Sealine’s in the Mist

© Richard Corbett 2012

“Grab some food and something to drink, we’re off to Jersey!”

This is what I said to Tim when I called to tell him he was going to be crewing for me.  I had a handover to do on an SC35 at the weekend and the weather window to get the boat there from Southampton had just opened up.

As it turned out, this was exactly the right decision – the water was a little lumpy when we went through the Needles Channel but by the time we’d got to the shipping lanes it was flattening and the Alderney Gap was like glass.  In the end it took us precisely 5 hours to get the boat from the Hamble to St. Hellier harbour.

This must sound like a perfect start to glorious few days in the Channel Islands.  Well in some respects it was; excellent run across, wall to wall blue skies forecast and the prospect of some fabulous boating.  The ‘downer’ came in the shape of a fender line attached to the tender which, it turned out, was dangling in the water.  Thinking back, it must have been the first time I’d been in astern since leaving the Hamble River.  Yes, you guessed it, the rope got caught around the port props.

Fortunately, mooring an SC35 with only one engine working isn’t too much of a drama, even if the mooring was really tight at only 36 feet long!  Once we were tied up it only took a quick look over the back to see where the rope had gone and to decide on a plan to get it off.

The moral of the story – check for dangling rope.  I guess I should have known better and as much as I’d like to blame the rush to get across the Channel in time to get over the marina sill and the fact that the rope was only visible if you stood and looked at the boat directly from behind, I cannot.  As skipper you must check and re-check, especially when your trip takes you so far from land.

Anyway, enough self-recrimination, let’s get on with the story.  The handover was a riot from beginning to end.  To illustrate this I’ll just mention that we ended up toasting the arrival of the new boat with a round of bacon rolls!

© Richard Corbett 2012

I told you it was a tight fit!

Finally, having opened every locker, pressed every button, switched every switch and taken copious notes the handover was complete.  Well, actually, we still had to go out for a sea trial and once we’d had a bite to eat this is exactly what we did.  Everyone had a go on the controls as we went around and around like possessed madmen (and women, although I’m certain I’ve been told women are always fully in control).  We had to try her at full speed of course and somebody called Mandy had to go one step further and try ‘stop to stop’ turns at full speed too!!  In truth, it was at my bidding, as I wanted everyone to see what the boat was capable of.  I know it will never happen again but it does boost your confidence to find out that you will ‘give up’ long before your boat does and if you get caught out in bad weather, your elegant, stylish Sealine SC35 will also get you safely back to harbour.

The next day we mooched around the marina as we learnt how to control ‘Calma’ at close quarters.  Incidentally, the name ‘Calma’ is derived from Karma as in peace and well-being, coupled with calm as in not out at sea in rough conditions – clever, isn’t it?

By the time we’d finished for lunch we were getting pretty competent and the neighbouring boats were getting pretty fed up – the admiring glances and rounds of applause had changed to piercing looks and under the breath mutterings.

So over lunch we hatched a plan to go on an adventure the next day.  This meant that Nick and I would spend some time learning about the chart-plotter and the others would go and buy all sorts of scrummy things for the picnic.

Eventually, the planning was done the picnic was stowed and we sat ourselves down to relax and enjoy and evening on the boat.  This is one aspect of boating that all folk enjoy, irrespective of how good your sea-legs are, sitting on the back of a boat, sipping a chilled drink and discussing the day is an exquisite pleasure and one I would heartily recommend everyone to enjoy if the opportunity arises.

 

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When I awoke the following morning and peered at the curtains I realised that even though my clock said 06:30 (lie in) it was still dark outside.  This didn’t bode well for our fabulous adventure and less still for the BBQ on the beach, which the picnic had now become.  When I looked out, the island was shrouded in mist – this was destined to become more significant than it seems right now.

Not to be daunted, I was soon breakfasted and on my way to the boat.  In my experience as Sea School Principal, with a whole host of theory courses under my belt and hours spent teaching Meteorology, I was certain the mist would burn off.  After all, we were in the ‘sunny’ Channel Islands, it was August and we were going to anchor off a beach at the top of the island and have a BBQ on the beach – mist was definitely not allowed.

It all became quite ominous when we received a call from one of Lucy’s friends asking if we could run her to Guernsey as the flights out of Jersey were cancelled.  “Cancelled!”, I blurted out.  “You do know I have to fly back tonight?”

© Richard Corbett 2012

During our lunch on the boat – the beach was looking a little forlorn by now – we checked on the fast ferry back to Poole and the status of flights leaving Jersey and the mist rolling off the top of the hillside above us and realised that all looked to be lost.  Normally, it wouldn’t matter too much but I had another handover to complete and this was due to commence at 9am the following morning.

Suddenly, we noticed blue sky appearing above our heads and all was well with the world again.  The lunch on the boat turned out to be great fun, especially the bananas cooked in Baileys!  Soon, it was time to head back and with the anchor stowed we headed back to the marina.

Now, if ever you are in Jersey and you get a chance to look at the entrance to the Queen Elizabeth Marina just as the sill drops, do.  You might consider getting a chair and a drink and perhaps even something to eat, as there are hours of fun and amazement to be had watching the boats coming screaming through at upwards of 7 or 8 knots – some even manage to turn around unscathed!!

