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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

Red Diesel Nonsense

Red diesel nonsenseWe agree wholeheartedly with the editorial that appeared in Scuttlebutt, and we are pleased to run it as a Guest editorial.

From the RYA web site we read "The Ministerial statement indicated that, from 1 April 2012, the use of marked 'red' diesel to propel private pleasure craft will be allowed only within UK territorial waters.

Okay but what if we want to go to France, Belgium, the Netherlands or further afield?

As a direct result of the parochial and, some would say jealous reaction by Belgium to the UK's red diesel policy, our HMRC is in process of revising the rules for its use. As from 1st April 2012, i.e. 30 days from now, when buying red diesel we shall be asked to sign a document stating it will not be used outside of UK territorial waters. I guess this means if we are caught in France or Belgium with red diesel then the UK government will prosecute us as well.


Belgium has stated that it will stop and fine any boat in its waters found to have dyed diesel in its tanks. It has already begun doing this. The fines have been swingeing. This means that anyone who intends to go across the Channel will first have to drain and rinse his tanks clean of dyed fuel. We are advised to always keep our tanks topped up to avoid condensation contaminating the fuel so each of us will have a tank full of red diesel to dispose of. The average yacht tank holds approximately 120 litres so it contains fuel costing £149 on 60/40 taxation basis. What is to happen to all this fuel? It represents 24 off 5 litre cans and it cannot be used in a road vehicle and few have a suitable central heating boiler. How are we to get it out of our tanks and will the fuel company agree to take it back?

I suspect there is a risk that persons sufficiently displeased with the Government's handling of this might be tempted to dump it surreptitiously or release it into a waterway and risk prosecution.

Now we need to also consider the plight of the motorboat owner. His fuel load is 1200 litres at a cost of £2,550. Is it reasonable to ask him to throw away this amount of money?

Most tanks, when drained via the pipe to the pump, leave about 10% of the fuel behind. i.e. approximately 2½ gallons in a 25 gallon tank. This is deliberate on the part of the builder to prevent drawing sludge and water from clogging the engine's fuel filters and resulting in engine failure. It is understood that 1% of red diesel found in any sample tested will represent a failure to comply.

Being mainly sail driven, many yachts only need to fill up once a year and then only when they get down to half full because going on a cross Channel voyage with any less fuel is dangerous and poor seamanship. Thus it will be the seventh year before the red diesel concentration gets to below 1%.

Clearly the owner, who has no means of knowing the concentration of red diesel in his tank, will need to take other measures.

These days tanks often do not have a drain outlet at the bottom lest the valve leaks diesel into the accommodation. If the tank does have a drain it would be possible to drain the tank into the aft cabin - but this is a cabin normally used for sleeping.

For many it will mean opening up the tank by removing the fuel gauge (if there is one) and having the fuel pumped out. Then having the tank flushed with white diesel and tested to ensure the concentration is below the limit. Is it reasonable for legislation to cause all of the above expense, trouble and distress.

Having done all that where is the owner going to get additional supplies of fuel? In areas where sales to fishermen and other commercial users predominate white diesel will not be available and where suppliers change to white where will the fishermen get theirs? Most fuelling berths that own their tanks are unlikely to have sufficient throughput to warrant burying an additional tank and installing another pump.

The "Cruising Routes" charts published by the RYA in response to the threat of wind farms sufficiently illustrate the huge number of cross Channel trips that are made by leisure sailors each year. Many of these are of foreign craft coming to the UK as visitors. These too will require fuel and will thus fall foul of their own legislation when they return home.

Effectively this means no craft with red diesel, or the remains of red diesel in its tanks can risk going to France, Belgium, the Netherlands or Spain.

Unless a resolution is found I believe the nett effect will result in an almost complete cessation of visits by boats from both sides of the Channel.

The closeness of the implementation date of 1st April has meant that the consultation period is to close on 11th March this year. It is vital that sailors make as much noise as they can before this date as, otherwise, we shall have an impossible and unworkable situation foisted upon us.

The "Law of Unintended Consequences" is yet again in full spate. -- Barry Dunning

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