Cold Weather Sailing Tips

Cold Weather Sailing Tips

By Clive Eplett



The saying goes – “there is no such thing as weather, just the wrong clothes.

As I write ( April 09), the UK has just had its coldest March since blah blah blah, so in an effort to invigorate spring and induce a heatwave, here is some cold weather sailing advice.

So try these when the need arises:

  1. Take more clothes to the club than you think you might need. Carrying them should warm you up for a start! If your sailing wardrobe is inadequate, raid the cupboards for an old fleece or two. And it may be time to get the credit card out
  2. Basic principle: Never under-estimate the cold – it’s far easier to strip a layer off if too hot than heat yourself up if you get chilled
  3. If your boat lives ashore rather than on a mooring, dress warmly in civvies whilst you rig up, including extra layers, hat, gloves, etc. No harm in sneaking thermals under the jeans or putting a (dry) sailing waterproof on together with your coatCold Weather Sailing Tips
  4. But if it is also chucking it down with rain, get the sailing gear on first
  5. Rig with a sense of purpose, this is no time for faffing about. If someone fancies a chat, save it for the changing room. Move the boat out of the wind if practicable. Check the toe-stap strings and the like – this is hardly the day for gear-failure to induce a swim
  6. Eat well before going afloat – this is not a time for low blood-sugar levels. And use the toilets too. Stripping-off to answer nature’s call whilst out in the elements is not going to help keep you war
  7. I have a theory that your head is a good source of wind-information. But if it aches with cold, forget that. Put on at least a beanie hat and better yet a balaclava – or both!
  8. Don’t over-heat in the changing room, get sweaty then immediate freeze as you walk outdoors. Save putting on the last couple of layers until you have left the changing room, perhaps even until you go outside
  9. Don’t wade into the water to launch if you can avoid it. If you really have to go deep water paddling regularly, get yourself a drysuit. Making the crew do it to save yourself is unacceptable
  10. Take an extra layer or two afloat – but store them somewhere dry – in an accessible tank or a dry-bag
  11. Don’t wear leather sailing gloves – they keep your hands wet, which sucks the heat out of you. There are several alternative materials
  12. To some gentle exercise to get the blood flowing
  13. Don’t launch too earlyCold Weather Sailing Tips
  14. But once afloat, get busy. Don’t sit there feeling miserable
  15. If you must hang about (due to general recalls for example) heave too and get out of the wind as much as you can. Also, if possible, sail to somewhere sheltered but not too far away from the start
  16. If you fingers get cold, suck them – you will be amazed
  17. Do some more gentle warming up afloat around the time of the 5-minute gun
  18. Do not be psyched out by the weather – embrace it and laugh; doing so will give you a real edge on the miserablists
  19. Light airs and cold are the biggest challenge all that sitting still
  20. If you come ashore feeling really cold, get warmed up, showered and changed before packing the boat up (but do take the sails down first)


Original Article

Brought to you by Marineforecaster Application imported from Ezine Articles

Images added from Pixabay

Marineforecaster App – Your Mobile Weather Station

Cold Weather Sailing Tips

Cold Weather Sailing Tips

Jonty Pearce: High winds in Torridon

Jonty Pearce discovers that even bad weather doesn’t have to hamper a charter holiday in Scotland

A yacht sailing in a loch in Torridon, Scotland

Sula cruising in Loch Torridon

What do you do when you book a charter holiday but find that the weather falls short of one’s hopes?

The Western Highlands and Islands of Scotland can offer stunning scenery and amazing autumn ‘Indian Summer’ conditions.

Unfortunately for friends Norry and Hutch, the promised balmy warm sun that I’d optimistically promised failed to turn up; equinoctial gales from the backlash of tropical storms Lee and Maria put paid to my foolhardy pledge.

Norry prefers Mediterranean warmth – she didn’t get it on this trip, though at least she could look forward to a week sailing with friends in the Canaries.

I wasn’t envious at all. This was my second charter of the year that had been upset by high winds – our Shetland to Orkney fortnight in June had seen us harbour bound for three days as cyclonic gales lashed the islands. The trick is not to let it upset you or make you hot under the collar. Que Sera, Sera they say – I just wish that I were placid enough to maintain my equanimity when the world turns against me.

In Orkney, we made the best of our enforced stay in Pierowall Harbour to explore Westray and Papa Westray. 57-knot winds precluded leisure sailing, but we were put in our place when we were told that neither the local ferry schedule nor the world’s shortest commercial flight from Westray across to Papa Westray would be cancelled. They’re tough, these northerners – the Kirkwall Harbourmaster told me that they don’t think about bringing in the washing drying on the line till the wind reaches 80 knots…

Jonty Pearce: Winter migration

Jonty Pearce and his pontoon mates are made homeless for the winter when a howling gale necessitates some marina repairs

Our October charter was with Torridon Yacht Charter based in Shieldaig, Loch Torridon. The high winds started up soon after we boarded Sula, a Hanse 385.

My planned itinerary had to be somewhat modified, and I don’t think we ever shook out all the reefs. We had hoped to head north to Lochinver and Kylescu up in Sutherland, but exposing ourselves to the whim of unsettled weather so far from ‘civilisation’ would have been foolhardy.

Fortunately, the islands of the Outer Hebrides and Skye provide a bulwark against the Atlantic breakers for those sailing in their lee so while significant waves can build up in storms, they lack the bite of the open sea.

