“Talking Sailing” by Richard Crockett – issue 28

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issue – 28
19 February 2015

by Richard Crockett

Reader response is welcome – send to: editor@sailing.co.za

I have been intrigued recently by the number of people who believe that our sport is too rigid in its focus on racing, with little or no effort made for those whose interest is not in racing.

Having fun in boats is what attracts many people to our sport. The thoughts of exotic destinations, sunset cocktail cruises and relaxing aboard with the sound of the boat through the water being images and sounds many non-sailors get excited about. Having experienced the sport first-hand, some graduate to racing, others to cruising, while there are some who simply like ‘messing about in a boat’.

Perhaps there is an additional category for those who simply like ‘boating about in a mess’!

Our sport in this country is fragile. It’s also not backed by massive numbers which is why we need to have some focus and effort on the aspects that don’t involve competitive racing.

In a recent interview with reigning double Mirror World Champions, Michaela and Ryan Robinson, for the March issue of SAILING Magazine, both made specific mention of the fun aspect of our sport. It is something they are both acutely aware of, and want to keep tangible as they grow in sailing.

Get this issue if you want to read the full interview.

Talking About…
• Seven Ways Sailors Make the Best Lovers
• Challenges for Our Sport. Some Food for Thought
• The Skipper’s Weight in Rum
• Paralympic Games
• The Most Exclusive – and Eccentric – Yacht Club in the World
• Heavy Weather Sailing
• Take the NT3 Pledge
• Getting Knotted – Revisited
• Polish Crew Sets New Record for Furthest South Ever Sailed by A Yacht
• Someone With a Warped Sense of Humour!
• A Lasting Gift – A subscription to SAILING Magazine
• I Like This!
• How True!
• Sailor of the Month – Submit Your Nomination NOW
• Some Selected Responses to “Talking Sailing”

Seven Ways Sailors Make the Best Lovers
With Valentine’s Day a not too dim distant memory, I was drawn to and enjoyed this headline on the day in one of the many mails I receive daily. And it’s not really too late to enjoy, especially if you did not ‘crack the nod’ on the day.

It was written by Puffy Derkins for SpinSheet (www.spinsheet.com)

In my lifetime, I’ve dated more than just seamen. I’ve dated equestrians (never try to love a man who might love a horse more than you), I’ve dated professional cyclists (saddle sores can and will kill a romantic evening). I’ve known fishermen (no matter how hot they are, you can’t get over the smell of fish guts), and I’ve known race car drivers (making out with a manual stick shift between you is no one’s fantasy).

But readers, it’s the sailors I keep coming back to, time and time again. That’s because romance is literally written right into the language of sailing. Don’t understand what I mean? Check it out:

Any port in a storm. It’s last call, and you’re looking rough. But going home to watch TV with your roommate and all those cats just isn’t an option. Good news! There’s a sailor waiting for you at the end of the bar. He’s been noticing you all night, but he’s shy to the point of a spectrum disorder and doesn’t have the courage to speak to you. Swoop in on that sailor, let him take you back to his boat for some snuggling, and save the Blue Bloods marathon with your roomie for another night!

Hard and fast. Hold up, kids. This is a family publication. Meaning “not to be modified or evaded,” you can trust your sailor to roam the seven seas with a heart whose compass rose is set permanently on you. And some other stuff.

Shiver me timbers. Sailors are known hotties. There’s so much to be said for a Kaenon tan, the “l’eau de B.O.” lingering on your sailor’s skin, the sun-kissed locks thick with salt and spray-on SPF. Throw in a Hawaiian print shirt and some jorts, and I’m done.

Batten down the hatches. Have some home improvement projects you need to get done? Just wait for hurricane season, when all the live aboard sailors flood local bars looking for some shelter in the storm. Even better, you can kill two birds with one stone: get that light fixture hung in your bathroom AND find a date to your cousin’s wedding.

Broad in the beam. As a broad in the beam gal myself, I will tell you that all sailors appreciate a few more inches down below. I like to refer to my hips as a “PHRF killer.”

I like the cut of your jib. This is pretty much as close as any sailor is ever going to get to saying “I love you.”

Don’t give up the ship! When two sailors do meet, fall in love, and marry, you can bet that they’re going to be together forever. This is also partially because a sailor will never admit to having been wrong about anything. But still!

