Saturday, 21 December 2013



For first time bare boaters, as well as experienced sailors, stepping on board a new-to-you boat that will be your floating home for the next week or so, can be a little daunting. Although certainly not all inclusive (you’d never leave the dock!) knowing the answers and locations to the items listed below will help make your check-out smoother and give you the confidence that you have done all you can to have a great, safe adventure.

Before You Charter

  • Important: Make sure you know the charter company emergency number, VHF frequency.
  • Will the charter company provide a cell phone to contact them directly?
  • Practice hoisting and reefing main. Review the mainsail “Stak-Pak”.
  • Practice backing up a sailboat. Warping techniques are good to know.

During Check Out

  • Make sure that you physically touch and operate the following components to verify that they are in working order.
  • Water Tank Valves. Verify that tank(s) are full. Know how to switch tanks. Is heat exchanger providing hot water?
  • Holding tank discharge valve. Dump holding tank ONLY in open water – NEVER IN HARBOR OR ANCHORAGE.
  • Check fuel level • Locate on board tool kit • Ask about hanging 12v cockpit light. * Traveling dock lines on board.
  • Radio check for VHF – send and receive. Bring personal hand-held VHF.
  • Locate life jackets, flares, sound-emitting devices, spotlight, fire extinguisher (check date), and first aid kit.
  • Propane cut-off procedure. Make sure all burners work, including oven. Do you have a teapot? French press?
  • Locate boat documentation – Put charter documents in dry, safe place.
  • Test anchor windlass at dock. Review reset fuse/switch with staff. Check anchor locker before departure. Engine must be running to use windlass.
  • Make sure head(s) function properly. Crew fully understands head operation, and its delicate nature. Minimal amounts of toilet paper ONLY!
  • Verify that refrigeration works well. Check temp prior to departure. Is it staying cold under engine power? Bring fridge temp gauge.
  • Check and understand all running rigging. Show crew how winches and clutch stoppers work. Wind and time permitting, practice reefing your main before departing dock. Identify #1 and #2 reefing lines. Don’t forget to release reefing lines prior to first main hoist. Unfurl jib.
  • Run engine without shore power for at least an hour before departure. Are all batteries individually charging above 12v under engine only? If wet batteries, is there water in each cell? Are Frig/Freezer as cold as they should be without shore power? After departure, use as little DC as possible. Turn off any electric you don’t need. Check charging indicators. If you have no access to shore power, run your engine in morning and evening, for about an hour, at least 1500rpm. Check all fluid levels.
  • Locate all intake filters and valves. Verify that they are clean. Check external speedo impeller.
  • Check battery isolator(s). Starting battery should be isolated from house system. Have staff show you how to switch to different batteries.
  • Turn on Nav system, making sure all instruments are working. Find boat speed impeller. Clean if necessary, and spin to make sure it registers on instruments. Spinning of impeller through water has impact on true/apparent wind speed, as well as boat speed indicator.
  • Run outboard motor on dinghy. Put in forward and reverse. Check fuel. Make sure dingy is holding air. Mark dinghy so that yours can be recognized at night, at the end of an evening, from all the others tied up together.
  • For mooring balls, use 2 lines, one from each bow cleat, loop each thru mooring pendant, and cleat off back at original cleat. Helps prevent chafing. Better than one line looped thru pendant, with pendant sliding along line, secured to each bow cleat. Always approach ball from downwind.
  • Generally, when hoisting main or reefing, come head to wind, release mainsheet, ease boom vang/lift, and lazy jacks.
  • When dropping main for the day, run halyard down from head shackle, around lower mast cleat, and then tension main halyard. This prevents mainsail from sliding back up mast, and prevents batt cars from clanging against each other.
  • Blue and white mooring balls for overnight use. Make sure you ask about free ice and water with mooring use. Small solid blue buoys for dinghy tie-up.
  • When departing country, remember to save some cash for each person for possible departure tax. May be more fees for airlines.

Have Fun on the Water

Well, it looks like a lot to undertake but it is better to be safe than sorry. Expect your pre-departure check out to take a couple of hours. However, it’s worth taking the time at the dock than to find out two days into your vacation that you don’t know how to open the holding tank discharge.

