Search articles

187 results

Did we Give the 35th America’s Cup the Attention it Deserves?
Jessica Watson
Posted June 29 2017

©ACEA 2017/ Photo Ricardo Pinto

As all sailors would be well aware, the Kiwis have just snatched the America’s Cup (affectionately known as the Auld Mug) back off the Americans. The foiling cats provided a great spectacle, flying over the aqua waters of Bermuda, and the design and innovation bar was again lifted. From a viewer’s perspective, the TV graphics were fantastic, and many a non-sailor told me the races were thoroughly watchable.

Throughout the qualifying series and challengers’ playoffs, the racing was competitive and at times dramatic. Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ) capsized in the semi-final and Nathan Outteridge, the Aussie skipper of Artemis Racing, fell overboard, something that is reported to cause quite an impact at the 30 knot plus speeds these boats travel. Admittedly, ETNZ was a little dominate in the finals, but after Oracle's incredible comeback during the last cup, I don’t think anyone relaxed till ETNZ was safely across the line for the last time.

But despite the great spectacle and ETNZ’s great underdog story, it didn’t exactly feel like there were many people avidly following the Cup back here in Australia. Certainly, the Australian sailing media did a great job of their coverage, but beyond keen sailing fans, there weren’t too many people who knew what was going on.

It didn’t help that races kicked off at 3 am Australian time and were only televised on pay TV, but given the substantial number of fantastic Aussie sailors across the boats, I had thought that there would be a little more fuss made. While all the major TV networks did run a respectable package on the day of the final race, I was surprised that ETNZ’s victory didn’t warrant a mention on the morning radio sports headlines.

In contrast, the interest that Kiwis take leaves me feeling pretty envious. Every Kiwi, whether they are a sailor or not, seemed to know exactly what was going on. And while a few commentators have pointed out that ETNZ skipper Glenn Ashby is an Aussie, our lack of protest has, to some extent, allowed one of the world’s top sailors to be labelled a Kiwi by default.

I’m disappointed that the Cup didn’t give sailing a more substantial moment in the spotlight because events like this do a wonderful job of promoting sailing. It appears to be a bit of a chicken and egg situation: you need to be a sailor to take an interest, but spectacles like this are needed to drive interest.

Fingers crossed that there’ll be a competitive Australian challenge next time and that Australia will really pay attention.

Did you enjoy following the Cup? Do you think Australia was a little disengaged?

31 people found this helpful. Do you?Thank Jessica Watson
A Day in the Life of a Coast Guard Volunteer
Jessica Watson
Posted February 2 2017

The yellow boats, radio towers and squadrons of the Australian Volunteer Coast Guard are a reassuring presence on the coastlines and waterways of Queensland, Victoria, South Australia and the Northern Territory.

Between January 2016 and January 2017, the 3,000 Coast Guard volunteers were kept busy undertaking over 7,700 ‘activations’ but, like many of the boaties who are lucky enough not to have required the Coast Guard’s services, I’ve been blissfully unaware of exactly how the Coast Guard go about providing their search and rescue services.

So, in an effort to learn a little more about the volunteers who keep a watchful eye on us, I caught up with electronics technician Marcus Grinblat at the Sandringham Coast Guard squadron and asked him how he got involved.

‘My family had a boat and went out in that fairly often,’ he explains, ‘but I wasn’t particularly interested in fishing. We just happened to be off Mt Eliza and saw a Coast Guard boat go past. I was probably 8 or 9, and I thought that might be something interesting to do.’

Marcus signed up as a cadet in 1971 and has been involved for nearly 50 years since, working his way up to his current role, in charge of communication for Coast Guard Victoria.

He explains that Coast Guard volunteers are expected to undertake significant industry-based training and serve a 6-month provisional term before becoming full members. Many of the land-bound radio operators even undertake sea survival courses so they understand what it might be like on the other end of the radio.

As for a typical day on the water, well, ‘you come on at 8 am and head off at sunset,’ says Marcus. ‘You do a bit of housekeeping, check the weather, then on the boat, really the training starts there.

Crew members run through the opening up procedure, double check, triple check, do an inventory of the equipment, check that it’s all working, which also reinforces where it all is if they’ve got to get it quickly.

By that time, you probably have a cup of coffee, then head out and do some training. Each member has a task book, so they’ll run through it, note the drills undertaken.

October is the busiest month because people get their boats out, they haven’t used them for a long time. The footy is finished, they think about going boating, and they get them out and they’ve got bad batteries and stale fuel.’

I’m happy to hear that the majority of call outs are not for yachts, who Marcus says are typically pretty good at getting themselves out of trouble. Although when a yacht does call for help, it is often for a serious incident such as a medical emergency.

In fact, Marcus goes on to tell me that the Coast Guard is sometimes required to retrieve dead bodies from the water. ‘You don’t get used to it, but you do accept it,’ he tells me. ‘If the police boat is in the area, we just stand by and let them do it, it saves a lot of paperwork, and having to take time off to appear in the Coroner’s Court.’

I ask Marcus what boaties should be doing to make the lives of Coast Guard volunteers easier, and he urges boaties to check their batteries and fuel, telling me that bad batteries, bad fuel or insufficient fuel are the most common causes of breakdowns.

For those boaties who don’t have time to volunteer, a great way to support the Coast Guard is to make use of the radio or marine license courses they operate.

Marcus also encourages boaties to download the Coast Guard’s SafeTrx App, an easy way for boaties to log and have their trips monitored within phone range.

The Australian Volunteer Coast Guard operates in Queensland, the Northern Territory, South Australia and Victoria, while Marine Rescue looks after New South Wales. A number of other independent marine rescue services also operate around the country. 

28 people found this helpful. Do you?Thank Jessica Watson
10 Questions for Lisa Blair, the First Woman to Circumnavigate Antarctica
Jessica Watson
Posted August 3 2017

After many years of preparation, endless challenges (including a dismasting in the depths of the Southern Ocean) and 104 days at sea, Lisa last week arrived back in Albany, becoming the first woman to circumnavigate Antarctica solo, below 45 degrees. I can’t wait to hear her story in more detail, but for now, here are the 10 most pressing questions I had for Lisa:

Jess: Highlight?

Lisa: Surfing waves in the Southern Ocean, and finishing.

Jess: In that order?

Lisa: Yes.

Jess: Lowlight?

Lisa: A lot of people would probably think the dismasting, but I actually think that it was the container ship collision [as they attempted to transfer fuel to Lisa after the dismasting, see Lisa’s blog about the incident here]. It just simply shouldn’t have happened. That would probably be the lowest lowlight.

Jess: What about the voyage surprised you?

Lisa: The amount of time that I would spend inside the boat. I thought I’d spend on deck but given the cold, I was indoors about 23 hours a day, I’d spend maybe an hour on deck, and that was broken up. I was surprised by how much my world shrunk to about 10 square meters.

Jess: At what point did you feel the coldest?

Lisa: When I sailed across the demisting track after the repairs had been completed in Cape Town, I got hit with a blizzard. I had about 2 inches of snow on the deck in a couple of minutes.

Jess: Was there anything you’d wished you’d packed?

Lisa: For the first half of the trip, a hard drive with all the DVDs that were left behind in Albany. That would have been really, really nice. I wish I’d had more variety in the meals I liked. Then just a few spares for the boat such as electrical switches, some heat shrink, electrical tape; I wish I’d packed more of stuff like that.

Jess: What was your favorite food while at sea?

Lisa: A freeze-dried dinner which was a bare burrito, and porridge. Love porridge; the way to my heart it through a nice hot bowl of porridge.

Jess: What did you crave most while at sea?

Lisa: I use to get really excited when I’d do radio interviews and things like that because I’d have a conversation with someone new. Good conversation was the biggest thing I craved. It really makes you aware of how much you rely on conversation.