Challenges for Our Sport. Some Brief Thoughts
Late last year at the World Yacht Racing Forum there was little disagreement amongst delegates that a global drop-off in participation is the single biggest challenge facing our sport. But why?

The first entry step into sailing and probably the biggest barrier to entry is the high cost of entry and ownership. This barrier can to some extent be removed should one be lucky enough to catch a ride with a friend or via a Club programme which is actively encouraging people into the sport.

There are other negatives too, especially in today’s society where families find it difficult to allocate the time for sailing as weekends are taken up with school, alternative activities and more. There are many pleasurable activities which don’t need all day! Plus the costs of owning a boat has negatively impacted on growth.

There is a passion many people have for the water. The challenge is to introduce new people to the sport. It’s also to work harder to keep those already hooked, in the sport. The age group from 10 to 40 is a group which needs to be focussed on – and to get them to integrate sailing into their lives.

Women too must be considered as an emerging market in sailing, plus as a huge influencing factor when it comes to what the family activities are for the weekend. In a male dominated sport it is easy to forget the opinion of women – so we need to be more attentive to their views, and address those.

Clubs need to make it easy, fun and cheap to participate. And, what your average 60-year-old sailor is used to may not work for the 25 year old. Our Clubs are also too racing-focussed to be as inclusive as possible.

The Skipper’s Weight in Rum
Despite generally light airs with winds reaching no more that 15 knots, three teams won their skipper’s weight in rum for breaking records in the 79th Mount Gay Rum Round Barbados Race.

This headline caught my eye for many reasons, especially as I am a rum drinker.

Firstly I thought it a wonderful opportunity, especially as we need to bring the fun back into sailing.

Secondly, it’s the kind of race in which my crew of ‘old farts’ and I would probably excel. Imagine MY weight in rum!

Thirdly, it’s never been done in this country before, so here’s a wonderful marketing and PR campaign for an adventurous Rum purveyor in RSA.

Fourthly, I can almost hear the rum afficionados at the Due North Rum Club in ABYC planning their entry.

The only down side would be having to drink the rum on the day – imagine the size of the hangover!

Paralympic Games
There has been a massively negative reaction to the announcement that sailing is to be removed from the Paralympic Games. And quite rightly so.

The decision has been described as:
• a devastating blow for the sport of sailing worldwide.
• hugely disappointing news for the sport of disabled sailing worldwide.
• an enormous disappointment for the sport of disabled sailing worldwide.
• How can the governing body of worldwide amateur disabled sports rip the heart out of one of the few Paralympic sports that nearly mimics the level of its counterpart in Olympic sport – Olympic sailing for able-bodied athletes? It is especially heartbreaking to disabled sailing when true parity is finally within striking distance to its able-bodied Olympic counterpart – which very few other sports can even truly suggest.

Comment from the International Sailing Federation (ISAF), the world governing body for the sport of sailing is:
“ISAF is extremely disappointed to receive this news from the International Paralympic Committee. Sailing adds a unique element to Paralympic sport through open events that include athletes with a broad range of disabilities. At the London 2012 Paralympic Games, 23 nations from four continents were represented across the three Paralympic events. Every effort will be made to reinstate sailing to the Paralympic Games.”

There are several petitions circulating in this regard, and readers are requested to sign those should they feel strongly enough about the subject. Here’s a link:

The Most Exclusive – and Eccentric – Yacht Club in the World
Membership of the South West Shingles Yacht Club, which has often been referred to as ‘the world’s most exclusive yacht club,’ is by invitation only. But first, where on earth is South West Shingles?

The Shingles is a very striking (!) shingle bank on the north of the western entrance to Britain’s famous waterway, the Solent. Because of weather and strong tides the bank moves; in a strong rip you can actually hear the shifting shingle. It is not wise to get too close. Sometimes it just disappears, other times it can be ten feet high.

David Latchford started the Club when he actually collided with the South West Shingles buoy, a very large red item which is fairly visible, in broad daylight. Owning up to this unpardonable error for a sailor with a high reputation proved a challenging task, and it gave David the idea for the Yacht Club.

So invitations are issued to those who it is considered have performed a humorous and out-of-place incident afloat, and are prepared to admit it to their peer group ashore. Such invitations are the bailiwick of the flag officers and custodians by mutual agreement.

