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How to avoid expensive mistakes when you buy a new or second-hand yacht. 

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Icom IC-M35We review the Icom IC-M35 handheld.  Read the full review here.

GMDSS A User's Handbook

By Denise Bréhaut

GMDSS A user's handbook








The Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) provides a fast and efficient way of calling for assistance at sea, whatever the size of craft or its geographical position. Since it was first published, this book has helped explain the system for anyone using GMDSS and has been excellent pre-course reading for students.



SafaSail HatThe SafaSail Hard Hat looks just like a sailing cap, but will help protect you if you get a bang to the head.  See our review here

Sunfast 37: highly recommeded

Sunfast 37The Jeanneau Sunfast 37 comes with a major vote of confidence: Sunsail has a huge fleet of them - “the largest matched fleet in the world” - used for corporate events, team building, race charter, holiday charter, sail training and all the rest.

Clearly Sunsail would have thought long and hard before making such an investment. They wanted a yacht which offered an acceptable level of live-aboard comfort, and was both rewarding to sail and reasonably easy to handle. So their choice of the Sunfast 37 is a big recommendation.

The Sunfast range (now superseded by the Performance tag) offered a racier alternative to Jeanneau’s Sun Odyssey range: the same hull, with the same level of cruising comfort down below, but with a taller rig and deeper keel, more sail area, and more performance-oriented deck gear.

It was a package that appealed not only to charter companies like Sunsail but also to individuals looking for a true cruiser racer - a boat that would hold its own, inshore and offshore, with a reasonably competitive IRC rating, and also take the family on holiday in comfort and safety.

From a cruising perspective, the Sunfast 37 has a well-designed interior, with a spacious double cabin forward - the owner's cabin, with lots of locker space and headroom - and two slightly smaller doubles aft. Headroom is not great in the aft cabins, because the boat has a large cockpit, welcome for both comfortable cruising and action-packed racing. But there is room to stand up and get dressed without opening the door, and there are usefully-sized lockers, as well.

Immediately inside the companionway, to port there is a heads compartment, complete with shower - not hugely spacious, but well-thought out, with good stowage - and to starboard an L-shaped galley, again with plenty of stowage, a good-sized top-loading fridge, double sink and gimballed two-burner oven.

Next to port there is a good-sized chart table, with plenty of space for instruments, with seating for two in front, which with an infill under the chart table converts into a settee berth. On the starboard side, there is a U-shaped seating area around the table - and an ingenious extension piece can be clipped on to the port side of table to seat six comfortably, nine at a squeeze, for dining.

The table can be lowered to convert the starboard seating into a double berth, making a total of nine berths, potentially, but it has to be said the boat would be rather crowded with more than six aboard. She is CE certified A (ocean) for 8, B (offshore) for 10 and C (inshore) for 12!

The interior is well provided throughout with opening ports and hatches to create a light, airy feel. There's plenty of varnished woodwork, too. Designed by Jacques Faroux and Jeanneau Design, the boat has a lead fin keel, a big suspended rudder and a keel-stepped, double spreader mast, Dyform standing rigging, a “racing profile” genoa furler with removable drum, and plenty of Harken hardware.

The mainsheet has plenty of purchase and an extra fine tuner (watch out for the block, which has been known to hit unsuspecting crews' heads when gybing), as well as a traveller which goes across the cockpit sole - and is therefore a touch on the short side for proper control of such a powerful mainsail.  

The boats were supplied as standard with two self-tailing winches on each side of the coachroof, and jammers on the turning blocks to enable switching between sheets, guys and halyards, but in practice many owners have found the system clumsy (the jammers have a tendency to jam too literally at crucial moments) and have opted for an additional pair of winches on the turrets provided on the cockpit coamings behind the central mainsheet. This is not an ideal arrangement, but it is workable.

The wheel is a good size and has a positive, balanced feel. The helmsman's seat folds down in harbour to provide easy walk-through access via the stern, and unlike some similar arrangements on other boats, it feels reassuringly solid and secure when in place. Teak tops on the cockpit seats are both attractive and practical.

There's a teak heel strip down the centre of the cockpit sole - essential as the space is too wide to brace your feet on the opposite side. And there's a good non-slip surface on the otherwise exposed areas of white glass.

The boat is a lively performer under sail and carries her canvas well. She does not accelerate as spectacularly as boats with a more purely racing pedigree, but she does not have any unpleasant surprises, either.

I have crewed on a couple of friends' Sunfast 37s when racing. On one occasion, caught out with too much sail in a vicious squall, the boat kept gamely heading to windward, heeling excessively, it has to be said, but not broaching, until the genoa finally blew out!

And I have thoroughly enjoyed a tight reach under asymmetric spinnaker for 40 miles from Harwich to Lowestoft, in demanding, gusty conditions: again the boat was extremely well-behaved, showed an impressive turn of speed, and did not seem to be broaching or struggling in the gusts as much as some of our fellow competitors (of course this could have been down to superior crew work!)

Under power the 29hp Volvo 2030, driving a double-bladed folding prop via a conventional shaft, gives a cruising speed of 6 knots, maximum 7.

Vital statistics:

·  LOA: 11.40m, 37´4” ·  Hull length: 10.95m, 35´11” ·  LWL: 9.70m, 31´10” ·  Beam: 3.70m, 12´1” ·  Draught: 2.07m, 6´9” ·  Displacement: 6,300 kg, 13,778 lbs ·  Ballast : 2,040 kg, 4,497 lbs ·  Total sail area: 76.40 sq m, 822 sq ft   


All in all the Sunfast 37 is an attractive yacht with pretty lines, combining good performance with plenty of comfort - and has good resale value to match.

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