Jess: What will you miss most about life at sea?

Lisa: Just the peace, even in a storm; sailing in the middle of nowhere, in the open ocean, on your own is a peaceful experience.

Jess: Would you do it again?

Lisa: In a heartbeat.

Lisa will be speaking at the Sydney International Boat Show this weekend, so make sure you head along to ask any questions of your own.

26 people found this helpful. Do you?Thank Jessica Watson
5 Unconventional Ways to go Boating
Jessica Watson
Posted March 9 2017

Image Credit:

Australians are known for not taking themselves too seriously, and this fun-loving attitude is reflected in our weird and wonderful sporting events like cane toad racing and wife carrying. There’s no shortage of whacky events on the water either. Here are five of the most unusual nautical events.

Henley On Todd Regatta – Alice Springs

An iconic Australian event, the Henley On Todd Regatta was founded back in 1962 and is held on Alice Springs’ Todd River. However, the Todd River is usually nothing more than a dry sandy river bed, so participants are required to carry their boats.

Different ‘classes’ that participate in the regatta include the six-person ‘Mini Yachts’, 10-person ‘Maxi Yachts’, ‘Rowing 4’s’ and ‘Kayaks’. There is also a ‘battle of the boats’ with four-wheel drives converted to ships and decked out with water cannons, and a parade of homemade boats down the nearby Todd Mall.

Every August, thousands of spectators gather of watch the event - although the 1993 regatta was cancelled because there was water in the river.

Beer Can Regatta – Darwin

It is reported that half the local population attended the first Beer Can Regatta and with the support of local clubs, media and businesses the event remains popular. As the name suggests, the Beer Can Regatta requires entrants to race boats made from beer cans in Darwin’s crocodile-inhabited waters.

The regatta is governed by 10 ‘can-mandments’ which outline helpful rules such as ‘the craft shall float by cans alone’ and ‘thou shalt not drown’.

Entrants whose boats sadly don’t float also have the chance to race (carry) their boats down the beach. And landlubbers can also participate in tug-of-war and thong-throwing events.

Tuna Toss World Championships – Port Lincoln

Held over the Australia Day long weekend, Port Lincoln’s Tunarama Festival is one for seafood lovers. It features the Tuna Toss World Championships, Salmon Tossing, a prawn peeling competition, along with boat building, sand sculpting, swimming and other competitions.

The seriousness of the Tuna Tossing event shouldn’t be underestimated, with cash prizes on offer for those who throw the 10kg fish the furthest.

Competitors are cheered on by thousands of festival visitors, and even Prime Minister attended the 2017 event.

Dog Race – Scotland Island

Boaties who have visited Pittwater will have enviously admired the houses on Scotland Island. And every Christmas Eve, the island’s residents gather for the annual dog race. Local and visiting dogs paddle the 600m stretch of water between Scotland Island and the mainland with their owners paddling or motoring beside them.

The race allegedly began back in 1974 with beer and dog food given to the winner, and these days the race draws a crowd of thousands to cheer on the ferry competitors.

Tug and Yacht Ballet – Sydney

Finally, there is nothing more unconventional than mixing boats and ballet but that’s exactly what happens during the annual Australia Day celebrations on Sydney Harbour. A fleet of yachts and tugs, accompanied helicopters and jet boats, ‘dance’ up the harbour in carefully ‘choreographed’ formation.

Do you know of any other unconventional boating events? I'd love to hear about them? 

25 people found this helpful. Do you?Thank Jessica Watson
Lisa Blair update: Just Another Bump in the Road
Jessica Watson
Posted May 11 2017

Midway through her attempt to become the first female and fastest person to circumnavigate Antarctica, and nearly 1,000nm south of Cape Town, Lisa’s voyage came to an unexpected halt when her boat was dismasted last month. Jury-rigging her boat and taking on fuel in a hazardous operation at sea, Lisa made her way into Cape Town where she’s spent the last few weeks repairing the damage and sourcing a new mast before she restarts the record attempt.

If she wasn’t already, Lisa is fast becoming known for her incredible dedication and ability to push through setbacks. With repairs well underway, I caught up with Lisa and was keen to hear about how she’s coping mentally with this latest challenge.

Jess: How did those first few days back on land feel?

Lisa: [laughing] I’m trying to remember! It was bizarre because I was straight back into it. I didn’t have that time to reflect. Even the night that I arrived when everyone whisked me off to a pub where we had dinner and a few beers, it sort of felt like I hadn’t even left or that I’d just spent a few weeks at sea. In my head, I’d never really got the impression that I’d been at sea for two months straight, on my own. It never felt like that.

Jess: Where are you finding the strength to rally again, put in all this extra work and keep going?

Lisa: When the mast came down, the first few days I was quite depressed about the whole thing. Obviously it felt like two years of hard work down the drain. You know the story, you sacrifice so much during that time to make it possible, so I was really disheartened that it had come to that end.

I’d worked so hard in my preparation to try to avoid that result. It was also really out of the blue; it’s not like we’d had a knockdown, or that I was pushing the boat. It wasn’t until I started thinking about restarting the record that I got the energy to keep going. As soon as I had something to work towards, I knew I could make it happen. I don’t like to dwell on the past. Yes, I had my moment, my cries, then I got over it.

Jess: The support you're received in Cape Town looks like it’s been pretty amazing, what’s that been like?

Lisa: It’s so overwhelming and humbling when you get so many people who you’ve never met before all trying to chip in and help out. I didn’t get a chance to read the comments on the blog till about a week later. My eyes were watery; I don’t get those comments while I’m at sea. That sort of gives you energy as well. Everyone’s seen the effort, the preparation, the safety aspect, so there’s only been really supportive positive comments.

You can see the full list of Lisa’s sponsors here.

Jess: So what’s it going to feel like when you do set off again? Will it be a relief to be on the way again? Or will you be nervous heading back into colder waters?

Lisa: There’s a level of nerves because I am heading back down to no man’s land, and before I even turn left to start heading back to Australia I get almost 1,000nm from land. So there is trepidation, but the boat has performed so amazingly well though all of this trip to date so I really don’t have any qualms. I think it will also be a relief to be going and finishing this.

Jess: Did you ever think it would be this hard? To have to overcome another huge setback like this?

Lisa: It’s another battle. It has been hard, but it’s been such a rewarding challenge. It’s just another bump in the road. I still know I’m going to finish the trip. I don’t really stop and think about it too much; I just keep going.

You can read details about the repair work, the fantastic support of all those helping her and Lisa’s time in Cape Town in her latest blog here. You can also revisit Lisa’s extensive preparations before she left Sydney in this post here.

23 people found this helpful. Do you?Thank Jessica Watson
Topic: The need for comprehensive insurance and appropriate agreed cover.
Posted February 17 2017

Hello members and visitors,

I’m writing about a current insurance issue that I am involved in with my yacht. In this instance I am an innocent third party and it has been of a surprise to me that I’m having to make a claim through my insurer (with all the penalties that go with making a claim) to repair my own boat. The 1st party’s insurer, (one of the biggest) has determined the incident “a weather incident” therefore exonerating their client from liability.

I have had my Yacht on the same swing mooring for at least the past 20 years. Approximately 6 months ago another wooden boat was mooring on the next mooring North of mine. In early October 2016 the site experienced some strong winds. This new yacht dragged its mooring and became entangled with mine. Its bowsprit and starboard hull caused damage to my port side window, hull, rigging, spreader, stanchions and toe rail. The quoted cost of repairs is $17,000.00, excluding yardage.

I contacted the owner of the wooden yacht and sent him the quotation. He subsequently forwarded it to his insurer. They have replied “I mistakenly believe their client to be liable”. I have contacted this insurer and conversed with a very terse, assertive representative who termed this incident a weather event and that I need to prove their client liable.

