Winter sailing destinations – where to go yachting at Christmas

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Perhaps you are fed up with the cold miserable weather in the UK and are looking to escape to warmer waters for a week or two. How about Antigua?

Playground to many of the rich and famous who charter super yachts (over 24m) or migrate there own pride and joys to benefit from all-year sunshine. Antigua has got to be the capital of yachting in the Caribbean, hosting boat shows and regattas throughout the season. English Harbour is one of the main areas to visit and hosts a range of amenities for yachts. There is also a Sunsail base in the historic harbour of Nelsons Dockyard providing an ideal charter base. Guaranteed sunshine, warm water and good winds brought by the trades are to be expected together with a traditional island culture which is fun and exciting. Antigua also claims to host over 360 beaches giving a different one for each day of the year if you were to try them all! Other areas nearby to explore by boat include Montserrat, the volcanic island which is a day sail from Antigua and Barbuda which lies to the north of Antigua and which features a nature reserve. Economy flights from the UK start at around £600 per person and the local currency is East Caribbean Dollars. If you want to sail your own boat over then it is possible and most sail between around November through to a few leaving in the early new year. November routes tend to go via the Canaries and individual boat owners can take part in the ARC race as well as several other transatlantic rallies.

December Weather:

Day / Night temperature: 28 / 23 degrees Celsius

Sea temp 28


Free berthing for classic yachts at Falmouth

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Summer regatta plans announced

falmouth harbour hit and run moorings

Traditional yacht skippers will be able to berth for free at next year’s Falmouth Classics Regatta as organisers bid to make the fixture as popular as those nearer the South Coast.

The three-day event takes place from 13-15 June 2014, in Falmouth Harbour and Carrick Roads with free berthing for classic yachts at Visitors’ Yacht Haven paid for by National Ventilation and Airtech.

Henry Roberts, chairman of Falmouth Classics Association, said: ‘The sponsored berths and moorings will be an incentive for many boat owners to include Falmouth in their summer program. We are looking forward to the 2014 event and continuing to promote the best of classic sailing in Britain.’


Race News: TJV Leaders Down and Out

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Macif skipper Francois Gabart explains the circumstances surrounding a dismasting that ended their lead

Macif dismasted

Vendée Globe winner Francois Gabart sounded as objective and upbeat as he possibly could this morning when he described the dismasting of MACIF which happened around midnight last night whilst sailing in relatively normal trade winds conditions, some 140 miles from Salvador de Bahia, Brasil.
After being forced out of the Barcelona World Race in January 2011 when the top of their rig failed on Foncia when Gabart and Desjoyeaux were lying a close second, the empty feelings of deception and dejection are ones that the gilded duo know well, but Gabart was painting a brave face on things:

“We look to the positives, it could have happened at any other time and that would have been worse for us and for the boat. It’s been great since it happened in the Barcelona . There is no reason why it can’t follow on the same after this second dismasting.” Gabart told a live Radio Vacation with the French media assembled at the finish in Itajaí.

Gabart confirmed that MACIF has had a new mast since he won the Vendée Globe in Fabruary, striving to save a little weight.

The duo had around 1100 miles to race to the finish when their mast came down, having lead since November 17th. Vincent Riou and Jean Le Cam take over as leaders of the class, with 59 miles in hand over Marc Guillemot and Pascal Bidégorry on Safran who rose to second today, making up around 50 miles since yesterday.

Gabart recalled: ” We were sailing on port tack with the full mainsail and big gennaker in 15-20kts of wind with a little sea from behind us, which was allowing us to surf a little, it was not unpleasant. An hour or two before we had been having some gusts but the wind was quite stable when the mast broke. We were under pilot, I was in the cockpit and Michel (Desjoyeaux) was resting inside. I suspect that it was the tube which broke rather than something peripheral (rigging/outrigger etc). The mast broke a dozen or so metres above the deck and that meant about 18 metres of mast in the water. The standing part was supported by the coachroof. We turned downwind.

Fortunately we were all safe when it happened. It is certainly better not to be in the way of when the mast and sails come down. In about one hour we managed to separate the upper part of the mast from the lower section and to preserve the boom. We are both in the same state of mind, sad and disappointed. But we are two people who look forwards. And at these times it is certainly better to do that.”

Some ideas “As soon as it starts to break within two seconds everything is down, so really I can’t speculate as to what might have happened. I know we were pushing the boat but we were in conditions which seemed pretty normal. And this is not exactly the first time I have been pushing the boat since it was launched two years ago.

After the Vendée Globe we have set a new mast which is lighter. We wanted to save some weight without sacrificing reliability. If we still had the first mast maybe the same thing would have happened. But this second mast was always a bit more fragile in the harsh conditions of the Transat Jacques Vabre. I don’t want to second guess anything but it seems obvious.

I don’t think our match race with PRB had any impact on how we pushed the boat. We held back at times, our goal was to sail better consistently. We did not want to overdo it, we wanted to sail cleanly and even if PRB had been a few miles ahead, or behind, then nothing would have changed.”