Well reefed, it is still possible to flit between sheltered anchorages in lulls in the wind; while the area is rich in hurricane holes it is important to be aware that downdraughts that can somewhat rock the boat if your chosen wind refuge sits beneath a cliff.

We did manage some limited sailing, but counted ourselves lucky to have driven up to Shieldaig; when a day was just too windy we had the option of winding our way through the grandiose scenery in the comfort of the car.

On one such occasion, we considered our nautical temerity justified by the lack of shipping, the wind-flattened waves, and driving spray that met our awed gaze through the window at our chosen viewpoints. The way that the car rocked when hit by the blasts of the tempest was another clue.

Back aboard Sula, we blessed her heater and comfortable accommodation. Fret not; if your chosen charter is trashed by inclement weather, at least you have hired a comfortable floating cottage that can be safely moored or anchored in the most scenic of situations far from the madding crowd.

Ensure that you have a well-stocked larder and drinks cabinet, good walking boots and warm waterproofs, and even gale-strewn holidays can be a pleasure.

It does help to have a week in the Canary Islands in reserve, though…

The post Jonty Pearce: High winds in Torridon appeared first on Yachting Monthly.

Original Article

Brought to you by Marineforecaster Application imported from Yachting Monthly

Marineforecaster App – Your Mobile Weather Station

New Upgrade for Marineforecaster App Ver 24.02

New Upgrade for Marineforecaster App Ver 24.02

The new version of the application Marineforecaster for Android is from today live and available.

The version 24.02 has a new user interface (UI) animated weather, option to choose from different units of measurement such as nautical miles, kilometers per hour, meters, feet, etc., for the presented data.

We have added bathymetric maps with certain depths, as requested by our users from around the world, especially for fishing purposes.

The depths in meters are: 0.40m, 1m, 3m, 7m, 10m, 20m, 50m, 100m and 500m and for feet the depths are: 1ft, 3ft, 10ft, 23ft, 33ft, 65ft, 164ft, 328ft and 1640ft.

The bathymetric maps are global and the users of our application Marineforecaster have the opportunity to establish the depths in all parts of the world. It is important to establish this point. Because the data has been mapped by satellites users can see the specific depths not only for the sea (always referring of the specific depths we mentioned above) but also on land, located below sea level.

These maps should not be used for navigation because it is not safe as other similar depths are not listed or may have changed due to differences in the tide phenomena, or because of wrecks or other geological causes possibly changing the specified depths, therefore this information is for reference only.

Only the official navigation charts are suited for navigational use. In the event of a use of our maps the captain of the vessel is solely responsible for the selection and of course for having already access to these data, he/she has consented to the Terms of Use listed on our site, but also within the application before any use available!

In the home menu, you will find the Help file (Info), whereby clicking on it, the user will be directed to the following page, where he/she will find a detailed description of the use of application including small demo videos which will show them how to operate the application.

Another new option is to use Messages (Push Notifications) through the application. This option was created for the sake of blitz communication with our users for any important announcements.

The version of the iOS will be available in 15-20 days from now. So please, those who make use of our application to the iOS to have a little patience. I suggest you take this out, as the announcement heading suggests that the app improvement is live now.

The application for the Android will download it from here.

We look forward to your positive your comments.

For any information please contact either directly through our email: or via Facebook.

Happy New Year & Fair Winds and Following Seas to all of you.


Νέα Έκδοση της Εφαρμογής Marineforecaster App Build 24.02

Νέα Έκδοση της Εφαρμογής Marineforecaster App Build 24.02Η καινούργια έκδοση της εφαρμογής Marineforecaster για το Android είναι γεγονός.

Η έκδοση 24.02 έχει καινούργιο περιβάλλον εργασίας (UI) με κινούμενα γραφικά για τον καιρό, και επιλογές διαφορετικών μονάδων μέτρησης όπως ναυτικά μίλια, χιλιόμετρα ανά ώρα, μέτρα, πόδια, κλπ

Προστέθηκαν ακόμη χάρτες βαθυμετρίας* με συγκεκριμένα βάθη, όπως αυτά ζητήθηκαν από τους χρήστες από όλο τον κόσμο, κυρίως για το ψάρεμα.

Σε μέτρα είναι: 0.40m, 1m, 3m, 7m, 10m, 20m, 50m, 100m, 500m

Σε πόδια αντίστοιχα και με στρογγυλοποίηση των βαθών προς τα κάτω για λόγους ασφαλείας, τα αντίστοιχα βάθη είναι : 1ft, 3ft, 10ft, 23ft, 33ft, 65ft, 164ft, 328ft, 1640ft

Οι χάρτες είναι παγκόσμιοι και ο χρήστης της εφαρμογής Marineforecaster έχει την δυνατότητα να δει τα βάθη σε όλα τα μέρη του κόσμου, είτε επιλέγοντας μέτρα είτε επιλέγοντας πόδια ως μονάδα μέτρησης του βάθους. Είναι αναγκαίο να σημειώσουμε ότι, επειδή τα δεδομένα έχουν χαρτογραφηθεί από δορυφόρους οι χρήστες μπορούν να δουν βάθη όχι μόνο στην θάλασσα (πάντα για τα συγκεκριμένα μέτρα που έχουμε προσδιορίσει στην εφαρμογή και αναφέρονται παραπάνω) αλλά και στην ξηρά, που βρίσκονται κάτω από το επίπεδο της θάλασσας.