I do have comprehensive insurance though due to the break up of my policy for hull, spares & rigging I could fall short and will have to bear the cost of these repairs. My Insurer only wishes to repair the damaged areas, the fact that the repaired port side will be a different colour shade to the starboard side, like wise the aluminium toe rail profile could be different is not considered. Not only will I be out of pocket to make good the overall appearance of my Yacht, yet further costs will be incurred by making a claim together with increased costs in premiums over the next three years until I regain my no claim bonus. I have taken legal advice on this matter and going through my Insurer is probably the most cost effect way to proceed with my claim.

I wish to raise this issue of "weather events" that insurers are using to avoid 3rd party claims to the Deckee membership for consideration and information as to what to look for in a policy.

Make sure your policy is comprehensive.

Make sure your policy has an agreed value for components such as hull, mast, spas & rigging, sail, motor and anything else of value.

Try and purchase a policy that covers not at fault claims so that you do not pay an excess of loose no claim bonuses. 

22 people found this helpful. Do you?Thank PJM
Croatia Cruisin'
Posted September 5 2017

Armed with my newly acquired ICC certification I was able to book a week of cruising in the islands of Croatia.

Dragging my family along we arrived in Trogir on Saturday at about 4pm which is a town about 30 minutes’ drive north of Split. These two are the newest cruising Mecca cities in the Med with hundreds of boats rented each week. Due to an absence of large marinas further south around Dubrovnik most of the activity is from Split, Trogir, Sibernik and Primosten with Zadar further north.

Arriving somewhat sweaty at the marina in about 30C we found our bareboat operator who directed us to “Pia” on pier F our home for the next week, advising us that very soon a member of staff would provide the orientation and checklist.

Pia is a 2009 Dufour 36 with three cabins and one head. It came with a Zodiac tender (three small persons was a squeeze) and a 2.5hp outboard. We stowed our bags and grub and then after waiting an hour and being anxious to get under way to our first top of Necujam on the island of Solta I went in search of “staff”.

“Staff” was found smoking in the office store room and reluctantly dragged his sorry butt out to the pier armed with a clipboard and no clue.

Using his moderate English as an excuse he flipped through the checklist without really explaining anything and certainly not actually checking anything. He did not know how the chart plotter worked, how the auto-pilot worked, how the shower drain worked etc. Quickly realising that this sub-human life form was not the full quid I nodded at everything he mumbled, signed the checklist and sent him packing.

The next issue was getting the boat out of the marina. The usual afternoon Mistral was in full flow of 15 to 20 knots. Also, I was told that the marina being 30 years old had not been designed for boat lengths of 50ft up and so was a bit of a squeeze. I managed to collar a more nautically competent (by observation) chap with the right coloured T shirt on to take us out of the marina and drop him off at a nearby jetty from which we could easily make our egress.

It did not take us long to realise that Pia had experienced a hard life without much TLC. The wind instrument had appeared to have disliked pointing forwards and had slunk to the SW making wind speed and direction readings hopelessly inaccurate.

Pushing on we rounded the rocky headland of Otoc Ciovo and headed for Necujam which was about 3 Nm away. Hoisting what could loosely be described as the sails upped our speed to around 5 knots and using my phone for navigation set a course for the desired inlet and then sat back and enjoyed the scenery.

Coming into the sheltered inlet I followed a couple of other boats and did my best to emulate their anchoring technique (not a forte of mine as you will soon discover). In about 10m of water I hailed “anchors aweigh” and then explained to number one son that this meant let it down. We soon worked out that each 10m of chain was indicated by painted red links and so let out about 30m.

There were about 10 other boats enjoying the spectacle of a rank amateur fumbling around while sipping their pre-dinner cocktails. One of these boats was about a 60ft “Gulet” which is essentially a party boat with skipper and crew that chugs around the islands dispensing alcohol around 18 hours per day with never the Dacron raised up a mast.

This particular monster had anchored from the front and tied to shore at the back. Being inept I had not realised just how much anchor he must have had out the front and in my over- zealous attempts to snub (tow it backwards to ensure it bites) my recently lowered anchor snagged on his chain. This brought the party animals out for a look with lots of gesticulating, shouting and laughing to follow.

From my vast knowledge of physics I had computed that my 30hp diesel was unlikely to make any headway in dragging the anchors apart so opted to haul mine in until it was vertical and then drop it as quickly as possible while reversing hard. By pure fluke (nautical pun) the anchors separated and we had another, somewhat more successful go at remaining stationary.

A swift dip in the water to cool off followed by dinner restored our equilibrium at least for a couple of hours until the hail of “my device won’t charge” came from esteemed daughter and number two son. So I was charged with the task of investigating this most devastating of findings but fiddling around with the 12v inverter produced no acceptable result.

The drunken residents of the Gulet sung us off to sleep the wee hours and we were greeted with a beautiful morning and enjoyed a refreshing swim prior to breakfast. Despite overnight lows of 20C plus and no fans or AC the boat was still sufficiently cool for a reasonable sleep under a sheet.

For the purposes of brevity I will state for the record that the entire week of weather was 30 to 34 C, clear skies with morning breezes of around 12 knots from various directions and late afternoon Mistrals of around 15 knots from the north dying out at about 7 to 8 pm.

I wanted to further investigate the lack of power from the inverter and so started the engine to see if that made any difference and went below. A minute later there was much shouting in French and as I came on deck saw what looked like their boat coming into us with either a boarding party (I read too much Master and Commander) or a fending brigade. Finally they managed to articulate that it was Pia that was moving because I was in reverse. The gear shift was in the neutral position but sure enough as I pushed it forward it clunked out of reverse and into forward and so thanks to the French awareness we averted an expensive collision. Upon further investigate it appears that the control cables from the throttle/gear lever were not properly adjusted and it proved to be a continual problem trying to work out which gear we were in without revving the engine or looking over the stern; more bad maintenance.

Our next destination was the much lauded beach of Zlatni-Rat which appears on just about every Croatian travel brochure. However the lack of voltage was beginning to cause concern and communication with our charter owner revealed that we needed to go to the town of Stari-Grad on the island of Hvar by Monday lunchtime.

The morning wind sprang up and we attempted to hoist the main sail. Now, on board my S80 I do not have lazy jacks and failed to realise that a batten can get caught in this network of lines. Compound this with a Bimini that meant I couldn’t see the main and number one son who has little sailing experience we indeed snagged a batten and tore the main sail adjacent to a patch that was already there below the third batten pocket (clearly some other mug had the same problem).

It was shortly after this point that we discovered that there was no tank water on board. The water pump was thumping away merrily but to no avail. There were two tanks and no amount of switching between them produced a molecule of H2O.

We had been told by our most esteemed charter chap that there was free water available at every port so we decided to head for the port of Hvar on the island of Hvar. Rounding the north end of this island revealed a passage that was chock full (not sure this is the appropriate nautical term) of vessels ranging from a Zodiac to a couple of cruise ships.

With all crew on the lookout (this was not a problem since there was no charge left in any of their devices) we edged our way into the port of Hvar and it was mayhem. Finally a space appeared on the wharf and we set fenders and drifted sideways and tied up fore and aft. No sooner had we done this we were set upon by a couple of angry chaps in white polo shirts holding VHF radios. The message was clear that we were not welcome, that they had no water for us and to go to the island of Palmizana (pronounced like the meal) to get water.

We were unceremoniously shoved off and on our way for about 30 seconds and then the engine stopped, it would start in neutral but stalled every time we tried to engage a gear. This could only mean that a mooring rope had come astray and got caught around the prop. At this point the white shirt brigade took pity on us and arrange a boat to tow us into the middle of the harbour and raft up to a big old fishing boat.

The next 45 minutes number one son and I dived with a knife and eventually removed the offending rope.

