Preparation & check in of the vessel before departure
Here are some useful tips for the preparation and the check in of the vessel.
Even if you are on a sailing yacht it is important to check that you have enough fuel for your destination and also that the spare can of diesel is full!
You also have to take a good look at your engine and make sure that it is running properly (check oil level-cooling water level-belts-water coming out of the exhaust when the engine is running). Checking the inventory of the boat is of crucial importance as it includes all the safety equipment that you might need (life jackets-first aid kit-emergency helm-tools-spare parts for the engine).
You have to check also that all of your electronic equipment (GPS plotter-auto pilot-echo sounder-wind indicator) is functioning and that you have all the maps and navigation equipment you need for the area you are planning to visit.
Even if you are not planning on sailing during the night, you have to make sure that all of your navigation lights are working.
After you have finished with all these you have to take a very close and careful look at all the equipment on board and make sure that everything is functioning and nothing will cause you any trouble during sailing (sails-reefing lines-etc.). Everything should be in the correct and safe storage place, in order nothing falls in case of strong weather conditions, causing injury or damage.
Make also sure that all of your mooring-reefing etc. lines are in the right place and nothing will go in the water and on your propeller shaft during sailing.
Check that all of your bilge pumps are working and take a good look for water leaks inside the vessel.
Now that you have finished with the check in it is time for you to relax and have a good briefing with your crew. Cross check that everybody knows where the safety equipment of the vessel is and explain what everybody has to do during sailing.
And the last but very important!!!YOU SHOULD NEVER LEAVE THE MARINA IF YOU HAVE NOT CHECKED THE WEATHER FORECAST FIRST!!!
If the weather is BAD stay in the marina and don't take unnecessary risks.
Remember that a good sailor is the one who respects his crew, the sea and the weather conditions.
We wish you a very good sailing vacation and hope to see you back again!
As with your home, there is a fair bit of electrical equipment on a yacht.
For navigation you have to show certain lights at night depending whether you are sailing without engine or under power.
Under power you need the white masthead steaming light on, the bicolour light at the bow and the stern light on. This is regardless of whether you have the sails up and are motor sailing.
Under sail (without the engine on) you will need either the masthead tricolour light on or the bicolour bow light and stern light. When at anchor at night you need to use the anchor light, which is a 360 degree white light. There are other combinations such as ‘not under command’ – ask your skipper about these.
On the panel you will also find the power switches for the GPS, VHF and anchor winch, as well as engine, cabin lights and galley power. All of this is powered with a battery! Where possible conserve energy unless you like the throb of the diesel engine on 24 hours a day, and paying for that diesel every time you hit the dock!
Energy conservation gives you peace of mind as well as the sounds of the wind and the rush of the sea – a lot more pleasant than an engine…
Now the shitty bit - the head!
The toilet or 'head' flushes differently to the one you have at home.
After you have done whatever you are doing, turn the lever by the pump toward you to it out. Pump the plunger three times, and then turn the lever the opposite way and pump several times so it pumps water in to flush the bowl. Repeat the water in / water out routine until the bowl is clean. Once flushed, the vacuum remained for a while, firmly holding down the lid - which was a little irritating in the event of a queue…
Traditionally known as ‘the heads’ owing to the forward position normally allocated for it in old sailing vessels, pump operated sea toilets can be a little temperamental if not properly cared for. They’ll either smell, leak (in which case they’ll definitely smell), the pump will block or the pipes will fur up. All of these unhappy events can be prevented by correct installation and regular maintenance – which we’ll return to later. First though, we’ll take a look at the common types of boat toilet…
The Manually Pumped Sea Toilet Your boat toilet’s malicious streak can come to a head (sorry) when it has been installed below the waterline, where it has the capability of sinking the boat if not fitted with siphon breaks on both inlet and outlet pipes.
Otherwise, for a toilet installed below the waterline, or one which becomes below the waterline when the boat is heeled, pumping flushing water in (and waste water out) will induce a siphon effect – flooding and eventually sinking your boat.
Remember to use Marine Sanitation Grade hose for all the discharge pipework to avoid permeation and resulting smells, and use double clips on all pipework connections to avoid leaks.
can happen for a variety of reasons.
This section will deal with a number of common incidents that can save you paying for a mechanic to do a ten minute job everyone should be able to resolve. Assess the situation
The first thing you need to consider is the safety of the boat and crew – do you need to get out of the way of something like a ferry in a narrow channel quickly? Set sail and get out of the channel charter sail into port and get a tow from the port entrance. Call the Harbourmaster on VHF as you sail in. Once ashore, call us and ask how to charge the battery overnight.
No fuel. The engine will just cough and stop.
Did you check the fuel before you went to sea? You should always have at least half a tank before you leave port. You’d be surprised at how often people get caught out. You have no choice but to sail into the entrance of the port and call for a tow from the Harbourmaster.
Air in the fuel system In this case, the engine will just stop running as if you had run out of fuel but there is plenty of fuel in the tank. The pipe between the fuel tank and injection pump may have a leak.
Sail into the port entrance, call for a tow, and let us know.
Water in the fuel system As with air in the fuel system the engine will just stop. If you have routinely run the tank almost dry in the days before this happens, you may have hit the water in the bottom. Diesel has impurities in it, and water will just sink to the bottom of the tank. This is why you should always have at least half a tank of fuel before you leave port that day. Sail to the port entrance while calling for a tow and let us know. No oil The oil light will light up on the engine gauge and there might be white smoke coming out of the exhaust. In addition there may be a nasty clanking coming from the engine. In this case, stop the engine immediately (or as soon as it is safe if a tanker is about to run you down!).
Check the oil as you would a car engine using the dipstick. You should have a supply of oil aboard – put some in. This should be no more than half a litre or so. If there is oil in the engine and it is still behaving badly, stop the engine and get into port as soon as possible. This may be a blocked oil filter and our team should fix this. Overheating You will hear an alarm in the engine bay and a light will come on the control panel saying the engine is overheating. There may be steam in the engine bay, and the engine may stop automatically. If it hasn’t already, stop the engine as soon as it is safe (you are out of a deep water channel for example).
Check the engine water intake for any rubbish such as plastic bags that may have been sucked in. If this is blocked, clear it and re-start the engine. You may be home free. Check to see that all of the belts are intact on the engine.
One that might be broken is the external water pump belt. Get into port, and call us.
Black smoke / cuts out / unclear what to do If there are issues that you cannot identify but there is clearly a problem, call us. In all of the situations above and many others, remember it might not always be your fault but an oversight on our part.
Report the problem and we will do our best to fix it as soon as possible.
The cooker aboard will be very like the gas stove you take camping, with swivels (‘gimbals’) to keep your cooking level while the boat moves about.· Some tips on cooker use:
· Turn the gas on at the tank
· Press the knob in on the stove and turn it to max, and light it with a lighter.
· Do your cooking
· Once the food has been cooked, turn off the gas at the tank.