Thursday, 19 December 2013



Back in the early days of single-handed ocean racing, the winners of races like the Vendee Globe and the BOC Challenge were often the guys who slept the least and steered the most. Autopilots were useful in calm to moderate conditions, but once the waves were up you needed a live body on the wheel or tiller to achieve the fastest, smoothest ride. These days, however, the most sophisticated autopilots have “fuzzy logic” software and three-dimensional motion sensors and can steer in strong conditions just as well as, if not better than, most humans.
This sounds like a great excuse to spend less time on the wheel, assuming your boat has such an autopilot, but in the hairiest situations it’s still best to have a person in control. Modern autopilots can learn a boat’s handling characteristics and can sense a boat’s bow or stern rising to a wave, but they can’t perceive what’s going on around a boat. Once you’re in a big seaway where waves are routinely breaking, it’s best to have a helms person who can see and hear the rough stuff and steer around it. Also, of course, an autopilot needs electricity to function. If you've lost power, or have little to spare, you need a human on the wheel.

Some people are intimidated steering in big waves, but once you get the hang of it it can actually be a lot of fun. For experienced sailors, steering a boat through heavy seas, particularly downwind, is exhilarating, one of the peak experiences in the sport, and is something to look forward to.

Scull the Waves
Once wave heights are equal to or exceed your boat’s beam sailing on a square beam reach becomes less comfortable and less safe. Each passing wave may roll the boat badly and the threat of a knockdown or capsize will increase as the seas grow larger. Sailing dead downwind in very large seas can also be a bad idea. The boat, again, may roll badly, and it is easier for a following sea to throw the stern far enough off line to backwind a sail, which in turn can lead to a bad broach and perhaps a knockdown or capsize.
The safest way to transit large seas is by quartering them, sailing upwind or running off on a broad reach with the boat running at an angle to the waves. This attitude minimizes rolling, reduces the chance of a sail being back winded, and makes it easier for the helms person to maintain control and steer around the breaking portions of waves. When sailing over large waves at an angle, the fastest, smoothest course is not a straight line. Instead you want to scull the waves, sailing more of a scalloped horizontal course that matches the vertical shape of the seas.
This technique is particularly important when sailing upwind. Beating to weather in heavy seas, a poor helmsperson who doesn’t scull the waves properly will often bring the boat to a near standstill by pinching too close to the wind or will fall off the wind too far and let the boat get pushed down on to a beam reach. To prevent this you need to fall into a simple pattern, pinching the boat to weather as it approaches a wave crest and bearing away again as it sails down the back of the wave into the trough behind it.
Sailing off the wind, to achieve the same result, you need to reverse the pattern. As a wave crest approaches the stern of the boat, you should bear away a bit, and once the crest is past you should head up.
The end result in both cases is the same: at the wave crest the boat is de-powered, with the bow or stern closer to the eye of the wind; heading down into the trough the apparent wind angle is increased and the boat is more powered up. Sailing to windward this allows a boat to get over the top of each wave with less resistance and reduces the chance of it flying off crests and slamming down into troughs. Sailing off the wind, it keeps the hull flatter as the wave crests approach, reduces torsional twist on the stern that can lead to a broach, and sets the boat up to perhaps surf down the front of the wave. Powering up the boat as it heads into the troughs in both cases increases control and speed, so you can more easily avoid obstacles and negotiate the next wave crest as it approaches.
Steering upwind

These illustrations show a simplified view of wave-sculling courses upwind and downwind with the course adjustments exaggerated a bit for clarity. As a general rule, larger waves require larger corrections. In the real world wave patterns are also normally less organized, with two or more wave trains interacting with each other. Steering over or around offline waves, and of course avoiding breaking waves when possible, will require additional course adjustments.
Steering downwind
Another factor not accounted for here is surfing downwind. This can happen a little bit even in traditional heavy-displacement boats, but is quite common when sailing modern light-displacement boats with shallow bilges. Once a hull breaks loose and starts surfing on a wave, you are basically riding the wave crest. On many boats you will simply maintain course while surfing and then head up a bit after the crest passes to set up for the next wave. On some faster boats, you may want to head up a bit while surfing to make up for the loss of apparent wind speed and to keep the boat surfing longer.

