While it’s difficult to find the completely perfect place to anchor, there are many factors to take into consideration when choosing a good anchorage.

Image courtesy of Alan Murray, Ilovesailing winner 2013/14– ‘Liquid gold from the Paps of Jura’.

An anchorage should provide:  

1.    Shelter from all directions

A typical ‘perfect anchorage’ might be a horseshoe-shaped bay encircled by cliffs or hills, ensuring good shelter from all wind directions, unless it is blowing straight through the entrance which would drive in swell and make the bay extremely uncomfortable.

Be aware that wind often swings through 180 degrees during the night, when a strong sea breeze changes to a light land breeze.  Anchoring in the lee of high hills or mountains may appear to provide the best possible shelter, but not when a katabatic wind (from the Greek word katabatikos meaning ‘going downhill’) accelerates down the hillside at violent speed!

2.    Flat Water

Ideally, your anchorage should be as flat as a mill-pond.  Any swell will make it extremely uncomfortable.  If the boat starts rolling, things seldom get better.  Best advice is to move on as soon as possible to seek and alternative anchorage.  This may be caused by the wind swinging onshore.  However, swell is unpredictable and can roll in during the night if you are unlucky.  The best solution is departure at dawn.

3.    Good holding

Anchors are incredibly effective at holding a boat, but need a good holding.  The best surfaces are sand or mud, which allow the anchor to dig in deeply.  Rock and weed or shingle will provide a less secure holding.  Never drop an anchor on coral.

4.    Room to swing

Your boat should have room to swing through a 360 degree arc, without hitting anything under or on top of the water, including nearby boats.  All boats will swing as the wind or tide changes, though yachts and powercraft tend to swing at a different speed.  If there is insufficient space to swing through a wide arc or full circle, the solution may be to attach a stern line to the shore, which will hold the boat in a fixed direction.  This is useful when there is limited space in an anchorage and common practice in Baltic countries such as Sweden and Finland.  Remember though, if you are secured differently to the other vessels around you, your swing will be different to theirs.

5.    Tidal effects

If you anchor in a tidal area, you need to be sure there will be enough water under the keel at low tide.  The exception is if you wish to ‘dry out’ with a bilge keel yacht, lifting keel yacht or shallow draught catamaran.  Tidal flow may also affect where you can anchor in a river or estuary.  Every six hours, your boat will swing through 180 degrees as the tide changes.  An anchorage with the bows facing into the wind and tide should provide flat water and good shelter for the crew in the cockpit, but the boat may start to rock and the cockpit may get draughty when the wind blows against the tide.

“Some of my most enjoyable nights on the water have been at anchor with friends. The article is called a ‘perfect anchorage’, yet we all know it is unlikely to be absolutely perfect, however if you spend some time considering the points covered here before arriving at your anchorage and use a check list to select your spot it is likely to be an enjoyable stay with no unexpected surprises”, comments Vaughan Marsh, RYA Chief Instructor, Sail Cruising.

So remember; things to consider when choosing a good anchorage:

  • Shelter from the wind
  • The weather forecast in case the wind direction changes
  • The nature of the seabed shown on the chart. Mud and sand are better than rock or shingle
  • Space behind the boat
  • Whether there is enough room to swing when the tide turns
  • Check on the chart for a recommend anchorage
  • Look in the pilot book for advice or warnings
  • The boat must be outside any channel used by other boats, including if it swings
  • The depth of water.  It may be necessary to work out the minimum depth of water in which to anchor to be sure that the boat will not ground at low water
  • Once secure, monitor your yachts position in comparison to the other vessels and hazards including the depth for the duration of you stay

Extracts taken from RYA Day Skipper Handbook – Sail, by Sara Hopkinson and RYA Yacht Sailing Techniques, by Jeremy Evans.

To pick up a copy of these and other great RYA publications visit the RYA Shop.

Read more about Anchoring and Mooring and advice on how to minimise the impact on sensitive seabed plants and animals.

Types of anchor

There are several different types of anchor that might be on the boat together with the chain and warp.

Before choosing an anchor consider:

  • The kind of bottom you will typically anchor in. Different anchors are better at holding in some materials than in others.
  • Decide what kind of anchoring you plan to do; do you just want to anchor while you have a spot of lunch or are you expecting to anchor in a high current, or during bad weather?
  • How are you planning to store your anchor?

Parts of an anchor

  • Shank – the main arm or stem of the anchor
  • Fluke – the holding part of the anchor buried on the seabed
  • Stock – cross-bar used to flip an anchor so the fluke digs into the seabed
  • Crown – where shank and fluke are connected
  • Tripping ring – for breaking the anchor out with a tripping line

How much warp or chain?

The amount of chain and warp used must be far more than the depth of water to allow a good length of chain to lie on the seabed.  This provides a horizontal pull on the anchor that makes it dig in.  If too little scope is let out the boat may drag its anchor at high water.  By marking the chain and warp in some way makes it easier to prepare the correct amount.

  • Secure holding requires sufficient scope on the anchor warp or chain, which needs to lay along the bottom, before rising to meet the yacht at an approximate angle of 45 degrees.

With chain, use four times the maximum depth and with a combination of chain and warp use six times.  This means that it is important to allow plenty of room behind the boat when anchoring and for the swing, remembering that not all boat will turn at the same time.  Yachts will lie with the tidal stream and motor boats more often to the wind.