This may sound a bore but propane is heavier than air and can pool in the bilges. Boats have been known to explode without warning and when that happens, no one walks away unsigned. When you are cooking at sea you will realise that everything is moving around a lot. You will see clamps on the cooker – tighten them around your kettle or pot before lighting the gas.
Another thing to remember is that because it is moving around a lot, you should fill your kettle or pot to a maximum of 75% to prevent boiling fluid going over you. Fridges and cooling Fridges on boats are generally very small and use a lot of energy. You can easily run your battery flat keeping fridges going, so consider turning it on only when the engine is running for example.
We kept our food wrapped in wet cloth in porous clay pots, through which the water vapour could evaporate and thereby keep the food in good condition. Prioritise any fridge space for essential items such as chicken and fish, while keeping your beer and wine cool using other evaporative techniques. If you have kids on board this could be a fun project for them to while away a few hours inventing a really cool cooling system!
Many supermarkets sell ice as well, so use this to fill up an insulated cool box for drinks and fresh produce too. The first thing to say is that you shouldn’t dump plastic over the side It doesn’t degrade, and animals think it is food. Plastic can tangle their guts up and has no nutritional value so sea bird chicks can starve for example.
Plastic can cause people problems too. If your prop is tangled in plastic and you can’t start the engine in an emergency you need to act quickly, and if the engine starts labouring because plastic is tangled around the shaft you should throw the gearbox into neutral immediately – you could throw a rod and this means you will be in deep trouble as a blown engine can’t be fixed at sea.
Fire at sea is the stuff of nightmares.
You can save yourself and the crew without losing the vessel however.
Whenever you are at sea, always think about fire prevention at core to your activities.
Don’t have a barbecue on the deck or below, never some below deck.
Don’t let naked flames near fuel or gas.
Turn cooking gas off at the tank when not in use.
Tackling the fire As you can see in the diagram above fire needs three things: fuel, oxygen and Heat. Cutting any of these three off will kill the fire.
Stop the fuel leading to the flames. This could mean turning off the gas or fuel tank.
Here are three situations you will often see: Flames on your cooking If a cooking oil fire, get a wet towel and drape it over the cooking pot.
This will cut the oxygen from the flames. Immediately cut the gas off from the cooker. Leave it to cool.
NEVER put water on cooking oil flames as it will explode and burning oil will get everywhere.
Engine fire Turn off the fuel to the engine. Use the engine compartment fire extinguisher to cover the base of the flames in powder – this cuts off the oxygen.
NEVER use a water extinguisher on an engine fire as the fuel is liquid and will just float on top of the water as will the flames.
Electrical fire Turn off the batteries. Use a powder extinguisher to tackle the base of the flames.
DO NOT use water as this will electrocute you. Wood or plastic If the fuel for the flames is wood, plastic or GRP, use a water extinguisher. Aim the extinguisher at the base of the flames.
Concluding remarks Most fires can be quickly dealt with. Get back to port and call us to report your problems.
We will help you resolve your problems as soon as we know.
In this section we will talk about parts of the boat that are used to move it along.
Let' s start at the bottom and work up:
The heavy wing at the bottom of the boat in the middle is called the keel. This prevents the boat from falling over when the wind pushes on the sail, and also helps the boat go forward with the sails set. The wing at the back of the bottom of the boat is called the rudder. This directs the flow of the water and steers the boat. Front / back / left / right The front of the boat is known as the bow. The back of the boat of the boat is called the stern. The left of the boat is called port while the right is starboard. Relative locations on the boat. If something is behind another object it is aft of it while if it is in front of something it is forward. Consequently the keel is ‘forward of the rudder' while the rudder is 'aft of the keel'. When you go alongside a dock or another boat you don't want to bump and grind against it. This is why you put special airbags on the side of the boat called fenders between you and the other object. Right at the stern of the cockpit you will see a life ring. It will be attached to some rope. If someone falls over the side you throw the life ring towards them and turn the boat to get them out as quickly as possible.
The space in the stern where everything happens is known as the cockpit. Here you have the steering wheel (the 'wheel"), the winches to tighten or loosen the sails, and most of the sail control ropes will lead into there too. At the bow you will also find a hole where the anchor chain goes (the anchor will generally be hanging off the bow). This is called the chain locker.
Finally, on the diagram you will see that the boat has two night lights on the bow, red on the port side and green on the starboard side. When sailing or motoring at night you need to turn these on so other water users can get an idea of what sort of boat you are and your direction of travel. This is so they can avoid hitting you. Mast and Sails When you are sailing, the sails are the engine of the boat. As with the engine for motoring, they are quite complicated but once you know what is what you can set them better and go more efficiently.
The jib sail Let's start with the jib sail, the sail at the front of the boat. The tack is attached to the bow. The clew is attached to the jib sheets that control the shape of then when you set the sail. To get the sail up, you haul on the jib halyard that is attached to the head of the sail. The front edge of the sail is called the luff. By tightening the jib halyard you tighten the luff. Generally speaking you want all the edges of the sail to be tight when the sail is set (not flapping about) so you always want the jib halyard to be as tight as you can manage.
Between the tack and the clew is the foot of the sail, and this is tightened by the jib sheets. When sailing you want the jib sheets just tight enough to keep the sail firm, yet by letting it out just a little bit it will flap. In setting it just right you get the most efficiency of the sail. If the sail is flapping then it isn't pulling the boat forward, so to stop the boat you let your sheets go and they will stop the boat. The mast is where the halyards are led through. As well as the jib halyard you also have the main halyard that pulls the mainsail up and down.
The boom Attached to the mast at right angles to it is a straight piece of metal called the boom. This is where the foot of the mainsail goes, with the tack attached to the Cunningham and the clew attached to the outhaul. These tighten the foot of the mainsail. Again, for good sailing you want the foot tight so at the mast you will tighten the Cunningham and at the end of the boom you will tighten the outhaul. The mainsheet At the cockpit end of the boom you will see the mainsheet. This is led into the cockpit and as with the jib sheet pulls the sail in or lets it out according to the wind direction.
Going down wind you will want to let it out, while sailing close to the wind you will tighten it. To stop the boat you let go of it and steer into the wind. The Cunningham also keeps the sail tight from top to bottom. The main halyard pulls the sail up while the Cunningham pulls it down.
Sailing in strong wind If the wind gets too strong, you sometimes want less sail up. Sailing can be fun in stronger winds! That's why you have the reefing cringles that are part way up the sail to 'reef the sail'. You would attach the Cunningham and the outhaul to the reefing cringles, and re set the sail. With less sail area you will be more comfortable in bigger winds and still enjoy you time on the water. Windward and leeward side The side of the boat facing the wind is the windward side and the side facing away is the leeward side.