Feel the Boat

The best autopilots now automatically scull waves as they steer a boat through heavy seas. The best helms persons do exactly the same thing–they feel the boat under them as they steer and instinctively scull the waves, whether they are conscious of what they are doing or not. Even if you are not a naturally talented helms person, you can learn to do this with a bit of practice.
When steering in large waves, body position is particularly important. You need to find a posture in which you can both comfortably grasp the wheel or tiller and can easily feel how the boat is moving under you. This is largely subjective and different people steer better in different positions. Some people can feel a boat easily through their butts and can sit while steering; many more feel a boat best while standing with their legs spread wide. Compromise positions, where you sit with one leg braced against a vertical cockpit feature, like a coaming, footwell side or wheel pedestal, can also be effective.
Vision, of course, also plays a role. Steering to windward in daylight you can easily see approaching waves and can make course adjustments accordingly. If you don’t scull waves instinctively, this is usually the best way to learn. When steering downwind with the waves behind you, or at night, you must rely more on other cues. Motion is the biggest one. As a wave crest approaches you will feel your boat’s bow or stern rise with it, and once you are practiced the nature of this motion can tell you a great deal. Depending on its speed and torsional twist, you can sense the size and shape of each wave and its direction relative to other waves around it and should be able to steer the cleanest course over or, in some cases, around it.
You also need to keep your ears open. In daylight you can look around to see what waves are breaking. At night you have to listen for them. This doesn't provide as much warning and your response time will be degraded, but sometimes you can at least minimize the effect of a wave breaking over the boat. Listening to the pattern of noises waves make as they pass in conjunction with the motion you feel can also tell you something about the size and angle of an approaching wave, even if it isn't breaking.  To get good at this, you need to practice, and you shouldn't wait until conditions are extreme to start. Switch off your autopilot when the seas get rough and take a long turn at the wheel. A great way to get all-round experience is to do a passage with crew and pretend you don’t even have an autopilot. Take turns steering and let your electronic friend take a break. There’s no reason why it should be having all the fun!

Wednesday, 4 December 2013


We’re a pet-free boat. Oh, we tried, once upon a time. Hermit crabs count, right? We needed a little education before jumping into that one, but… well, they have personality. Kind of.
Truth be told, I really miss having a dog, and the kids to do. We know a few boats with cats, but boats with dogs aboard are a little less common.
It’s messy: less space and more feet/paw prints and hair. It adds complication: countries can have very specific and inflexible rules about entry for your pet.
Our friends on Love Song pretty well smash any myths about long term / long distance cruising with a dog: two dogs, actually, and a cat. They’ve been living aboard for over a decade, have crossed the Pacific, and have Their yellow lab Dallas, above, is eleven and has been on board since they brought her home as a pup.
Dulce was added to the family when they found the bedraggled dog on a beach in Mexico................Last year, Miao was added to the floating family after being rescued from near death in Thailand.
These aren’t small dogs, but they make it work. The dogs have crossed the Pacific. They’ve made lengthy passages, from the big leap to the South Pacific, to runs from the Marshall Islands (where they’ve spent hurricane months) back down to the islands. Sure, it’s impacted their routing. No trips to Australia or new Zealand. It can be done (Ceilydh has written the how-to for bringing in their cat into Oz, among other cat topics), but it’s expensive and inconvenient at best.
It was actually Dulce who “taught” Dallas to consistently pee on the bow, where it can be hosed down. It’s Miao who sends all of them running around this little islet we’re anchored off, as she tries to pretend to be a dog: treeing squirrels, chasing birds, and yes, catching fish. Just say “FISH!” to Dallas, and she’s off to the shallows to hunt.
What do we have? We have Stevie..........................
He disappears for weeks at a time, but apparently we have enough bugs (cough) to keep him happy. Mostly, eh lives in the forward head. Stevie is the current in a list of Stevies (#5? #6?), but he’s proven to have staying power, and, well, he’s kinda cute.
When we brought him on, he was tiny. Less than 2″ long. Now? Not so tiny. Now? Comes when he is called. Well, sometimes, when you cluck at him nicely. Now? Likes to be hand-fed. Truth. Niall is always looking for bugs to feed him, and I have to admit, we all get a big kick out of the little gecko-kiss of hand feeding.
Not exactly a pet you can cuddle up to, but the kids adore him, and…well, it’s sweet. We’d all love a pet, but for us it’s just not quite practical… except the gecko. We’ll stick with Stevie.
useful links :-

Taking your Pet on a Charter Yacht.

