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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

Think again about Salvage

Litigation over SalvageBeing British, we tend to think that claiming salvage is rather unsporting. A bit like asking a potential girlfriend to pay for her share of dinner on the first date.  But those of us who are boat owners, or who have charge of other people's yachts, need to be constantly aware that a claim for salvage is a real possibility;  a possibility that grows ever more realistic in this age of swift litigation.  And Todd Tholke's action in suing the French America's Cup team for salvage of around $200,000.00 after 'rescuing' The Energy Team in San Francisco (see our story here) should give us further cause for thought.

I had a very similar dilemma skippering a recent yacht delivery.  We were sailing from Greece to Italy via the Corinth Canal, and the owner and I had calculated that, on leaving the Canal, we had enough fuel in the tank to get us safely to Kefalonia without having to use what was in the spare fuel can, so that we could re-fuel there before crossing the Ionian.  And we were, after all, a sailing yacht.  However, the first mate, being a practical sort, had decided that he didn't fancy trying to re-fuel from a can in choppy weather, and emptied all our spare fuel into the tank, declaring that it was better off there than in the tin!  What he hadn't thought about was what might happen if we had a fuel leak (which we did, later in the voyage) and were stuck without spare fuel on a lee shore.  Calling for a spare can of fuel  in that kind of situation would constitute grounds for a claim of salvage.  And the yacht was worth rather more than the cost of a can of fuel!  We returned to Piraeus to re-fuel, much to the grump of all concerned.  But I'd rather be safe than sorry, especially when responsible for someone else's yacht.


Certainly, the amount of salvage awarded would likely be relatively small in such a case. The rules say that in assessing any claim for salvage, the danger to salvors and the expense, skill and time involved must be considered. But you can never tell.  A clever lawyer might well argue that for lack of ten litres of spare fuel, the yacht would certainly have been driven onto rocks as it was a lee shore, and the result would have been a total wreck with possible loss of life. And that the risk to the salvor in approaching the rocks was considerable.  And so on.

Not only that, but the Insurance company might well consider that in failing to carry a spare can of fuel, the skipper was knowingly endangering the yacht, and might not pay out. 

So the risks of a salvage claim are not inconsiderable. 

And reliance on the 'Good Sport' of the British temprament is not something that I wish to do these days - even though I might be willing to help another yachtsman in trouble without Tod Tholke's apparent desire for litigation.

So what can we do to reduce the risk?

The first thing to do is to know the risks, and to know the outline of the law.  Perhaps the best way of doing this is to join the RYA.  Not only do they have an excellent PDF for members, available as a leaflet or online, outlining the issues, but their legal team can always help if you get into difficulties.  Not that I'm suggesting waiting until you are in dire straits before you call them - hardly practical.  But carrying (and knowing the content of) a copy of their leaflet on Salvage, together with a few of their prepared agreements, is a step in the right direction.

One of the popular myths is that you can avoid salvage claims if you pass your line to the tow boat, rather than receive his line.  Unfortunately, its not true. If you are offered help, you need to agree terms before you accept it.

And it may pay to check your insurance, or even with your insurance company, to determine what action they will require you to take should you be unfortunate enough to have to accept help, before you set out.

Carrying a spare can of fuel at all times is just one precaution amongst many.

Richard Thomas - Editor

Richard runs the specialist 'YachtMovers' Yacht Delivery Service

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