The warp or chain is usually measured in either metres or feet.  Let out enough scope for the maximum depth at high tide, using the following a minimum guide:

  • 4 x maximum depth for chain
  • 6 x maximum depth for warp and chain

Heavy chain will provide greater security than warp, but puts a lot of weight into the bows and may be difficult to let go or pull up by hand.


Letting go and pulling up by hand

REMEMBER: Anchors and chains are potentially dangerous.  Wear gloves and sensible footwear.  Keep fingers and hands away from moving chain.

Some boaters use an electric windlass to drop and pull up their anchor however if you don’t have an electric windlass you need to let go and pull the anchor up by hand.  Heavy chain needs to be handled with extreme care.  The skipper should have the engine running, ready to motor forward or astern if required.

Letting go:

  • Pull the chain up out of the anchor locker and flake it along the deck in a series of loops, which will provide sufficient scope for the depth of water
  • Before lowering, take a single turn of the chain around the nearest deck cleat to ensure you can hold the weight – extra turns will quickly lock the chain
  • Let out the chain steadily hand-over-hand.  Letting the chain run at full speed over the bow roller could be dangerous

Pulling up:

  • When raising the anchor motor slowly ahead as the crew pull in the slack on the chain
  • Use the engine to counteract the tidal stream.  Too fast and the boat will override the chain; too slow and it will be very heavy work to pull in the chain.  The anchor will not come free until the chain is almost vertical
  • As the anchor comes to the surface continue to motor slowly so the anchor does not swing and hit the bow of the boat as it breaks the surface

If there is a problem with lifting the anchor then try breaking it out using the engine, having secured the chain to a cleat.

When working with the anchor and chain it is important to be aware of the weight that can be involved, even when a windlass is used.

For advice on using a windlass to drop and pull up your anchor read the RYA’s Yacht Sailing Techniques book by Jeremy Evans.

Vaughan Marsh, RYA Chief Instructor, Sail Cruising comments: “All of the above is really good advice and the RYA’s recognised training centres that offer cruising courses will also be able to give you further advice, or you may wish to sign up for a practical course and put the theory in to practice! Happy anchoring.”

Extracts and information taken from RYA Day Skipper Handbook – Sail, by Sara Hopkinson and RYA Yacht Sailing Techniques, by Jeremy Evans.  To pick up a copy of these and other great RYA Publications visit the RYA Shop.

Find out more about RYA Training Courses

Finding the right balance between speed and safety is something not even the most experienced driver should ever become complacent about. So how can you be confident you’re getting it right?  Rachel Andrews, RYA Chief Instructor, Motor Cruising and Power shares some sound advice on finding the balance.

Back to Basics

Cast your mind back to your Powerboat Level 2 (PB2).

Everyone with PB2 should know that ‘safe speed’ is one of the fundamental rules of the road under the International Rules for the Prevention of Collisions at Sea (IRPCS) or Collision Regulations (COLREGS) as they are more commonly known.

Yet ‘safe speed’ does not always mean slow, but driving to the conditions.

Meanwhile, the importance of wearing your kill cord was highlighted by the tragic events that unfolded on board the RIB Milly in the Camel Estuary in 2013.

Basic balance and trimming your boat are key components of PB2 with the critical concepts of fore and aft trim (raising and lowering the bow) and side-to-side trim (levelling the boat if it’s leaning to one side) introduced.

Where passengers and kit in the boat should be positioned for trimming and safety purposes is also addressed, along with reinforcing the understanding that trim needs constant adjustment to remain safe and to maximise the boat’s performance.

Checking the trim if crew or passengers move around the boat, there is a change in sea conditions or water comes aboard is just common sense right?

Yet you might be surprised that common sense stops being so common if, for example, someone has not driven for a while, is driving an unfamiliar boat or is experiencing conditions or circumstances new to them.

Understanding the theory is one thing, being able to apply the principles in all situations is another in making higher speed driving safe and fun.

Turning the tables

Have you heard of ‘hooking’? Although the term has been familiar to powerboat racers for many years, hooking is still something of an unknown amongst recreational boaters.

The consequences of hooking, however, can be catastrophic.

Put simply, hooking is when a boat is travelling at speed and, sometimes for no obvious reason, the nose digs in to the water and grips, causing a sudden deceleration, the back end loses grip and slides, and, as a result, the boat violently pulls round to port or starboard, possibly throwing everyone out of the boat.

The ‘hook’ is the uncontrollable spin, and although most typically it will occur during high-speed turns, it can happen when travelling in a straight line too.

Hooking is something powerboat racers will try to avoid at all costs. The nature of racing means boats are likely to be fairly well matched, racing closely together in the same direction around a circuit.

However, when boats are racing on the edge, most commonly trying to gain an advantage going around a mark, it’s inevitable a hook may occur at some time. The skill is minimising the likelihood and its effect.

In leisure boating, hooking is much rarer. Yet what happened in Padstow brought to attention that it is a risk and recreational boaters do need to be aware of the dangers of suddenly changing direction at high speeds.

Part of the MAIB report into the Padstow incident noted:   “When executing the turns, the craft initially would take up a high-heel angle. It would proceed to turn, but if the speed was slightly higher than a particular threshold and the turn tighter than a certain degree, the heel angle would increase during the turn, and the aft end would lose grip and slide – thus initiating a ‘partial spin’ or ‘hook’ since the bow did not slide by the same amount.

“This rapidly took the craft to a position, which was appreciably diverted from its original course. The craft would execute a sideways slide and grip suddenly when it landed. Thus the hull’s sideways motion was suddenly stopped.”