Four legged friends advice

Dogs and Boating

Boat & Yacht Training

Sunday, 8 September 2013


Once upon a time, sailing in the aegean was a relaxing past  time that many enjoyed. It was a relatively under exposed vacation style that only those who knew how to sail could enjoy.

The development of the yacht flotilla quickly opened the coast lines of the aegean and especially the Ionian and Saronic Gulfs to groups  of yachts following a  mother yacht around, like so many ducks and her ducklings. The Flotillas in the early  years compromised of about 10 small  yachts,each with a nice family on board, all learning how to sail as they ventured from greek island port to the next.
During their week of sailing the lead yacht would endeavour to show people how  to  better handle there little boats, while also giving them tips on local customs and yachting etiquette.
These where gentler more civilized times , better known as, BC,,,BEFORE COMPUTERS.

In these times asking to raft on to a strangers yacht was normal, helping a damsel down the skinny  plank gangway was normal. It was a time when in the morning the skipper would raise with his cup of coffee  and sit in the cockpit and chat with his neighbour yacht about the coming days sail and offer advice or hints of places to visit that he had wise in the evening strangers would enjoy a glass of wine while swapping sea stories or exchanges about the weather...

As the years came and went, flotillas became larger and more complex. The yachts became bigger, gone where the small Snapdragon 27 and the Mirage29, hello to the Bavara36, then
40 and recently seen in flotilla mode Hanse 54 and Sun Odyessy 54.... Gone where the highly personnel and professional companies like YCA and SYC. Now Sunsail and Moorings ran fleets, in fact it has become such a big business that currently in the Saronic gulf area there are no less than 10 companies running flotillas in some sort of disguise. You may say to  your self how do they do it and not trip over themselves, well they do and the result can be very ugly.

With so many groups jostling all for the same space in harbours, it has become an issue of first come first moors, otherwise the lonely flotilla leader has to do some very imaginative mooring arrangements. Which will inevitably end up with some sacrifice to the yachting etiquette gods.... Crossed Anchor Chains....extremely tight mooring side to side....ending up with a possible raft on to your yacht of 3 other yachts and a non stop traffic of people crossing your yacht though the cockpit, forward of the mast..all with their shoes on...never
mind there inability to walk softly....

Of all the flotillas that currently work the Saronic gulf, by far the worse are the 'Fun" flotillas or  'National groups". These are the new breed of mass group invasion we can look forward to.

They represent the AD generation, or AFTER DIGITIZATION. They are the new socially aware and digitally connected generation who work as little as possible, to PARTY TO THE
MAXIMUM. They are also the new 'NOUVEAU RICHE' that arrive from the old soviet block countries. Both these groups have shown a proponcity for over indulgence and extremely
loud music.

THE YACHT WEEK, a large group of yachts, sometimes as many as 20 can descend on an island such as POROS, and occupy,most of the available berths. If one does not exist then
they think nothing of rafting on to a private yacht and making their berth by adding another 2 for good measure.
....gone are the days of asking, and should some one ask and be given a resounding 'NO Thank YOU"..
it seems normal for the Yacht week captain to now enter into a
discussion of why no!!....

It's not unusual for  this group of young hooligans, to arrive with a yacht dedicated to playing loud music, tie it to the peir then proceeded to blast the entire village with modern bass
techno music so that their crews have music to dock there yachts by....the rest of the evening is given over to young adolescent getting drunk to various degrees before throwing up on the street, yacht, where ever.....

When THE YACHT WEEK comes to town, head out of town and take a local with you because he doesn't like it either. The young kids spend no money,so they do not help the economy, and leave behind them a wake of garbage and unpleasant smells.

