Ed­i­tor’s let­ter

Yachting Monthly - - INSIDE THIS MONTH - Kieran Flatt, ed­i­tor kieran.flatt@timeinc.com

‘Is it wind­ward or lee­ward?’

I’ve been sail­ing for more than 30 years, yet it seems that I don’t know wind­ward from lee­ward. To my mind, a berth on the wind­ward side of a pon­toon is a wind­ward berth. And a berth on the lee­ward side of the pon­toon ought to be called a lee­ward berth.

Ap­par­ently not. Most sailors equate ‘lee­ward berth’ with ‘lee shore’ and to them it means a berth on the wind­ward side of the pon­toon, while a ‘wind­ward berth’ is on the lee­ward side. This makes no sense to me but most ex­perts agree – in­clud­ing my col­league Chris, who had to re­search the def­i­ni­tions thor­oughly af­ter I ques­tioned his use of them.

Now I know why, when I call up a ma­rina and ask for a lee­ward berth, they usu­ally give me one on the wind­ward side of the pon­toon. That’s the trou­ble with be­ing a mostly self-taught skip­per who sails solo. There are things I learned wrongly, long ago, that have be­come in­grained and there's no­body else on board to cor­rect me.

Wind­ward or lee­ward, a berth that’s easy to get into is of­ten hard to get out of, and the snuggest berth for a windy night is rarely the easi­est to get into. Quite of­ten we don’t have a choice.

On p18, Chris and Theo demon­strate six boat-han­dling tech­niques for when you find your­self blown on or blown off in an awk­ward spot, hemmed in by yachts that cost more than yours. A bit of prac­tice be­fore your sum­mer cruise will re­ally pay off when you’re grop­ing around an un­fa­mil­iar ma­rina at night look­ing for berth 63 on pon­toon W, or try­ing to get back out of it with an un­help­ful breeze and a con­trary tide. I’m grate­ful to Clip­per Ma­rine for lend­ing us a new Bavaria 34 for the photo shoot – and re­lieved that Chris and Theo re­turned her un­scratched.

If you know any­thing about radar, you’ve prob­a­bly heard of ‘radar-as­sisted col­li­sions’. These usu­ally in­volve two peo­ple mis­in­ter­pret­ing the pic­ture on the screen or tak­ing the same avoid­ing ac­tion at the same time, but an er­ror by one op­er­a­tor can be enough. On p26, De­nis Gor­man – who didn’t even have radar – de­scribes his own nar­row es­cape and ex­plains some things that all sailors ought to be aware of.

Don’t scratch the gel­coat! There are six es­sen­tial tech­niques for get­ting in and out of tight or awk­ward ma­rina berths.

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