News and Stories | Saldanha Bay Yatch Club - news and stories
I have watched, and have to admit taken part in, a few arguments over where to anchor. It seems a common occurrence between partners aboard a yacht. Which side of the bay is best? Where is it easiest to get ashore? and who is nearby? These are but a few questions that cause strife. Safety must always be the first priority when choosing your spot. It is never fun to re-anchor in the middle of the night because the wind has picked up and the boat is starting to drag anchor. Anyone who has been sailing a few years has experienced this at least once. To ensure re-anchoring is kept to a minimum, know the anchor and the seabed beneath your boat; take into consideration the rode of other yachts anchored close by, remembering that sailboats swing differently depending on size and weight. When anchoring know the weather forecast and listen to local knowledge – best information you will get!
One of the greatest skills a seaman can develop is the intuitive use of innovative ideas. No matter how careful you are, things can go wrong at sea. Mostly these are minor irritants, but occasionally it is worse, not life- threatening but certainly annoying. Ashore you can drive down to the marine shop, phone a friend or use Google to solve a problem. At sea, sometimes you have to make do and mend. When we were on our way to St Helena Island on “Dawn” we broke our forestay 500NM from Cape Town, we made a plan by attaching our anchor chain to the top of the mast and onto a bottle screw – it worked perfectly and we arrived safely at St Helena 10 days later!
There is an old ditty by Laurence J. Peter: “When in doubt or danger, run in circles, scream and shout”.
When disaster strikes, most people will be stunned and bewildered. Untrained people often exhibit inappropriate patterns of behaviour. In general, we all respond by falling back on well-learned patterns, and this is why the Navies of the world practice again and again for emergencies of all kinds. Moreover, those who are trained to expect and to cope with disaster show infinitely greater survival rates over those who are not. Nothing is more chilling than hearing the scream “man overboard.” So it really pays to know what to do.
Training is not exclusively about surviving worst-case scenarios, but being prepared means taking and retaking firefighting and first aid courses. It never hurts to reread the Rules of the Road occasionally, practice boat handling and keep up to date with the latest equipment. Train your crew; share your skills. Shore side courses advance your knowledge and there are plenty of practical courses too. Mostly they are fun, educational and a great way to make new friends with the same interests.
If you have ever flown in an airplane or piloted your own, you know that before you leave the ground there are mandatory checks to be carried out. While pilots never jump into a plane and just take off, there is a tendency for boaters to assume all is well and nothing has happened since they last used their yacht. Yet seacocks can weep filling bilges and battery terminals corrode. Left unchecked, these faults can prove fatal or at best, uncomfortable. Having a printed form in hand may seem excessive, but if that’s what it takes to make sure you inspect the essential equipment prior to departure, including rigging, engine oil, fuel, fresh water, cooling water, bilges, radar, GPS and other navigational equipment, then make yourself one. Remember checklists for a long passage will be different from those for short trips.
One last thing: Make sure you include a note to check that all hatches and other openings are closed before leaving port: one rogue wave + wet bed = a miserable night!!