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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.

Salt&Tar

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.

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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.

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4 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!

deckee.link/crew

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1 person found this helpful. Do you?Thank Mike McKiernan

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 capjack2j@gmail.com

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2 people found this helpful. Do you?Thank Jack and Jude

The Whitsundays: Australia’s Best Boating Destination?
Jessica Watson
Posted April 20 2017

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of the Whitsundays. You can spend months taking in and exploring every detail of the greater Whitsunday region, but the area is equally suited to a quick visit to tick off the highlights. Growing up, I spent many months in the Whitsundays with my family, and over the years I’ve been back countless times to race and most recently to charter a yacht last week.

While there is no end to amazing destinations around the world, one of the Whitsundays’ key drawcards is its accessibility. And that’s certainly not to say that the region doesn’t hold its own in terms of scenery; it’s just that the many great anchorages and the short distances between them make it a perfect boating playground. For those new to boating, it’s a great place to dip your toes in the water, and for the more experienced it’s a lovely cruising ground that reveals its true gems to those who take the time to explore in detail.

While there’s nothing quite like your own boat, I believe chartering is an underrated option for even the most experienced sailors. The convenience of chartering is hard to beat for the time poor. Charter boats are restricted to the main island group, but this won’t be a hindrance for the majority of charters who’ll only have a week or two in the area, and the most popular attractions are all situated within the charter zone.

On arrival to the area, your visit should be planned around the weather forecast. The prevailing winds are southeasterlys and, later in the year, northeasterlys. So when the forecast gives you anything else, particularly light conditions, make a beeline for the eastern side of the islands. Even if you’re lucky enough to have quite some time in the Whitsundays, you’ll want to be ready to take advantage of calm conditions that bring out the best of some of the most scenic yet exposed anchorages and outer reefs.

On the subject of weather, while the winter mouths are the ideal time to visit I don’t find the summer months unpleasant with plenty of breeze on the water to keep you cool. There’s an increased chance of rain over summer, but the upside to this is that the islands’ many creeks and occasional waterfall will run.

Of course, the region was also hit hard by Cyclone Debbie. A significant percentage of trees aren’t their usual vertical selves or have been stripped of leaves, and tragically there are still quite a number of boats sitting high and dry on rocks. Most early reports suggest that the reefs fringing the islands haven’t fared too well, but there are some more positive stories emerging. While the damage to the reef is devastating, the area’s many other merits still warrant it a spot at the top any boatie’s bucket list.

Visiting only a few weeks after the cyclone, I was impressed to find that almost all the facilities that a boatie would usually expect in the area were available. The local community has to be applauded, and I suspect that the Whitsundays will recover swiftly and emerge better than ever.

A highlight of my most recent visit was a lovely night anchored at Whitehaven Beach. For me, it was a reminder of just how lucky boaties are. As the afternoon drew to close, tour companies ferried visitors back to their boats. Slowly the beach and anchorage emptied, leaving just a handful of yachts to enjoy a gorgeous sunset over one of Australia’s most beautiful beaches.

You can read about a few of my Whitsunday highlights in my checklist here. I’d recommend a copy of the Whitsunday ‘bible’ 100 Magic Miles. Of course, you can also read other boaties’ advice on the Whitsundays, and contribute your experience to Deckee’s crowd-sourced location guide here.

Tourism Whitsundays and the GoBareboating initiative were kind enough to supply a boat for Jessica’s most recent visit to the Whitsundays, but all opinions expressed here are very much her own. 

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1 person found this helpful. Do you?Thank Jessica Watson

Australians take on the World at the 2017 World Masters Games in Auckland
PaulW
Posted April 5 2017

Seven Wetas, including Paul White's brand new birthday boat still in gift wrapping, appeared at Port Kembla Sailing Club for the Lake Illawarra Weta Camp - the final training weekend to share knowledge and help bring the Australian Weta Team up to the same high standard before the boats are shipped to Auckland for the World Masters Games regatta in April.

There are 17 Australians out of 72 Weta entries for the World Masters Games sailing regatta which takes place in Auckland, New Zealand from 22-28th of April - with competitors from all over the world sailing both solo and with two crew.

Multihull guru and Hobie World Masters Champion, Rod Waterhouse and John McClaren also appeared with borrowed boats so they could get some practice before they pick up their charter boats at the WMG.

"Great fun" said Rod after a day on the water "The Weta sails like a monohull but gives the speed and stability of a multihull".

Auckland is the home of the New Zealand-designed Weta. "We're very pleased to see someone of Rod's calibre racing the Weta", said Roger Kitchen, MD of Weta Marine.