We then arrived at Palmizana and when we pulled up to the jetty were told they had no water. This also happened to be the stop over for one of the huge (and I mean huge) party boat flotillas. I counted at least 60 large monohulls and cats with the “Yachting Week” flag fluttering on their backstays. So we chugged off to the other side of the inlet and anchored in about 15m of water next one other boat.

Using the tender we ferried across to the marina and watched in awe while eating our pizza dinner about 300 party goers get onto large taxi boats headed for the town of Hvar about 2miles to the SE. On our way back along the jetty we could clearly see that there was water coming from the hydrants and so took the opportunity to bring the boat in to fill up. Number one son and I then returned to the boat in the tender and attempted to open the companion way hatch. This was very difficult as the lock appeared to be jammed and was then rendered impossible when the flimsy key broke off in the lock. Luckily one of the hatches had not been locked and we were able to gain access to the boat which we immediately brought into the jetty.

The rear tank filled up in about a minute indicating that there was a fault somewhere in the plumbing. The front tank appeared to be empty so we continued filling until another white shirt arrived with a VHF radio yelling at us for using the water. I relayed our intel that this was supposedly free and so what was the issue. He demanded our boat paperwork and said we would have to pay. So I trudged off to the marina office and handed over Pia’s blue folder. I was then presented with a bill for around AUD 75. After picking myself off the floor I described that only one tank was empty (having been failed to be filled by our charter “staff” but I was met with a shrug of the shoulders and a demand to stump up the cash. At this point I was fed up to say the least and in my best whinging Pom tone described that I had been told by two other “officials” from Hvar and the charter operator that water was free, also I had only one tank filled at the commencement of my journey andthe other tank while full was not working. I said that this was my first trip to Croatia Sailing and certainly was not leaving me with a good impression thus far. This heartfelt diatribe met with some success and she reduced the bill to AUD15. I returned to the boat to find that it had just had the forward tank topped off indicating that it had been completely empty.

I knew the wind was forecast to change early in the morning swinging from the N to the SW and I am sure that my highly honed seagoing instincts woke me at 7am the next morning (either that or a full bladder) to find we were slowly dragging anchor and had moved about 30m. Disaster averted we set forth to Stari-Grad to meet our chap. Now Stari-Grad was never on my flexible agenda of destinations for the week and as we plodded into the entrance we were delighted by the spectacle of a beautiful little harbour.

Being only around noon we also were arriving at a time where there is plenty of wharf space.

At this point I will make some observations. We had no choice but to travel to Croatia in July understanding that it is peak season. I had not realised quite what this meant in terms of the sheer numbers of boats that overwhelm the limited wharf and moorings in each port. It became obvious that an early start each day was necessary to get to the next destination as quickly as possible to get a spot. This dashing about was contrary to my desire to peacefully sail to our next place of stay largely determined by the direction of the wind. Once in a port it is extremely busy and noisy with lots of ferry and big boat wash causing the boat to bob around continually.

We therefore determined that the best thing to do was to avoid ports and go to anchorages instead in the many deep water inlets around each island.

However, back to Stari-Grad. More men in white shirts directed us to the place they wanted us to moor on the wharf. With a stiff breeze blowing the fools decided to put us stern in right next to a concrete jetty that was down wind. No great surprises as we drifted toward the jetty frantically putting out extra fenders while they watched apathetically as we bumped the bow into the jetty. Luckily no damage done. It costs about AUD120 for the night to remain tied up to the wharf with water and power and this is a lot more than indicated by the blogs on the internet.

Our charter owner arrived an hour later replete with a fresh inverter and replacement main sail. He also said that the water tanks were prone to air locks and now that both were full things seemed to be working well.

That evening we had a lovely walk around town and an excellent meal.

Number two son managed to get a small electric shock when he touched the shore power cable with wet hands. Close inspection revealed a damaged sheath where someone had trapped it in the locker lid, more bad maintenance.

The following day we finally made it to Zlatni Rat beach on the island of Brac and were quite underwhelmed. I think that in Australia we are spoiled by having such wonderful beaches everywhere. This became a theme in our whole stay in Southern Europe where we learned to treat “there is lovely beach” with a degree of scepticism.

After a glorious two hours of beating (wonderfully cool when it is 34C) into a 12 knot breeze we went in search of a small anchorage further north from Bol and found an idyllic spot with only two other boats. We anchored in 15m of water snubbing until I thought all was firm. In this process number one son was stung by a wasp that looked extremely painful (luckily the wasp was OK). After things had calmed down we saw quite a few more and so kept all food below decks. The swimming was fantastic and the solitude quite marvellous compared to the hustle and bustle of Stari Grad the night before. To be doubly sure of things I rigged up the spare anchor and dropped that from the stern.

Once again my sixth sense (aka my bladder) alerted me to something amiss at about 1am. Poking my head through the front hatch I was aghast to see the rocks a mere 5 m away but still in 25m o water. The wind had changed in the night and dragged both anchors about 75m. The wife and kids were rudely awakened as I started the engine and got out of trouble.

I dove the next morning and saw a line in the sand where the main anchor had dragged. It turned out that the sand was probably only 10cm deep on top of rock.

Another wonderful 2 hours of beating and we arrived at another secluded cove with about 6 boats in it. After a chat with an experienced skipper I laid the appropriate amount of chain, tied a stern line to the shore and didn’t move an inch all night.

I had originally planned to go to the island of Vis to see the blue cave (that at midday shines through a gap and turns the water an eerie blue. However, Vis is quite a long way off and the hordes of boats heading there each morning put us off.

The charter requires that all boats are back in port on the Friday night. We had a lovely 20 knot Mistral to help us home hitting 8 knots on a beam reach.

Stopping at a few nice places to swim we ambled our way back to the beautiful port of Trogir shown below at night.

When we arrived at the refuelling station a huge superyacht was in the way and so I did not attempt to go anywhere near it instead opting to dock the boat and worry about the fuel later. It turns out they have jerry cans for such a purpose and we ended up using only 30 litres of diesel for 20 hours of engine running time which was evidently half of their expectations. I guess most of these charter yachts don’t even put the sails up all week.


• Don’t go in July or August, too busy. September is evidently the best. If you must come in peak season rent out of Sibernik and island hop around there where it is a bit quieter.

• Take lots of provisions purchased from the mainland as the supermarkets on the islands are expensive and have limited range.

• Rent a recent (under 5 years old) boat if you want everything to work and check yourself that everything works as it should before departure.

• Avoid the busy places that charge a lot for mooring and talk to the charter operator about the flotilla schedules so that you don’t go near them. The inlets are plentiful and secluded with very deep water close to shore.

• If you come to Croatia then Trogir and Dubrovnik old towns are a must see but the general advice is not to try and sail there in a week.

20 people found this helpful. Do you?Thank Steve
Weather: A Mix of Pattern and Chaos
Jessica Watson
Posted February 22 2017

Favourable weather is a key ingredient to a good day on the water. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that a sailor’s life revolves around the weather. But favourable weather can be elusive and tricky to predict, so I thought I’d ask an expert to explain the mystery that is weather.

And Kiwi Bob McDavitt is a very well credentialed weather expert. He qualified as a meteorologist in 1975 and has been forecasting ever since. He’s a veteran of two America’s Cup campaigns, helped a certain girl in a pink boat sail around the world and was New Zealand’s MetService ambassador for 20 years.

The Art of Forecasting

Bob explains that forecasters firstly gather observations of what’s currently happening. Then he explains, ‘We transfer these into a matrix of dots in a computer model, then use a mathematical model to run an experiment to push the data stored in this matrix one time-step into the future, and again another time step and so forth.

‘A marine forecast is framed in terms of winds, waves, and weather. But these all come from isobars on a weather map, and these isobars are what really capture the pattern of the weather and its changes.