Την προσοχή σας παρακαλώ!

Οι χάρτες αυτοί δεν μπορούν να χρησιμοποιηθούν για πλοήγηση γιατί δεν είναι ασφαλές, καθώς υπάρχουν και άλλα παραπλήσια βάθη που δεν αναφέρονται ή και επιπλέον δύνανται να υφίσταται υψομετρικές διαφορές λόγω φαινομένων παλίρροιας, αλλά και ναυαγίων τα οποία ενδεχομένως να έχουν αλλάξει το αναφερόμενο βάθος. Μόνο οι επίσημοι ναυτικοί χάρτες των ωκεανογραφικών υπηρεσιών κάθε χώρας ενδείκνυνται για αυτή την χρήση. Σε περίπτωση που θα γίνει χρήση των χαρτών μας, ο καπετάνιος του σκάφους είναι αποκλειστικά υπεύθυνος για αυτή του την επιλογή και φυσικά για να έχει πρόσβαση στα δεδομένα έχει συναινέσει με τους Όρους Χρήσης που αναφέρονται στην ιστοσελίδα μας, αλλά και μέσα στην εφαρμογή κατά την έναρξη χρήσης!

Στο αρχικό μενού θα βρείτε την επιλογή “Πληροφορίες“, όπου κάνοντας κλικ θα μεταβείτε στην παρακάτω σελίδα εδώ όπου θα βρείτε αναλυτική περιγραφή της χρήσης της εφαρμογής αλλά και μικρά βίντεο χρήσης όπου σας δείχνουν πως θα λειτουργήσετε την εφαρμογή.

Ένα άλλο καινούργιο δεδομένο είναι η χρήση Μηνυμάτων (Push Notifications) μέσω της εφαρμογής. Αυτή η επιλογή δημιουργήθηκε για λόγους στιγμιαίας επικοινωνίας με τους χρήστες μας, σε περίπτωση που υπάρχει κάποια σημαντική είδηση ή ενημέρωση όπως η περίπτωση εκτάκτων καιρικών φαινομένων!

Τέλος οι διαφημίσεις από την Google με ads έχουν περιοριστεί σε μία και μοναδική εμφάνιση ανά 6 ώρες για κάθε χρήστη.

Η έκδοση για το iOs θα βγει περίπου σε 15-20 ημέρες από σήμερα. Οπότε σας παρακαλούμε, όσοι κάνετε χρήση της εφαρμογής μας στο iOs να κάνετε ακόμα λίγο υπομονή.

Την εφαρμογή για το Android θα την κατεβάσετε από εδώ.

Περιμένουμε με χαρά την θετική σας ψήφο.

Για οποιαδήποτε πληροφορία επικοινωνήστε είτε απευθείας μέσω του email μας: είτε μέσω του Facebook.

Καλή Χρονιά και Καλές θάλασσες.


Ανδρέας Φωής

*Ευχαριστούμε θερμά το Αστεροσκοπείο Αθηνών για την στήριξη του με τους Σταθμούς Μετάδοσης Ζωντανού Καιρού καθώς και τις υποδείξεις του σχετικά με τα δεδομένα βαθυμετρίας.

Understanding sea state for better passage planning

Consider wind and waves when planning and, as Norman Kean explains, you’ll be able to predict and avoid rough waters

Sea state
In this picture of Bernard Stamm’s Cheminées Poujoulat battling a Force 10 in Biscay at the start of the VELUX 5 Oceans solo round the world race, the wave patches can be clearly seen

Understanding sea state for better passage planning

Norman Kean, FRIN, edits the Irish Cruising Club’s Sailing Directions. He and wife Geraldine sail a Warrior 40

The basic driver of sea state is of course the wind. The stronger the wind, the greater the distance over which it blows unimpeded (termed the ‘fetch’), and the longer it blows for, the bigger the waves – up to a limit, for the wind strength.

Waves – as our stomachs know – are not generally regular. A typical wind-driven wave pattern is a combination of many wave trains, each with different wave height (trough to crest) and period (the time interval between crests). When these combine, the result appears as groups of waves. Waves passing one spot will build to one or two big ones, and then diminish again before the cycle repeats, while a short distance away the same thing is happening, but not in step, so to speak, and the sea surface is a continuous grid of these fan-like wave groups.

Sea state

Wave patterns are not regular because multiple wave trains with different periods interact resulting in a pattern with variable amplitude

Sea state

Wind-driven waves interact with storm-driven swell from a different direction to create patches of waves

The pattern is often best appreciated from the air, in breezy conditions. In a small vessel it’s often possible to steer between the groups in such a way as to dodge the biggest waves. If you’re watching waves break on a beach, it’s remarkable how often two or three big ones arrive in succession. In a random wave pattern, consisting of combinations of many wave trains of different heights and periods, about one wave in 25 will be twice the average height, and given several thousand waves – say 12 hours at sea – there is an excellent chance of meeting one three or even four times the average. Casually labelling these as ‘rogues’ or ‘freaks’, as the media often do, is thus not entirely appropriate, but it meets the need for sensational headlines.