Generally speaking the boat will lean away from the wind, so the leeward side will be the lower side of the boat when sailing. The tell-tales
Finally, on both sails in the picture you will see the 'telltales'. These give you an idea as to how well the sail is set. When sailing on an upwind leg - the telltales on both the windward and leeward side of the jib should point aft. If the leeward telltales twirl, the helm should steer closer to the wind. If the windward telltales lift and twirl, the helm should head slightly downwind.
The winch and winch handle Winches are used to pull ropes (also known as lines) when manpower alone can’t pull them. On big racing yachts you will see the biggest guys on the boat on the ‘grinder’ that is just turning the winch. On smaller boats like yours you will only need a winch handle to turn it. Winches are most used to tighten and loosen the jib sheet. Some notes on using the winch Firstly turn the line around it in a clockwise direction for one turn. Make sure that the end of the line with you are pulling from is at the bottom while the end of the line you are pulling is above.
NEVER put your fingers between the line and the winch barrel. If there was a sudden gust on the sail it is trimming your fingers could be broken or even removed. ALWAYS use the flat of your hand on top of the line when on the winch. Usually before there is any tension on it you only put one full turn on it and then pull like crazy until there is tension on it. At this stage put two more turns on the winch.
Make sure the turns don’t overlap as that could trap the jib sheet and this in turn could mean the boat end up flat on its side in an emergency situation. When you have the turns on the winch immediately put the winch handle on and turn clockwise until you cannot turn any more at a decent speed. If you are quick enough with the winch this might be all you need to do.
Once it is too much for your arms alone, turn the winch handle anticlockwise and this will use the mechanics inside the winch to help you tighten it the rest of the way. To loosen rope on the winch, hold the line taught with both hands and ease off the tension gently. One common time you’ll need to do this is when you are tacking the boat. Read our explanation about tacking and gybing later in this manual.
On most days tacking and gybing are the most exercise you will get while sailing. There will be lots of noises and dashing about the winches for about a minute and then you can return to your gin and tonics!
Emergencies at sea – what to do and how to get help…
One of the draws to the sea is that it is about independence and freedom.
This may be the freedom to go wherever you wish, do whatever you want and being free to enjoy an adventure as you care to do. Many a salty tale however centres on accidents and how you made it home. Where all sailors love those rare moments on a long broad reach in perfect winds with the crew on the rail with shit eating grins across their faces, the tales we often tell are of “that storm…”, “that fire…”, or “that sudden offshore wind that caught us unawares – and how we got home to tell the listener that story…”
Even in countries with very well developed sea rescue systems and bodies such as the Royal National Lifeboat Institution in UK waters, it can take at least half an hour for a boat or aircraft to get to you. In that time, and up to that time, you’re on your own. Training In countries with a good sail training scheme, for example Greece, Ireland, the UK or the Netherlands, as you learn to sail you will cover emergency situations in depth. You will do Man Overboard drills until it becomes second nature, and learn how to tackle a fire before it reaches the gas bottles and turns your beautiful yacht into matchwood.
The more you sail the greater risk of an accident. As your confidence improves so you will push ever harder. Core to that confidence is in getting good training. There are some countries in the EU where their training schemes were developed by bureaucrats that we doubt had ever been to sea, notably Luxembourg, and others where there are no training schemes at all such as Cyprus.
Where you want to learn more, and not just get a piece of paper to satisfy a marine police unit, it is therefore advisable to consider a course from a country that does have a good scheme. Cypriots should consider the UK’s Royal Yachting Association, where Luxembourgish a course in a language they understand, be it German, Dutch or Franco – Swiss. We hesitate to suggest France as though the country has some of the best racing sailors in the world by a large margin, their training scheme was written by bureaucrats! Immediate actions Here are some tips to remember if, perhaps you’re aboard a boat where the skipper gets incapacitated and you have little or no sailing experience, yet want to get home alive.
★ Man Overboard – Get someone to watch the victim in the water. They are never to take their eyes off them. Gybe the boat as quickly as possible. Get the engine on and drop the sails. Seconds matter here as even in foot high seas you can lose sight of the victim very quickly.
★ Fire – Fire has three components – fuel, oxygen and heat. Remove one of these and you kill the fire. Smother the fire with a blanket and remove the oxygen. Get water on it and kill the heat. Remove the fuel, and it has nothing to burn.
★ Sinking – Call MAYDAY on your VHF – see below. As a general rule, the bigger craft you are on the safer you will be. Many deaths at sea have resulted from people getting in their life rafts before it was necessary. Therefore, you really should only get in the life raft when your yacht is starting to go under the waves and when you’re certain you can’t stop it from doing so.
★ First Aid – Call PAN PAN MEDICO on VHF (see below). Good First Aid courses are available that take only a day to complete. That day could save yours and your crew’s lives. This is too complicated to cover here.
★ Engine failure – Good sailors on a yacht have an alternative power system to the engine. Sail home! By international law, all coastal VHF networks must have someone who speaks fluent English at the local coastguard / marine police centre on duty at all times. You always call for help on Channel 16. Most modern VHF sets – including all of our yachts’ systems – have a button saying ‘Ch 16’. Press that button and make the call for help. There are two emergency calls you can make: ★ MAYDAY. If your vessel is in immediate danger of sinking or you have had a serious accident such as a dismasting, call MAYDAY.
The protocol is that you say the following: “MAYDAY MAYDAY MAYDAY! This is yacht” (yacht name). Repeat twice over. The Coastguard will respond. Say the nature of your emergency, and position in latitude and longitude from your GPS system. In this situation you may need to get the heck off your boat quickly but do try to ensure they know where you are exactly so they can look for your life raft.
★ PAN PAN MEDICO. You call for medical assistance if someone is in grave danger due to an accident but there is no risk to the vessel. This might be a heart attack or a broken bone.
On Channel 16 you call “PAN PAN MEDICO / PAN PAN MEDICO / PAN PAN MEDICO. This is yacht (name).” Repeat twice. The coastguard will respond, and you are to give them your position and nature of the accident. Conclusions An old salt will tell you that ‘proper preparation prevents piss ups’! The more you learn at sea, the more likely you will get to tell the story over a beer when you get ashore. It is a matter of pride that the writer of this blog, who has sailed all over the world and had some very serious accidents in this time to include two sinking’s, a dismasting, and engine failure in a building offshore wind, has only once been taken home by the coastguard, and that with a suspected broken leg after it was crushed between his 500 tonne ship and the dock. The better training you have the better chance you have to tell the tale. Several of his friends and former shipmates haven’t come home despite being extremely experienced and brilliant sailors.
Even in half a metre of seas you can lose sight of someone in seconds
Everything should now be done very quickly. The person who sees the person going in the water should point to them and the skipper should get someone else (as necessary – perhaps a child) to point at the person in the water. Immediately throw anything that floats to them – cushions, lifejackets as well as fenders and the Dan buoy and life ring. Turn into the wind and stop the boat.
Take in the jib. Sheet in the mainsail so it is out of the way and you don’t sail anywhere.
