Skippers Newsletter 01-2013

Civil Service Sailing Association – Channel Sailing Division
SKIPPERS NEWSLETTER – Yacht Sea Essay of Hamble
Newsletter No 01/13


This is an occasional document issued by the Yacht Secretary, which will be placed on the CSD website and/or sent to all CSSA approved Skippers in CSD when there is new and/or important operational information to promulgate.  There is no intention to produce newsletters on a regular basis.  Each one is numbered in sequence every year so recipients can identify if any are missing.

Reefing Lines (Pennants)

SNL 01/11 contained a warning about stiff reefing lines (pennants). As has been pointed out previously it is necessary to slacken off and pull all reefing lines through the boom both at the forward (reefs 1 & 2) and aft ends so that the slack can be stowed in the folded mainsail. This practice is necessary to avoid stretching the sail leach when it is re-hoisted. Any attempt to hoist the main without first ensuring the reefing lines are slack will cause damage. If you have reefed the sail shake out the reefs by fully hoisting the sail before stowage.

Boom Vang (Kicking Strap)

The boom vang arrangement is a very powerful beast and should be used with care. Its main purpose is to hold the boom down when off the wind and thereby flatten the sail. It contains a gas strut which will hold the boom up when the sail is lowered. Due to the standing rigging configuration the vang is unlikely to induce mast bend and negates all the other adjustments that can be made in a dinghy or with a slender mast. The power available through the purchase and winching has resulted in the hole in the gooseneck fitting becoming worn and elongated to such an extent that the fitting required replacing. The new boom end fitting is going the same way. The plate at the outer (aft) end of the boom has also been replaced as the topping lift shackle had pulled through its locating hole. To prevent this damage ensure that the topping lift is slack before tensioning the vang. Please do not over tension the vang and release the tension when the sail is lowered.


The number of warps carried on board has been rationalised and skippers should have sufficient lines for every eventuality even if that means joining lines together. (A double sheet bend is useful in these conditions). Spare lines are available in the shed if skippers think they may need them but please return them to the shed on return to Mercury YH. Please do not leave them on board. A purpose made “docking spring has been left on board. It is used by putting both eye splices over the midships cleat and dropping the bight over the first pontoon cleat from a midships position. Then by motoring slow ahead or astern the boat will be drawn alongside the pontoon. The Yacht Husband is interested to receive your reports on its use.


The number and size of the fenders has been rationalised, we now have 8 fenders of the same size and all of these should be stowed in the cockpit lockers. Tying them to the pushpit should be avoided as they can be burnt by the very hot cabin heater exhaust and it looks untidy. The very large fenders are now in the shed should a skipper consider that they are required for a particular purpose. If you do use them please put them back in the shed.

Hull Slamming:

Damage has occurred in the forward cabin where the inner moulding has separated from the hull. This is believed to have been caused by heavy slamming possibly by the boat being driven under power directly into steep waves at speed. This has been repaired during the winter layup. Skippers are asked to avoid this practice if at all possible and to minimise the effects by slow speed and alteration of course. The damage incurred has been repaired very skilfully during the winter layup.

Skipper Responsibilities

Recent events have shown that Skippers should be reminded that the safety of their crew and the boat are their prime concern. Please ensure you complete the safety brief at the commencement of your cruise. It is recommend that lifejackets are worn at all times particularly when moving around the deck.  When activities involve a degree of crew activity such as leaving, coming alongside, entering/leaving port, raising or lowering of sails etc. skippers should be in a position to supervise and take charge as necessary, preferably from the cockpit. It is also good practice when the skipper leaves the cockpit for him to nominate the person in charge of the deck in his absence. .

Adrian Barnes Yacht Secretary
March 2013

Channel Sailing is a division of the CSSA