Significant wave height is the average of the highest one-third of waves. This is regarded as the figure of greatest interest to sailors, and it’s the one that’s quoted in buoy reports and wave height forecasts. Long waves with long periods move faster, survive longer and travel further, and the most extreme example of this is a tsunami.

What causes dramatic sea states?

Sea state

How depth and wavelength interact to affect the motion of water in waves

With winds of Force 5 or so, a lot of the wave crests topple over and break, and this of course becomes more frequent and heavier as the wind gets stronger. But it’s not the only factor at work. Wave motion involves a disturbance in the water that extends down to about half the wavelength below the surface. A diver hovering underwater moves in a vertical circle as each wave passes. Except in breakers, there’s no net onward movement of water. But when the water is moving bodily in the opposite direction, the wind-driven waves are effectively slowed so the energy transforms into shorter, steeper, higher waves – this is the wind-over-tide situation. When the wave height to wavelength ratio is around 1:7, the waves break, forming overfalls. The converse is also true, but we tend not to notice.

Shoals affect sea state

Sea state

The reason why Biscay can be unpleasant

In water shallower than half the wavelength, the seabed starts to interfere. It slows the waves down, and again they pile up, getting shorter, steeper and higher. An underwater reef offshore can cause a bigger wave than usual to rear up, apparently out of nowhere, and break, sometimes with tremendous violence. In the North Atlantic, the swell’s wavelength can be 500 metres or more, and because it’s the wavelength that influences the effect, it can happen in surprisingly deep water and with little warning. Even the edge of the continental shelf, 100-200 metres down, is less than half the wavelength so it affects the sea state (200 metres horizontally is only a good golf shot, after all) and this is one reason for the reputation of the Bay of Biscay.

Sea state

As the River Arun flows out of Littlehampton against a gentle southerly onshore breeze, the wind-over-tide effect is clear

A river mouth bar provides the setting for the worst of both worlds – outgoing stream meets onshore waves over a shallow patch – while the combination of an irregular bottom, strong tide and exposure to heavy seas can be spectacular.

In places like Corryvreckan, the Pentland Firth and Portland Bill, even in the absence of any wind or swell, the tide by itself creates a disturbed sea – a race – and there may be standing waves, which rear up continuously in the same place and can be almost wall-like.

Sea state

In the foreground we can see a clapotic wave, which has reflected off the wall of Dawlish train station and collided with an incoming wave

Waves impinging on cliffs with deep water at their foot tend to bounce back, and the result is a jumbled and chaotic sea state of dancing peaks and hollows. The French have a word for it: clapotis. The term is familiar to kayakers, who frequent places like that, but the clapotic sea state is strangely absent from the sailor’s vocabulary.

Sea state

This swell forecast indicates 18m off the northwest coast of Scotland

Waves radiate outwards in all directions over long distances from a storm centre, and as they travel, the component wave trains sort themselves out. The smaller, shorter waves quickly lose their energy and disappear, leaving the longer-period waves to reach coasts up to perhaps 1,000 miles away, in the form of swell. This long, regular roll from a distant storm may be quite unrelated to the wind-driven sea conditions locally, but it can have a big impact on passage planning, safety and comfort. If there is also a big local sea running in a different direction, a cross sea results, which can produce steep and dangerous waves. Because of their length, swell waves are also particularly prone to rearing up in shallow water. Surfers love them. They call them prowlers.

There are several excellent forecast websites and, on the ones listed on the previous page, sea state reports are available from met buoys. Check pressure charts for the whole ocean, to see where the storm centres are and how they’re moving, and you’ll get a grasp of the influences at work generating swell.

How does sea state affect your passage planning?

Sea state

This yacht has opted to take a fair tide through The Swinge off Alderney, but even a relatively gentle wind against a racing tide kicks up steep seas

Unless you’re a real glutton for punishment, you’ll prefer not to sail in steep and breaking seas. So do your homework and give an unavoidable wind-over-tide headland an extra-wide berth. Check the reports from met buoys, and look at sea state forecasts to see what swell conditions will be like. In a big sea, stay away from shallows and shoals.

At harbour and river mouth bars, check the swell direction, and if things are marginal, try to time your entry for a high and rising tide. Some places and passages may have to be avoided altogether. A long (even barely perceptible) swell can make for a rolly and sleepless night at anchor, and swell waves are apt to be refracted round headlands, so bear in mind that an apparently sheltered bay may not be as snug as it looks on the chart.

But when all’s said and done, there’s something very pleasant about the steady motion of a good boat in an ocean swell. A life on the ocean wave!

Sea state forecasting and reporting sources (phone and ask)

Around Ireland, and in addition to the standard met buoys, seven navigational buoys measure conditions including sea state, and tweet the data every 20 minutes. See

Sea state scale

Sea state

This photo was taken from the bridge of RMS Carinthia by John Shepherd, a Cunard officer, in 1965, on passage from Greenock to Halifax, Nova Scotia. ‘Given that Carinthia’s bridge was 23m (75ft) above the waterline, and these mammoth swells are still cutting the horizon, I would estimate that they were about 24-26m (80-85ft) from trough to crest,’ he said

The Douglas scale, devised in the 1920s, is used to describe sea state in forecasting and reporting:

0 Glassy calm

0 to 0.1m Rippled calm

0.1 to 0.5m Smooth

0.5 to 1.25m Slight

1.25 to 2.5m Moderate

2.5 to 4m Rough

4 to 6m Very Rough

6 to 9m High

9 to 14m Very High

More than 14m Phenomenal

Phenomenal seas might occur two or three times in a winter, off Cornwall, the west of Ireland or Scotland, and in the northern North Sea. The highest recorded wave off the Irish coast was one of 25m, at the Kinsale Field gas rigs in February 2014.