Notable members include:
Ben Ainslie – for goosing Hasso Plattner’s Morning Glory with the bow of Mike Slade’s Leopard at the start of a race in the 2001 Jubilee Regatta (Slade was already a member for a quite unrelated episode);

John Bertrand – for snapping his America’s Cup contender in two and sinking it;

Harold Cudmore – for slicing open the bottom of Graham Walker’s one-tonner Indulgence on a wreck of Bembridge during an RORC race and subsequently sinking her (on the day of a SWSYC Rally);

Tony Bullimore – for his five days in the overturned Exide Challenger in the Southern Ocean;

Russell Coutts for managing to capsize the Oracle cat in California.

A commander of a Royal Navy Submarine, for hitting a known rock in clear daylight in Scotland. His superiors were not pleased…

A yacht owner who managed to wrap his spinnaker around the flagpole on the Britannia off Cowes. It took an hour to disentangle it. The captain was furious…

…and well-known sailing journalist Bob Fisher, who apparently has to be reminded that it is not necessary to qualify every year.

According to member Rees Martin, who has not divulged why he is a member, when conditions are right David and his committee occasionally call meetings on the Shingles Bank. ‘Toasts are drunk to past members. During the last visit we could not land, so from the launch, David spoke movingly of a past member who had passed on. At the end of his valedictory he threw a very old mobile phone into the sea, suggesting that the ex-member call him. Somebody called from another boat ‘Dave, We hope you charged the bloody thing!’ ‘

Rees says the club raises funds for good causes. ‘Early last year we raised £12,000 for the GB Women’s Sailing team. The committee auction off all manner of things. Bob Fisher donated a signed copy of his last book and two members got carried away and the winner (?) paid three times the book value. We all cheered.’

Eligibility? Rees Martin summarises it this way: ‘ You have to do something at sea, spectacularly stupid, in front of witnesses. You then have to admit it. When invited to join, you must make a written declaration – which is put to the Committee. If they consider the incident of sufficient folly you will receive a call from the Commodore. If you join, you then pay a very moderate entrance fee and receive a very nice tie. Damage to limb or life automatically renders disqualification.’

ED. The above is reproduced from Sail-World (www.sail-world.com) with whom SAILING Publications have an association. Sail-World is the biggest circulating sailing news blog in the world.

Heavy Weather Sailing
From Peter Bruce, Editor of the definitive book on ‘Heavy Weather Sailing’.

As you may know I have edited the book Heavy Weather Sailing for the past three editions, and the book still seems to flourish as a result of keeping it fresh and modern, notwithstanding some competition. The last edition, version 6, has sold well both at home and abroad, particularly in France, and foreign rights have been sold to eleven countries. Heavy Weather Sailing continues to serve a vital service in providing information the easy, rather than the hard way.

To mark the fiftieth year of publication another edition is in course of preparation and, as I have done for previous editions, I am keen to hear of accounts of extreme storms seen from leisure craft. These can be with good or bad outcomes but, essentially, with outcomes from which others can learn. I am also keen to use any striking photographs taken of extreme sea conditions.

Any reader who has experienced particularly severe weather at sea, say Force 10 or more, in recent years in a leisure craft, whether power or sail, of under about 18m (60 feet), is invited to send an account to me for possible publication in the internationally well-known and respected book Heavy Weather Sailing, a long-time authority on surviving storms at sea in small craft, which is about to be revised for the seventh time.

Meteorological information, track charts and photographs, if possible, should support the account, which should be written in about 2000 words of English and be generally factual.

The aim is to pass on hard-won storm experience for the benefit of sailors who wish to be prepared for the event, should they be caught out in heavy weather.

My e-mail address is mail@peter-bruce.com

Take the NT3 Pledge
When it comes to loving the ocean, it’s all about chemistry. Every year, one third of our CO2 emissions are absorbed by the sea. As a result we’re changing the chemistry of the ocean. It’s called Ocean Acidification. It’s as if the pH in your blood changed, causing your bones to dissolve.

Deep in the ocean and along our coasts, sea creatures are struggling to form skeletons. The implications are immense, and like dominoes, as parts of the food chain disappear and coral reefs vanish, 20% of the world’s food supply will go with it.

All this is happening right now. Under the hull of your boat. And In the water where you and your family swim.

BUT YOU CAN CHANGE THAT by taking the No Trash. No Trail. No Trace (NT3) Pledge to reduce your carbon footprint in three ways.

