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

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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

Contessa 32 approaches 40th birthday

Contessa 32by Cathy Brown

The Contessa 32 was designed by David Sadler nearly 40 years ago, in 1970. Even he probably had little idea then of the long-lasting success his masterpiece was to enjoy. A picture of a fleet of Contessas racing adorned the opening page of the IRC Yearbook as recently as 2007. What more eloquent testament could there be to the enduring appeal of this evergreen design?

The Contessa is a product of an era when boat design was evolving rapidly. Her long fin keel and skeg-hung rudder come half way between the traditional long-keel shape and today's deep fin and spade rudder configurations.

While pushing the boundaries, David Sadler managed to produce a boat that retained the grace and elegance of traditional “classics” while also looking forward in performance terms. It is hard to think of any other boat that is at the same time as “pretty” and as renowned for seakeeping qualities.
In her youth the Contessa was no doubt the epitome of spacious luxury. By the standards of today's high volume cruisers, her accommodation seems somewhat cramped. The layout is conventional, with a V-berth forward, separated from the main cabin by the heads compartment and hanging locker.
The saloon has a folding table, with settee berths on each side. There is a small but workmanlike galley, and a generous chart table - the opposite of today's priorities, but then, these boats were designed in an era before Decca, never mind GPS. A decent chart-table was a design essential –not a grudging afterthought, as it too often appears today.
There is only one quarter berth, which means there is a huge amount of cockpit locker space. Again, the emphasis is on seagoing ergonomics, rather than shoreside comforts.
If the first impression on going below is that the boat is rather narrow, that's because by today's standards she is! But that's what gives the Contessa her renowned windward ability and heavy weather performance. With her substantial, keel-stepped masthead rig and encapsulated keel, her low centre of gravity and high stability, the Contessa will cross oceans with confidence and take far more punishment in her stride than most of today's more lightweight and buoyant designs.
Indeed, Contessas have sailed safely and successfully round the world and round Cape Horn “the wrong way.” In the notorious 1979 Fastnet, when near-hurricane force winds caused death and destruction, a Contessa named Assent, owned by Willy Ker, was the only one of the 58 entries in the “small boat” class, hit hardest by the storm, to finish the race.
And of course the Contessa is equally at home in more peaceful waters. As her builder Jeremy Rogers points out, she is easy to handle, and ideally suited to short-handed cruising.
So perhaps it is not surprising that, unlike many designs of her era, the Contessa 32 has never “gone away.” These boats have maintained a high resale value, and always been a force to be reckoned with on the race course, whether under handicap or in highly competitive one design fleets. There is an extremely active owners' association.
Jeremy Rogers built more than 700 Contessa 32s from 1971 until production stopped in 1982. Another 87 were built under licence in Canada. But so strong is demand for the design that in 1996 Rogers resumed production.
Custom-built one-offs, they are hugely expensive by comparison with today's production-line cruisers, but it speaks volumes for the appeal of the boat that people still commission new ones. The Rogers establishment also specialises in refurbishing older boats, returning them to their proud owners in as-new condition.
And modifications have been devised to incorporate all the creature comforts expected these days, but unheard of in 1970: hot water, refrigeration, heating, and all the rest.
The only real drawback to the Contessa is that sailing her can be a pretty wet experience. The freeboard is low by today's standards, and the high ballast ratio which makes the boat so stiff, stable and seaworthy also means she tends to go through waves rather than over them. But that's a small price to pay for sailing in such a confidence-inspiring classic. Not to mention a boat which, nearly 40 years on, remains a real head-turner.
It's a fair bet that there will still be Contessas cruising all over the world and racing enthusiastically both inshore and offshore for at least another four decades.
Vital statistics:
LOA: 9.75 m (32 ft)
LWL: 7.31 m (24 ft)
Beam: 2.98 m (9 ft 6 in)
Draft: 1.65 m (5 ft 6 in)
Windward sail area: 52.2 sq m (562 sq ft)
Displacement: 4,300 kg (9,500 lb)
Lead ballast: 2,045 kg (4,500 lb)
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