“Talking Sailing” by Richard Crockett – issue 19


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issue – 19
23 June 2014

by Richard Crockett

Reader response is welcome.
Feel free to forward this to your sailing mates.

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30 Years of SAILING Magazine
Readers may be interested to know that the July issue of SAILING Magazine is its 360th issue – yes that’s 12 issues per year for the last 30 years. “There are no celebrations nor bumper issue, and rather a promise to keep the news flowing to you our loyal readers for at least another 30 years – and hopefully more.

The July issue will be out on 1 July and available via all good book stores and magazine outlets – unless of course you get it via subscription in the mail or via Zinio as a digital edition.

I am both humbled and privileged to have been at the helm all this time. I have witnessed first-hand the ups and downs of the industry, the triumphs and disappointments of success and failure on the race course and in all spheres of the sport. I have seen heroes come and go, while having met some . Interesting people and made many good friends along the way. But I suppose, and best of all is that I wake up looking forward to going to work every single day. Thanks for sharing the journey with me.

In Memoriam – Andy Mitchell
Sadly Andy Mitchell passed away recently after illness. He has always been one of those very quiet guys who kept himself in the background and quietly got on with things without fuss or bother.

As the sail designer at North Sails in Cape Town his skills were well known and in always demand, as was his ability as a sail trimmer when racing. He was always invited aboard top boats as the trimmer, such was his talent.

A more likeable and humble man you could not meet. He was always a gentleman, both on and off the water, and will be sorely missed by the sport and industry.

Major Change for Historical Ocean Race
The Vasco da Gama Ocean Race is the oldest coastal ocean race on the South African sailing calendar. This year it was sailed for the 43rd time.

Originally a race from Maputo to Durban in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, politics forced the race out of Mozambique and into a race from Durban to East London. After 24 races to East London and renewed friendships between Mozambique and South Africa, the race reverted to Maputo in 2002.

For the next three years the race will once again go south from Durban, by-passing East London, and instead finish in Port Elizabeth, adding an additional 100 nautical miles to the distance, making it a 400nm ocean race.

“The rules and regulations for a yacht going foreign, plus the high costs, have not created significant growth for the race” said Jon Marshall, Rear Commodore Keelers at the Point Yacht Club (PYC). “This is why we have chosen to go to Port Elizabeth”.

“Earlier in the year interested PYC members met and discussed the race, and from there a decision was taken to go south of Durban once again. We believe that it will revitalise this historic event, and even make the race attractive to competitors from outside our Province. We have interest from Algoa Bay Yacht Club (ABYC), the finishing Club in Port Elizabeth, plus growing interest from the Cape” said Marshall.

The change should in fact be positive for ocean racing in the country as it will let finishers in Port Elizabeth compete in the ABYC annual Algoa Bay Sailing Week, should they choose to. Plus, and an important consideration is that these two events alone should have Cape yachtsmen salivating, as a race from Port Elizabeth after the Vasco da Gama Race will complete a circuit – something Cape yachtsmen are getting excited about.

“Our role as a yacht club is to promote and expand the sport of sailing in every sphere possible” said Trevor Donald, Commodore of the PYC. “We believe the change in course of this classic race will do just that, and with an increased fleet we will be able to get more new crew onto competing boats to experience ocean racing and continue the legacy of this race ”.

The course is a challenging one as one has the fast south flowing Agulhas Current to consider, and sometimes strong South Westerly winds. The core of the Agulhas current can flow up to 5 knots at times, giving those who find it a distinct advantage. But, as the Agulhas current moves quite quickly inshore and seaward again, to find it and stay in its core is a challenge every keen navigator relishes. And that is not the only challenge. Navigators will have to choose between a seaward course with the possibility of current, and an inshore course that could bring strong land breezes at night.

Chris Grylls, President of the Algoa Bay Yacht Club said “We look forward to partnering with the PYC and seeing the Vasco da Gama race being raced exclusively in South African waters and finishing in Port Elizabeth. It will indeed be a fillip to ocean racing, not only in our area, but all South Africa.”

With April to June providing some of the best weather along our coast, the change of course should see the Vasco da Gama Race increase in popularity.

Information from: sailing@iafrica.com

Remember Keith Bellamy?
Most of the old salts in sailing will remember Keith Bellamy as not only was he a damn fine sailor, but he built damn fine masts too under the Bellamy Masts name. He was a character in our sport, as well as a mover and shaker. As an administrator he was an excellent CASA councillor and Executive Committee member.

But this piece is not about him. It’s about his son Cameron Bellamy who is currently rowing across the Indian Ocean from Geraldton, Western Australia to Durban, South Africa – a 5 000 nautical mile expedition.

Cameron Bellamy has both South African and Australian heritage. He spent most of his early days rowing and briefly competed at International U23 level. He has cycled across China, Central Asia and India as well as swimming the English Channel. Rowing an Ocean is a life’s dream and to row literally from one home to the other makes this expedition special.

