail trim, sets the clock again and goes back to sleep. This system has kept him alive and sailing happily alone for a long, long time and may it continue to do so for a very long time to come.
Our thanks to Dag for sharing so much of his time and knowledge in this and other sections of
MarineZine's first edition.
We asked a few friends and acquaintances to preview the first
hundred or so pages of MarineZine. A reader, who is
also a writer, comments:
A very interesting tale! (Ed:
Not sure which one this refers to...)
One wonders how the people in the cockpit of some catamarans can look over the front of their vessels without standing on
tiptoe? It seems that the designers have not allowed for normal sized
people, either sitting in the helmsman's seat or standing up, to look over the
Comments from catamaran owners please!
Best wishes for a super magazine........
Yacht 'LUNGTA' -
We met Ian and Debbie, during a stay at Humming Bird
Marine in Chaguaramas, Trinidad, W. Indies. We
were delighted when he responded to our invitation to preview the magazine by
commenting on the article on this page.
When they went up the Macareo River, Ian
was kind enough to stay in touch and even sent us some photos to help get us
started! Looks to us as though Ian is ready for anything!
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