The opening of the soviet block has given these people a chance to come to a country they have only read about in books. On a whole the citizens of these countries are responsible hard workers. However, it would seem that once on vacation they drop all pretense and go on vacation in just a hard way. In a group flotilla situation they go by the rule of safety in
numbers. Arriving in large numbers 12-15 yachts often later in the evening when most berths are now taken, expecting to be accommodated. In a small harbour on Kithonos  island I
witnessed, the group leaders of a flotilla that had arrived late to the village going yacht to yacht telling the captains of the moored yachts they had to leave, so that there flotilla could come in and dock.
When the docked skippers did not leave, the flotilla leaders started cutting dock lines .The situation eventually resolved it self after the port police arrived. The flotilla went elsewhere for the night.

So what has happened to old fashioned yacht etiquette.....mostly within the charter  world its not taught , most bareboat skippers here in the Aegean have some sort of qualification, but their depth of knowledge seldom extends to such quaint subjects as yachting etiquette. As they are not on the water long enough to understand the courtesies of the
sea, they  have no need for it,in northern europe they dock in marinas and away from private yachts.

However when you try and educate and widen there horizons about something as simple  as how to cross a yacht, one is often meet with indifference and a question of lack of respect
PLEASE CROSS THE YACHT BY WAKING FORWARD OF THE MAST......but across the cockpit is quicker
PLEASE DO NOT WEAR YOUR STREET SHOES ON MY DECK....... wearing my shoes means I do not have to put them on on the dock...besides what if I step In something ?
PLEASE WALK SOFTLY I'M ASLEEP BELOW DECKS.......Not my fault I have big feet !!


Friday, 26 July 2013


The cruise to Scotland, actually started a few days before the guests arrived on June29th. An advance team left Athens, and flew into Glasgow on the 25th and started checking over the area, talking to the agents in Largs and visiting the yacht club where the Opening evenings Dinner reception would take place. Capt.Chandler had meetings with the Flotilla guide 'Muir Anderson". He immediately gave JC the update on problems including the conflicts we would have with the Fife Regatta, when we sailed to Rothesay on the first day. Alternative arrangements have since been made.
What yachts where in harbor have been inspected and checked over, the marina has very good facilities and an excellent yacht club with unbelievable views of the area and surrounding bay... we are almost all set to go... just need our sailors and then we can begin this adventure...

Saturday arrived, and the crew gathered at the Holiday express Inn. Because of increased airport security we had to abandon the "bus" idea and use smaller private MPV's (Multi person Vechiles), that could carry 6-8 persons. By 1030 all crew members had been dispatched to Largs and the adventure was under way. The first day was going to be a list of forms collecting gear, fitting out of foul weather gear and the mandatory check out of the yacht and familiarization of the yacht systems. By late after noon all crews and skippers where on their yachts and had provisioned and finished all formalities.
Dinner had been arranged for the crews at the local yacht club, so by 5pm everyone was at the club bar meeting and chatting with each other. A beautiful mixed buffet of seafood and cold cuts awaited everyone for dinner which was followed by a brief out line of what was to happen the next day.

The Fife Regatta was due to start there race series the same day we would leave on sunday. Our Flotilla guide suggested that we hang back and watch the start then follow at our own pace. So sunday started watching the start of 100 year old yachts jousting for position on a start line like americas cup pro's.... all very exciting as the weather was starting to freshen and signs of fog and rain  appeared from over the hills.

Around  noon was when we slipped our lines in Largs and set off with the rest of the flotilla into a freshen wind, gusting 25-27 knots and drizzle. Skipper Charlie called for the first reef and 50% genoa un-furled. We sailed around the bay in front of the marina while the rest of the flotilla came out. Finally we all had our sails sorted and off the group went head for the Port of Bannatyre, just north of Rothesay. half a beat to the head land of Cumbrae
The sail was in drizzle and gusting winds with the first half being a tacking  exercise. The flotilla had to round the southern part of Cumbrea before heading north to Port Bannatrye. Today was a good chance for everyone to get to know thier yachts, as it was a blustry day and wet. It took us in our little Jeanneau some 4 hours to complete the trip, being rewarded at the end by spectacular sights of the green hills and vistas of the scotish highlands... the rain soon stopped and by early evening the sun poked it's head out. Port Bannatrye was a sleepy town on a Sunday evening, not having much in the way of tourist facilities so this crew spent the evening and ate on board.