The post Understanding sea state for better passage planning appeared first on Yachting Monthly.

Original Article

Brought to you by Marineforecaster Application imported from Yachting Monthly

Marineforecaster App – Your Mobile Weather Station

Understanding sea state for better passage planning

Understanding sea state for better passage planning

SPC MD 1769


MD 1769 Image

Mesoscale Discussion 1769
NWS Storm Prediction Center Norman OK
1024 AM CST Sat Nov 18 2017

Areas affected...Northeast AR to Central IN

Concerning...Severe potential...Watch likely 

Valid 181624Z - 181830Z

Probability of Watch Issuance...80 percent

SUMMARY...Severe threat will increase into the early afternoon hours
ahead of progressive cold front. Severe thunderstorm watch will be
issued by 18z to account for this potential.

DISCUSSION...Strong 12hr mid-level height falls will overspread the
OH Valley and mid-south region this afternoon ahead of a progressive
cold front. Large-scale forcing for ascent will be focused across
this region but environmental capping is expected to restrict
appreciable pre-frontal convection, except for the warm advection
corridor across the OH Valley. Latest visible satellite imagery
suggests strongest boundary-layer heating is noted just ahead of the
front from central AR into southwest IL. This is supported in OA
fields where surface-3km lapse rates are now on the order of 6.5
C/km where partial sunshine is observed. Given the strong capping
observed, thunderstorms are expected to initiate along the surging
cold front. Latest radar data supports this scenario with convection
gradually increasing along the wind shift from east-central IL into
southeast MO where lightning is currently observed. Damaging wind
threat will increase with frontal convection as it matures,
potentially encouraging strong environmental winds to mix to the
surface with stronger downdrafts.

..Darrow/Hart.. 11/18/2017

...Please see for graphic product...


LAT...LON   35909142 37759080 40398674 40148496 38308630 35718927

Read more Original Article

Brought to you by Marineforecaster Application imported from NOAA Storm Prediction Center

SPC MD 1769

SPC MD 1769

‘I was rescued from death alone in mid-ocean’

Crippled by pain while sailing solo in the Indian Ocean, Andrew Halcrow had to call for rescue

RescueUnder full main and poled out genoa, Elsi lifts her skirts and revels in the South Atlantic’s northeasterly trade winds

‘I was saved from death alone in mid-ocean’

In the late 1980s I built a steel yacht in the Shetland Isles with the intention of doing a solo non-stop circumnavigation. It didn’t happen. Instead my brother Terry and I set off on a five-year trip round the world on the trade wind route. The desire to do the long solo trip never left me and in 2006 events conspired to make it happen.

My yacht was a Tahitiana, a double-ended steel cutter 9.6m long, called Elsi Arrub. I had huge confidence in Elsi as a superb sea boat but she was overweight and undercanvassed by today’s standards and I expected to be at sea for about a year.

At the end of 2005 I left my job after eight years as skipper on a local sail training vessel, Swan, and worked full time on preparing Elsi. The voyage would follow the old clipper route down the South Atlantic, through the Southern Ocean south of all the Great Capes: Good Hope, Leeuwin and Horn, and back up to Shetland.

Refitting for a green passage


Elsi and Andrew sailing out of Falmouth at the start of an epic adventure

I knew from our previous circumnavigation that we only used the engine to charge batteries so before leaving I took it out and relied on renewable energy; the wind, the sun and the water I sailed through, for my power. There was no challenge for me in using GPS for navigation and, although I carried a GPS, I used a sextant, compass and log line to keep track of my position.


Andrew uses a calm spell to sort good onions from bad on deck

Although this was to be a ‘solo’ trip, the only singlehanded bit about it was that I was the only one aboard Elsi. It was really a team effort with my wife Alyson doing the all-important shore side work while I was at sea. As well as helping to get Elsi ready on time she would provide me with regular weather forecasts and be the vital link between the ocean and the shore.


Elsi and I left Shetland on 27th June 2006. All went well apart from me having a few stomach upsets and Elsi growing a small forest of goose barnacles, which slowed us up a lot.

‘The pain became more severe’

By 19 December we were almost half way round and about 315 miles south-southwest of Cape Leeuwin when the occasional stomach pain suddenly became more severe. I could hardly do anything and the pain was considerable and getting worse. I knew I had to get off and called Alyson on my satphone. She contacted Shetland Coastguard, who called the UK’s International Coastguard station at Falmouth and they passed the message on to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA).

I thought it might be some time before any rescue service could reach me so I was surprised to hear an AMSA plane call me on the VHF only four hours later. They told me that a merchant ship, the Elegant Star, was about eight hours behind us and would be at our position around 0300 the following morning. The plan was for the vessel to launch her ship’s boat and come across to pick me up.