Start the engine as quickly as possible. Get a throwing line together. Motor back to the person in the water from directly down wind so the mainsail does not give you any power. Stop the engine.
Throw them a line. Haul them aboard at the stern. What if the engine doesn’t start? Keeping an eye on them, sail on a broad reach away from the person for no more than six boat lengths.
Tack so the person in the water is down wind of you Let go of the sheets so the boat coasts Aim the helm so the person is close to the side of the boat (hit them if possible but not too hard) Get a line to them Haul them aboard Fareast.
WEATHER – BASIC PRINCIPLES
Did you know that the biggest computers in the world are used to predict the weather? They measure their power in quadrillions of bytes – petabytes. Your home computer may have gigabytes of speed and maybe a terabyte of storage! As such weather forecasting can get extremely complex but here we will explain the very basics.
Accuracy The UK’s Met Office reckon that they can forecast five days ahead as accurately as they could 24 hours ahead, 20 years ago. Many people will remember how badly wrong the BBC Weatherman Michael Fish got the October 1987 storm the night before it exploded out of the Bay of Biscay and caused mayhem across the United Kingdom. He said it wouldn’t happen.
Such inaccurate forecasting is unlikely to happen today. Generally the weather synopsis you will see on TV or hear on the radio up to 48 hours ahead will be very accurate while depending on the weather systems at play, you should only use the five day forecast as a rough guide. In short, while sailing you should always keep an eye on the weather even while in Greece.
It is no good watching the five day forecast on BBC News 24 the night before you fly out and presuming it will be bang on – it could be very wrong and could lead you to make decisions that could put you and your crew in danger. Sources of weather forecasts
Everyone has a smartphone these days! Kept charged they can be very useful for getting the weather forecast every day. The UK’s Met Office has an app, though Weather Online has a sailing app that gives you an accurate wind prediction every day across the Mediterranean, Ionian, and Aegean seas. Another great recourse for the Greek weather is the Poseidon System, a monitoring, forecasting and information system for the Greek seas
The Greek Coastguard will give you a 24 hour weather forecast on VHF Channel 16 on request.
They will also broadcast gale and storm warnings in English on Channel 16. Olympia Radio (a telecommunications network that serves the needs of maritime security sector - tel: +30 210 6001799), gives hyper local weather broadcasts on VHF – that everyone can hear. See also the following link for details about what channel to listen to and when, every day according to where you are:
The Beaufort Scale
FORCE WIND DESCRIPTION SPEED(Knots)
0 Calm <1 can be frustrating and dull sailing
1 Light airs 1-3
2 Light breeze 4-6 can be pretty fun
3 Gentle breeze 7-10
4 Moderate breeze 11-16
5 Fresh breeze 17-21
6 Strong breeze 22-27 is fun getting a bit hairy
7 Near gale 27-33
8 Full gale 34-40 is sailable but dangerous only sail if absolutely necessary
9 Severe gale 41-47
10 Storm Force 48-55 is getting on to be survival conditions
even big ships get in trouble in this
11 Violent storm 56-63
12 Hurricane force >64
You'll make the news if you survive it The barometer Every boat has one, and they aren’t just there to look pretty.
They will tell you the atmospheric pressure at that moment in time. If the pressure is falling quickly then there is bad weather coming in and you should start planning to get into port. Equally, if it is rising steadily it generally means that the winds are lightening and you will expect nicer weather to come. It isn't quite so simple! See the next section for explanation about rising and falling pressure.
Weather systems The high pressure (H) has winds passing around it that follow a clockwise route. You will see that the low pressure (L) area has winds passing anticlockwise. These pressure differences will reflect what you see on your barometer. Looking at the lines around them (called isobars) you will see that they can be close together or further apart. The isobars tell you the pressure difference across the area that they cover. Where there is a high pressure difference across that area, there will be lots of isobars, and this means there will be a lot of wind. You will often see lighter winds in a high pressure system and stronger winds in a low pressure system.
Low pressure systems will move quickly across the Earth. High pressure systems tend to move very slowly. Low pressure systems will move around the highs and where they interact there will often be a fair bit of wind.
Fronts More often within low pressure systems you get weather fronts. These are shown in a blue line with triangles and a red line with semicircles on it. Where the warm front comes in, there will often be light rain under stratus clouds and when this passes it should warm up for a while in the ‘warm sector’.
Don’t relax too much – the fun has yet to come! When the cold front comes in you will see very high, dark clouds called cumulonimbus. The heat from the weather in front feeds them moisture and energy, and there will be very heavy rain and strong winds.
This brings us down to predicting the weather from hour to hour.
The barometer on the boat will give you one reading of the weather – it will tell you what the atmosphere is doing. The rest is done with your eyes and skin. During most of the high summer months you will see altostratus, the odd cumulus and cirrus (cirrocumulus) clouds high in the sky. If you see these on a big blue sky then you will have not much to worry about. Where you see larger puffy clouds such as the nimbostratus you can expect some wind and cooling rain. If the nimbostratus start coming together under a slate grey sky you may also feel the winds building – sometimes gusting from an unexpected direction. At this stage if you haven’t already it is wise to get a good weather forecast for the next few hours. Keep the wind strength in mind at all times. If it is building steadily and you may have to consider taking sail in, remember you’re not crew on the Volvo Ocean Race and don’t need to be out in weather that makes you uncomfortable.
As the winds build and you get the feeling you’re going to be out of your comfort zone, start heading for a good anchorage or marina. Sometimes during a hot, humid day the atmosphere may develop cumulonimbus clouds. These produce thunder and lightning as well as violent winds and sometimes hail.
Lightning is particularly attracted to metal things sticking out of the sea such as yacht masts! It doesn’t happen often but you really don’t want to be hit as it will fry all your electrics, including VHF, and possibly prevent you from starting your engine. The best place to be in this weather is in the marina
Sudden and intense anger from the weather (BOURINI)
if you are sailing in the Mediterranean sea it is not common but always possible to have a faceoff with a Gale (Bourini).
Facing into the sunset with 15-25 knots of breeze at your back and surfing on the waves, sunbathing under the sun and swimming in crystal clear waters are some of the reasons why every year thousands of yachts enjoy a cruise on the Mediterranean Sea.
Of course good wine and tasteful Greek cuisine waiting on the next island destination should also be mentioned!!!
When caught off guard, gales can prove a challenge and can spoil even the most experienced sailors sense of fun and can ruin future holidays for new crew and future sailors so bearing that in mind we should do our best to spot the changes and prepare everything so the gale can become a good experience for everyone, of course the ideal move is to spot and avoid!!
Gales in the Mediterranean are isolated features that are too short to forecast Dealing with gales is to spot them and prepare the boat and crew. Then they can be enjoyed as an exhilarating and refreshing experience- as well as presenting the crew with an opportunity for a freshwater shower.
A good skipper is never without a good crew for long. Regardless of how green when they are when they step aboard, a conscientious skipper will share skills and see that they're learning.