Day 2 started with wonderful sunshine beaming though the main hatch, to day was going to be a sail around the isle of Bute and on to Loch Ranza...what no one knew where the special surprises that lay in store along the way..
Firebird and Swift where the first yachts to clear the marina and ambled out to clear water to hoist thier sails, the remainder of the flotilla slowly slipped there lines and joined in the procession up the channel around the Isle's of Bute.
The Fife yachts had been moored in Rothesay just south of us. As we started our tacking course we could see the old yachts starting to gain on us. It was not long before "Swift" and our yacht "FireBird" , where in the thick of the Fife Yachts. it seemed that every tine we tacked we had another old yacht on our quarter or looking to exercise it's starboard right of way. It made for some very interesting sailing. All this excitement and the area we where sailing inn was spectacular, the sun even shone on us for most of the day.
After rounding the Isle's we head south for the bay on Loch Ranza. The Isle of Arran is the home to Arran single Malt Whisky, and still has a very active and modern distillery in the village at Loch Ranza..first yacht into the Loch was "Swift" and they pretty quickly organized them selves , caught the local bus and where just in time to catch the last tour of the day. The rest of the yachts arrived and moored up to buoys set by the locals in the bay. It defiantly was a case of inflate your rubber ducks fellow sailors, as that is the way to get to shore. Most of the crew had not been in a pub now for nearly 36hours and signs of yearning where becoming evident. Rubber ducks where quickly inflated and crews disappeared off to the pub and a good meal.
As things progressed in the evening locals chatted with sailors, and it was not long before a little live entertainmant was conjured up. Skipper Richard Byrnes plays in a Celtic band on his USN base in Naples, at the pub he found a guitar and played afew songs solo.It was not long before a local couple joined in with thier talents... a celtic fiddle, a penny whistle and some spoons, along with Richards guitar had alll the pub patrons dancing and tapping with thier feet.
The evening drew to a close and by midnight everyone was headed back to there yachts.. It had been a magical day, from the outset, starting with glorious sunshine, sailing with the Fife Yachts around the Isles of Bute, arriving in Loch Ranza and going to a whisky distillery and then finally getting involved with the locals in a Celtic musical Jam . Great way to end the second day here in Scotland, Tomorrow is another day and the prospect of seeing Tarbert is exciting.

Day 3
I woke to the sound of a howling wind, the boat was swinging and tugging at her mooring lines. It sounded like a thousand ants where marching on the deck,  thankfully it was just hard rainthat was pounding the deck..... Good Morning and welcome to Loch Ranza mooring field. Our little fleet of ASA yachts are all tied nicely in a line in the visitors area... The weather outside suck's!!!!.... so this is Scotland in summer....hmmm... remind me next time to read the brochure more closely.... Skippers meeting at 0930....

Well the weather is not about to improve, the pluses are ... with this wind its a down wind sleigh ride to Tarbert, the village is only 18 miles away and we have a nice marina with facilities to use after what will be a wet ride there.
General consensus was to use just the Foresail to get there as wind speeds had already hit 28knts in the bay and would undoubtedly hit 30 +...
Our intrepid sailors set off one at a time all dressed in full foul weather gear and safety harness visible. It really was not until we had cleared the lee of the island did we start to feel the full force of the winds and see the size of the waves.... these seemed more than normal and often would contribute to an occasional round out.

The trip to Tarbert was quick thank fully, the wind made for high overall boat speeds, which soon brought us to the entrance. The harbour is tucked way inland behind rocks and several significant navigation obstacles.  We found the entrance and followed a fishing vessel into the harbour to be sure .
The village is predominantly a commerical fishing harbour, with most of the catch going to Glasgow.... some of the local restaurants also buy from the fisherman.
Returning back to the pub it was evident that the local talent was going to have another sing along in pubs along the is harbour.
These sailors retired back to their yacht as it was time to take stock and prepare for the sail down to Campbelltown over 35 miles to run...

