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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.


From Greek riots to Tunisian turmoil - Rosie & Brian’s Big Adventure part 18

New BiminiWe've followed Rose & Brian since they saiiled from Anglsey last year.  They travel from Greece to Tunisia, weathering the Tunisian 'Jasmine Revolution'.

“No more lazing around in hot sunshine I fear until we get to Tunisia” was the last comment while we were keeping out of the rain in the Ionian.  So true and even in Tunisia it has been cool and wet from time to time with a lot of wind!  We did meet up with friends on the way – firstly Rampage in pouring rain in Paxos, just before we headed back towards Italy.  Then we met Nocturne again in Santa Maria di Leuca and sailed with them all the way back to Malta where they winter.  Our return trip around the foot of Italy, stopping again in Siracusa on Sicily took longer than anticipated as the weather kept us tied up for several days on more than one occasion.  However as we touched base in many of the same harbours we had visited on the way out, we knew our way around which makes life a bit easier.

The first major engine problems we have had started as we headed through the Bay of Corinth, with an annoying diesel leak from the injector pump. It is in an inaccessible place and despite tightening up all the nuts we could find it kept dripping.  After getting some hints and tips from the internet, we cleaned and coated the pump in talc so we could see where the leak was around one of the nuts, but it wouldn’t tighten any further.  So for the next few trips a drip tray weighted down with big bolts had to be emptied of diesel every 3 hours or so, as well as the water leaking from the seawater pump which had been dripping for some time. This routine became second nature after a while, but not easy in a choppy sea!

Houmt Souk Marina from the top of the mastApart from the other usual mishaps (autohelm breaking yet again, extension chart screen deciding not to work etc) the trip to Malta was fairly uneventful and we arrived in early November with a list of work to be carried out while we had access to well stocked chandlers and Perkins dealers.  A week’s trip back to the UK was booked too as we had to deal with tax returns, sort through and file all the paperwork that my sister in law had assiduously checked, scanned and sent through to us for remote administration, as well as have health checks to keep our names on the NHS register!  While we were there we were able to pick up spare parts for the autohelm that had been delivered, some LED bulbs for our navigation lights to reduce the power burden and collect our Christmas present to ourselves – a couple of Kindle electronic books.  The latter have really proved themselves although we shouldn’t have taken them into the desert last week – the sand got everywhere!

After six weeks in Malta the vital work had been completed.  The engineer recommended by the Perkins dealer confirmed that the injector pump really needed to be taken off to be fixed, which meant that the engine had to be half dismantled. He found that the injectors themselves were in a sorry state.  Two new ones were needed and the other two have been reconditioned, new sealing washers found (this took a while) and the pump overhauled and fixed.  Our engine now purrs like a pussycat!  Brian took the opportunity to clean the engine too, so it isn’t quite as mucky as before, and fitted the new seawater pump.

Brian & PotsAt the same time we ordered a bimini which we had desperately needed during the summer (the home made sunshade wasn’t quite up to the job) and better quality tarpaulins to hang off the boom to shade the deck, but also keep us dry in wet weather while tied up.  However the new bimini (which is huge and wonderful) serves as a good umbrella we have found.  The steelwork was completed in just over 24 hours – fantastic service and very neat.

The date was set to leave Malta just before Christmas.  Our friends advised us sensibly that if we were going to overwinter in Tunisia, it would be better to leave the bottom cleaning and anti-fouling until spring.  We therefore decided to head straight for Houmt Souk, Djerba on the south west coast where we had spent a very pleasant month last February, and then book ourselves into Monastir which has a good boatyard this March.

The two day sail was excellent, with favourable winds most of the way as predicted.  A large fleet of trawlers off the Kerkennah Islands was difficult to negotiate in the dark and under sail, so the engine went on for rapid manoeuvring and after that the wind died, but until then it had been a very pleasant beam reach under sail alone, especially after we had escaped the corkscrew choppy waves south of Malta.  We reached Houmt Souk around midday, to a warm welcome from the harbour master who recognised us from last year.  We had intended to rent a flat for the duration but when the HM told us that the toilet and shower block was now completed and functioning (and excellent) we decided to live on the boat and rent a car as a luxury instead. 

Houmt Souk MarketThree weeks later we were intending to travel inland for some exploring and a change of scenery.  When advised of our intentions, the HM said “No you must not leave the island”.  This was on 12th January, and you probably know that the Tunisian Jasmine Revolution became news – a curfew was put in place, initially very restrictive from 5pm to 7am.  A rapid discussion among the four or five other boats on the pontoon ended in the decision to stay unless things became very bad.  Two boats left – one because the two teenage boys of the family could not bear to be restricted to the boat in the evenings, and one lone older man for reasons unknown.  The rest of us just made sure we were ready to leave at short notice.  Tanks and jerrycans were filled. 

Fishing in DjerbaWe still had our car, and during daylight hours carried on touring the island seeking out good places for birdwatching.  There were no problems at all.  The main law enforcement observations have been that the blue uniformed police have become very much lower profile (I am guessing they were the main dictatorial enforcers), the Garde Nationale (rural and border police) have recently stopped patrolling the sea, the two boats based in Houmt Souk being tied up on our pontoon with some very bored chaps on board.  They were loaded with ammunition and rifles a few days after the departure of Mr Ben Ali, the deposed president, but some of the hardware was taken off later (ferried around in civilian cars too).  Police stations are surrounded by rather flimsy barricades.  In Gabes there were army tanks outside government and police buildings, but in general police and army personnel that we have seen have looked relaxed even when demonstrators have been passing.

Re Galvanised Anchor ChainWe managed to keep up with the news by dint of visiting a local hotel with wifi and tuning in to French language radio.  The shops in town and cafés in the marina closed for a few days, with a lot of panic buying in the few shops that remained open and long queues outside the few bakers that opened.  However everything calmed down within a week of the main events, the curfew was made less restrictive, then lifted after about two weeks.  Of course we have witnessed demonstrations in various places including the fishing port where the marina has encroached on their harbour, but being from Europe these are not so unusual for us.  The ones we have seen are generally noisy but quite good natured and unthreatening.  Of course we have not been in Tunis or other towns where there has been more violence. Being sensible, we stay away from the action, but are keen to support the Tunisians in their objective of bringing democracy to the country.  There is a great sense of relief and optimism especially as censorship of the media has largely disappeared.

Since the curfew was lifted we have travelled inland, again with no difficulty despite Foreign Office warnings, apart from the fact that the vast majority of the hotels were closed as there were no other tourists.  We visited the desert and enormous salt lakes, marvelled at amazing mountain areas where people live in underground pits, and made the most of our stay before we head towards Monastir. 



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