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REVIEWS

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 CAP

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

Fastnet 2013

Fastnet Diary Part 6 - Crew Training

Fastnet CrewFollowing Quantum Sailing’s Fastnet Race 2013 campaign – this diary is our ‘soup to nuts’ account of what’s involved in preparing for, and participating in, one of the world’s most challenging offshore races. We hope that this will be useful to others considering doing something similar in the future.

It seems like it’s been an age coming but finally we have got to the stage where we can report on some sailing time in our Fastnet diary.

After months of trawling through regulations, boat modifications and shore-based training, we finally had the crew onboard Quantum Leap for our training weekend. It was an interesting one too, with a range of weather condition to test the crew’s resolve, but we successfully covered a lot of ground over the two days.

 

Safety briefing/equipment - The Friday evening was spent in port at Haslar Marina, completing an in-depth safety brief and making sure that everyone got to grips with all of the safety equipment onboard. There had been a lot of changes and additions over the winter, so even those that had regularly sailed on Quantum Leap found that there was plenty of new or changed kit to learn about.

 The crew worked in pairs looking at different parts of the safety kit inventory. Taking every bit of equipment out of the lockers, they checked that they understood the kit and were confident about its operation. This included everything from emptying and familiarising themselves with the contents of the emergency grab bag to working out how to operate the chart plotter, AIS and EPIRB. It meant covering kit above and below decks, from testing all of the bilge pumps through to checking out how to extend and lock the Dan-buoy pole.

Investigating the equipmentAfter completing their investigation, each team then briefed the other groups on the equipment they have been looking at, so everyone was up to speed. This often raised more questions, which sometimes sent the team scurrying off to find out how things really worked. Even the Quantum Leap regulars found it a really useful exercise and we are better prepared for any emergency now.

 Sails and rigging - On Saturday, the aim of the day was to ensure that we were well practiced at the basic but also to ensure that we covered the full sail wardrobe. Some of this may seem a bit obvious, when most of the crew have a good number of sailing miles logged, but it is easy to clock up miles without ever setting certain sails.

 The mainsail is a fairly fundamental sail and one that everyone was well used to handling. The main objective for weekend here was to ensure that we really had reefing off pat. Everyone had done this before but all were a bit rusty. Before racing it is important that everyone understands the process and their part in it, rather than just blindly following instructions. We spent a reasonable amount of time sailing around the Solent, putting reefs in and shaking them out, until we had a pretty slick process. The weather was good to us at that point, with a blustery wind that made it a worthwhile exercise.

 We have furling gear installed for the foresail with our large No 1 genoa registered for our IRC Handicap. Many cruising sailors don’t change their foresail at all during the season, which is ok if you are only out in light winds but if you reef a foresail significantly it is surprising how much the sail shape and efficiency deteriorates. It is far better to swap it for a smaller sail when necessary, in our case a heavy weather jib (or a smaller genoa for cruising). Swapping foresails is another activity that people can miss out on, despite sailing thousands of miles, so it turned out to be a useful practice.

 Getting the Spinnaker up was high on our agenda but the first task was to go through the set-up whilst still attached to the dock. It is important for the crew to understand how the pole is set and held in position, how the spinnaker sheets and guys are run, which one goes through the pole etc. It is a lot easier to do this whilst everyone can follow you round the decks safely and focus on the task in hand, and not be thinking about all of the other boats around the Solent. Whilst we had the pole up, we also went through gybing the spinnaker (on Quantum Leap we are set-up for Dip-Pole gybing only) and poling out the foresail.

Crew preparationStorm sail setting was another of the key priorities for the weekend. Whilst racing is about going fast, the most important thing is to be safe, so being able to set the storm jib and/or the tri-sail is essential. Initially we went through this on the dock but then we went out and practiced it underway.

 During the afternoon‘s practice we had torrential rain and blustery winds. Whilst sailing in driving rain does get wearing, it was good weather to practice using the storm sails. If you only ever do this on a balmy drift in the sunshine, it will come as a bit of a shock when you have to do it for real, when it will probably be cold, wet and bouncy. So we had a good, if rather damp practice!