Hooking is not demonstrated during an RYA training course due to the extreme forces exerted on the crew, and the possibility of sustaining injuries.

The RYA Powerboat Scheme courses are about teaching people to drive boats sensibly and with respectful confidence. Drivers are taught to trim down before commencing a high-speed turn for greater grip and control during the turn and to consider boat load plus the importance of communication and holding on.

Yet it’s naïve to think recreational boaters won’t, at some point, push their vessels to the extreme. That is why powerboat instructors are highlighting the differences in helming a more powerful boat while also talking a little more about loss of grip during tight turns, reiterating why you should always wear your kill cord.

Hull of a ride

The shape of your hull will have an impact of the top end speed of your boat.

Some hulls, such as a displacement or semi-displacement hull, will never be able to plane on top of the water. Traditional ‘V’ shaped hulls are good in waves and rougher conditions as the deeper the ‘V’ the better it is at cutting through waves.

One of the most popular hull shapes now being found on leisure craft are stepped hulls. These were originally developed for racing but have been adapted for recreational boats because there is less contact with the water and less resistance, enabling the thrill of planing and a more exciting ride. They use less fuel too.

However, because they ride higher in the water with less grip, in turns stepped hull designs can behave less predictably than other hull types.

Getting the trim right in a stepped hull, understanding care should be taken not to trim too far nor to reduce power suddenly in the turn, plus knowing where to put the boat in the waves and wash, are all important in avoiding hooking or swamping.

Balancing act

The relationship between balance and speed is clear – the better trimmed your boat, the greater performance and fuel conservation you will get from it, while an unbalanced boat can pose a risk to safety especially when travelling at high speed.

The basic rule is put any kit and equipment, whether that is a cool-box or spare fuel tank, where you want it before you set off, and tie it down, as if it moves when the boat is unstable the shift of weight could exacerbate an incident considerably.

The placement of people is just as important.

When the boat is being driven at higher speeds, skippers should be mindful of having passengers ‘loose’ at the front where forces are more exaggerated. This will also impact on the boat’s centre of gravity and balance.

Anyone who transports families or groups of people around, for example superyacht crews transferring families on tenders, need to be aware of this, and will need to helm accordingly, which may mean more slowly.

Another factor effecting balance is water coming on to the boat. It’s easy to underestimate how the smallest amounts of water pooling on deck or in the foot-well or cockpit can quickly escalate into a bigger problem.

There are two things to consider here:

  1. Preventing water coming aboard in the first place
  2. How to react effectively should it start building up

If, for example, you are travelling in a following sea with the waves behind you, you should have the boat trimmed front up, while adjusting your speed accordingly, so you don’t slide down the wave and swamp the boat over the bow. Going too slowly may also upset the ‘side-to-side’ balance of the boat as waves come over the back.

Remember water will move to the lowest point, which can cause extreme instability, possibly contributing to a capsize, if it keeps building up. Don’t use passengers to balance the boat in this situation as the water will follow them to the lowest side with potentially the same outcome.

You should know the water freeing arrangements on the boat you are driving as it can be different on all boats.

Some will be fitted with automatic electric bilge pumps astern, others will have an ‘elephant’s trunk’ hose running out of a hole on the transom. This is generally pulled up when stationary but remember to let the string out when the boat is going along so any water coming aboard can run straight out the back.

If a small amount of water has built up make sure the drain plug in the transom is open and clear and accelerate forwards to force the water out of the back.

You can’t have safe speed without balance and vice versa. Understanding the relationship between the two and identifying potential risks will provide a much more enjoyable, comfortable and safe ride for everyone aboard.

Find out more about RYA Powerboat Training  

Boat Insurance 101

As specialist marine insurance brokers we have been insuring pleasure craft for more than 40 years. From super yachts to small dinghies we’ve insured almost every type of vessel.

However when it comes to actually insuring your boat there are many questions we are often asked; ‘how much cover do I need’, ‘what is the best cover for my boat if something goes wrong’?

To enable you to consider what insurance cover is appropriate for your boat here is a list of our most frequently asked questions:

Why do you need boat insurance?

While it is not usually a legal requirement on most waters, having appropriate cover makes sound financial sense. Marine mortgage companies for instance insist on compulsory insurance as part of their money lending process. However, there are two stand-out reasons why boat insurance is not a ‘would like to have’ but a ‘must have’:

  1. Firstly, you have to protect your capital investment against loss or damage which ultimately could result in a large and costly repair bill if the worst were to happen.
  2. Secondly, having adequate boat insurance can help to protect you against any third party liability for injury or damage caused by you or your vessel. Third party liability is usually the most frequent claim we receive when it comes to boat insurance.

Boat Insurance 101

What can influence the premium payable?

From a small dinghy or large super-yacht, to a super-fast Jet Ski, each type of vessel will attract a different level of risk, so just like car insurance, boats are usually categorised according to their vessel type and risk.

It goes without saying that a ‘Sunseeker’ with powerful engines that costs a million pounds will be far more expensive to insure than a smaller, much less powerful craft.

A yacht will also have a different risk assessment than a dinghy or a jet ski, so insurers will factor in the type of the vessel and any potential repair bills before calculating the premium.

In general, the actual size of the boat isn’t as important as its value, how easily it could be stolen and the potential for damage. If your boat is trailer-able and spends a large amount of time safely tucked away on your drive, you’ll probably pay a different premium than if it was stored at a marina.