Second time unlucky “I have had two dismastings in my life, both in IMOCAs between Brazil and Africa and both sailing two up with Michel. We think of the dismasting which happened two years ago in the Barcelona World Race. But the reasons are different. But there is the same feeling of sadness because all of a sudden everything just stops. At the same time we look to the positives, it could have happened at any other time and that would have been worse for us and for the boat. It’s been great since it happened in the Barcelona. There is no reason why it can’t follow on the same after this second dismasting.”

Heading to Salvador de Bahia
We are sailing downwind towards Bahia. We would not have done too well trying to get upwind in with the storm jib … We have some fuel but it is limited to get to Bahia. And we want to have enough fuel for when we get to port. Our work under storm jib is useful. The idea is to make the best possible course to sail. We are doing 3-4 knots under sail and under engine 6-7 knots . We might get the there tonight or tomorrow morning. The MACIF team is flying tonight to arrive tomorrow morning or later in the afternoon. In Salvador de Bahia we plan to set a better, more efficient jury rig to sail to Itajaí as the boat must leave by cargo ship in the next few weeks. ”


Weather forecast this week

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The forecasts predict freezing temperatures and snow across many regions. Whilst topping up anti freeze and making sure your car is equipped to deal with extreme weather might be on your mind, don’t forget about the boat.

Make sure the fresh water tank is drained or at least partially drained to prevent damage from over expansion. Perhaps consider installing a winter heater which can be set on a thermostat, but don’t rely on it! If the power trips out you need to be sure your yacht won’t be damaged.

It’s also time to sort out the engine winterisation and plan any winter works. Again make sure the freshwater system is flushed with antifreeze.

If you are out sailing then make sure you are properly equipped with warm clothes, waterproofs, plenty of food and fuel and reliable methods of calling for help, such as a VHF radio, should anything go wrong. Consider refreshing your self with a first aid course to learn how to treat injuries and hypothermia since injuries tend to occur more often in violent weather. Check the forecast before you go out and let someone ashore know your plans.

If you need help planning winter maintenance, you can submit your jobs online to our system, we’ll then automatically contact all the suppliers in your area who will be able to advise and quote for any work that needs carrying out online. It’s quick an easy and lets you find the best people for the job as well as comparing prices.

The world’s smallest personal locator beacon

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The world’s smallest personal locator beacon
The perfect Christmas gift to keep your loved ones safe

For a tiny present with a big impact this Christmas, look no further than Ocean Signal’s rescueME PLB1 – the world’s smallest personal locator beacon.

Not only will the PLB help to keep your loved ones safe when they are out at sea, it will also give you peace of mind that they will be able to alert the emergency services at the press of a button.

With a battery life of seven years, the 116g (4.1oz) personal locator beacon provides long-term coverage and complete security that anyone carrying the rescueME PLB1 can be located accurately by rescuers in the event of a life-threatening situation.

It is easy to use, unobtrusive and specifically designed to be small and light enough to carry or attach to clothing.

Available for £282 (price may vary), the PLB is a vital safety aid to carry while at sea, but can also be used for a variety of activities, including hunting, fishing, shooting, hiking, climbing, endurance competitions and winter sports.

Typically 30% smaller than other PLBs*, with dimensions of 3in (77mm) (height), 2in (51mm) (width) and 1.3in (32.5mm) (depth), the rescueME PLB1 has been developed by marine communication and safety specialist Ocean Signal so that it can be activated with one hand in the most challenging circumstances. All that is required is for the antenna to be extended, the protective cover flipped up and the button pressed.

When activated, the rescueME PLB1 will transmit accurate position data from its 66 channel GPS, using the designated 406MHz search and rescue Cospas-Sarsat satellite communication system, as well as transmitting a 121.5MHz homing beacon which will be received by search and rescue helicopters for a minimum of 24 hours while the integrated strobe light ensures maximum visibility.

Safety and communication products from Ocean Signal offer exceptional value, meeting or exceeding international technical and safety standards. Careful design and innovation provides commercial shipping, fishing and recreational users the confidence that their Ocean Signal equipment will work to, and beyond, their expectations when it is needed most.

For further information on the rescueME PLB1 and the full range of products available from Ocean Signal, please go to



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Powerboat owner fined for crashing into yacht

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The Rigid Hulled Inflatable Boat (RHIB) owner admitted three charges of navigational negligence



The owner of a RHIB that smashed into a yacht rendering it useless has been fined £1,500 in court.

The 28ft yacht ‘Charlotte-Anne’ was moored at Killyleagh, in Northern Ireland, when the RHIB ‘Red Rubber’ crashed into its side.

Portaferry RNLI attended the incident, which occurred around 2am on 13 July, 2012.

Ralph Carson, 56, from Killyleagh, who owned the RHIB, was sentenced at Downpatrick Magistrates’ Court yesterday.