Teaching the crew how to trim sails, handle and stow warps and tie knots, keeps them busy and builds their confidence. It also frees the skipper to get on with making other decision, secure in the knowledge that the crew is happy and has the job in hand. It is time well spent. When mooring remember the rule "one line, one job" Inset: I always use a round turn with a bowline, and it's never let me down.
Something to remember when unpacking your gear for a week or two’s sailing
.. ... is that firstly there isn’t much space for everything you have, and secondly it will be thrown about as you encounter waves and sail on different tacks
Before going to sea, make sure everything you own is in lockers and the lockers are closed. The hatches You should close the hatches before you go to sea. The person whose cabin is underneath the fore hatch won’t be happy if a wave soaks their bedding and possessions half an hour after setting out! Equally, the best place for water is outside the boat as everyone knows…
Other things to remember ·
Never go barefoot on deck. There are lots of ropes and things that could move, and these could injure you. ·
Don't Get Burned. Despite the UK being a relatively cold country it has some of the highest skin cancer rates in the world, largely because people binge on sunshine on the rare occasion we see it! Greece by comparison has much lower rates. Why? We stay in the shade when it is hot, used sun cream when we do go out, and wear sun hats to shade our faces and necks. ·
Kids on boat? Make sure that before get go to sea they wear lifejackets, and they wear them at all times. Kids are very adventurous and mishaps will happen – no matter how naughty they are you always want them to come home. ·
Everything should be in its place -> keep Lines tidy, the winch handle after use it. If things get tangled there is a higher chance of an accident. Boats moving about, don’t leave your wallet, mobile or camera on the coach roof as they could end up in the drink. Though the fish can’t empty your bank account you'll miss out on so much if you're spending a day asking for emergency cash from the bank rather than using your money to have fun!!!! ·
Mind the boom! The boom can have a lot of pressure on it and if you gybe it can cause head injuries. ·
Check the gas system once again. Gas leaks can kill everyone aboard…
Sailing is dangerous and people will get hurt.
This section deals with the basic things you should do, as necessary while calling for help. The first thing to do is get them out of danger. No sense in reviving someone if they could still be killed by whatever has hurt them.
Back or neck injury Can they feel their arms or legs when you pinch them? If not, as soon as the danger is removed, immobilise the back or neck. Do not move them. Call PAN PAN MEDICO on VHF immediately.
Unconscious and not breathing? Have someone call PAN PAN MEDICO on VHF. Are they breathing? Check their airway and clear it. Is their heart working? Check their pulse on their neck with your index finger, below their jaw by their ear. If there is no pulse, lay them on their back and place the heel of your palm their breastbone. Place the other hand over the bottom hand and interlock your fingers. Put your shoulders directly over your straightened arms. Using your bodyweight press hard on their breast bone repeatedly 5-6cm per compression, and release the chest to its natural position, 100 times a minute. Don’t be afraid to pump hard enough to hurt them. If you become exhausted give the job to someone else. If they have stopped breathing as well, straighten their neck so they have a clear airway, seal your mouth over theirs and breathe into their lungs so they inflate. Breathe five times a minute while doing the chest compressions.
Unconscious and breathing? Check their wind passage and clear it. Lie them on their back with their arm furthest away from you bent parallel with their head on the deck. Grab their other arm and place the back of their hand underneath their cheek on the same side as the other arm. Lift the knee that is on the far side from them so their foot is flat on the floor. Pull that knee towards you so they roll on top of their arms. Keep the knee bent on the deck so it supports them on their side.
Person chokes Are they choking? Clear their mouth. If there is an obstruction in their wind passage, stand behind them, put your fists below their bottom rib at their front, and pull violently inward and upward.
Blood injury If someone has been cut, apply pressure to the wound and use a gauze bandage to stop the blood flow. If the bandage becomes sodden do not remove but get another on top as removing it could break any clot. If it does not stop the blood flow and you suspect they have cut an artery call PAN PAN MEDICO on VHF and get help.
Sprain, twist or broken bone on a limb There will be swelling at the joint and they may feel unable to move it. Use a splint to immobilise the limb. Strap it up and get to port as quickly as possible. If you are several hours from a port with a medical centre, consider calling PAN PAN MEDICO on VHF.Burns
Get cold water to the injury immediately. Keep cold water flowing over it constantly. If it has burned through the skin and it is bleeding, or is a large burn call PAN PAN MEDICO on VHF for help and divert to a medical centre as soon as possible. Do not cover the wound until told to by the Coast Guard – keep cooling it.
Head injury If they have been hit over the head by the boom, get to a medical centre immediately regardless of whether they are unconscious as they could have suffered brain or skull damage you do not know about. If they are unconscious call PAN PAN MEDICO on the VHF immediately.
Seasickness Keep them on deck but out of the way during daylight hours and after dark, below decks. Feed them salt chips (crisps) or cheese crackers if possible. It gives them something to throw up, which is more comfortable than retching on an empty stomach. If they refuse food, make sure they drink fluids as the body can suffer dehydration.
If you haven't been sailing before, you'll be surprised at how hungry you can get
... and how much food you can eat without it bulging out your waistline.
Whether it is the fresh air or the exercise, no one really knows why it is they can eat so much just to stop being hungry while sailing…
Snacks Have lots of bread, cookies and snacks with you, as between meals you will find yourself munching your way through your food stocks. Unlike the UK, our bread is best eaten on the same day it is baked. Where possible, every morning someone should do a food run for the fresh food you need that day.
Things to consider when buying food
There are a few things to remember about food when going to sea.
Firstly, you don't have a huge fridge aboard so you really should only buy fresh food for the next 24 hours. It is often very warm on waters in summer so things like chicken will spoil very quickly, and the last thing you need is the squats when you want to have a good time sailing! Buy UHT milk that won't spoil for a few days in the food locker. Tinned meat like Spam and corned beef keep well, and make a good sandwich at lunchtime. For those who don’t like tinned meat consider buying cooked and preserved meats from the supermarket, as these will keep a very long time in all weather conditions. A pre-cooked chicken will last a lot longer than its uncooked sister.
Another thing to remember is that the cooking space will be tiny. You should prepare menus around two hobs at most, and some of the time at least these will be rolling about from side to side on gimbals! Keep your menu simple and nutritious. Think around rice and pasta dishes for example. If you are vegetarian, think around lentil and pulse stews that have the protein and give you the bulk you need for a day on the water. No one could refuse a thick, warm lentil stew in the evening after a hard day's sailing! Rolled oats and porridge are very good for breakfast – they release energy slowly and are a good way to start your day particularly when you will be burning so much off afloat! Again, if you like your cooked breakfast remember how long the raw ingredients will last.