Boat Insurance 101

The area in which you keep and use your boat will also have an influence on the level of premium you pay and may have restrictions on cover that are subject to local weather conditions.

Finally the experience of the owner / users and the type of use i.e. whether it is used privately, as a charter or racing vessel and of course any previous claims experiences are all taken into consideration when calculating the premium.

What type of features should I look for in my policy?

The level of premium is obviously important but it should not be the sole deciding factor. You should try and strike a harmonious balance between costs vs. benefits.

  • All policies are different, so make sure you choose one that provides the cover you want and need. Handy tip – assess the most expensive parts of your boat and check that your policy provides cover for damage to these, as well as what deductions may apply in the event of a claim.
  • Are any replacement costs issued on a new-for-old basis?
  • Exclusions – make sure you look out for any exclusion in your policy. All policies have them, so check your wording very carefully.
  • Ensure that the policy covers any cruising grounds you wish to sail in.
  • Finally, make sure the insurer is authorised and approved by the regulatory body of the country in which they are based; here it is the Financial Conduct Authority.


What does a typical boat insurance policy usually include?

Any physical damage covered by a boat insurance policy will usually include equipment such as hull, sails, machinery, furnishings, on-board equipment and the trailer if applicable.

Standard cover generally provides

  • Accidental damage, including fire, theft and malicious damage, sinking, stranding, collisions and salvage costs.
  • Damage to engines.
  • Transit risks up to 30 feet in length.
  • Lifting and launching risks.
  • Loss or damage caused by latent defects.
  • Frost.
  • Personal effects.
  • Damage to mast and rigging whilst racing can be purchased for an additional premium.

Third Party

Provides protection for you, or authorised persons using your boat, from claims made by third parties for death or injury or damage to third-party property for which you may become legally labile.

What isn’t covered on a standard policy?

Typical policy exclusions include:

  • Damage caused by wear and tear.
  • Wilful misconduct.
  • Loss of value due to age of vessel.
  • Losses caused by corrosion osmosis.
  • Mast, spars and sails whilst racing unless the policy has been extended.
  • Damage to machinery following breakdown.
  • Theft unless the right security devices or locks are fitted.
  • The policy excess relating to damage caused by you and also on any third party claims.

Boat Insurance 101

Where should you buy your policy?

You should consider purchasing your cover from a specialist insurance broker as they be able to advise you on the correct cover for your vessel and use their influence in the market to help you obtain the best cover available. They may also be able to offer you ‘enhanced terms’ such as lower excesses, greater policy benefits and wider cover etc.

You can also purchase cover directly from the insurer, remembering that they will only be providing you with the benefits of their own cover and not other markets.

Buying online is becoming more popular because of the ease at which a policy can be purchased. Do be careful to check exactly what you’re covered for before taking out the policy online, as you won’t have the benefit of an advisor to talk you through the details.

Above all, it’s important to only insure as appropriate, but don’t scrimp on cover if your risk is likely to be high.

And finally

Ensure you review any potential policy in detail before you commit to purchase. By undertaking a thorough analysis of every possible scenario, you should be able to get the right cover for your vessel and enjoy peace of mind when sailing without worry.

Find out more about Bishop Skinner Marine

More information about the RYA / Bishop Skinner Marine member benefit offer

Humidity and the subsequent damp can cause a lot of damage to fabrics on board, black mould is especially nasty and hard to remove. There are several ways that matters can be improved.

1. Remove the primary causes – ideally use a dehumidifier and a small heater, this will go a long way to improving matters.
2. Remove any fabrics that you can and store them at home, wash or dry clean if possible.
3. Open all interior lockers so that there is free air flow, this will help to reduce condensation.
4. Make sure that air can circulate freely through the boat, leave a hatch open just enough to allow the air through.
5. Make sure that the bilges are kept as dry as possible, leave the cabin sole open if possible.
6. Drain your water systems (this will prevent frost damage and don’t forget to drain the water heater too).
7. Wipe all surfaces with a good quality kitchen surface cleaner – non abrasive naturally.
8. Take home all the clothing and lifejackets, if they’ve been used, they’ll be salty and water loves salt.

Mooring lines – If you’re staying afloat for the winter, and it’s well worth it, there are some great days sailing to be had… Double up your fore and aft mooring lines and if you’re on a pontoon berth double the springs too. Check carefully all lines for wear and tear, they can get badly damaged over the winter. One useful tip is to place the line in clear plastic tubing where it passes through the fairlead. This saves wear on the line and helps prevent damage to the topsides.

Batteries – Often forgotten – top up the distilled water (not gel batteries), disconnect from the electrical systems and use a good quality trickle charger to keep them full.

– It’s always worth changing oils and filters if you’re up to it. Old engine oil contains a percentage of water and this can condense and cause rust spots in inconvenient places so try and get some extra oil down the cylinder bores. Take outboards home and winterise as per the owners manual. Doing this will increase their lifespan considerably. Petrol should be drained and used elsewhere, it doesn’t last like it used to. Diesel should have an additive put in the tank, if this is for the winter only, add it and run the engine so that it gets all the way up to the fuel injectors.

– take these off and get them home or to a sail maker for cleaning. An additional benefit of using a sail maker is that the sails get stored for free over the winter. If you want a DIY solution, rinse them down and clean with sail cleaner.
– take off the bottles and store in the garden shed or garage. Make sure all internal gas taps are closed and tape a plastic bag over the regulator.