Rain and more rain, drizzle the worse kind of rain as it just hangs in the sir for you to sail into and get wet, it gets behind the glasses you wear, trickles down your neck....finds it's way up your selves and just makes things wet, cold and miserable... Oh why do we do this to our selves ? In search of what ?....what is worse is that you have half the visibility and can not see much, not even the wonderful landscape that you know is there, expect its blocked by the drizzle of the rain.... thats how we left Tarbert.....

However, if you wait 5 minutes the weather may change for the better.... and guess what it did, the further away we sailed from Tarbert the clearer and better it got... and yes there it was a funny looking yellow thing  bright and warmth coming from it.... 'here comes the sun'...(thank you George for that song) now I can really sing it with meaning...
Things where looking up, the drizzle had faded away, we had a delightful westerly breeze the boat was making way to Campbelltown, the kettle was on the boil and a hot mug of tea was on the way up to the helmsman... was this what I have been searching for ? may be....
It was going to be a long day, nothing complicated just pure sailing in what was shaping up to be great conditions... Flat to moderate seas, a steady 15-19 knots on the beam and yes the sun... peeking in and out from behind white cotton balls of clouds.

The landscape of Isle of Arran is spectacular, green fields, steep hills rising into small mountains, it looks as if someone has painted the landscape with shades of green and brown and golden yellow. The effect is to make look like a continual painting as you sail by....

We where half way down to Campbelltown and the day was turning into one of those that you want to keep going for ever.... What a start we had.... now it was all so far gone and forgotten... ahead was a new port new friends and new adventures... Campbelltown here we come....

Day 5
After a days sailing yesterday that ended with spectacular scenery, as we sailed into Campbelltown, and to be meet by a seal who guided the yachts into thier berths at the floating dock... the Skippers decided on a day to explore the town, and experience a little island life. Crews went in different directions quite a few headed for the various trails to be explored in the area, including the walk over to the light house island once the tide had gone down. 
Others went trekking around town exploring the shops and the local distillery at Spring single malt. Torridon's skipper went in search of Bag pipes and found a local Fish and Chip shop who's young son came down and played a medley of tunes for the assorted group. Later the local bagpipe school sent 2 other pipers to play in public outside the local town monument.. it was a moving experience to hear the bag pipes played so well.
The rest day was well timed as the weather for the last day was going to be perfect. a southerly and sun was promised..

Home ward bound.....

It was an early start,0830 we slipped lines at the dock and cleared the sea bouy an hour later. We had 42 miles to sail, with a predicted southerly to arrive. At the moment we where sailing nicely along with a west South west, skirting the southern part of the Isle of Arran before we headed north and set our sights on Larrgs and home port.    
The day developed into the best days run with warm sun heating up the cockpit, Crews where even seen to take off foul weather jackets and that was a first for the week... the flotilla arrived back in Larrgs by 4pm that afternoon, and it was a matter of gathering the yachts together on the pontoons and handing them back to the agent. That evening we all gathered at the local pub and had our last evening dinner together. Good byes where said and cries of lets do it again next year ......






The world of sailing revolves around the wind. Your boat can't go anywhere without wind Assessing the wind's direction is of utmost importance to a sailor. The wind's direction is a sailor's North Star, the center of his sailboat's universe. Where he goes, how he trims his sails, whether the ride is wet or dry, fast or slow — all these depend on the wind and its direction.
The wind changes all the time, and your ability to accurately sense changes in the wind speed and direction is the single most valuable skill you bring aboard a sailboat. Increasing your sensitivity and awareness of the wind is the first step in becoming a sailor.
A sailboat has four basic parts: a hull, an underwater fin, a mast and a sail. We all know that a sail is a piece of fabric that catches the wind and powers the boat. Sailing with the wind makes sense - it’s easy to visualize and understand how it works.
But when a sailor wants to move his craft into the wind, the dynamics get more complex. This brings us to the fourth part of a sailboat: the underwater fin, also called the keel or centerboard.
Hanging underneath the back of the boat is the rudder, which allows for fine-tuned steering of the boat. Also attached to the sailboat’s underside is a second fin, much larger than the rudder, called a keel or centerboard, which runs right down the center of the hull.