‘Marine forecast come in two timeframes,’ says Bob. ‘One covers today/tomorrow, and the other is an outlook for next few days.’ Because ‘real weather’ deviates from the ‘captured pattern of the observations, the outlook period is always less reliable than the short-term forecast.

‘Thanks to advances in computer processing and mathematical modelling, the accuracy of the forecasts has increased a lot over the last few decades, but this pace of improvement is easing off now,’ he says. ‘Weather forecasting will never reach perfection.

‘The winning formula is to take the forecast and then tweak it – using your own observations to ascertain possible alternatives,’ an approach that Bob tells me is not only common sense but also consistent with scientific principles.

An Inexact Science

However, Bob stresses that weather forecasting is an inexact science and explains that there are two reasons for this. Firstly, ‘the matrix of dots averages out the weather. Any extremes that occur between the dots is lost. And so, as the time-steps get further into the future, this averaging loses the pattern.’

And, secondly, ‘weather is a mixture of pattern and chaos. In chaos theory, slight changes in initial conditions can give result to an ensemble of different outcomes. Each run of a global computer model can only come out with one outcome. We produce an ensemble of outcomes by varying the initial conditions slightly, and these ensemble forecasts explain more of the possible future than does one computer run.’

Bob asks that sailors treat weather forecasts as an ‘idea’ and remember that ‘in the real world the weather will unravel away for the forecast, and after a while, the forecast is no longer what we get’.

Keeping a Constant Watch

Bob suggests that sailors should also establish a routine of watching the environment and can ‘use technology to arrange alarms for any measurable external changes’. The main things he suggests we should watch for are changes in the barometer and the clouds, which he suggests are ‘useful signs as they start changing within hours of wind changes and act as a herald’.

He explains that it’s important for sailors to understand and anticipate ‘events that may do damage’. For example, the conditions that breed squalls are in the forecast. ‘The actual timing or intensity or duration of a particular damaging squall will not be mentioned in any routine marine forecasts.

‘I’m still waiting for someone to invent a barometer with which the user can get target alarms. Meanwhile, we should learn to read the clouds and the colour of the sunrise/sunset,’ says Bob.

Bob offers a weather information service for cruising sailors and is currently helping Lisa Blair navigate the Southern Ocean’s ferocious weather as she circumnavigates Antarctica.  

20 people found this helpful. Do you?Thank Jessica Watson
Courtesy and wisdom when anchoring
Jack and Jude
Deckee Pro  Posted February 1 2017

Twice in as many days we’ve had big city vessels anchor within a boat length of us on the upwind side when there was heaps of ocean everywhere around us. Why?

This morning’s incident sparked my ire because there was still a strong wind warning issued for winds directly from the direction that they’d put themselves. And although somewhat quiet after a night with the breeze lifting off the land, the full force could return at any moment now that the sun had begun to rise.

Why? Not only does it infringe on our privacy, you could hear their voices and their radio, it also needlessly endangers our vessels. When I called to him and asked if he’d be staying long, and that a strong southerly was still forecast, he remarked, “Oh but you’re on a mooring.” Sure we were on a long lead mooring, but far more important, he was in front of us on an anchor. 

He next said, “I’ll pull some in.” 

Eh gad! Don’t shorten scope and still be in front of me. Just move.

A word to all boat people, give a bit of space. Anchor prudently when in unfamiliar ports and unfamiliar ground. 

20 people found this helpful. Do you?Thank Jack and Jude
Announcing the 2017 Gathering on the Bay event
Mike McKiernan
Posted February 7 2017

On behalf of Women Who Sail Australia, is proud to present the 2nd annual ‘Gathering on the Bay’ in the boating paradise of Port Stephens.

Port Stephens will again play host to female sailors coming from all over Australia who will be treated to 17 seminar presentations over two days, sharing advice and knowledge on a range of topics.

On Saturday evening starting at 6pm, there will be a social dinner event that is open to the broader boating community. This coincides with an expert discussion panel of four special guests – Lin Pardey (USA), Mel Yeomans, Liesl Tesch and Jackie Parry.

Proceeds from seminar tickets will be donated to two important non-profit organisations – Sailors With Disabilities and Volunteer Marine Rescue.

Tickets are selling fast, so to book your place at the seminars (Women Who Sail members only) or the dinner (open to all), click the link below.


19 people found this helpful. Do you?Thank Mike McKiernan
Deckee on board to support Lisa Blair's incredible Antarctic record attempt
Jessica Watson
Posted January 11 2017

Clipper Race, Solo Tasman and Rolex Sydney Hobart veteran Lisa Blair is now only days away from setting off on a sailing speed record attempt around Antarctica, a voyage that will be undertaken below 45 degrees south and one that will see her become the first woman to circumnavigate Antarctica solo, non-stop and unassisted.

You can read more about Lisa, her boat and preparations in my post here.

Over the Christmas and New Year period, Lisa sailed her yacht Climate Action Now under Australia from Sydney to Albany, where she’ll depart on the record attempt.

With challenging conditions and 60knot winds, the delivery voyage proved to be a great trial run for the boat. Lisa admits that it was also great mental preparation to see herself and the boat confidently handle the conditions.

Just days before the start of her departure as final preparations are made and food is loaded onto Climate Action Now, the Deckee team is excited to throw our support behind Lisa, providing a great website for her supporters to read about and follow the record attempt. is the place to go for blog updates, pictures, a live tracker and social media feeds.

Deckee joins businesses including D’Albora Marinas, B&G, ProFurl, Zhik and Dick Smith Foods who are sponsoring Lisa’s voyage.

Climate awareness is something that many sailors and members of the Deckee community are passionate about, so we’re also proud to help Lisa spread her climate awareness message.

The distinctive hull of Lisa’s yacht is covered in thousands of post-it notes with positive climate action pledges from supporters. You can submit a pledge here.

Lisa will be reviewing some of the equipment she uses for Deckee. It’s hard to imagine a more extreme way to test marine products, so keep an eye out for her reviews in the weeks ahead.

Good luck Lisa! 

18 people found this helpful. Do you?Thank Jessica Watson
The Deckee Drop – A special gift for Deckee's best contributors
Mike McKiernan
Posted November 20 2017

Who feels like a glass or two? 🍷😉

We have an incredible community of boaters on Deckee. They have now contributed over 1900 reviews in an effort to help one another make better decisions!

But a select few of our Deckee Pro members have really gone above and beyond to share their boating knowledge and experience. So we thought it was time we organised a very special gift for them.

The Deckee Drop is soon to be recognised by skippers as Australia's and indeed one of the world's finest red wines. Perfect for sunset cruises or entertaining friends on board. 🙂

How can you get a bottle? Start adding reviews of your own and share your experiences with the community! We'll be keeping an eye out for awesome contributors... ⛵

17 people found this helpful. Do you?Thank Mike McKiernan
Tropical Cyclone Debbie aftermath: Abell Point Marina restoration officially complete
Mike McKiernan
Posted September 13 2017

This week marks the completion of the on-water restoration project at Abell Point Marina in the wake of the Tropical Cyclone Debbie. In the immediate aftermath, 20% of the on-water berthing at Abell Point was damage amounting to approximately 120 berths in this 507-wet berth marina. In a coordinated effort between Superior Jetties, CGU Insurance and Oceanic Marine Risk, the restoration works commenced 3 April, a mere five days after the cyclone passed over the Whitsundays.

In the initial stages of the project a team of volunteers from BIA (Boating Industry Australia) Queensland, arrived on-site to assist with the make-safe stage of the restoration project. Experienced marine trades personnel from marina managers, to pontoon specialists arrived on-site, including representatives from Superior Jetties to offer support and assist with commencing repair works.

Within days a temporary walkway for L Arm and the marina’s fuel dock was fitted, and by week six the walkway had been replaced for new.