About the Weta Trimaran

Conceived and designed in New Zealand, over 1,200 Weta trimarans have been sold worldwide since Weta launched with a splash over 11 years ago.

Hand-crafted – this is no “machine-built boat” – the fibreglass/carbon composite construction delivers the perfect pairing of rigidity and lightweight performance. Expertly made for maximum enjoyment and minimum fuss, whether you’re sailing all out and solo, mixing it up with the family or teaching the kids to sail, the Weta is simple to sail, surprisingly quick, and an absolute ton of fun. Fun, fast and easy, life's better with a Weta!

More at weta.com.au

About the World Masters Games

With more athletes than the Olympics, the World Masters Games is the single biggest multi-sport event on earth. Now in 2017, the event will come to Auckland New Zealand, a must-see destination renowned for its stunning natural diversity and vibrant social scene.

More at wmg2017.com

About the World Masters Games Sailing Regatta

The World Masters Games sailing regatta takes places at Torbay Sailing Club just north of Auckland. The event features the Laser single-handed and Weta - the only qualification is that you must be aged over 35. The Weta class allows for single and double-handed boats which will sail together with medals awarded separately. Both Lasers and Wetas will sail typical Olympic-style courses but the Weta competition also includes some distance races to test navigation skills, explore the stunning location and take advantage of the Wetas' proven distance racing ability on events such as the 300 mile Everglades Challenge.

More at tinyurl.com/wmg2017sailing

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1 person found this helpful. Do you?Thank PaulW

Highlights from Women Who Sail Australia’s 2nd annual ‘Gathering on The Bay’
Jessica Watson
Posted April 5 2017

Women Who Sail Australia’s second annual Gathering on The Bay has exceeded the high standards set the previous year. With two days of seminars, a lineup of inspiring speakers, 120 attendees, social events and even a morning yoga session the gathering offered members of the thriving online Women Who Sail Australia community to catch up offline.

While the entire gathering was jam packed with conversation, inspiring stories and learning here’s a few of the highlights;

Cruising legend Lin Pardey kicked off the first session by providing invaluable tips on handling storms at sea.

Well-known safety expert Genevieve White provided a fascinating history of women on boats before sharing advice on personal safety at sea.

Melanie Piddocke shared her impressive plans to sail against the winds, west-about around the world in 2018.

Travel writer Jackie Parry stressed that the key to happiness and contentment on the water is having a boat you trust.

International sailor Kristi Foster encouraged the room to ‘truly live, not just exist’.

Karen Oberg made everyone’s mouths water while sharing her tips for healthy, fresh provisioning for passages, and stressed the importance of packing a mountain of toilet paper!

Kerry Tait also shared dozens of providing tips and advised that an Indian grocer is a treasure trove of great dried products.

Claire Heenan shared seriously envy-inducing pictures from adventures sailing in the med.

And among other fantastic stories deck hardware, flairs, diesel engines and international arrivals and departures where will also covered.

Deckee was again thrilled to co-host the Gathering which raised over $7,900 for marine charities.

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

Storm Tactics
Jessica Watson
Posted April 4 2017

Storm tactics for yachts at sea is a complex topic. Mother Nature never gives us quite the same scenario, very few boats are the same, and every crew has different capabilities. There’s no silver-bullet solution.

There are also many conflicting opinions on the merits of different storm tactics, and while the different logic and many myths can be confusing, every serious ocean sailor has to navigate the misinformation and make their own decisions.

Only you know your unique situation, and such serious choices can only be made by the person set to face the storm at sea. Here’s an overview of common tactics to get you started.

Heaving-to

Heaving-to is a traditional piece of seamanship that stalls a yacht approximately 45 degrees off the wind. The manoeuvre is used to calm a boat’s motion and allow the crew to rest. Theory suggests that with the jib backed (sheeted to windward), some main sheeted on and the rudder hard to windward, a yacht should drift gently sideways. However, many sailors find that yachts without traditional long keels take some trimming to achieve the desired gentle drift in heavy weather.

Bluewater Sailing cover heaving-to in detail here and this video offers a handy demonstration. 

Lying ahull

Lying ahull is achieved simply by dropping all sail and letting the yacht drift beam on to the wind and waves, with the rudder secured amidships. Full-keeled yachts are often reported to handle this position well. But many sailors consider this tactic to be ineffective, with some suggesting that the approach only heightens the risk of knockdowns.