He had pleaded guilty to three charges: failing to take reasonable steps to ensure that it was operated in a safe manner, failing to navigate it safely, and failing to keep a lookout.

Carson was fined £500 for each of the three charges.

Carson, who was navigating at the time of the incident, was also ordered to pay an offender’s charge of £15.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) assisted police in bringing about the prosecution.

Bill Bennett, area operations manager for Northern Ireland for the MCA, said: ‘It is very important that all vessels navigate safely, have a proper passage planned and maintain a good lookout at all times. Failure to do so could result in catastrophic consequences.’



Latest update on Costa Concordia Case

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Costa Concordia captain ‘delayed’ rescue call

Witness claims Francesco Schettino waited an hour before giving the order to abandon ship after the cruise liner ran aground

Costa Concordia


The captain of the Costa Concordia, Francesco Schettino, waited an hour before ordering people to abandon the doomed ship, a trial has heard.

A radio operator on board the ship told an Italian court how Mr Schettino delayed rescue calls after the cruise liner hit rocks off the coast of Giglio in January this year, resulting in the deaths of 32 people.

Flavio Spadavecchia described how he “waited and waited” for Schettino to give the order so that he could alert coastguards but it never came, holding up the rescue operation as a result.

“Schettino never gave me the order. The pan pan message was never sent because Schettino never gave me the order. I asked if I should send it but Schettino said no. I asked at least once, maybe twice.

“I approached the bridge and he just signalled to me ‘no’ – if I am not mistaken he was on the telephone at the time.”

Mr Spadavecchia told the court how the order to abandon ship was not given until more than an hour after the Costa Concordia had struck rocks.

Meanwhile, the police on shore were receiving telephone calls from worried passengers onboard the ship.

Mr Spadavecchia claims Schettino eventually gave the order after hearing “a conversation between officers on the bridge and coastguards on the mainland in Livorno and Civitavecchia”.

Mr Schettino is currently on trial accused of multiple manslaughter, abandoning his ship while passengers and crew were still onboard and causing a maritime disaster.



Fire in Palma!

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Dockwalk received a photo on our Facebook page on Thursday, October 31, of a vessel allegedly on fire at the STP shipyard in Palma.

According to a STP spokesperson, the vessel was a 27-meter yacht in the shipyard for refit and maintenance when she caught fire at 8 p.m. The fire spread quickly.

“…The STP emergency team activated the emergency protocol and after no more than two hours, the fire was extinguished. Up [until] today, we don’t know anything exactly about the reason for the fire; police are investigating.” Despite the yard being full, no one was injured in the fire and no other vessels suffered damage.



MDL Marinas rolls out “zero to landfill” policy across its UK marinas

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MDL Marinas, Europe’s leading marina provider, has overhauled its recycling and waste management strategy in order to divert 75 per cent of its waste away from landfill.

MDL has been working with leading recycling and waste management company, SITA UK, in order to prevent up to 750 tonnes of refuse generated at its 19 UK marinas and boatyards from entering landfill each year.

MDL’s new ‘zero to landfill’ waste solution involves regular collections of glass, mixed recycling (cardboard, plastic and cans), wood and metals at each marina. Berth holders are even able to recycle marine shrinkwrap – which will be turned into biodiesel – as part of the extended recycling services. Residual waste will be turned into Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF, which is used to power cement plants and power stations.

Anna Wyse, Environmental Policy Manager at MDL Marinas, said: “I believe MDL is one of the first UK marina operators to go down the ‘zero to landfill’ route for waste management. Working with SITA, we’ll be able to significantly reduce our carbon footprint, whilst also tightening up on costs. It’s a win-win situation and will benefit both our berth holders and our business.”

Leah Francis, National Accounts Manager at SITA UK, said: “This contract will mean that berth holders can do their bit for the environment. We look forward to helping MDL and its berth holders to be even more sustainable in the future.”

MDL already recycles 100% of its hazardous waste and purchases 100% renewable electricity for its sites. MDL is constantly striving to reduce its impact on the environment and in 2012 was the recipient of the Practical Boat Owner Magazine Award for Most Sustainable Service Provider.

‘Zero to landfill’ is a waste management philosophy designed to capture and re-use as much of the resource in the waste as possible.
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Autopilots and self-steering for Atlantic Crossings

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Participants in the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers share their opinions on autopilots and self-steering in Yachting World’s annual gear survey



Ahead of ARC 2013, We take a look at the performance of the autopilots and self-steering aboard last year’s fleet.

Only two of the 20 boats that used windvanes relied solely on the vane gear. The remainder doubled up to join the 171 dedicated autopilot users, bringing the fleet total to 189 autopilots.

Of the 189 autopilots carried, Raymarine dominated with 124 units. The next in line, Simrad, was almost 100 units behind with 26. B&G were third with 20 units and Furuno fourth with just five units.

See how competitors rated their systems below:
While experiences varied across different systems, there are trends within brands. And, as a whole, 67.9 per cent of respondents were impressed with their autopilots for ease of use, reliability and value. 


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