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

Available on Amazon here


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

Illegal Drift Nets

Drift Net catches dolphinDrift nets are illegal in the Mediterranean.  They are walls of death, deadly to everything that gets caught in their mesh.  Yet fishermen continue to use them illegally to catch migratory species of large fish, such as Tuna and Swordfish. And literally throw away the corpses of turtles, dolphins, sharks, and other innocent species caught in their nets.

Crossing the Strait of Sicily a month ago, I had to avoid one of these deadly nets.  The sea was flat calm, it was evening, and the floats, set at intervals of about ten metres, stretched out in a line towards the island of Linosa. In the distance I could see the trawler that was laying the net.  The radar showed it was about four miles away.  And we had already followed the net for about half a mile, looking for a place to cross.  So the net was at least four miles long.  

As we motored gently towards north Africa, we spotted a number of large turtles swimming along the surface like brown dinner plates.  They quickly dived the moment they were aware of our presence.  They need to come to the surface to breathe, and if they get caught in the drift net, they drown.   We spotted dolphins running across our bow.  They too need to surface to breathe, and if they get caught in the drift net, they drown.  And even the creatures that don’t need to surface are killed, because they need to maintain a flow of water across their gills in order to breathe.

Oceana is an international charity that is campaigning for the abolition of these illegal fishing nets. They highlight the problem of the lack of enforcement. In a report documenting the problem they say:  “The case of the Italian fleet is notorious. Through various conversion plans implemented more than 10 years ago, this fleet received subsidies from public funds.  ...It  is estimated that more than 137 Italian vessels continue using this illegal fishing gear, after having received substantial subsidies for conversion. The vessels identified by Oceana received a total of over 900,000 euros to subsidise their conversion.”  One campaigner against drift nets told me that there is big money behind some of these Italian drift net boats.  Money from organised crime.

But the Italians aren’t the only ones using these nets.  Tunisian and Moroccan fleets have them, as do the Turkish fishermen. 

As yachtsmen and yachtswomen we care deeply about the wildlife of the open ocean. And there is a lot we can do to combat the illegal use of drift nets.  The definition of a drift net is simple – it isn’t anchored to the sea bed (these are called Fereterra) or attached to a trawler.  It floats free, often miles long, catching and killing everything in its path. If we spot a trawler laying one of these nets in national waters, we can report it to the authorities, either directly by radio, or at the nearest port when we get in.  Perhaps taking a photograph of the trawler isn’t such a good idea – there have been reports of trawlers trying to ram yachts that do that.  But logging the vessel’s name and nationality and reporting it will help.

And we can support charities that are working hard to get the E.U. to enforce its own laws. Charities like the Spanish based Oceana, which need finance, volunteers, and much wider knowledge of their work.  Sailers is supporting the work of Oceana, and you can find out more on their website.

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