Seacocks – These get forgotten – clean and grease- and while you are at it, grease the winches too!

Fenders – If still afloat, give them a good clean to get the seasons muck off them. If you have fender socks, wash them – they are great grit traps. Dishwashers bring fenders up like new. You could try some fender cleaner which is nearly as good as a dishwasher.

Running rigging (ropes and lines). Take these off and get them home. These can be soaked in the bath but if you want really clean bits of rope, put them in a bag such as a pillow case or duvet cover and put them on a 40 degree wash in the washing machine.

Boat Cleaning. Make sure that you give the boat a good wash and clean, and if you’re up to it, a polish too. This will make your life a little easier next year and the boat will benefit too. Don’t forget to get behind the cooker and give the cool box/fridge an extra special bleachy fresh going over – leave the doors open too.

The Heads. Often forgotten but these need your love too. Clean the whole shebang with hot soapy water with a splash of disinfectant and don’t forget to the surrounding splash damage area. Normally we’d use a splash of olive oil (not necessarily virgin) to keep the mechanism lubricated but this is not really sufficient for the periods involved. You could do worse that use this stuff it works well and may just save you having to buy a service kit in the spring. Don’t clean the boat loo with the same products you’d use at home, they’re not nice to boaty bits.

Anchors and Chain
Remove these from the boat and leave them under, the rain will wash the salt off. Give the anchor locker a good rinse out.

With thanks to Marine Store for the above information – www.marinestore.co.uk

Telephone 01621 854280
Email chandlery@marinestore.co.uk

The Carrick Castle Boat Club has negotiated discounts with the following suppliers that range up to 20% off normal prices. There are three categories – ‘Discounts at Shop or Store’; ‘Discounts by Telephone only’ and ‘Discounts at Shop or Office or by Telephone’. The list is alphabetical by category. Members must present valid membership cards when buying in person or state your name and Carrick Castle Boat Club when ordering by telephone.

Discounts at Shop or Store


Duncan Yacht Chandlers Ltd,
7 Scotland Street,
G5 8NL
0141 429 6044
10% discount on any item not already discounted on production of valid club membership card.

Gael Force Marine,
Units 16/18 Earl Haig Road,
Glasgow, G52 4JU
0141 941 1211
10% discount on any item not already discounted on production of valid club membership card or Gael Force Marine card supplied to members.

Discounts at Shop or Office or by Telephone


Silvers Marine UK Ltd.,
G84 0RW
01436 831222
10% discount on any item not already discounted on production of valid club membership card or by giving your name and club by telephone.



Colin Jones
Caledonian Marine Surveys Ltd
2 Scott Avenue
01324 714778
10% discount on pre-purchase marine surveys on production of valid club membership card or by giving your name and club by telephone.





Silvers Marine UK Ltd.,
G84 0RW
01436 831222
10% discount on production of valid club membership card or by giving your name and club by telephone.


Anti Fouling Direct,
Silvers Marine UK Ltd.,
G84 0RW
0844 686 1870
5% discount on any item not already discounted by giving your name and club by telephone only.


A.S.A.P. Supplies Ltd.,
Reed House,
Ellough Industrial Estate,
NR34 7TD
08451 300870
0 – 20% discount on any item not already discounted by giving your name and club by telephone only.


Holy Loch Marina,
Rankin’s Brae,
PA23 8FE
01369 701800
Pay for one night and get the second night half price.
This is for one visit per month per boat and must be booked in advance by giving your name and club by telephone only.

Pointers on what to look for in terms of basic wear and tear on your rig.

For any sailor, the integrity of your rig is absolutely fundamental to your peace of mind. If you are at all worried, then every single creak and groan as you put the boat under pressure becomes a cause for concern.

That’s why it’s so important to take the time to thoroughly go over your rig

“There are a number of tell-tale signs of wear and tear you can look for straight away and you can also carry out a number of maintenance jobs which will help prolong the life of your rig, however if your rig has serious faults then you will need to get an expert in to have a look at it”, comments Vaughan Marsh, RYA Chief Instructor Sail Cruising.

Here are just a few pointers on what to look for in terms of basic wear and tear on your rig:

Basic checklist

You can find out a lot by getting up the mainmast in a bosun’s chair and having a close look. Take a digital camera with you have one to record any marks or damage, to assist with asking for advice or for future reference. Starting at the top of the mast, here are a few classic things to look for:

  1. Check the nav light attachment and any other light fittings, make sure they are still firmly secured; also check the quality of the light fitting. Crazing on the plastic will significantly affect the quality of the light.
  2. Check the top of the furling gear, if you have had a halyard wrap, look out for the ‘pigtail effect’ whereby the wire halyard has started to unwind and breakdown or excessive chafe on a rope halyard.In extreme cases the forestay can also be damaged. Check all sheaves are running freely and in good working order. If there is too much sideways or vertical play in a sheave, then it’s time to look at replacing it. If sheaves are not running freely, they may simply require some silicon spray.
  3. Check all ropes for signs of fraying, there is no harm in swapping ropes ‘end for end’; leading the worn top end back to the cockpit and using the less worn end at the top of the mast.
  4. Check the mainsail track looking for excessive wear, loose fasteners and loose joints in the track. Many masts have damaged track where the headboard car sits whilst sailing.Inspect the whole of the mast including the sheave boxes for signs of cracking
  5. Check all shackles and pins to ensure they are tight and in good condition, make sure they are wired or cable tied to prevent them coming loose.
  6. Check all wire terminal backing plates for splits. Depending on your level of knowledge, you might need to check with an expert if you are unsure.
  7. Check for missing or loose rivets, if there is any play in them, they need to be drilled out and replaced.
  8. Check your radar mounting (if you have one); this is vulnerable to breaking as it is heavy and prone to getting swiped by the jib.
  9. Also to be checked is the security of the spreaders, both the inboard ends that are attached to the mast and the outboard ends that the rigging passes through or is attached to.If you have spreader end protectors on the tips, take them off and inspect for corrosion underneath. If you don’t have protectors, it’s well worth fitting them to protect the sail.
  10. Check the sail entry gate: If the mainsail slides have been falling out over the course of the season then the pin or stop is missing, which is simple to replace.
  11. Run your hands carefully along wire rigging, any bumps or broken strands mean the rigging is damaged and will need to be replaced.
  12. If your mast is keel stepped, check the drain holes in the mast are clear. Salt water sitting in the bottom of your mast is a breeding ground for corrosion.

Boom Checklist

There are three clear points of weakness on a boom: The gooseneck, vang and mainsheet. These are going to be put under a lot of strain while out sailing, so it’s essential that they are firmly attached.

  1. Check for any signs of stress cracks or excessive wearing.
  2. Make sure that the gooseneck toggle has a washer above and below where it fits into the bracket and perhaps the boom.
  3. Ensure all the sheaves are running freely.

These are just a few basic checks, but they are well worth carrying out if you want to have some peace of mind out at sea. If you aren’t confident in your rig, it’s very difficult to enjoy a good sail. Remember; if it doesn’t look right it probably isn’t!

For more top rigging tips pick up a copy of the RYA Rigging Handbook for Cruisers by Allan Barwell.

250 boats, 1,900 participants and thousands of spectators make Commonwealth Flotilla a resounding success.

People across Glasgow and west Scotland turned out in their thousands to welcome the RYA Scotland Commonwealth Flotilla, which took place on Saturday 26 July 2014.

The Royal Yachting Association Scotland, which organised the 19 nautical mile journey from James Watt Dock in Greenock to Pacific Quay, Glasgow, estimated around ten thousand spectators attended both of its official spectator sites at the Beacon Arts Centre and the Riverside Museum. Many more lined the route up the River Clyde to catch a glimpse of the 250-strong fleet.

In addition, RYA Scotland confirmed that over 1,900 sailors took part in the Commonwealth Flotilla, the largest assembly of boats in the history of the Clyde.

Click on this link for the video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=THTufUvWqbQ&feature=player_embedded

Another link from Scottish Canals website – http://www.scottishcanals.co.uk/media-centre/photo-gallery/the-commonwealth-flotilla-sets-sail (The fourth photo in the series shows Dream Weaver to the right on the inside of the raft of yachts)

The flotilla was headed by the CalMac ferry, Lochinvar, a diesel electric hybrid. Other boats taking part ranged from small family cruising yachts to more traditional working boats including the VIC32 “Clyde puffer”.

James Stuart, CEO of RYA Scotland said: “We are amazed and absolutely thrilled at the success of the Commonwealth Flotilla. We wanted to inject some colour into the Clyde for one weekend in what is probably the most important fortnight in Glasgow’s recent history. We got the sense in the days leading up to the event that this was going to be a big event but the response that we got from spectators throughout the day has been incredible, and totally beyond our expectations.

“Speaking to people just after we arrived at Pacific Quay in Glasgow, we really got a sense of the interest and excitement people had in watching this historic event and we want to thank the people of Glasgow and Inverclyde and beyond who turned out to make this such a perfect day.”

To accommodate the number of boats and participants, RYA Scotland built a pop-up marina in Glasgow city centre, utilising over 1km of pontoons and around 100 volunteers.

Once settled in Pacific Quay the flotilla also enjoyed a royal visit as HRH Prince Edward, The Earl of Wessex, spent time meeting and greeting many of the participants in a pontoon walk.

A whole host of stories and photographs from the event can be found on the event Facebook page and Twitter account @Flotilla2014

You can also read more about the event at www.flotilla2014.org.uk where there is a full list of boats that took part and a selection of stories about specific boats who participated in the event.

Behind the scenes – How it all came together

Find out what it took to put on the biggest flotilla Glasgow has ever seen.

Click on this link for the video –  https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=nGIuEW3TNvw&list=UUSza01OoHbrx9x40fVK1xgA

A further Update from the RYA on 13th August 2014

“A lasting image of the Commonwealth Games will be the flotilla of hundreds of ships which sailed into Glasgow at the weekend.” STV

We all did it. We created history on the 26th July 2014 as the largest flotilla of boats ever to head up the Clyde. It was a special sight, became the top story UK wide on the BBC for a large part of the day and STV got it right, it has become an enduring image of the XXth Commonwealth Games. Thank you for helping to make it possible.

Without your enthusiasm, patience, good humour and skill at the helm the event would never have gone as well as it did. I am hugely grateful and incredibly proud to have been associated with such a fantastic event.

The event aimed to be a spectacle. It also aimed to kick off a conversation about the waters that surround us, and the fact they are not used as much as they could or should be. It seems to have had some effect already. There is talk of revisiting the development of the Clyde to ensure that the waterway can be more than just a backdrop to the fantastic city of Glasgow. The event is however the beginning of our project to see all of our waters all around Scotland used more often. They belong to us all and should be used by us all.