Like fish? Hang a line over the side! The waters are full of really good fish too. Fishing for your dinner can be very satisfying – a plate of bream or that was swimming just an hour before you eat it is just delicious! Hot drinks On a night watch there is nothing quite like a cup of hot chocolate so thick and gooey that you can almost stand a spoon in it! It is warming and gives you that boost for the next hour. Have a supply of decent instant coffee as well. If you are a British tea drinker, do bring a supply from the UK as other countries frequently struggle to meet British standards in this regard! Always have something in reserve
One thing to remember is that you won’t always get where you want to be when you want to be there. This is an adventure after all! It is good to have a stock of food that keeps well for a few days. You may be aiming at a place you know has a supermarket but the winds aren’t in your favour and you end up in an anchorage with no means of getting ashore that evening.
Water conservation You can only carry so much fresh water in the tanks – never more than 200 litres. With this, four or five of you need to wash, cook, wash dishes and make cups of tea. Don’t go nuts with the water you have aboard as in 30 degrees C of heat you will get through lots of it anyway. Where you can last a few days without eating, under the blazing sun you could really suffer without water.
Seasickness? When speaking of food, there are many people for whom what goes down will come up soon after you leave the dock. Have a stock of salted crisps or cheese crackers for this eventuality. No one likes puking with an empty stomach, and getting plain, easy food in them when they are feeling rough may give them some energy when they really don’t fancy anything else to eat. The seasick person will often get quite depressed. Keep an eye on them – seasickness has been known to drive people to suicide because they don’t want to be in the way of people having a good time. Look after your friend or family as you would if they were off colour any other day.
Where possible they should be in the cockpit. Seeing the horizon helps the confusion that’s going on between the eyes and the balance organs in the ear. The smell of someone’s vomit below isn’t fun for everyone in any case – best to help them lean over the side to get it out of them…
How to Safely Set Your Anchor
Slowly Does It
The correct way to drop anchor is to “go slow” and ease up on your throttle just where you would like to set it.
The boat needs to be at a standstill over the point where you intend on dropping your anchor. Once the boat is at the right point and where you want it to be, you can let your anchor go while edging the boat in reverse as you pay out your anchor line
. 1. Where possible get into an anchorage and out of the way of other vessels. Ideally, set anchor if shallow enough water. This might not be possible.
2. Get the boat hook down to the prop and try to remove the plastic without anyone going in the water.
3. Put the tender in the water. Tie it alongside. Put two people in the tender. One should reach down to the prop with a boat hook and the other should hold them as they reach under the water.
4. ONLY IF ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY, have your best swimmer ready to go in the water from the tender. Ensure they have a rope tied around their waist and two people holding that rope at all times. Let them dive to the prop and untangle.
2 Scoping it Out
This is an important part of setting your anchor because you do need to know just how much scope is needed because this will directly affect where your boat lies once your anchor is set. In an ideal world, you would know what lies on the seabed, but the chances are your boat is a yacht charter so it's best to follow the rule of thumb which is to set a ratio of about 3 to 7 times the depth of water. The rule of thumb is to set a ratio of about 3 to 7 times the depth of water
3 Heading up Wind or Current
This is another manoeuvre that has to be done at a dead slow speed. You need head your boat up into the wind (or current) past the actual spot where you would like the boat to lie. This needs to be a distance that's equal to the scope you've estimated.
Next, bring the boat to a halt. If the water is choppy or rough, you might be better off letting the boat drift back before dropping anchor as this will help you see just where the boat will eventually lie when you do drop it.
4 Setting Anchor
having let out enough rode (rope) which should be around the same length as that of the scope, you need to tie the rode off on the cleat.
Next, allow the boat to stretch out the line to see if the anchor is holding. A quick way to check this is to put the boat in reverse before edging backwards in reverse.
However, this needs to be done carefully or you might end up just dragging the anchor across the seabed without it catching on anything. If this happens, you need to start the process all over again which often happens with yacht charters simply because you are not used to the boat.
5 Making Sure Your Anchor is Holding
Once you are satisfied the anchor is holding, cleat your anchor rope off securely. It's a good idea to line up 2 landmarks so you can check your position from time to time. It's a great way of making sure your anchor isn't dragging.
If you have GPS you can also check your position with this and the same can be done with a depth finder which all yacht charter vessels are equipped with. It's a good idea to buoy your anchor if you know there are lots of things that it could get snagged on lying on the seabed
6 Buoying an Anchor
It's a good idea to buoy your anchor just in case it snags on anything and you can't pull it up when you need to. Buoying an anchor can help free it up should it become fouled (caught) in anything, especially if you are planning to drop anchor where the seabed may have lots of old cables, moorings or other things that your anchor can easily get snagged on.
Gear you should have when sailing
in this article we will discuss some essential and not so essential gear you will need to bring with you when you charter as yacht with Sun Yacht Charter. In my tall ship days I heard a story of how in the early 1990’s Russian sailors aboard the
sail training ship Kruzenshtern had been at sea for several weeks when they arrived at a tall ships festival in New York. A group of them were told they could do a run ashore so made sure they had what they needed, and went into Manhattan wearing only their shorts and knife belts (with 9 inch blade knives and a 9 inch marlinspike each).
No shirts, no shoes – they never wore them at sea… Needless to say the local police weren’t too happy to find a bunch of heavily armed, shirtless foreigners in their city and after some rough and tumble they were returned to the ship under orders to put shirts and shoes on, and leave their sailing tools aboard ship.
Knives and marlinspike At sea, as long as body parts don’t get stuck in winches, clothes are optional. Your knife belt isn’t. You should carry a decent, sharp knife that can be used in just a second or two to cut away any problems. Your foot might be in a bight of sheet when it tightens and you could have to cut the sheet to avoid being thrown over the side. A marlinspike is a nail shaped piece of hardened steel that you use to break knots or for other general rigging tasks. On tall ships this piece of kit is still more important than clothes as you could be 110 feet up the mast when you need to work on something immediately and can’t hang about shouting to the deck for one to be sent up the gantline.
Aboard a yacht? You should certainly have one among the crew, though all good sailors have their own.
Gloves? Let’s face it you won’t have hands that are so hard you can put a cigarette out on your palm without feeling the pain as you don’t sail for a living. Your hands may blister quickly from rope handling so after the knife, your next most important piece of kit should be a pair of sailing gloves.
These generally have suede or leather patch on the palm and this, not your skin, will be burned with the line running through your hands. Sun block Sunshine reflects off the surface of the water and can cause sunburn far faster than the sunshine ashore at your home in Birmingham. Countries in Northern Europe have some of the highest skin cancer rates in the world because we see the sun so rarely that when we do see it we binge on it. It seems crazy that people will risk skin cancer just to look a little more attractive for a few weeks on their return home. With rare exception the most interesting parts of you will be white anyway…
Wear a high Sun Protective Factor (SPF) sun cream for the first few days to tan and then put the sunblock on. Better to be pale and interesting than to attract the partner of your dreams only for them to care for you as you die of melanoma.