With considerable coordination between the Superior Jetties and marina team, commercial operators and private vessels were relocated to the south marina for the pontoon replacement works to commence. Abell Point Marina is the busiest commercial marina in the region and with the Whitsunday region being so reliant on the tourism sector, a priority for the project was to ensure minimal disruption to the marina’s on-water tourism operations whilst the repair works commenced.

Superior Jetties, Project Manager, Ryan Hogan remarked of the project, “This project has been the culmination of our team down south working some very long hours to produce a fantastic product; and outstanding subcontractors who went above and beyond to get the marina operational again. It’s been a real pleasure to work in North Queensland again and with a client that’s dedicated to running a truly world class marina. This has definitely been the best project team I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with.”

From initial damage assessment, to temporary repairs around the marina, from demolition of debris to piling works and the manufacture/ transportation and installation of the new arms – H/ J/ K/ F/ G and A – the team coordinated by Superior Jetties worked tirelessly to restore the marina to 100% capacity. Mr Hogan goes on to give a special mention to services provided throughout the project by Orca Marine Services, Proserpine Electrical, Whitsunday Drainage Contractors and Pacific Marine Group.

With a busy cruising season scheduled, the launch of a new Abell Point Flight Collection from the marina’s heli-pads and the opening of their floating customer lounge Ocean Club, the timing of the project completion was essential to ensure business as usual. To round off a challenging year and give cause for celebration, Abell Point Marina took out the coveted Marina of the Year Award at the Marine17 conference in August.

Luke McCaul, General Manager, Abell Point Marina explains “To have the pontoons replaced and operational in time for our cruising season was essential for the marina, but also for the region. The Whitsundays has bounced back from this weather event in record time and the natural environment around the islands is following suit.” Mr McCaul goes on to say “The start of the year was a challenging time for the marina team including our valued operators and tenants, but the future is looking bright and the completion of the project on time and on budget is a credit to the hard work and commitment of the team, our contractors and our relationship with our insurers.”

The entire restoration project has been captured in a short video.

16 people found this helpful. Do you?Thank Mike McKiernan
Log Books record your history
Jack and Jude
Deckee Pro  Posted November 28 2016

Hello all, Best wishes for Christmas 

Something in the last newsletter caught my eye and while doing a bit of sail work I was struck by the old and new in our industry.

I was working on a sail not used since sailing around the world in the 80s, the sail needing four bronze hanks replaced. And after Jude had chased a few lines of worn stitching, I was lashing new hanks on, going back and forth in the old way of cradling the sail with multiple lashings keeping chafe in check.

In the newsletter, Mike had mentioned an electronic log book app, and following the link and I found the write-up fascinating. Works off the phone GPS, I guess, and plots your course and speed, and you can add photos and send the whole creation off to others. What a blast. Might try it myself because I'm both, a Tec-head and traditionalist

Jude on the other hand is devoted to hard bound log books that stand tall in our bookcase reflecting our travels and accomplishments, so I thought I’d illuminate how we do that.

When embarking on the grandest adventure imaginable three decades ago, we started out with store bought log books, which of course proved too expensive, as did everything, so we soon designed our own master and had it photocopied as required around the world, putting them in folder. Until in Sri Lanka, a 300 page volume was printed for a modest price. It records voyages to Japan, the US, Asia, and a bit of the pacific.

But today, we've refined our record keeping, using lined A4 hardback notebooks that are readily available from most newsagents for about $4 or $5. Jude pens in vertical columns on each page and we record cumulative miles, course steered, miles achieved, wind speed and direction, barometric pressure, plus any notes we like to make. The right hand page is for comments; anything to do with sail changes, whatever we like. We might draw a little boat showing the sail plan with wind arrows, or draw/record wildlife seen.Sound like a chore? Not a bit. In fact, when the ship’s bell strikes the hour we relish the opportunity to record our passage.

From Jude's Practical Boat Bits and Tips (electronic)  

16 people found this helpful. Do you?Thank Jack and Jude
5 Sailing YouTube Channels to Tune Into
Jessica Watson
Posted May 24 2017

Sailing vlogs (video blogs) are having a moment. In the last few years, there’s been an explosion of sailors documenting their adventures as they sail the world, and there’s no shortage of armchair sailors tuning in to share their adventures.

There’s a very long list of great sailing video bloggers out there, but I don’t want to overwhelm you if you're new to vlogging. Here are a few to give you a taste of what’s out there and get you started:

Sailing La Vagabonde

I’d be surprised if you hadn’t heard of these guys. They’re Aussies and some of, if not the most watched sailing vloggers. Starting out as sailing novices, Elayna and Riley have become experienced sailors as they crossed the Atlantic, the Caribbean, the Mediterranean and the Pacific. Recently they’ve upgraded their 43ft Beneteau for brand new 45ft Outremer catamaran to continue their adventures.

The quality of their video production has improved since then, and it’s tricky to pick a favourite, but I’d recommend starting with episode 1.

SV Delos

The skipper of SV Delos, Brian, brought the boat in Seattle back in 2008, the original plan was just to cross the Pacific. But the adventure has grown far beyond the original plan. In addition to Brian, Brandy and Kazza sail the boat full-time and are joined by a revolving crew of fun-loving sailors. 

It’s easy to get hooked on any of their videos, but why not check out their lengthy Facebook Live interview with Lisa Blair when they caught up with her in Cape Town after her dismasting.

Monday Never

Will and Cat left their jobs in San Francisco and set off around the Caribbean in their 36ft yacht Paradox. These days they mix sailing adventures with land-based adventures on a motorbike, complete with sidecar.

Start with this video where the crew rescue a family that were forced to abandon their yacht in the middle of the ocean. It’s a video that’s hard to stop watching and provides some great insights into boat-to-boat transfers at sea.

Shaun & Julia Sailing

Canadians Shaun and Julia have been documenting their sailing adventures in amusing YouTube videos since 2012. Starting out on a modest 25ft yacht, many of their videos feature passages through the Great Lakes and down the Intracoastal canal systems.

A great place to start is with this video in which Shaun gives an entertaining insight into the world of vlogging.


This one’s a little different as these guys are still building their boat. Garrett and Ruth are documenting the build of their 35ft wooden gaff rigged ketch in Washington. Their videos offer all the satisfaction of building a beautiful wooden boat without the hard work!

A good place to start is with episode 1. and the very beginning of the build.

Another great place to see some fantastic sailing on screen is the inaugural SEAbbatical Short Film Festival held on the opening night of the Sanctuary Cover Boat Show this Thursday. Tickets are free, and all sailors and aspiring sailors are encouraged to head along.

15 people found this helpful. Do you?Thank Jessica Watson
Deckee and Mysail partner up to make crew management simple
Mike McKiernan
Posted May 17 2017

Here at Deckee we are dedicated to helping boaters make better decisions. Every month thousands of Aussie boat owners use Deckee to find and compare local marine services, insurance providers, destinations and anchorages, boats, products and gear.

Today we are excited to announce a new partnership with MySail, an Australian-owned crew management platform, to help our community in even more ways than before. You can access MySail by clicking on the new Crew link in Deckee's main menu.

MySail is great for two reasons. As a skipper, you can use MySail to manage your race team and find crew members matching your requirements.

As a sailor looking for crew opportunities, you can use MySail to connect with yacht owners.

A recurring issue for many racing yachts is getting their crew sorted. Many yacht owners or crew managers spend countless hours trying to organise their racing crew through spreadsheets, phone, text, and email, often having to follow-up with crew constantly to find out who will be there on race day. Many yachts also find themselves short of crew and have trouble finding the right people to join their team.

For experienced sailors who are in high demand, keeping track of their race schedule can be a headache, and for new sailors, it’s often not easy to find yachts to race on.