‘It was an effort to pick up a winch handle’

Elsi was still sailing east so I knew I had to get the jib down so I could heave to and wait for the Elegant Star. I managed to get myself up on deck, but I was in so much pain that I was literally moving two inches with every step. It was an effort to pick up a winch handle let alone do anything with it. All my headsails were hank-on and I struggled to get the jib down and heave to. For the first time on the voyage I bundled the jib down the forward hatch without bagging it. I wouldn’t need to set it again any time soon. I packed a bag with odds and ends I wanted to take. There was so much stuff but I could only take a limited amount. I put in my passport, the satphone and charger, my logbooks, camera and laptop. In no time the bag was full.


Andrew had total faith in Elsi’s ability to handle anything the sea dished out, like this scene in the Southern Ocean

As the night wore on the wind and sea picked up to Force 5-6 and by the time the Elegant Star was at my position in the early hours they didn’t think it was safe for them to launch their boat. I had no other option but to get back out on deck, get the sails set again and sail over to them. I got the jib hauled up onto the foredeck one little bit at a time, hanked it on and hauled it up but I didn’t have the strength to winch it properly tight.

We eventually got sailing but we were sailing away from the Elegant Star. I tried to tack a couple of times but Elsi was very sluggish with the growth of barnacles, and I was moving even slower than she was. The seas just kept knocking us back and I couldn’t sheet in or work sails quick enough. In the end I gybed round. There was little I could do to stop the boom crashing across but it actually came over as easy as if we had been in a pond on a summer’s day.

Rescue appears

As we came alongside the Elegant Star’s lee side the crew threw down a line and I made it fast. I had hoped the Elegant Star would take Elsi in tow and crept slowly forward to rig a towline on the bow and drop the jib. Then I tottered back to the boom and got the mainsail down. I wrapped a line around it, but it was far from being a good ‘harbour stow’. I had no fenders aboard and Elsi was clanging and crashing into the ship’s side as we both rolled unevenly in the swell.

The crew had lowered the ship’s gangway thinking I could walk up it. One of the crew was waiting for me at the bottom end. I took one look and knew I couldn’t do it. There was a gap I would need to jump across and at that time I couldn’t even have jumped over a postage stamp. I indicated to them that it was impossible. They dropped down a rope pilot ladder.

I was pretty weary by then, but when it came rolling down the ship’s side I knew I had to get up it. My bag was down below but I knew I couldn’t carry it up with me and in my poor state I was past caring anyhow. It was about eight, maybe ten metres to the deck. I didn’t know if I could get up but I knew I had to try.


Crippled by pain, Andrew had to dig really deep to find the strength to climb Elegant Star’s pilot ladder

I waited until Elsi lifted on a swell then reached up and grabbed hold of the ladder as Elsi fell away below me. I knew I had to keep going up before the next swell lifted her again and she crashed into me. I had to keep focused, keep going up and I knew, from having seen quite a few sea survival videos, that once I was at the top I couldn’t just collapse and relax. Too many casualties have done that on the point of rescue and just faded away. I had to keep thinking the deck was just another step on the way until I slowly wound down.


The crew of the Elegant Star look on as Andrew inches his way up the ladder

Before I knew it I was at the ship’s rail. A strong hand grabbed my arm to make sure I didn’t fall back down. I was led into the ship’s sick bay and was there till the following day when we were close enough to the shore for a helicopter to come out and take me off. I was flown in to Albany hospital where they operated on me. It was appendicitis. My appendix had been burst for about two days and peritonitis had set in. I was lucky to get away with my life.

Lessons learned


Andrew checks the bottlescrews and chainplates. Regular maintenance is crucial

People have asked me why I didn’t get my appendix out before leaving. I had considered it, but I figured I had been very healthy for the past 47 years and surely that year I would be OK too.

Usually it’s considered a young person’s ailment and most cases occur between the ages of 10-20. I was told of a Dutchman, my age, who planned a similar trip. He went to his doctor and asked if he should get his appendix taken out before he went. The doctor said that at his age he was far more likely to have a heart attack so did he want him to remove that as well?

Some people do get their appendix out before going on a long trip; some get all their teeth taken out as well. Perhaps the best advice is: if in doubt, get it out.


Elsi nears Amsterdam Island in the southern Indian Ocean. Andrew was already having stomach upsets

Having the satphone was a great help as I could explain to Alyson exactly what the problem was, along with my position and it was a real stroke of luck that the Elegant Star was able to pick me up.

All the rescue services were excellent and that facilitated a quick rescue in a remote part of the ocean.

I didn’t have an EPIRB on board for reasons of expense. An EPIRB is great when there is either no time or no means to get a message out or to keep track of a boat or liferaft. It does exactly what it says, it indicates your position in an emergency, but it is limited in that the only information it can put out is a position. The satphone was far more useful in my situation.

If money had been no problem then I would have carried one and would recommend one to others if they can afford it, but I had to choose, and I chose the satphone.

‘They found your boat, mate!’


After drifting for seven weeks, Elsi was spotted and salvaged. It’s a remarkable story that Andrew has committed to paper in his new book, Into the Southern Ocean

Alyson flew out to join Andrew. They agreed with Albany fisherman Robin Greene, skipper of the 60ft Kiama, that he would go out to find her with two days’ notice of her sighting. They chartered a small aircraft twice but there was no sign of Elsi. They returned to Shetland.

Some 54 days later, Rescue Coordination Centre Australia was notified of a yacht in trouble about 180 miles south-west of Albany and sent up a reconnaissance aircraft. On its way out the aircraft flew over a derelict-looking yacht and took a photo. Someone in RCC Australia remembered Elsi and compared the photo to one taken during Andrew’s rescue. It matched! A delighted Andrew was informed.