NO TRASH: Pledge to reduce plastic trash—which creates carbon emissions during manufacture, by choosing reusables like water bottles, cutlery and coffee cups.

NO TRAIL: Pledge to reduce your carbon trail by choosing petroleum-free products like non-toxic cleaning products and copper-free bottom paint.

NO TRACE: Pledge to reduce your carbon trace by not idling boat engines, biking and buying carbon offsets.

Take the pledge here: http://www.sailorsforthesea.org/nt3

Getting Knotted – Revisited
This article created a robust exchange of mails and debate as there was a gremlin in one measurement as submitted by the author who replies as follows:

The distance for the equator to the North Pole is 10 million metres, not kilometres!

Reader Response from Alex Petersen
I thoroughly enjoyed your sailing notes, but I feel I need to point out that your quaint explanation of a furlong, yes, 220 yards as you say, is not related to the time the oxen needed before they had a rest, or furlough. Even the Concise Oxford Dictionary does not support your thesis on this, and anyway, different teams or different oxen might be of varying fitness and strength, and require different times. A furlough is not related in any way to the distance an ox, or a team of oxen could travel before needing a rest, or furlough. The term furlough is derived from the Dutch term “Verlof” and is of course related to the Afrikaans usage, op verlof.

Though appearing to be related, the term furlong is far more precise, as those who bet on the Durban July horse race will know. The distance is quite simply “a furrow long”, as you say, 220 yards, an old English term for a distance which was related to practices in mediaeval agriculture. The clincher, at least to my mind. Turning a team of oxen, or even a one-ox drawn plough, by 180 degrees was not an easy process, so do it as seldom as feasible. Hence the distance. But why otherwise, does the distance make sense?

Quite simply in terms of other still functioning measurements of the time. One of which was a chain, known to be 22 yards. The origin of this seems obscure, but at least we do know that it was important, simply in terms of it being a cricket pitch, which is what the current cricket pitch is, 22 yards. But suddenly the puzzle opens up a little, when we realize that a furlong multiplied by a chain is equal to an acre.

Try it out and it works, a furlong times a chain is 220 X 22 = 4840 sq yards, which is of course, even today, an acre, or in Latin terms, ager, a field,  [hence agriculture].

The reason that a mediaeval field should be that shape is not immediately clear, until one looks at the plans of mediaeval villages and their surrounds. They all sloped down to the local river, the all-important source of water. So the fields were long and sloping to the river, and allowed all the owners access to water, an attempt by the mediaeval law-givers to make things fair.

Reader Response from Grant Chapman, 1st Bergvliet Sea Scouts
Thank you for a very informative article on nautical measurements.

Here are a couple more that are not really in our local parlance anymore but are nevertheless quite interesting.

Fathom: A measurement of depth equal to 6 feet and the span of a man’s arm from finger tip to finger tip.

Shackle: 15 fathoms (prior to 1949 it was only 12.5 fathoms) and the distance of an anchor chain between swivels or the chain-joining shackles.

Cable: 1/10th of a nautical mile. A cable was typically constructed by twisting together clockwise 3 hawser-laid ropes and each hawser-laid rope was constructed by twisting together anti-clockwise 3 ropes, a process that allowed the cables to absorb as little water as possible. The UK and German Cable is 101 fathoms in length but most of the other seafaring nations used to have different lengths for their own version of a Cable: France and Spain (109 fathoms), the USA (120 fathoms), Russia’s 100 fathoms, Holland’s 123 and Portugal’s 141 fathoms.

League. 3 nautical miles and the distance a person could walk in 1 hour. The name is derived from “leuga gallica” (League of Gaul) used in Roman times and was originally a shorter distance at 1.5 Roman miles, which is only 1.2 nautical miles. Maybe the legionnaires were a lot slower wearing armour and having to carry all their own weapons. As with Cables, Leagues were different lengths in different countries with the French seemingly not being able to make up their minds as it varied between 10 000 and 14 400 feet at different times in that country’s colourful history.

Polish Crew Sets New Record for Furthest South Ever Sailed by A Yacht
A 10-man Polish crew under the command of Captain Piotr Kuzniar aboard the 67 foot yacht Selma has reached the edge of the ice in the Ross Sea, at 78,43.S in the Bay of Whales, just over 100 nautical miles farther south then the previous record.

