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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

Calling Time on Flares?

FlaresThe RYA’s revised guidance on flares is both timely and sensible (see our story here).   Back in 2009 we wrote an editorial questioning whether the time had come to revise the official advice about their use.  So we welcome this careful, measured response to the issue.

Flares, even in-date flares, are dangerous.  Out-of-date flares are lethal.  As a yacht delivery skipper, I regularly find flare packs that are not merely ‘out of date’, but dangerously old, lurking in lockers on board.  Fines are increasingly common for carrying outdated flares;  the French authorities are, rightly, particularly fierce about this. 

But that’s not the only reason to question the reliance on flares as a means of attracting attention.  Today, there are better ways.


A flare has to be seen by someone else,  accurately identified, and the bearing accurately noted.  In a crowded seaway like the English Channel, that’s likely.  But once you leave the shipping lanes, the chances of being spotted when you have a serious problem drop considerably. 

But an EPIRB (Electronic Position Indicating Radio Beacon) or one of the newer Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs) will not only trigger an alert by Satellite at Falmouth Rescue, but will transmit your GPS position as well.   The now standard fitting of Digital Selective Calling (DSC) radios also means that GPS positions can be broadcast, and the increasing use of satellite phones on long passages means that you can often talk directly to the rescue centre.

In fact, many foreign authorities expect you to communicate this way.  We recently had a fire on board one of our delivery yachts, and at four in the morning, we were patched through to the Athens rescue centre.  One of the first questions they asked was for our satellite phone number.

Flares have their place.  An orange smoke flare is a vital ‘final hurdle’ identification tool in crowded waters, and will give a rescue helicopter a clear idea of the wind direction at sea level.  A hand-held red flare can be extremely useful in helping to identify you at night.

But the regular carriage and storage of highly dangerous explosives on small leisure yachts, where disposal and renewal both cause problems, should be carefully thought through by today’s cruising skippers.  There are better ways of asking for help at sea.

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