If you want to follow this passage, check it out at: http://my.yb.tl/Scotiaexplorer/map-only/

Giving Something Back
There is a bunch of August guys in Port Elizabeth who call themselves the Due North Rum Club, and who hang out at the Algoa Bay Yacht Club.

Besides having a taste for Rum, and enjoying the fellowship of other like-minded people, they have a credo which simply says “Giving Something Back”.

This enthusiastic bunch give back to the ABYC in terms of projects, repairs and more around the club.

Every club should have a bunch of old salts who “give back’. Unfortunately too many clubs have “old farts” who sit in corners and complain and don’t give anything back. Their beer rations should be curtailed until they contribute!

Well done Warwick Owen and company. Long may you all continue your hard work.

Royal Navy – A Change for the Worse?
Now the good folk at the Due North Rum Club sent me information that the Royal Navy has rescinded the toast ‘To sweethearts & wives (may they never meet)’ and changed it instead to ‘Our families’.

The Due North guys have unanimously decided that they will stick to the original toast. Well done guys. It’s one of my personal favourite toasts and not worthy of being consigned to history.

Incidently, the toast, which prompts the response, ‘May they never meet’, was banned long ago because there are so many women officers serving in the Navy.

For those who don’t know, the Royal Navy have a toast for each day of the week, and these have been around for some 200 years. They are:
Sunday    “Absent Friends”
Monday    “Our Ships at Sea”
Tuesday    “Our Sailors”
Wednesday    “Ourselves” (as no one else is likely to be concerned for us!)
Thursday    “A Bloody War or a Sickly Season” (and a quick promotion!)
Friday        “A Willing Foe and Sea-Room”
Saturday    “Wives and Sweethearts” (may they never meet)

The Due North guys also have their own toast which is: ‘To Us and None Like Us’

A Thought From Left Field
Reader Response
Your observation on the bitter end in your most recent newsletter motivated me to look into how many common or garden English idioms and phrases are attributed to military, and especially naval, practices and traditions.

The answer : more than you ever imagined.

One source of reference to the bitter end includes this thought :
“Folk etymologists are those who say something is true with no more justification then they would like it to be true.

“They are thickest on the ground in the area of military and naval attributions. People seem to love a sailor’s yarn, and anything with a whiff of the sea is seized on with enthusiasm. So much so that more thoughtful etymologists have dreamed up the inventive acronym CANOE – the Committee to Ascribe a Naval Origin to Everything”.

To hell with CANOE. I love the (dubious) origin of cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey. It’s intriguingly innocent in explanation, factually convincing when told with suitable embellishments and a great show stopper at any dinner party.

As a landlubber, I really look forward to reading your newsletter.

Beware When Using Flares
Recently a sailor let off flares and set his life jacket on fire!

So remember that letting off a flare can be dangerous. Before letting off a flare make sure you read the instructions very carefully first. Better still, make sure that before you embark on a passage that you know EXACTLY how to let off your flares by reading the instructions several times. It’s best to learn this when fresh, and not at the height of a real life drama when you may also be fatigued.

Graham Dawson, Humber Coastguard Watch Manager said, ‘The skipper of the yacht ‘Trina’ had lost his navigation system and let off a number of emergency flares to help us locate him. Unfortunately in doing so he had set fire to his lifejacket which resulted in him having to remove it.

The Cost of Campaigning Internationally
In the last “Talking Sailing” I said the following about Roger Hudson and Asenathi Jim’s international dinghy campaign: “Campaigning internationally is very expensive. While well funded by three sponsors at the moment, their funding does not allow for a coach. Should anyone be interested in further assisting this worthwhile and successful campaign, I will gladly pass on their contact details.”

Graeme Willcox who is campaigning a 49er with Andrew Tarboton made the following very valid observations:

“Just to reiterate your editors comment at the end of your piece on Asenathi and Roger, that campaigning is very expensive. It is a bit like starting a business, that initial start up capital which allows you to get things rolling and generating your revenue. They have been fortunate to find the “Start up Capital” to allow them to get to the point where they can set aside large chunks of time dedicated solely to training. This allows you to hone your boat-handling, speed and team work to the point where you can start competing on the global stage. Then once Asenathi and Roger had got their world ranking up, they were then in line for SAS and SASCOC funding, which then also generated more interest from sponsors, and so it goes on. With ourselves, we are still footing the entire bill for our campaign and this requires us to spend a lot of time working, which should instead be used on the water.

All this said, I admire how they have gone about their campaign. We are still in the initial stages, where we are trying to secure our “start up capital” to allow us to dedicate the required time on the water to then get us to realize our potential. So at this point it does feel like we are pouring loads of cash into something which we are doing part-time. But all in the hope that at some point we do secure it and it all moves forward. This year we have had to cut our calendar back because of the extra costs of getting to Helsinki for the Europeans, and keep things a bit closer to home. So I whole heartily agree with your comments.”

ED. Should anyone be interested in further assisting this worthwhile and successful campaign, I will gladly pass on their contact details.

Does Anyone Know an Old SA Yacht Called Asterix?
The response to this appeal has been exception – so thank you to all those who submitted info.

