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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

The News

RYA revises guidance on Flares

FlaresThe RYA has issued revised guidance on the carriage and use of flares by non-commercial yachts.  The new guidance has been approved by both the Maritime Coastguard Agency and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. The guidance note can be downloaded here.

The carriage and use of flares by small leisure craft has recently been a matter of some controversy.  We ran an editorial a few years ago, following an horrific accident to an RYA Instructor who was demonstrating their use, arguing that with the increasing use of Personal Locator Beacons, Electronic Position Indicating Beacons, and the mandatory use of DSC VHF, the carriage of what are in reality dangerous exposives that can't be easily disposed of when out of date is an anachronism.


The RYA says that the "new guidelines, for skippers of pleasure craft under 13.7m in length, provide information on the combinations of equipment you could consider carrying and using depending upon the type of your vessel and where you use it...We are not saying don’t carry flares, but combined with modern devices you might not need to carry as many as previously recommended; think about what you want on board as you may prefer other methods for alerting attention".  

We were heavily criticised at the time, but the reality of practical yachting has led to an increased realisation that whilst flares have their uses, not least the orange smoke flares and the white hand-held flares for increased visibility, the arguments for every sea-going yacht to carry these dangerous explosives are no longer as convincing as they used to be.

In an emergency, flares need to be seen by another ship.  In the crowded waters of the Channel, this is reasonably likely.  But on most of the oceans of the world, ships are few and far between.  The chances of having to wait, maybe even a few days, before letting one off that has a reasonable chance of being seen is considerable.

They are difficult, if not impossible, to dispose of.  The French have started fining yachts with out of date flares on board.  They are unlikely to be the only nation state to do so. 

And they are dangerous explosives, especially if there is a fire on board.

Whereas setting off an EPIRB or a PLB is unlikely to cause injury.  It will be seen and heard immediately, along with a GPS derived position. DSC VHF will give your position automatically.

The arguments are shifting.  Flares have their place, but that place  may not be on a vessel that is only used in the Solent or the Channel, or where an EPIRB, PLB and other electronic distress equipment is used.

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