Wet weather gear? Particularly with global climate change we cannot guarantee that you will have 7-14 days of bright sunshine. You should if at all possible at least have a good quality coastal sailing jacket with a hood and a fleece collar. On a wet day there’s nothing more comforting than being on deck with your hood up and the fleece collar around your neck. It feels as if you’re watching the filthy weather from elsewhere. This part of the world however is very warm.
At sea you may prefer to sit in a rain shower in just a tee-shirt and shorts rather than putting on your foul weather gear and soaking your clothes in your own sweat? This is a conundrum we all face from time to time. On a cool evening when you’re touring the bars the sailing jacket will keep you dry even while you’re soaking your innards.
Clothes and shoes Don’t bring too many clothes! For some having three changes of clothes a day is the normal and having just the right clothes for every occasion is a necessity. Yes, bring a reasonably smart outfit for the odd decent dinner or when prowling for night time fun, but us sailors are a scruffy lot at the best of times. There isn’t the storage space aboard for more than one change of clothes a day and many people sailing might question even that much.
Bring swimming gear. There are some fantastic places to sunbathe and swim that aren’t accessible from ashore. You may not like wearing deck shoes and yachted gear through the year. (Let’s face it unless you have a white beard and wear a blue peaked cap the yachted look isn’t amazing when you live in central Berlin) You should however have a pair of rubber soled, fast drying shoes that don’t leave marks on the deck.
Basically, deck shoes! These can cost as little as €30 and will serve you well for your trip, even if they next come out of the cupboard for your next trip with us in 12 months’ time! Your clothes should be lightweight and capable of being layered for warmth. Cotton Traders make a line of fast drying clothes, as do Ben Sherman and a few other outdoors targeted brands. The idea is after a good soaking you can hang them up in the sunshine for an hour or so and they are ready for action. This also applies to outer layers – you should bring light sweatshirts or hoodies. Two tee-shirts beneath a sweatshirt is fine when it gets cold in the evening.
Entertainment This might horrify some but you will often be out of mobile signal range and therefore unable to access Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. We are able to provide on boats a WiFi access with a small fee, which is 80 € per week. This includes 8G of data transfer
For those quiet evenings at anchor, have your Kindle or good old fashioned book. Kids may ‘need’ their games consoles though won’t be able to play online all the time. Have an iPod of music and perhaps even pack a game of Monopoly for everyone to play. It may be a good opportunity for parents to declare a ‘digital diet’ while you come sailing with us. After a few days suffering withdrawal symptoms people usually recover and may come to enjoy the offline world sufficiently to break free altogether. Given how ‘connected’ we are all the time, this is no bad thing.
Little luxuries... Bring the odd little luxury that you might not find in Greece. For all the talk of ‘Ever Closer Union’ it will be 1000 years before Marmite becomes popular outside of the UK, and sauerkraut isn’t something the Greeks think highly enough to consume themselves. If you’re flying in, keep your little luxuries light in weight. Don’t bring a crate of finest Munich beer as the airline will charge for excess baggage!
Finally, baggage and protective gear If at all possible, bring lightweight, waterproof baggage that can be rolled up small down below. You’ll use it twice – once on arrival and the next time on departure. Don’t have something so big and flexible it can’t be stored out of the way. You’re at sea and things will get wet below. Keeping your iPod / iPad / Kindle in a waterproof case while at sea will save you from trouble down the line. If a wave comes from the bow and pours down the main hatch on a beat, and trashes your €1200 iPad Pro that has been rattling around in the saloon, it isn’t Sun Yacht Charter’s responsibility!
Overall? That should have just about covered your needs and essentials for sailing with us. Life aboard is about having fun and is not a fashion show. Enjoy the sailing and fun ashore, but travel light while doing it! If you have any other suggestions, comment below and we’d love to hear it!
The Meltemi Wind a Joy for Some but Not for All A Strong,
Dry Northern Wind
The wind generally blows from the North East and is mainly more of an issue during the months of July and August when it can get up to anything between 4 to 7 on the Beaufort scale.
However, if you are planning a sailing holiday through the Cyclades, the Meltemi does not blow quite as strong there due to the fact the islands are that much farther south in the Aegean Sea. With this said, the one place not to sail if you want to avoid some of the choppiest seas in the region, is around Evia where you'll encounter the 'Cavo Doro' which boasts being one of the windiest places in these Greek waters! This is why it's always a very good idea to check weather reports before setting out on a trip around the islands. If the wind is blowing anything above 7, it's best to stay in either a nice sheltered port or bay and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
Also Known as The Etesian Wind In Greece, the Meltemi is also known as the “etesian” wind which translated means 'annual wind'. These strong, dry northern winds actually blow all through the summer from June right through to September and sometimes they can last another month too. It has also been known to start a month earlier in May, which is something else you need to bear in mind if you are planning an earlier sailing holiday in these waters.
When the Meltemi does blow, it tends to be that much stronger in the afternoons and typically dies down again in the evenings. On average the Meltemi blows at around 4 to 5 on the Beaufort Scale, but at times it can reach quite a lot higher which is anything between 5 and 7 or occasionally 8 too.
A Seasoned Sailor's Delight For the seasoned sailor, it can be a real joy when the Meltemi starts to blow as it means there is some serious sailing to be enjoyed. However, for newcomers to yachting and boating, it can prove pretty challenging when the Meltemi starts blowing which it can do quite fitfully.
The problem is that this wind can be a little unpredictable in that it can suddenly start up without any warning even when the weather is glorious, thus catching you off guard because you least expect it.
Although the Meltemi blows in the Aegean Sea, it does not affect the Ionian Sea which is too far to west. However, in these waters you have to watch out for the Maistro Wind which is another kettle of fish altogether and which is the far better choice if you are new to sailing or are looking for a more relaxed holiday afloat in some glorious but calmer Greek waters. If you are planning a sailing holiday in the Cyclades,
it's well worth reading up on the best areas to sail before you plot a course. For the seasoned sailor, it can be a sheer delight when the Meltemi blows a little Mediterranean storm, but for anyone who wants a quieter sail in calmer waters, it might prove a little too challenging and uncomfortable when these infamous winds start blowing.
Yachts aren’t blown along – they are ‘sucked along’.
The sail creates a low pressure zone in front of the sail and a high pressure zone behind the sail.
The boat moves into the low pressure zone and is sucked forward.
This is very like the idea of an airplane wing, which is curved in a similar way to a sailboat’s sail as you can see below.
In airplane wings, the pressure on the top of the wing is less than the pressure on the bottom of the wing, because the air moves faster on the top, so this difference in pressure creates a force on the that lifts the wing up into the air.
The curve on the sail makes the air travel a longer distance over the top of the wing and a shorter distance behind it.
The longer distance the air flows, the lower the pressure, and this is why the aircraft climbs into the sky.