I made my farewells and left for the airport, all the time watching the disconcerting sight of a fog bank sitting close to the western shoreline of the island.  It seemed quite menacing, I guess as a boater the significance of being enveloped in fog is so much greater than when you are in a car.  Even though the sun was shining brightly, that blessed fog was just hanging there, threateningly.  By the time I checked in, I had forgotten about the fog and was readying myself for the flight back.

At 11pm, 3 hours later, I walked back out of Jersey Airport and into a taxi as the flights had been cancelled…

This has been another Captain Corbett’s Adventure.  If I’m not on Jersey teaching a private tuition Day Skipper theory or Yachtmaster theory course, then I’m either spending time with someone on their boat, giving them the confidence to take their boat out with their family and friends on board or I’m off somewhere exotic delivering a boat. Either way, I’ll write it up and put it on the Blog for you all to see, so keep popping back to see my most recent adventures.

Skipper’s Tips #5 – IALA Buoyage System

Navigational ‘road signs’ at sea would be really useful but I just can’t see it happening, can you?

I guess, on the one hand it would be nice to pop out of the Solent past the Needles and see an arrow pointing straight ahead saying something like “Cherbourg 60 miles” and then ten miles further on, another sign saying, “Cherbourg 50 miles, left a bit please”.

Then again, there are already too many signs on our roadways, do we really want our seas be-speckled with bits of rusty metal, telling us which way to go, when we’re quite capable of reading our charts and referring to our GPS?

Absolutely not!

However, we do need a helping hand when it comes to the shallow bits and it would be nice to avoid bumping into each other when it gets a bit narrow.  Also, GPS might be good but with an accuracy of 60 m most of the time and only 3 m the rest of the time, it would be really nice to know exactly where that wreck actually is.  This, of course, is where the buoyage system comes in.

Once you’ve mastered the rules of how the system works, you’ll find that this will free you up to go further afield.  But don’t fall into the trap of assuming that you need to stick rigidly to the marked channels.  Check your charts carefully, and you will often find that as a small vessel it is quite possible to go ‘the wrong side’ of some of these buoys.  By not using your charts in conjunction with the buoyage system, you will severely reduce the available boating opportunities open to you.

The IALA Buoyage System

The IALA (International Association of Lighthouse Authorities) buoyage system is a global aid for navigating around the seas. It provides guidance for entry and exit from ports and harbours whilst helping us to avoid hidden and sometimes not so hidden dangers.

The buoys/markers have been designed so that they can be recognised at any time of day or night and in all but the worst visibility.  Each buoy will have a specific shape, top mark, colour, light sequence and occasionally will even send a boosted radar signal back to you with a morse-code identity.

The markers that most people recognise are called ‘Cardinal Marks’. This is because they are placed at the cardinal points of a compass i.e. north, south, east and west around a hazard or danger area. Cardinal Markers mark the extremities of the danger area. Therefore, if you see an east cardinal marker, you must stay to the east of it and so on.

Top marks:

· The North cardinal has two triangles pointing upwards (North)

· The South cardinal has two triangles pointing downwards (South)

· The East cardinal has two triangles pointing apart (Egg-shaped)

· The West cardinal has two triangles pointing together (Wine-glass shaped)

Colours:

The cardinal markers are yellow and black – you could say that the position of the black stripe coincides with the position of the point of the triangle on the top mark i.e. the east cardinal would be painted black, yellow, and black. The south cardinal would be, from top to bottom, yellow and black.

Light sequences:

· The North cardinal – quick or very quick white light, continuously flashing

· The East cardinal – quick or very quick white light, three flashes

· The South cardinal – quick or very quick white light, six flashes plus one long flash

· The West cardinal – quick or very quick white light, nine flashes

Clearly, there are many more buoys/markers in the IALA system.  Everyone should have a copy of the IRPCS (International Regulations for the Prevention of Collisons at Sea) on board and this is where you’ll find all the other bouys/markers in the system.

This has been another Captain Corbett’s Adventure.  If I’m not on Jersey teaching a private tuition Day Skipper theory or Yachtmaster theory course, then I’m either spending time with someone on their boat, giving them the confidence to take their boat out with their family and friends on board or I’m off somewhere exotic delivering a boat. Either way, I’ll write it up and put it on the Blog for you all to see, so keep popping back to see my most recent adventures.

Busy, Busy, Busy!

Hello All!

My sincerest apologies for the lack of posts recently but with all the sea trials and boat movements going on at the moment it’s been rather hectic at work! Add to that all the prepartions for the Brixham office Grand Opening & Demo weekend on 6th & 7th April and you’ll have some idea as to why the posts are a little thin on the ground at the moment.

Do come along to Brixham if you get a chance, as it will be a great weekend out, with boats to try, experts to chat with and even a Raymarine VHF handset to win in a draw.

Brixham e-mail signature

 

Anyway, to make up for the lack of posts, here are two new ones together:  A new skipper’s tip and the SC35 handover in Jersey which I completed in August last year.

Don’t forget to keep dropping by, as I’ll be posting more skipper’s tips next month and the Grand East Coast Tour is the next big adventure to come…

This has been another Captain Corbett’s Adventure.  If I’m not on Jersey teaching a private tuition Day Skipper theory or Yachtmaster theory course, then I’m either spending time with someone on their boat, giving them the confidence to take their boat out with their family and friends on board or I’m off somewhere exotic delivering a boat. Either way, I’ll write it up and put it on the Blog for you all to see, so keep popping back to see my most recent adventures.