See more at: http://www.selmaexpeditions.com/en/newsy.php

Someone With a Warped Sense of Humour!
I received this from Chris Brewer who writes an occasional newsletter entitled “Brewer’s Droop”

As Chris said, an ironic place is our land:

Petrol price down / booze price up
Pay for plastic bags / condoms free

I Like This!
“How inappropriate to call this planet Earth when clearly it is Ocean.” Arthur Clarke

How True!
In my opinion, we don’t devote nearly enough scientific research to finding a cure for jerks. Bill Watterson

A Lasting Gift – A subscription to SAILING Magazine
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Call 031-7096087 or e-mail: derri@sailing.co.za

Subscriptions are available as a printed magazine OR a digital e-zine. Your choice.

Sailor of the Month – Submit Your Nomination NOW
SAILING Magazine, in conjunction with MDM Marine Services, North Sails and Southern Spars, back the ‘Sailor of the Year’ Award.

Monthly winners are featured in SAILING Magazine, with the overall ‘Sailor of the Year’ receiving a substantial cash prize.

Who can make nominations?  Anyone (individuals, clubs, class associations or administrators) may submit nominations.
What are the criteria?  The award is strictly for ‘sailing excellence’ or in exceptional circumstances, for ‘dedication to the sport’.
What is the procedure?  All nominations must be fully motivated in writing, and must be accompanied by a head-and-shoulders picture of the candidate, plus an action sailing pic aboard his/her boat (unedited hi-resolution (300dpi) digital images are required). Motivations must include current performances, a brief CV of the nominee, and other pertinent, personal background information (age, school, employment, home town etc) so that an interesting editorial on the winner may be written. Failure to submit the required material will result in the nomination not being considered.
Deadlines. Nominations must be received by the 1st of every month, although this may be extended at the Editor’s discretion, so it is recommended to submit them as soon as possible.

If you think there is a sailor worthy of nomination, simply send the nomination with a motivation and a photo of the person to – editor@sailing.co.za

Some Selected Responses to “Talking Sailing”
● My sailing partner from Great Brak River has a working ±2 hp Seagull outboard motor – so there are still a few about. It looks pre-historic, but still works perfectly.

●  Re: Team Vestas Wind accident. There will always be many points of view in any sailing/boating accident whether there is a loss of life or not – be it a high profile event such as the Volvo race or a private leisure cruise.

It’s a great pity that the boating/shipping industry does not have an official “Accident & Incident” system similar to that of the aviation industry – see : http://www.caa.co.za/Pages/Accidents%20and%20Incidents/Aircraft-accident-reports.aspx.

Each of these accidents or incidents have been fully investigated by an independent trained team and the report is available to everyone to read and learn from – there is no speculation – just facts.

● Many thanks Richard, hugely enjoyed!

Of course, will be listening with ear close to the old conch shell (collected as Sandefjord sailed through the West Indies) listening out for the start of this year’s ‘Vasco da Gama’; thank you for the website.

But also enjoyed the ‘Message In A Bottle’ story and the ‘Remember the Seagull Outboard?’! (Aye, Sandefjord had one for her work boat, features in the DVD – got us in and out from anchorages Durban to Durban but, yes, needed LOTS of TLC from Patrick, who loved it, took great pride in it!

And that doughty Sir Robin Knox-Johnston – his Suhali moored on the ‘ PYC Jetty’ (as we called it then) just ahead of our homecoming berth, Robin having completed his maiden yacht voyage from Bombay! He looked to us ‘experienced’ circumnavigators for a touch of advice here and there and we included him (very easily) in our nightly homecoming celebrations! – which carried on for a good fortnight if I remember. Then the commodore of the PYC said politely but firmly, “I think you guys must now find yourselves a permanent mooring!”  From Barry Cullen

●  So good this month, Richard! Full of interesting matter. Where do you find it all?

●  Thank you for the variety and wealth of information in Talking Sailing. My 1961 2.5hp Seagull I received as an 18th birthday present, is in need of a tune-up, and some calm water on which it can be used. Sadly it cannot handle the river current at the mouth of the Breede river where I now do my sailing and boating, but I’m sure there’s someone upriver who could have great fun with it.

“Talking Sailing” is written by Richard Crockett, the Publisher & Editor of SAILING Magazine, South Africa’s monthly sailing mag.

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“Talking Sailing” by Richard Crockett – issue 50

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