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Essential Knots: Reef knot

Use: Tying two ends of rope together, often used for tying up a bundle of loose sail around the boom.

Step 1. Take two ends of a rope. Use one as the working end.

Step 2. Right over left. Then under.

Step 3. Then left over right and under.

Step 4. Pull tight.

Tip: Practice tying a reef knot by using your shoelaces.

A one stop guide to tying and understanding all of the 50 most useful nautical knots!

Boat electrics

All boat owners should have a basic knowledge of electrics, both to avoid encountering electrical problems at sea and to stand a chance of solving them should they occur.

Boatyard Health and Safety

Boat storage facilities are potentially hazardous environments and it is the responsibility of both boat owners and boatyards to ensure that the...

Understanding tides

If you are used to sailing in tidal waters, you will know that tides can be both a benefit and a hindrance to the sailor. In many ways,...

Electric motors and hybrid systems

In recent years there have been considerable advances with the development of electrically powered propulsion in the leisure marine sector. This includes developments with inboard and outboard electric motors, hybrid systems, lithium-ion battery technology as well as solar, wind and hydro powered generators.

Antifouling for leisure boats – Part 4

Applying antifouling. Antifouling is best applied on a dry, calm day. It is best to apply the antifouling in the middle of the day to ensure the hull is dry and as warm as possible.

Seized fixings and fastenings

Maintaining a boat can be a rewarding experience but at times it can also be frustrating. A prime example of this is when you come across a seized fixing or fastening that refuses to budge. Read our tips on how to release and fix them:

Marine diesel exhaust checks

You should inspect the exhaust system for corrosion damage regularly, especially around the injection bend. If you have noticed the engine exhaust smoking a lot during the sailing season this can also indicate a number of potential problems.

Nautical paper charts – a reminder of the basics

The nautical chart is an indispensable tool for navigation. A chart is a graphic representation of an area of the sea which might also include coastlines, estuaries and islands. All cruising leisure boats should carry up-to-date paper charts.

Boat ownership

Owning a boat is a big commitment that should bring no end of satisfaction for the owner as well as the owner's family and friends. In...

Avoiding collisions at sea – how to stay safe on the water

Boats have many blind spots, including the headsails of sailing boats. Always keep a lookout, stay safe and remember that...

How to improve a yacht’s upwind performance

There are several ways to improve the upwind performance of a sailing yacht. Read on for some useful tips including headsail reefing, heavy weather jibs and motor sailing.

How diesel engines work

The basic principle of a diesel engine is less complex than that of a petrol engine. No spark plug or ignition system is needed, making the basic diesel engine a comparatively straightforward system that results in fewer faults and has lower maintenance costs than a petrol engine.

The VHF DSC Radio jargon buster

AIS - Automatic Identification System This system is used by shipping. It allows another vessel or coast station to use...

How to use tides and currents to your advantage

If you are contemplating a cruise through tidal waters and strong currents, then planning your trip carefully in advance is essential to enable you to take advantage of favourable tides rather than constantly fighting against them.

Stress cracks on GRP boats

It is quite common to find cracks in the gelcoat when inspecting the deck and superstructure of a GRP boat. It is important to differentiate between a gelcoat crack and a scratch.

Saildrive maintenance

There are less maintenance tasks to carry out on a saildrive transmission than on a traditional inboard shaft drive system with its associated stern gear. However, there are a few critical things that require maintenance, as recommended in detail by the engine manufacturers, and should be adhered to.

Essential boat engine checklist

Boat engine checklist Engine oil level check Even if you have checked it previously, confirming the engine oil level is up...

Rudders and steering systems – Part 1

Rudders and steering systems. A rudder is one of the most critical parts of a boat. Rudder failure is a common occurrence on neglected or overworked boats and a very unpleasant and potentially dangerous thing to happen when you are out at sea.

Distress flares – which flare, how & when to use?

How to use distress flares at sea Flares should be kept in a waterproof container in an easily accessible location such as a...

Liferafts

Liferafts should be stowed where they are ready for immediate launching. All crew should know the location of the liferaft and know how to launch, inflate and board it. They should also know what equipment it contains.

Passage Planning Advice & Safety for skippers

Passage planning helps you to: • Decide where to go • Calculate how long it will take to get there • Avoid bad weather •...

Dripless shaft seals

Dripless shaft seals are designed to completely stop water from entering a boat’s hull via the stern tube. There are two main types of dripless seals known as face seals and lip seals which many boat manufacturers now fit to production boats.

The give-way hierarchy at sea – who gives way to whom?

Whatever their size or type, all skippers have a responsibility to avoid collisions with other boats at sea.  It is...

A simple guide to understanding tides when passage planning

Understanding tides when passage planning When planning a trip in tidal waters, check the tides before going afloat. Use...

Sailing & Motoring in Fog

Sailing & Motoring in Fog You can only measure the visibility accurately if sailing & motoring in fog when you have...