Andrew contacted Robin with the reported position, flew out to Australia and was thrilled to hear that Robin had found Elsi. Despite vowing never to try it again, he did, on a non-stop, solo westabout route but was rolled and dismasted shortly after rounding Cape Horn and rescued, this time by the Chilean Navy.

Andrew Halcrow


Andrew, seen here rounding Cape Horn on a later voyage with Elsi, has been sailing for almost 50 years and has covered more than 100,000 miles as skipper on large and small sailing boats. He has skippered a variety of commercial vessels including eight years with the Shetland sail training vessel Swan. He now works as a Shetland Coastguard


Original Article

Brought to you by Marineforecaster Application imported from Yachting Monthly

Marineforecaster App – Your Mobile Weather Station

‘I was rescued from death alone in mid-ocean’

‘I was rescued from death alone in mid-ocean’

Is it safe out there?

Is it safe out there?
I was trolling Facebook the other day and saw a comment in one of the sailing forums, can’t remember which one. A lady was asking for some advice. It seems that she and her husband have been saving up for years to retire on their boat and to sail around the world, but they were starting to get cold feet. Their reason was the amount of big storms out there these days and the effect that climate change is having on global weather patterns. They were seriously thinking about not going.
At first I saw her point and almost agreed. But then I thought, how ridiculous. When I did my first circumnavigation we were guided by a tome of a book called Ocean Passages for the World. It detailed the best routes and the best time of year for different ocean voyages. For most cruisers it was a bible. We also bought weather charts that showed the various wind strengths and direction for each month and would use the charts to plan the best route. There were no forecasts for most of the world. Sure around the English coast you could get the shipping forecast but nothing for the mid Atlantic. We were at the mercy of the wind gods.
For the first few years the weather charts were fairly accurate and the weather quite predictable, but then it started to change. I once did a Southern Ocean passage in the 80s where the weather chart claimed that for the month of January there was zero chance of easterlies and a 95% chance of strong westerlies. We beat into easterly headwinds for a week. My point is that things have been changing for the last couple of decades.

Is it safe out there?
Pounding upwind in an area where it should have been a downwind slide

For our cruising couple with cold feet things have never been better. There is so much accurate weather information available and much of it is free. You can compare various forecasts and make a highly educated decision. Once you have set off you can get updated forecasts along the way and plot your course accordingly. Boats are so much safer now than in the past and we are all so much better educated about how to deal with bad weather. Heck thinking about it now we must have been crazy to set sail without on-board real-time weather info, say nothing of tracking that allows those at home to follow every inch of your voyage. And we used a sextant? Madness.
To the couple with cold feet I say go for it. I think it’s safer now than it has ever been. Take the usual precautions but don’t let the nonstop babble on TV about the state of the world get in the way of what sounds like awesome plans.
Is it safe out there?

Brian Hancock – Owner Great Circle Sails Is it safe out there? Read more here …… Original Article

Brought to you by Marineforecaster Application imported from Sailfeed / Brian Hancock



Marineforecaster App – Your Mobile Weather Station

Is it safe out there?

Is it safe out there?

Nominations sought for the YJA Yachtsman of the Year 2017

The Yachting Journalists’ Association (YJA) has extended its nomination period after receiving few entries

Bob Shepton, who won the Yachtsman of the Year Award
Yachting Monthly’s Bob Shepton is a previous winner of the award. Credit: Bob Shepton

In the past, the YJA Yachtsman of the Year award has attracted some of the most famous names in sailing.

The accolade is regarded by many as “the knighthood of yachting”.

But this year, the Yachting Journalists’ Association (YJA) has been forced to extend its nomination period after receiving a surprising lack of entries.

Nominations for YJA Yachtsman of the Year 2017 and Young Sailor of the Year 2017 can now be made until Sunday, 29 October 2017.

Clipper Round the World Sailor Gavin Reid wins the Yachtsman of the Year Award 2016

Clipper Race sailor Gavin Reid won the 2016 award. Credit: onEdition

The association has also launched a new accolade for 2017 – the YJA Young Blogger of the Year.

In a media release, the YJA encouraged the public not to delay in making their suggestions.

“Please submit your nominations for your sailing heroes as soon as possible,” it urged.

“Remember, the Yachtsman and Young Sailor nominations may be made by any member of the public who wishes to make a proposal as well as by our members,” it added.

Nominations can be made via the YJA website or by post to 45 The Ridgway, Brighton BN2 6PD.

Entrants for the YJA Young Blogger of the Year must be under the age of 21 on 31 December, 2017. Nominations for this award close at midnight on 30 November 2017.

Ellen MacArthur Trust.

Dame Ellen MacArthur is also a previous winner of the award

This year’s YJA Yachtsman of the Year and Young Sailor of the Year Awards and Young Blogger of the Year award winner will be announced at Trinity House on Tuesday, 9 January 2018.

The first recipient of the Yachtsman of the Year award was Eric Hiscock in 1955 for his round the world voyage in Wanderer.

Previous winners include Volvo Ocean Race winner, Ian Walker, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, Sir Francis Chichester, Keith Musto, Dame Ellen MacArthur, Chay Blyth, Dee Caffari , Pete Goss, Sir Ben Ainslie, and the Rev Bob Shepton, who writes for Yachting Monthly – a feature on his trip around St Kilda will be in the December issue of the magazine.