Deborah Dalziel is the founder of Mysail and a passionate sailor. We have got to know Deb lately and we really believe in her vision to create a tool that can eliminate all of these hassles so yacht owners, managers, and their crew can focus on sailing.

MySail is currently free to use, so please check it out and let us know your feedback!

15 people found this helpful. Do you?Thank Mike McKiernan
Marine Travel Insurance: What’s all the fuss about?
Philip Chandler – Topsail Insurance
Posted September 28 2017

This article is a guest post from Philip Chandler, Senior Travel Underwriter at Topsail Insurance. Philip has 6 years’ experience as a Travel Underwriter in the Lloyd’s of London Insurance Market, and recently moved to Sydney to work for Topsail Insurance, the highest rated marine insurer on Deckee at the time of writing.

We all know that talking about travel insurance isn’t the most enticing topic. Take it from someone who works in the industry – it frequently kills the conversation as soon as it’s brought up. However, as with most insurance products, travel insurance is often hugely undervalued until such time as it’s really needed, and as a result I believe it’s important to share the reasons why it is essential to have a suitable travel policy in place before you embark on a trip, whether that includes a boat or not.

Why should I buy travel insurance?

When you travel abroad or away from home, travel insurance provides you with financial protection and medical assistance to mitigate against a variety of unplanned events which would otherwise leave you significantly out of pocket or worse, in severe debt, and/or in a medical emergency without help.

One of arguably the two most important sections of a travel policy is Emergency Medical Expenses, which usually covers you up to 5 or AUD 10 million, and will pay your medical costs if you are accidentally injured or become ill whilst on a trip. In my career, I have had many customers ask me why this limit is so high, and the simple answer is that medical costs can be extortionate. For example, the average cost of an appendectomy in the US is AUD 42,000 (at current exchange rates), but this can rise to over AUD 200,000 in rare cases. More complicated procedures can cost significantly more, which is why arranging medical expenses cover via your travel policy is vital to avoid incurring those huge costs yourself.

The Cancellation Section is often viewed as the second key component of a travel policy, and will reimburse the costs you have already paid towards your trip (or the remainder of it) if you need to cancel or curtail. For example, if a close relative passed away and you needed to cancel your holiday or business trip, you would be able to reclaim the cost of your flights, hotels, car hire and other un-used bookings so that financially you are no worse off. Depending on the trip and how many people are going, these costs can escalate quickly into the thousands, so it’s important to make sure that you buy a travel policy with an adequate limit and as soon as you start booking flights or hotels.

Most travel policies will also have some combination of cover for Baggage, Legal Expenses & Personal Liability, Personal Accident, Money & Credit Cards and Hi-jack, as well as many others which have varying degrees of value depending upon your circumstances.

Traps to look out for when buying travel insurance

Travel insurance policies are complicated and there are many different products available, so it is important to understand exactly what you are covered for (which can be easier said than done) and not to just focus on the price.

A key pitfall to look out for is ensuring medical conditions are fully covered. Insurers usually apply a ‘pre-existing medical condition exclusion’ which means they won’t pay for claims arising out of any existing medical conditions you already have, unless you declare them and get them specifically included. You don’t need to declare medical conditions if you don’t want them to be covered, but if you do then make sure you declare these fully and honestly and you have written evidence they are included in the policy.

The variety of polices available means some only offer meagre covers and limits, so it is important to find the right policy for you and your circumstances. Some examples of things you may want to look out for include ensuring you are covered fully for any activities/sports you are doing on your trip; you are not outside the age limit; your destination is included in the covered area of travel; and that you can read and fully understand the policy yourself.

If you have any questions about the policy at all, you should ask the insurer or broker before you purchase.

What about if I’m sailing or on my motorboat?

People will often have travel insurance included as part of their bank account or credit card, but check carefully if you’re going on the water as most of these policies will have strict restrictions or limitations when boating, even if you’re just within a harbour, close to shore or chartering a boat.

Who are Topsail and what is Yachtsman’s Travel Insurance?

Topsail Insurance was launched in 1996 in the UK and since then has provided specialist Yacht, Motorboat and Yachtsman’s Travel Insurance to a worldwide marine community, backed by Lloyd’s of London Insurers. Topsail Australia opened in Perth in 2015 and was set up by Mark Ainscough and Cathy Charlick, who themselves are both ‘cruising yachties’ and enjoyed a 4 year sailing adventure around South East Asia prior to setting up the Company (more info).

Topsail’s Yachtsman’s Travel Insurance has been specifically designed to address the lack of suitable travel insurance for mariners, by imposing no restrictions or limitations whilst aboard yachts, motorboats or Tallship’s, and by including other benefits such as Yacht Charter Excess Waiver.

Full cover is also given for ‘non-marine’ trips that do not involve any sailing or boating, meaning that an Annual Multi-Trip Yachtsman’s policy can cover all your trips you take whether you are sailing/boating or not.

As well as offering this cover at a competitive price, Topsail’s Yachtsman’s policies also offer:

• Full worldwide, offshore cover

• Onshore racing cover as standard

• Search and Rescue, Yacht Charter Excess Waiver and Crew Replacement

• Annual multi-trip polices (as little as $150) or single trip policies (as little as $40)

• Ability to cover groups or families under one policy

• A straightforward, easy-to-read, 20 page Product Disclosure Statement

• Full cover for non-boating trips

• Ability to cover anyone up to 79 years old, or higher with referral

• Discounts if you also purchase boat insurance with Topsail

• A quick and simple online quotation tool, meaning you can find a price within minutes

To summarise, make sure you have adequate travel insurance and that it is suitable for your needs. You’d be surprised at the peace of mind it will give you.

14 people found this helpful. Do you?Thank Philip Chandler – Topsail Insurance
Drones on Boats
Jack and Jude
Deckee Pro  Posted May 17 2017

I'll admit to being smitten by our newest addition on board Banyandah. Jude's may be our resident photographer, snapping upwards of seven thousand each year, plus hours of video, but they're all at ground level! 

We tried an experiment three years ago, tying our GoPro to a kite then flew it above an isolated sand island alive with thousands of sea birds. Although the stills are spectacular, the video made us seasick. Later that year I watched a man in Albany WA fly his drone so high it was lost to sight, and then persuaded him to show us the footage. Well, amazed we were! 

Finding the coin to finance our new love took until last winter, when we took the plunge, investing around $1800 on a Phantom 3 Advance, spare battery, iPad mini, and case. Our first flights had us trembling thinking our very expensive camera would crash or fly out of sight. This must have appealed to our lust for adventure because in no time at all we were driving to the most beautiful, isolated locations to fly our drone. Then we took it sailing.

There are several important  points to remember when flying off a ship. The "Return to Home" facility is your enemy, not your friend. Boats move - GPS home positions do not. Taking off, and landing in a confined space filled with rigging is also a tad bit difficult but we have found a good place to launch, and hand retrieve. A smidgen dangerous that, but isn't all life afloat a bit that way. Lastly, these highly technical drones do not like metal as it upset their inbuilt compass - our take off site is atop our solar panels on the aft tower.

We are real nature lovers - can't get enough of the great outdoors, and now with the drone we're keenly looking for truly beautiful sites to fly - tis fortunate we're presently down here in Tasmania.

In fact, we've just used the drone for our reconnaissance and search of a very isolated area. The farm in Farm Cove began in 1825, growing mainly potatoes and pigs for the Sarah Island Penal Colony until it closed. The farm was abandoned by 1832, when it was described as ‘fast relapsing into its original state of wild luxuriance.’

This state of wild luxuriance prevailed until the fires of 2016

After those fires were extinguished, each time we’d sail past those burnt hills we wondered what historical treasures might be revealed. A few other members of the Friends of Macquarie Harbour held a similar view and together we mounted an expedition to look for the farm last in use nearly 200 years ago. 