Sea parachutes

Also known as a para-anchor, this large cloth parachute is deployed from the bow. Considered a good tactic when sea room is lacking, the sea parachute is intended to calm the boat’s motion while drifting backwards. However, many sailors have reported that yachts yaw and sail forward with the sea parachute deployed. Drifting backwards may also raise the likelihood of rudder damage and put crew members in danger as they work on the foredeck.

The third edition of Lin and Larry Pardey’s Storm Tactics Handbook covers the use of sea parachutes in great detail.

Drogues

Drogues are parachutes, usually smaller than sea parachutes, which are deployed from the stern. Designed to keep the yacht perpendicular to the waves, a small amount of sail is usually flown to keep the yacht moving forward at a slow speed.

In the eighties, the US Coast Guard undertook extensive research into storm tactics, and as a result of that research, a drogue known as the series drogue was developed. As the name would suggest, the series drogue features small cones on a long line rather than a single, bigger chute.

While the series drogue promises to hold a yacht in even the most dangerous breaking waves, the small cones can also make it difficult to handle. You can read the US Coast Guard report that advocates for the use of the series drogue here.

Depending on the severity of conditions or in the absence of a drogue, streaming long lines from the back of the boat is another popular tactic used to control speed and keep the stern to the waves. Knots are often tied in the line, or a weight is joined to the end to add friction.

Running with the waves

The preferred tactic for many modern light racing yachts is to run with the waves rather than focusing on slowing the boat. Racing crews with skilled helmsmen/women aim to dodge dangerous breaking waves and position the boat carefully on the face of steep waves.

North Sails provide a few tips for sailing in storm conditions in this post, but there are few sailors who could be considered experts at helming in dangerous seas. This tactic can also leave the helmsperson in a dangerous position on deck, and quickly fatigue the crew.

Of course, deciding on, setting up and practising your chosen storm tactic is only a small part of storm preparation. The entire boat needs to be assessed end to end and readied for snatching wind, sweeping waves and violent motion. Amongst many other things, lockers and even floorboards may need to be secured, and waves prevented from forcing their way up the engine exhaust.

There are plenty of great books that cover storm tactics in further detail, and Yachting Monthly share great advice from experienced cruising sailors in this article.

What storm tactics have you used? Did they work for you? I’d love to hear your experiences and recommendations.

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

Breaking: Australian Sailor Lisa Blair dismasted 895nm south of Cape Town
Mike McKiernan
Posted April 3 2017

0300 AST Tuesday 4 April 2017 (1900 SAST)

048:38:384 S 022:31:430 E

At approximately 0300 (AET) Australian sailor Lisa Blair issued a PAN PAN 895nm south of Cape Town when in 40 knot winds and seven (7) metre swell her boat Climate Action Now was dismasted after the port shroud broke in a knock down.

Search and Rescue in Cape Town have been notified and will provide assistance if required.

Lisa is well and uninjured.

Lisa Blair was on her 72nd day at sea attempting to be the first woman to circumnavigate Antarctica solo and unassisted.

There is no further information at this stage.

Updates will be provided when available.

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1 person found this helpful. Do you?Thank Mike McKiernan

Sailor Lisa Blair heads to Cape Town under motor following dismast
Mike McKiernan
Posted April 4 2017

2030 Tuesday 4 April 2017 (0030 SAST)

UPDATE

Australian sailor Lisa Blair has assessed the damage to her yacht Climate Action Now after being dismasted 895 nm south of Cape Town in 40 knot winds and 7 metre swells earlier this morning.

A PAN PAN was called at approximately 0300 (AET) / 1900 (SAST) signalling an urgent threat to her safety and this remains in place.

Climate Action Now has suffered significant damage to the mast and rigging.

Lisa intends to step the boom and install a jury rig with a small storm sail in place which will assist in her journey to Cape Town under motor.

A Hong Kong registered vessel has been requested to rendezvous with Lisa to provide fuel and other items to assist with repairs if required.

It is anticipated that Lisa’s journey to Cape Town will take approximately 10 days travelling at an estimated speed of 4.5 knots. Lisa continues to experience swells of approximately seven (7) metres. Once there she will complete a full evaluation of the damage to the yacht and determine what repairs can be made.

Lisa remains well and uninjured.

The incident occurred whilst Lisa Blair was on her 72nd day at sea attempting to be the first woman to circumnavigate Antarctica solo and unassisted.

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3 people found this helpful. Do you?Thank Mike McKiernan

First Australian Female Clipper Race Skipper Returns For Second Circumnavigation

Wendy Tuck, 52, from Sydney, is set to become the first Australian skipper to complete two circumnavigations with the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.