Below the level of the water on the boat, the sailboat’s shape helps force the boat to go straight forward as opposed to in the direction of the wind. In addition you have the keel that is shaped like a wing, and has a lot of weight to stop the yacht from falling over when pushed sideways by the wind.
With the sails being unable to push the boat sideways or onto its side, the sails drive the boat forward.
You may have had a collision or hit some rocks,
and water is rapidly flowing into the boat GPS
Check your exact position on the GPS and write this down. VHF Call VHF Channel 16 and say “MAYDAY - MAYDAY - MAYDAY - this is [yacht name] [twice over]“. [Wait for Coast Guard response]. Say “I am sinking. My position is [exact GPS position]”.
If it is safe to do so, wait for Coast Guard response and follow their instructions. Is the water rushing in? If the water is rushing in and about to fry the electrics, grab the flares and handheld VHF, and get on deck.
Lifejackets At the same time get everyone into lifejackets and launch the life raft. If the yacht is sinking like a rock, get people into the life raft.
If not, take your time and remember that the safest place to be at sea is the biggest thing that floats –
if your yacht will float for another hour, stay aboard while help comes. Attract attention When you can see another vessel, use a smoke flare to attract attention.
If the Coast Guard is sending a helicopter then wait until you can see that before firing a flare. Another yacht or a merchant vessel may come to help Accept their offer – we are all brothers at sea. You will have motored out of the harbour or anchorage and with around 200 – 300 meters of open sea space between you and the harbour or channel entrance marker buoy, you should turn the boat into the wind and motor gently into the wind.
The mainsail should be untied from the boom before you leave port / anchorage and your biggest crew member should go to the mast where s/he will find the mainsail halyard. This will be on the side of the mast at about waist height.
They will haul the halyard until the top of the sail reaches the top of the mast, or when you have a reef in the sail, the halyard is taught. Sometimes the main halyard leads into the cockpit in which case someone else should pull it tight and use the cleat on the deck to lock it.
Another point to consider is how windy it is and how big the waves are. If it is quite windy and lumpy you should consider putting the main up before you leave the harbour entrance where it is calm. In any decent seas it is very hard to stand up and the person on deck could be thrown into the sea. In leaving the harbour entrance in this case, you leave the main sheet loose so it doesn’t set the sail.
The jib is easier to set. It will be on a roller on the forestay. There will be a jib in-haul on the port side of the cockpit. When the boat is turned into the wind, take the in-haul off its cleat, and use the planned leeward jib sheet to haul it off the roller. The helm will steer the boat in the direction they want to go and using the winch as necessary, set the sail immediately. The helm should throttle back the engine and turn it off as you wish. Off you go!
This section will discuss the various points of sail and how to get the best from your sail for a given wind direction.
Let’s explain why this is happening. In a previous section we have shown how a sail is in effect a wing that pulls you along rather than is blown. If an aircraft is trying to climb at too steep an angle and it is going too slowly it will ‘stall’ and the plane will fall out of the sky.
To prevent this you will have seen the wing change shape with flaps making it fatter as you come into land at a relatively low speed, and a slimmer profile as it takes off at a high speed. Sailing is very similar – you change the shape of the sails according to the different directions you go relative to the wind direction.
Essentially the closer to the direction the wind is coming from, the tighter you pull the sails. However at a certain point (around 30 degrees to the wind) there is no way you can trim your sails and they will flap. The ‘wing’ will ‘stall’ and you will stop.
Because the sail is a wing, you will actually go faster slightly off the wind in a ‘broad reach’ than you will dead down wind. A broad reach, at about 30 degrees off a dead run is where the sail is at its most efficient.
Where racing types will constantly make calculations as to their overall track down the course and when to gybe to maximize their chances at being the first to cross the line, you will just have a blast as the spray kicks up, the hull hums and you enjoy the best sailing of the week as you sit on the windward rail with a big cheesy grin on your face!
Another point in broad reaching is that you are less likely to crash gybe. With an inexperienced crew it is better to sail slightly off the wind anyway rule
This is one of the worst situations of all to resolve.
You will not necessarily lose the boat if this happens.
Keep a cool head and remember what we have written here. Firstly, make sure everyone who should be aboard is aboard. Make sure they are out of danger and are safe. If there are any major injuries have someone attend to them, but you need at least two of you to save the boat. Your first thought should be, “Can we get this boat to a harbour or beach very quickly?” You’ve hit the rocks If on an island or the coast, and it is safe to do so, get some of the crew on the shore as quickly as possible. Do not do this if it is more dangerous than staying aboard. Is the automatic bilge pump coping? If yes, get off the rocks. Use your engine and try to manoeuvre to safety. Get to a shallow, safer place and if possible run the boat aground on a sandy bottom. If not, get someone on the manual bilge pump asap and get them pumping.
If you are stuck or are sinking quickly, you will need to call for help on VHF (MAYDAY) immediately and only if safe enough, get provisions and dry clothing onto the shore. Obviously if this is a sandy beach with a bar and there are a dozen other boats about then don’t react as if you’re completely alone. Get other crews involved to resolve this. At sea If at sea, get the boat away from whatever put the hole in it. This might be a shipping container or another vessel. Is the automatic bilge pump preventing the water level from climbing? If yes, make a dash for a beach or harbour and run the yacht aground.
Make a ‘Securite’ call on the VHF and say you have been holed and need urgent help. If the bilge pump isn’t keeping you afloat, have someone on the cockpit manual bilge pump immediately, and send out a MAYDAY call on the VHF.
Get the handheld VHF on deck and ensure everyone is wearing a lifejacket. Launch the life raft and tie it to the stern. Do not get in the life raft until you are certain the yacht will sink imminently.
Are you within a short dash to a sandy beach? If so, get the yacht up the beach as quickly as possible – run aground as hard as you can. Are you too far away from a beach? Get the engine running but in neutral. You will need someone on deck and one below. The person below should take up the deck boards down below and find where the hole is. The person on deck should get a wooden board and drill a hole in it. Put a rope through the hole and tie a knot in the end. The person below should at the same time get a coat hanger and tie a small rope to this. The person below should push the coat hanger through the hole and get the person on deck to catch it. They should attach the small line that has gone through the hole in the hull to the rope that is in the board you have drilled. They should lower the board on the outside of the hull to the hole, the person below pulling the rope through the hole. Water pressure should hold the board to the hull, but tie the board to the hull as tightly as possible from the inside. Now drive the boat toward a safe place, ideally a beach to run aground but a harbour is also good (again, run aground if possible) while keeping the emergency services aware what you are doing. If the water kills the engine and electrics, get children into the life raft first and follow yourself. Cut the line to the boat as it sinks and use your handheld VHF to call in support from other boats and the Coast Guard. Concluding remarks Safety first – ensure any life threatening injuries are dealt with as you resolve the holed hull.
NEVER use the life raft if the boat is likely to stay afloat while you can get to a safe place near the coast. As a rule, the biggest boat you can be in is the safest.
ALWAYS run the boat aground as a first measure.