The next part of this conversation needs your help. Please talk about the sailing and boating you do with as many people as you can. Share your pictures on line, send us notes and articles about the boating you do, in fact please do anything you think will work to draw attention to the excitement and opportunity being on the water gives. This is a big project with a big aim and we need as many people to champion our amazing sport as we can. Join in our part of the conversation on twitter (@RYAScotland), Facebook (search RYA Scotland) and on our web pages.

Thank you again for all of your help to make the Flotilla and the first step of our big boating conversation such a success! See you all out on the water.


RYA Scotland Chief Executive Officer

So what next?

If you loved being part of the RYA Scotland Commonwealth Flotilla and are not an RYA member yet then why not join today? You can join online and individual membership is as little as £43 PER YEAR for an adult. There are lots of member benefits which can save you money, including at least a 20% discount on SLAM UK kit who providing the volunteer clothing for the flotilla. The RYA have a fantastic team of people on hand to give you legal advice, talk to you about training and have a great range of publications to support you in the boating you do. Above all you will be adding your support to RYA and RYA Scotland, without which we couldn’t run event such as the flotilla. If you are already an RYA member then thank you for your continued support. If you would like to join then visit:https://www.rya.org.uk/joinrenew/Pages/JoinRenewForm.aspx

Dates for your diary…

If you have been inspired by the Commonwealth Flotilla and are looking for another event to get involved with to help showcase boating in Scotland then why not have a look at the Forth Bridges Festival Flotilla? RYA Scotland are thankfully not organising this one (we are still recovering from our own Commonwealth Flotilla!) but we would love to see it be a fantastic success with lots of boats taking part. It takes place on 7th September so you haven’t got long to register your boat but if you can then please do get involved. Not got a boat? Don’t worry, there are still opportunities for you to purchase tickets to get on the water and be part of the action. As we have said countless times now, there really is no better way to see Scotland than from the water and this is especially true when talking about the iconic Forth Bridges! For more information go to: http://www.forthbridgesfestival.com/flotilla-entry/

Scotland’s Boat Show at Kip Marina is taking place 10-12 October 2014, are you going to be there? RYA Scotland are one of the main sponsors again for this event and it would be great to see everyone again. Last year we had a great time offering up free dinghy taster sessions for the kids to try sailing and also sailing experiences on Drum as well as some talks and workshops on the shore. We hope to offer up just as good a programme of activities again this year so keep an eye out for announcements a bit closer to the event. Last year was full of laughs and sunshine so fingers crossed for more sunshine and make sure you come down to the RYA Scotland stand to say hello!

The RYA Scotland team has had a fantastic time hearing from so many people and talking to them about the boating they do in the run up to and during the Commonwealth Flotilla. Don’t stop! As James mentioned above we want to keep hearing from everyone and sharing the good news stories about boating in Scotland. We communicate through our monthly e-newsletter (register to receive it here), our website, our RYA Scotland Facebook page and also our @RYAScotland Twitter feed and Instagram account. So please do share with us your stories and pictures from out on the water and also feel free to tell us about events you are involved with so that we can help with spreading the word. Communication and Marketing Manager Claire is always happy to hear about a variety of interesting stories so please do drop her an email if you have something to share: claire.caffrey@ryascotland.org.uk

Kind regards,

The RYA Scotland and Commonwealth Flotilla Team

RYA Chief Instructor, Sail Cruising, Vaughan Marsh shares his top tips for picking up a mooring buoy under sail.

Last month we looked at picking up a buoy under motor, however sometimes your engine may not work or you decide you would like to sail onto the buoy just because it’s a nice thing to do. In this issue RYA Chief Instructor, Sail Cruising, Vaughan Marsh shares his top tips for picking up a mooring buoy under sail.

“The majority of the skills are the same however, at some stage you will need to have the vessel stopped at the buoy with the sails depowered. With some basic knowledge of sailing, a good appraisal and plan this is easily achievable and a satisfying skill to master”, commented Vaughan.

Let’s look at the stages in more detail – Appraise, Plan, Execute and Review.


  1. Are you allowed to use the mooring?
    An almanac, local chart or harbour master can help you
  2. Is there enough depth for your vessel?
    Are there any hazards to be aware of?
  3. Which way to approach?
    Look at how other vessels are lying to the buoys and position your boat at the same angle to your selected buoy. If there are no other boats to act as a guide, position your vessel down tide, or if there is no tide, downwind of the buoy.
  4. Do a recce under sail.
    Approach the buoy from a close hauled to beam reach position, pass the buoy and check:

    1. What direction is the wind passing the over buoy?
    2. Is there any movement of water if so which direction is it flowing?
    3. What attachments are there on the buoy to secure too?
    4. What is the actual depth?
    5. What is your escape route if the pick-up is unsuccessful first time?
  5. Confirmation of tide:
    Once at the buoy, bear away onto a beam reach (if safe to do so) and monitor your wash behind you in comparison to the buoy. If it remains steady, there is little or no tide, if the buoy seems to move towards or away from the wind, this will help you ascertain which direction the tide is flowing.



Manoeuvre your vessel to a safe area and create your plan then brief the crew and let them know what their role will be.