Wendy, who was also selected as the inaugural Australian female Skipper in the 2015-16 edition, has been named as one of the twelve Skippers for the 2017-18 edition of the eleven month, 40,000 nautical mile ocean adventure, which starts in the UK in August.

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Drogues
kelvin
Posted March 19 2017

Interested to hear from people with experience of handling drogues . Standard parachutes versus Series .

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5 Unconventional Ways to go Boating
Jessica Watson
Posted March 9 2017

Image Credit: vipbackpackers.wordpress.com

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? 

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

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.  

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

Topic: The need for comprehensive insurance and appropriate agreed cover.
PJM
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. 

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4 people found this helpful. Do you?Thank PJM

5 Questions with Phil Ross, Editor of Cruising Helmsman Magazine
Mike McKiernan
Posted February 8 2017

At what stage in your life did you take an interest in writing, and why?

In sixth grade primary school (the mighty Brighton Beach Primary in Melbourne) I had a teacher Mr. Kilkenny and he was a great pusher of ability, I spent a lot of that year rewriting fairy tales with an Aussie humour twist. He was such a good influence on me I actually became a primary teacher after finishing school.

What is your recipe for a great magazine? How do you assess ideas?

Great question, that whole, esoteric, what makes a good article! I strongly believe that CH is not a 'travel' magazine but an informational one. Therefore I concentrate on articles that provide excellent amounts of information to entice others to follow in the writer's footsteps. To enhance the story, the visuals are very important so I always stress to writers to get themselves a good camera and learn how to use it - then snap, snap, snap! So most articles about a destination or on a practical angle are usually longer than they used to be.

I also believe the editor's 'hands' should not be seen in the magazine. By that I mean the articles should be selected purely on its merit and for no other reason. It is not my position to judge what people want to read.

In recent times, what issue, article or feature are you most proud of?

The rise of production yachts that are easier to sail with minimal crew means more and more non-sailors are getting out there. Not only that but cruisers are reaching into areas previously not explored; the Murray Spence article on Antarctica (August 2016) was a cracker - interesting place and every photo a winner!

On the practical side this also means we are getting more and more articles on how to go sailing with a family, or shorthanded; plus instructional articles on how to set up a production yacht to take you across oceans, or educational articles on various parts of a yacht and its design work.

I truly feel the life of cruising is set to take off amongst the younger generations coming through.

Your three favourite Australian anchorages, and why?

Port Davey: one of the last true wilderness areas left. I first flew in there when I was 16 to do the South Coast Track and fell in love with its harsh isolation. I can certainly see why Jack and Jude Binder love it so much, as seen in our February issue.

Kimberleys: On the diagonal to Port Davey! But provides the same sense of wonder and beauty and isolation (sensing a theme here?) but warmer! My wife and I have also fallen in love with Central Australia for much the same reason, plus the learning and better understanding of Australia's first peoples and how intelligent and resilient they were to thrive in such harsh environment.

Airlie: Why? Party town! Plus close to the Shag Islet Rendezvous and Hamilton Island Race Week. A bloke's gotta have some competitive outlet.

What recent innovations in the marine industry are you most excited about?

The whole advent of electronics and the global internet. Along with the better construction methods of yachts I believe these two things are the instigators of the rise in cruising around the world. While some people may see this as a bad thing and I can certainly sympathise, it is inevitable. Maybe it is for the better if we can get people out on the water in a safe and enjoyable environment and then the sooner we can get people to take better care of this planet.

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5 people found this helpful. Do you?Thank Mike McKiernan

Announcing the 2017 Gathering on the Bay event
Mike McKiernan
Posted February 7 2017

On behalf of Women Who Sail Australia, Deckee.com 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.

Tickets: deckee.link/gathering2017

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3 people found this helpful. Do you?Thank Mike McKiernan

With a cover like this, you know February Cruising Helmsman is going to be good
Jack and Jude
Deckee Pro  Posted February 2 2017

You just know you have a great issue of Cruising Helmsman to read when you start with a front cover image like this.

The February issue is out and it includes a update from the venerable Jack and Jude Binder regarding one of their favourite cruising spots: Port Davey on Tasmania's west coast.

This couple continually sail around Australia and publlish DVDs and blogs to assist others to do the same. Port Davey and Bathurst Harbour may certainly be on the wild side of Tasmania, but Jack and Jude provide all the detail you need to make a safe trip for yourself to enjoy this amazing part of Australia.

Read more here

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2 people found this helpful. Do you?Thank Jack and Jude

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. 

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5 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. 

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3 people found this helpful. Do you?Thank Jack and Jude

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