Private depth gauges

Tide tables are all very well, but they are only predictions. On the day, you can’t beat something you personally have observed to be the truth. If the stick to the right of the beacon is showing at its base, the yacht can cross her…

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Nothing lasts for ever

Here’s a shiny new syphon breaker in the engine cooling line before the water is injected into the exhaust system. Most yachts have them, and they don’t last for ever. It’s there for a good reason, and if it fails, an engine-full of water may…

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Compensating for leeway

Unless you’re a professor of mathematics who can think in pure numbers, the easiest way to plot a course compensating for leeway is visually. Whack in the course you really want, then literally sketch the wind direction on the chart. It’s obvious now which way…

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Button up the ‘moby’

Anecdotal evidence suggests that more reading glasses and mobile phones have been lost by sailors leaning down to attend to a docklines than by any other group of humanity. The only answer is to make a habit of buttoning that shirt pocket before bending down,…

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Left-over seas

The chances are that some time this season half of us will find ourselves holed up in some faraway port while the usual mid-holiday gale blows itself out. It’s tempting to stick one’s nose past the mole as soon as the wind drops to force…

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Wide in, tight out

Old racing hands know that the quickest way to round a mark of the course is to approach it wide, then tighten the turn as you round. Not only does this prevent others sneaking inside you as you turn, it also keeps you closer to…

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Give the kids a lure

Ever feel bad about trying to sail at two or three knots in light winds when the kids get bored and restless. Here’s the answer. Any time from May onwards – that’s now – the mackerel start running, and a slow-moving sailing boat is the…

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Yawl or Ketch?

We all know they both have two masts, the mainmast being ahead of the mizzen and considerably larger, but which boat is which, and how to remember it? The answer is that, in a yacht, the ketch steps her mizzen forward of the rudder post,…

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Identifying marks

You’ve spotted a certain buoy through the binoculars, but there are others not too far away. It’s critical that you have the right one, so how do you make sure? The easy answer is to steer so that the buoy comes into transit with an…

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To call or not to call?

It’s rare for foreign harbour authorities to want yachts to call them as a matter of course, and marinas in France, Holland and Scandinavia are often perfectly happy for you just to arrive then declare yourself. Back home, more and more authorities are interested in…

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Datums for GPS

If you’re still struggling with chart datums for GPS, YM’s postbag indicates that you’re not alone! Search an Admiralty chart and you’ll find a statement like this one. Once you know your chart’s datum – in this case ‘Ordnance Survey of Great Britain (OSGB) 1936…

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