  1. What sail do I need to approach the buoy?
    You need to approach the buoy so you can de-power the sail.

    1. No tide: Plan to use the mainsail
    2. Wind with tide : Plan to use the Mainsail
    3. Wind against tide: Plan to use the foresail
    4. A combination of the above: Try an approach with the main as a practice and see if once on the approach angle, when you let out the sail it flaps, if it does use the main, if not try the headsail.
  2. Where to start your approach?
    Much further away than you would for power. You need to be able to approach the buoy with enough time to get the yacht sailing and test depowering the sail to see how quickly the vessel slows and accelerates, so the yacht is under control before arriving at the buoy.
  3. What approach angle will you use?
    1. No Tide: Using the Mainsail, approach the buoy from a Close reach to start with, if you can depower then stick with it, if not keep pinching up to windward until you are able to depower and power the main, then use that as your initial approach angle
    2. Wind with tide: Using the Mainsail, approach the buoy from a Close reach to start with, if you can depower then stick with it, if not keep pinching up to windward until you are able to depower and power the main, then use that as your initial approach angle
    3. Wind against tide: Using the Headsail from a position upwind of the buoy

    Once at your starting position try and find a transit with the buoy and something behind it. When approaching the buoy maintain that transit to ensure you are not being pushed off by wind or tide.

  1. Where should the pick-up point be relative to the vessel?
    Many people pick up at the bow, but bear in mind once you are about a boat length from the buoy you can’t see it! Try an approach where you are bringing the buoy alongside at the shrouds or mid-ships. The vessel should be to leeward or down tide of the buoy so if you miss it, the elements will push you away from it rather than onto it.
  2. How do I control the speed?
    1. If using the mainsail: Use the fill and spill method (let the main out until it depowers and then before you lose all way, pull it back again in to maintain steerage). Although minimum boat speed for steerage still applies, it will be unlikely if you allow the yacht to stop you will get her moving again easily so try and keep her moving until you confident you will get to the buoy, this is a balancing act and the best part of sailing onto a buoy.
    2. If using the headsail: De-power using the sheets as normal, however if you are still moving too quickly or for better control. Reduce the size of the sail until you are moving just slightly quicker than the speed of the tide, the ease and power up the sail using the sheets. As a safety point beware of the crew on the foredeck with flapping sheets and try to minimise this.
    3. If using both sails: You would generally only select this if you couldn’t approach with one sail due to light airs, lots of tide or needing to punch through chop but NOT from downwind of the buoy as you won’t be able to depower the main.
  3. Speed of approach
    Minimum boat speed for steerage is the key. Use transits to the side to monitor your speed. Using the GPS or log for speed with a tide running is little or no use. A member of crew calling distance from the buoy can also be useful.

  4. What is your escape route?
    Work out which way you would turn to get the yacht into safe water for the whole of the approach.
  5. Lines rigged for the pick-up and boat hook ready
    One end of the warp will need to be made off on a cleat via a fairlead, the other end will need to be with a crew member on the pre-planned side of the yacht. Make sure your crew know what to do with the line once attached to the buoy and how to secure it to the yacht ensuring it is through a fairlead or the bow roller and not tangled or over the guard wires.
  6. To Lasso or not to lasso?
    Normally you chose to sail onto a buoy to test your skills as a yachtsman, so if at all possible avoid lassoing. Slow the yacht and with a boat hook pick up the pickup buoy or with a crew member lying on the deck amidships, pass the line through the ring and take it forward. Although lassoing is not the preferred option sometimes in an emergency or if you are short-handed a lasso is the easiest option. Help crew rig the lasso and get them to practice throwing and securing it prior to the approach. If you are using a lasso have a second line ready to use so as soon as you are attached by the lasso, rigging a line to the correct ring or loop on the buoy and removing the lasso. Don’t stay on the lasso as it damages the buoy, creates chafe on your warp and can fall off of or get tangled around the buoy.
  7. How will the crew tell you how far to the buoy, where it is and when it is secure?
    Ensure you both understand the measurement i.e. feet or meters and that you can both see and hear each other.
  8. Do the Crew understand what is expected of them?
    Once you have your plan make sure your brief your crew and confirm they understand it.
  9. If at first you don’t succeed!
    If you miss the buoy first time don’t hurl abuse at the crew, use your escape route, have a think on why it didn’t work, re appraise, if it’s a new plan tell the crew, re-rig and go again.
  10. What next?
    Once secured to the buoy drop and secure the sails. Then determine how long you are going to stay. If more than two hours consider a second line though the buoy as a round turn and two half hitches to remove chafe and leave the other line slack as a safety line. Check that the depth will be sufficient for the time you are staying.


Once you have made you plan follow it. Constantly monitor your speed, depth, angle of approach and any hazards. Don’t be afraid to abort and change the plan.


Once secured to the buoy:

  1. Once secured to the buoy drop and secure the sails, then determine how long you are going to stay
  2. Check all lines are secured correctly to the deck and buoy.
  3. Remove as many chances of chafe as possible. If staying more than two hours consider a second line though the buoy such as a round turn and two half hitches to remove chafe and leave the other line slack as a safety line.
  4. Look at other vessels around you and if the tide or wind changes how will this affect you or them?
  5. If staying for a while, consider setting your anchor alarm.
  6. If staying overnight consider rigging an all-round white.
  7. Check the tide again to ensure there is enough water for your whole stay.
  8. Contact the owner of the buoy to pay.
  9. Review with the crew what went well and what, if anything, didn’t.
  10. Sit back and enjoy your new surroundings.
  11. And finally, as you have sailed on and it went so well, why not work out how you are going to sail off when it’s time to leave!