Martin Penny was sent the Last issue of “Talking Sailing” by Duncan McKechnie. This is what Penny had to say:

‘Asterix’ was moulded by Golnix in Paarden Island – she was a 38 foot centre cockpit GRP sloop and was owned by Ronnie and Connie Lumgear. The yacht was styled on the old Camper & Nicholsons 35 and was extended to 38 feet – I think about 8 or 9 hulls we moulded by Golnix and it was known as a ‘Phoenix 38′.

Ronnie and Connie were very close friends of my parents Denzil and Jane Penny.

My folks owned ‘Yana’ (which was renamed ‘Candice’) which was a sister ship to ‘Asterix’. ‘Yana’ was further modified by creating a poop deck and making her a ketch (copying the lines of the Victory 40) and after being moulded by Golnix, she was fitted out by Denzil in our garden in Bishops Court over a 4-year period.

My parents, my sister Candy and I sailed from RCYC to the Caribbean in early 1980s and then my folks cruised in the Caribbean with friends for two years prior to selling ‘Yana’ in the Chesapeake Bay and then returning back to Newlands.

Jacko and Biddy Jackson, Buddy and Chantal Hulchser (who owned the Miura ‘Poudre D’or’ which is still owed by his family in Vancouver) and many others joined my folks on board ‘Yana’ in the Caribbean for extended periods while my folks lived aboard.

‘Yana’ (‘Candice’) was a happy ship and we had great fun with friends sailing out of RCYC for 3 years before setting off for the Caribbean.

Duncan McKechnie helped us and crewed on board while we sailed out of RCYC on many occasions.

Looking for Steve Arnold
I am writing from the British Virgin Islands and would very much like make contact with Steve Arnold. My husband is his godfather, and he visited us here many years ago when attending a regatta in St. Croix. We would love to make contact with him again.

If anyone can assist Penny Haycraft, please mail her at:  penhay@surfbvi.com

The only safe ship in a storm is leadership. Faye Wattleton.

Some Selected Responses to “Talking Sailing”
●  Totally agree with your viewpoint on SAMSA. Your lady critic is over-reacting … and in a very unpleasant way too. The sea is no respecter of anyone’s rules, certificates, or politics.

● I saw a small write up in die Burger newspaper regarding flight MH370. According to the British sailor, Katherine Tee she saw something that looked like a plane on fire in the Indian Ocean while on passage from Kochi, India to Phuket in Thailand. She was very unsure about the situation and could not believe her eyes.

According to her the plane was low flying with smoke trailing, but there were also planes crossing at a high altitude. She thought that they would report such incident.

There are now new investigations into the disappearance of that flight.

●  It is great to see that someone as lofty in sailing as Russell Coutts is calling for the same changes in sailing, particularly for the kids, as we have been discussing for so long. Let’s hope that those who organise youth sailing take heed of the growing volume of opinion that how it is being done is wrong for the kids and wrong for the future of sailing. Let’s have more fun and less structure. Sailboats are lots of fun, if we are allowed to use them the way that appeals to us the most.

●  In response to the gentleman who had purchased an old open skiboat for use (reading between the lines) on inland waters, I would like to point out the following:

The regulations promulgated for the use of small craft on inland waters, estuaries and close inshore were not arrived at in some haphazard way. They were formulated by committees with members who came from the commercial maritime environment as well as the recreational sector. Those committee members were very experienced sailors, power boaters and merchant navy Master Mariners with considerable seagoing experience.

His conclusions which lead him to pose the question as to why he should have anchors, chain, and a minimum length of rode, when he will possibly be boating on big inland waters such as Vaal Dam or Gariep Dam, indicates that if he has previously been issued with one of the certificates of competence, he should tear it up, and go back to the SAMSA accredited authority which perhaps trained and tested him, and ask for his money back. He should then find another better SAMSA accredited institution and attend some seamanship courses, and then re write his exams.

One problem SAMSA has is trying to audit the standards pertaining to recreational training and testing meted out by their representative. While the vast majority of them do good work and maintain high standards according to an acceptable curriculum developed by SAMSA, there are a number of them who are substandard money making rackets. It is not possible to make a basically competent seaman out of your average Joe Soap on Saturday between 09h00 and sundown, no matter how many grand you pay for the opportunity.

While there is obviously scope for further consultations with SAMSA in regard to regulations pertaining to boating safety, people should take some time to understand the very broad spectrum of boats, equipment, water bodies and human beings which make up the recreational boating scene in South Africa.

Very few people presently know that there is a new player on the block with respect to boating on inland waters, and that player is the Co-operative Inland Waterways Safety Programme which is currently being piloted at 4 large dams around the country.

I would suggest that readers and powers that be in the sailing and power boating and fishing clubs spend some time reading through this document:

The Bitter End
Professional organisers, or those who purport to be professional in our sport and ‘sell’ their services. Be wary, be very wary.

The ‘Bitter End’ is the inboard end of an anchor chain or rode which should be attached to the vessel so as not to be lost overboard in it’s entirety. In terms of “Talking Sailing” it’s things about our sport which get up peoples noses!

“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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