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This diagram helps to visualize how a keel can turn a a force pushing sideways into forward motion, similar to how a plane turns forward motion into lift.
The keel serves two purposes. Most of the time, the wind pushing on a sailboat pushes it from its side, from various angles. The keel’s primary purpose is to keep the boat from being pushed sideways from the force of the wind. It’s second purpose is to provide lift, which, in physics terminology, is a force exerted on an airfoil that pushes in a direction perpendicular to the direction of motion

It works on the same principle as an airplane wing. An airplane wing is curved on its upper surface. Air passing over the wing travels over the curved part of the wing at a higher velocity than it travels over the flat part of the wing. This creates lower pressure over the curved part of the wing and lifts the wing. To put it most plainly, the low pressure created by the wind passing over the curve of the wing creates a vacuum that lifts the wing.
A sailboat uses this same principle when sailing into the wind. The sailor turns his sailboat at about a 45 degree angle into the wind, pulls in the sail and fills it with wind. The wind-filled sail creates an airfoil shape, just like an airplane wing; the wind flowing over the backside of the sail moves faster than the air moving across the front (flat) side of the sail. This creates lift, and pushes the boat sideways and forwards. And this is where the keel's second function comes into play.
 Think of the sail, protruding into the sky, as one wing and the keel, hanging in the water, as the second wing. The water flowing over the backside of the keel goes faster than the water passing over the front side, which results in differing water pressures, and that pulls the boat forward and sideways.
But picture the wind hitting a sailboat’s sail. As the wind hits the sail, it tilts it over in that direction. But the sailboat’s two wings (the sail and the keel) pivot on the ship’s hull. This means that beneath the ship the keel is tilting the opposite direction of the sail, which means the keel’s lift is lifting in the opposite direction of the sail’s lift. The two sideways forces cancel each other out and only the forward force remains.

Most modern sailboats can sail about 45 degrees in a windward direction. The trick is to keep enough wind filled in the sail to keep its airfoil shape. If a sailboat tries to sail directly into the wind, the wind moves straight across the sail and it loses the pocket of wind that gives it its airfoil shape and instead the sail flaps like a flag. Once the sail loses its airfoil shape, it loses its forward and sideways energy.

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This diagram shows how tracking works, allowing a sailor to move into the wind by zigzagging along.

“A sailor can sail to a point that lies directly into the wind, he just can’t steer straight for it," said Isler. “He must approach it in a zigzag manner, called tacking.”
In steering toward the point that he wants to reach, he comes at it at about a 45 degree angle, then he tacks, or turns his boat about 90 degrees in the other direction, and after traveling in that direction for a ways, he tacks again back to his original angle.
So what about those ancient multi-masted, multi-sail ships sailed by the likes of Columbus and Magellan? Do they work the same way or does having all those sails confound those principles? For that, I asked Jan Miles, captain of the Pride of Baltimore 2, which is a multi-masted, multi-sail ship. The Pride of Baltimore 2 was built in 1988, and Miles has been its captain from day one. The Pride of Baltimore 2 was built using the same plans as privateer vessels built by the Americans for the War of 1812.
Miles explains that the hydrodynamics and aerodynamics of a square-rigged (they use square sails) tall ship are the same as today’s smaller, single-sail boats. But, while the principles may be the same, the practice is a quite a bit different. The multi-masted ships still form and position their sails into an airfoil shape, they still rely on the keel’s counter force, they just don’t get the same results as today’s modern sailboats.
Ancient mariners had a basic working knowledge of how wind powered their ship and how to position their sail and their ship to best take advantage of it, but they didn’t understand the physics of an airfoil and how it works.
Today’s modern boats are built with airfoil technology maximized into their design. Modern sails are cut to form the most efficient airfoil. Same goes for their keels. Ancient sails and keels were not.
“Modern sailboats can sail into the wind at an angle as close as 45 degrees,” Miles says. “The old ships could only sail into the wind at about 60 degrees.”

Saturday, 12 February 2011


I was asked to help move a new J boat to Paros island for the owner. So I showed up on the dock expecting to find the owner and a few friends. Well the few friends had developed into a whole gaggle of Greek visitors and posers.
The weather forecast was not great with impeding gales to hit the Cyclades islands about the time we would enter the island chain. Fortunately I had brought along a couple of very experienced sailor friends, and a really good helms person who as it turned out we really needed...
enjoy the video.....