 Sunday’s weather was more summery, with a gentle breeze and sunshine. We spent a good part of the day reinforcing the learning from Saturday, making sure our reefing and sail handling was smooth and efficient. It was an ideal opportunity to get the spinnaker up as well. The crew had to put into practice their lessons from the previous day of course and get everything set-up for the kite launch themselves.

 Other preparations – Over the course of the weekend, there was a whole lot of other preparation to do. It is not just a case of learning to sail the boat fast but offshore racing is about sailing in different conditions, maintaining your performance over a number of days and learning to live together onboard. A 37 foot boat may see spacious when you look around the show boats at Excel, but with 7 people onboard and full racing gear, you need to be pretty organised otherwise it gets very chaotic! There is no getting away from other people on a small boat either.

 Part of the practice weekend was to plan and organise some of the support tasks. We discussed things such as, the watch system we would use, provisioning and what people like / don’t like, which bunks we would use at sea, storage, conservation of resources etc.

 By the end of the weekend, I think that the whole crew felt better prepared. There is still a long way to and everyone recognises that we will need to continue to learn as we gain experience in the prep races. At least we felt that we could now safely participate in our first race, the Cervantes trophy to Le Havre. We will cover that in the next diary update.

 

A Fastnet Diary Part 7 - First Races

Crew at seaFollowing Quantum Sailing’s Fastnet Race 2013 campaign – this diary is our ‘soup to nuts’ account of what’s involved in preparing for, and participating in, one of the world’s most challenging offshore races. We hope that this will be useful to others considering doing something similar in the future.

At last we are ready to report on some racing! We’d picked a series of four preparatory races and have now completed two. With 300 miles required as the minimum qualification, completing any three should give us sufficient miles. Some just enter the three races needed or, by including one of the longer races, such as the Myth of Malham Race around the Eddystone rock, just two.

Read more: A Fastnet Diary Part 7 - First Races

A Fastnet Diary Part 5 - Equipment

We're following Quantum Sailing’s Fastnet Race 2013 campaign – this diary is our ‘soup to nuts’ account of what’s involved in preparing for, and participating in, one of the world’s most challenging offshore races. We hope that this will be useful to others considering doing something similar in the future.

Part 5: March 2013: Equipment
At the end of the last diary entry we were embroiled in sorting out certification for the yacht stability rating (STIX & AVS). I’m glad to say that issue was resolved relatively quickly and quite painlessly. Armed with all of the documents that I could get from Jeanneau, and having identified other Sunfast 37s that had been rated, the IRC Rating office were able to confirm the stability data on our handicap certificate.

Read more: A Fastnet Diary Part 5 - Equipment

A Fastnet Diary - Part 4 - Race Entry

We're following Quantum Sailing’s Fastnet Race 2013 campaign – this diary is our ‘soup to nuts’ account of what’s involved in preparing for, and participating in, one of the world’s most challenging offshore races. We hope that this will be useful to others considering doing something similar in the future.

RemusPart 4: January 2013: Race entry
In our last diary entry we introduced the crew. You’ll hear more from them as we go through the training programme and prep races. In this, our fourth entry, we get a bit more technical. The date for entering the race has come upon us very quickly and has brought a multitude of questions that need answering.

Read more: A Fastnet Diary - Part 4 - Race Entry

A Fastnet Diary - Part 3

Fastnet Skipper Glenn SmallcombeWe are following Quantum Sailing's Fastnet Race 2013 campaign – this diary is our 'soup to nuts' account of what's involved in preparing for and participating in one of the world's most challenging offshore races. We hope that this will be useful to others considering doing something similar in the future.

Part 3 - October 2012: Introducing the Crew
As this is the third of our diary entries, we thought that it was high time to introduce the crew that will be heading off towards the Fastnet rock next year. We'll be sailing with six plus the skipper, so it will be cosy onboard Quantum Leap, our Jeanneau Sunfast 37. We asked the guys (sorry but its an all male crew) about their background, their sailing experience and why on earth they would want to put themselves through the discomfort of a Fastnet race – and pay for the privilege!!

Read more: A Fastnet Diary - Part 3

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