Last year, the trophy was won by Clipper Race sailor Gavin Reid, who swam mid-ocean to rescue a yachtsman taking part in the Sydney Hobart Race who was trapped at the top of a mast.

Original Article

Brought to you by Marineforecaster Application imported from Yachting Monthly

Marineforecaster App – Your Mobile Weather Station

Nominations sought for the YJA Yachtsman of the Year 2017

Nominations sought for the YJA Yachtsman of the Year 2017

Ambition, nerves, and espionage: final countdown at the Volvo Ocean Race

We go behind the scenes at the Volvo Ocean Race with Dongfeng Race Team to find how the team is preparing for the longest, furthest Volvo Ocean Race yet

Ambition, nerves, and espionage: final countdown at the Volvo Ocean Race
Sanxenxo training 2 boats testing with mapfre

The first race that ‘counts’ for the Volvo Ocean Race, the Alicante in-port race, takes place tomorrow. The seven teams are in their final countdown to the start of the nine-month round the world race, and we’ve joined Dongfeng Race Team to find out how the squad are preparing for the longest, furthest Volvo Ocean Race yet.

Watch Jack Bouttell talk about how the sailors are feeling ahead of the Volvo Ocean Race start and the short first leg to Lisbon:

When Dongfeng Race Team unveiled their squad back in May, they also revealed their ambitions for this edition of the race. At a glamorous announcement in Paris, team director Bruno Dubois, compared Dongfeng team’s return to the Volvo Ocean Race to a ‘difficult second album’. After surpassing so many expectations last time around, when they went into the race with a half-Chinese, near-rookie crew and emerged with two leg wins and a third place overall, they set out that they want to go at least one better.

“The 1989 win by Steinlager: this is the style I want to win this bloody race in!” Dubois commented at the time.

Things started well, with a solid win in the Rolex Fastnet Race, finishing 24 minutes ahead of the nearest VO65. They also joined up with their nearest leading contender, the Spanish team Mapfre for some two-boat testing, an experience Caudrelier says was valuable – if not without its risks.

Information is valuable – today Brunel’s support RIB was spotted stalking several competitor teams before the practice race. Often with Peter Burling onboard, (America’s Cup habits obviously die hard) the Dutch team were apparently looking for any marginal differences in set up on the identical one-designs. Caudrelier says that they trusted Mapfre to ‘play the game’, and they came away with useful information.

Watch Charles Caudrelier talk about the gains of two-boat testing here:

But in the final ‘Prologue’ race (a non-scoring pre-race from Lisbon to Alicante) Dongfeng Race Team were over the line early, and then when a high pressure system near becalmed the fleet off Portugal, eventual winner Mapfre along with Brunel sailing went inshore, where they picked up sea breezes. Dongfeng wallowed in the light and finished sixth of the seven teams when the race was eventually finished early.

Many in Alicante this week have marked Mapfre as favourites – with the Spanish boat showing pace to take today’s practice in-port race also. But who would have fancied Dongfeng to achieve what they did last time around? The only thing that is truly certain about this race is that it will be very, very close

Diverse talents

Dongfeng’s team sheet is impressive, whilst diverse. Alongside skipper Charles Caudrelier are the two hugely experienced New Zealand offshore sailors, Stu Ballantyne and Daryl Wislang. At the squad in May announcement Caudrelier joked: “I like statistics and every winner has a Kiwi on board,” adding, “Every 10 years Stu wins a Volvo, and I think this is maybe his last time.”

Ballantyne won the event three times. Wislang, meanwhile, was part of the winning Abu Dhabi crew last time around. He also keeps up the Kiwi quota, “In case I break one, I have a spare,” quipped Caudrelier.

Dongfeng Race Team was the first to announce that they had a mixed crew, with Carolijn Brouwer and Marie Riou. Three Chinese crew also continue with the team, sailing under their English names of Horace, Black and Wolf.

Ambition, nerves, and espionage: final countdown at the Volvo Ocean Race

Leg Zero, Prologue, day 01. Start on-board Dongfeng. Photo by Jeremie Lecaudey. 08 October, 2017

British-Australian former Figaro sailor Jack Bouttell has moved to the bow. Two of Caudrelier’s key right-hand men, Kevin Escoffier and navigator Pascal Bidegorry, have also returned, joined by IMOCA solo sailor Jeremie Beyou.

In what is undoubtedly the most mixed Volvo Ocean Race ever, Dongfeng’s team is perhaps even more diverse than most, balancing a core group of talented French offshore sailors with Olympians, vastly experienced Kiwi team members with relative newcomers in the Chinese crew, and solo IMOCA and Figaro sailors.

When I joined the team in Lorient in spring there was an ease among the squad, with Caudrelier and navigator Bidegorry teasing each other like an old married couple. There is a tension now: the hunger to start. Dongfeng have the rare advantage of a two race programme, and a lengthy build up to this race, they are prepared. Talking to any of the sailors they give the same answer, they are ready to go. Now.

Original Article

Brought to you by Marineforecaster Application imported from Yachting World

Marineforecaster App – Your Mobile Weather Station

Ambition, nerves, and espionage: final countdown at the Volvo Ocean Race

Ambition, nerves, and espionage: final countdown at the Volvo Ocean Race