Here's the aerial footage on Vimeo

If you want to view the whole adventure, go here to see the complete video and read the history of this amazing place.

I'm still a P-plate flyer and am sure my grandkids could make it do loops - and here's an example of what can be done when proficient. Search for Lost Track. Compare that with my best so far - Kelly Basin .

You can see that drones are a powerful tool, great for enhancing story telling, and perfect to capture views otherwise not available to us mere mortals.

If we can be of any help, keeping in mind I'm a P-plate flyer, just drop us a line at

14 people found this helpful. Do you?Thank Jack and Jude
Lisa’s Epic Antarctic Adventure
Jessica Watson
Posted November 24 2016

Chances are all Australian sailors have heard of Lisa Blair by now. For those who haven’t, a few of her achievements include bow, helm and watch leader positions during the 2012 Clipper Race; competing in the 2014 Solo Tasman Race; and, for the past year, she’s been busy training and preparing her yacht Climate Action Now for her biggest adventure yet: circumnavigating Antarctica, solo, nonstop and unassisted.

Lisa tells me that the Clipper Race gave her invaluable experience, and it was my 2010 circumnavigation that helped her realise that she could take on bigger adventures. Then the Solo Tasman - and the storm she experienced during the race - showed her what she was capable of and, importantly, made her realise that she really liked solo sailing.

Lisa describes her upcoming Antarctic adventure as a really tough but achievable goal, pointing out that while she’ll have to contend with isolation, storms and incredibly harsh temperatures, there will be less of the other dangers associated with solo sailing - like shipping and close proximity to land. In fact, Lisa suggests that a circumnavigation of Australia would be more dangerous than her trip deep into the Southern Ocean.

I dropped into Woolwich Dock in Sydney last week and Lisa gave me a tour of the boat, impressing me with the thorough and ingenious preparation she’s undertaking with her team. Here are just a few of the things that Lisa pointed out;

Starting in the cockpit, Lisa points out the newly installed Pontos winches which, she explains, ‘act similar to a grinder, giving me extra strength’. With a total of nine winches and as many lines as possible running into the cockpit, the deck layout has been reconfigured for Lisa to handle the boat as safely and easily as possible. Solar panels line the cockpit walls, positioned to capture the sun while on a heal.

Heading down into the cabin, I pass outdoor speakers and a lovely array of B&G instruments which control, among other things, the T3 hydraulic auto pilot. Despite the T3’s reliable reputation, Lisa tells me a completely independent backup has also been installed.

Downstairs, Lisa shows me the shelving, fuel storage lockers and handholds that have been added to make life at sea as safe as easy as possible. A small air heater running off a little diesel (biodiesel of course) and electricity has been installed to provide some comfort, and two volunteers have been busy pulling together another important source of comfort - a range of freeze‑dried and long-life food.

On the cabin top above us, a very sturdy custom inspection hatch has been added allowing Lisa to see what’s going on from below. And further forward, Lisa shows me the manual water ballast pump that replaces its power hungry electric predecessor. Further forward again, a hatch has been cut into the large bow compartment to store sails, an area previously only accessible from the foredeck.

Back on deck, Lisa shows me the new pushpit and pulpit supplied by GA Watt Engineering and tells me the new rigging from Arcus Wire is soon to be installed by Jason from Diverse Rigging. French company Lancelin have supplied all rope, Profurl donated two tough furlers, Wichard helped out with all new deck gear and Quantum supplied new sails, including two sets of storm sails.

Our discussion turns to clothing and Lisa tells me that she’s been working closely with Zhik who have been researching and developing gear especially for the trip. ‘They’ve developed neck warmers, hats with micro-fleece, neoprene gloves - and I’ve got body armour built into my clothing as well, in little pockets so I can take it in and out,’ says Lisa. I’m happy to hear that Zhik plan on adding some of these clever details into their normal range and that they’ll be tailoring the gear to fix Lisa’s ‘really short’ (her words not mine!) frame.

Lisa is confident that the boat is ‘super strong’, something that was proven recently when a 35ft ton boat backed into Climate Action Now, causing some delamination but not cracking the hull. An unpleasant experience but one that Lisa describes as quite reassuring - something I can relate to as my little tickle with a ship before my voyage gave me a similar sense of confidence.

Lisa will soon be setting off to sail to Albany where she will be setting off for the Antarctic circumnavigation in early January. You can support and follow her adventures on her website and we’ll be keeping you updated here on Deckee.

14 people found this helpful. Do you?Thank Jessica Watson
Five things you can do to stop the spread of dangerous marine pests
Jessica Watson
Posted April 11 2018

Commercial shipping and the water ballast systems aboard large ships have long been identified as responsible for the spread of marine pests that can wreak havoc on our marine ecosystems. As home to the port of Melbourne – Australia’s busiest container port – and to the Port of Geelong, it’s therefore no surprise that Port Phillip Bay is riddled with marine pests.

The most common of these is the highly invasive and predatory Northern Pacific Seastar, Asterias amurensis. Parks Victoria’s State-wide Leader – Marine and Coasts Mark Rodrigue describes the seastars as ‘voracious’. ‘They will eat essentially anything that’s not bolted down,’ say’s Mark. And, horrifyingly, at their peak there was a greater mass of the seastars than fish in the bay. Other invasive species, such as Wakame, Undaria pinnatifida, are also thriving and competing with native algae for habitat.  

Wakame growing on a boat in Port Phillip Bay. 

Roellen Gillmore, Marine Communications Officer for Parks Victoria and a keen sailor, only recently realised the extent of the problem, and what she describes an ‘opportunity to contain the marine pests’. ‘As sailors, we just aren’t aware,’ says Roe. ‘We don’t really think about what’s going on below, but there’s a whole new world under our keels.’

She explains that Wakame, Northern Pacific Seastars and their microscopic offspring can easily become attached to boats and marine equipment and spread to new waterways. While Roe jokes that she now has an environmental incentive for washing her boat down, she’s deadly serious when she says that she wouldn’t want to be the person who causes the spread. ‘Once they become established, it’s nearly impossible to get rid of them,’ say’s Roe. ‘The best management option is to prevent the spread, and it’s the human factor that we all can control.’

A Northern Pacific Seastar found by Marine Ranger Chris Hayward in Tidal River in late 2017. 

Thankfully these marine pests have, to date, been largely contained to Port Phillip. While some natural dispersal is unavoidable as it occurs with the tidal movements, in Victoria, New Zealand, and across the world, there is an increasing recognition that there is a danger of all vessels, including travelling boaties, unintentionally spreading pests. Past outbreaks of pests at Apollo Bay and Wilsons Promontory indicate we’re only just keeping a grip on the issue.

So while there’s already plenty on our minds as we prepare to set off through Port Phillip Heads or travel to another waterway or coastline, we also need to ensure we’re not taking dangerous stowaways with us. Here are the key things we need to do to avoid spreading marine pests;

1. Use fresh water to wash all equipment. Everything from kayaks, fishing equipment, diving gear, fenders, and anchor chain.

2. Ensure that all equipment, including sails and lines are dried as microscopic offspring can survive for long periods in the damp.

3. Yacht owners should ensure that their antifoul is kept up to date and that hulls are checked for attached marine life.

4. Sewage and bilge water should be emptied at an approved facility, and any saltwater systems on board should be flushed out or treated regularly.

5. Keep your eyes out for these pests beyond Port Phillip Bay and report sightings to 

Parks Victoria divers removing Wakame at Popes Eye, Port Phillip Bay.

While any opinions expressed by the author are absolutely her own, this article has been produced in collaboration with Parks Victoria. For more information on how boaties can prevent the spread of marine pests and to report any sightings, please see Parks Victoria’s website.

13 people found this helpful. Do you?Thank Jessica Watson

Please select a location