Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Sailor's skill shows in short-handed series

This weekend will see the local fleet tackle the waters of the Whitsundays in a race with a difference. The big yachts will have small crews in the Magee's Two-handed series.
Whitsunday Sailing Club Commodore George Canfield told On the Waterfront sailors look forward to this test of skill.
"With only two sailors on each yacht, regardless of size, it is a real test of ability for the competitors. They can use any gear and sails they have on board, they just have less hands to do it all with." Commodore Canfield said.
"The two-handed series sponsor Magee's, many who are sailors themselves recognise the skill that is required to sail a powerful yacht around the two courses short-handed."
"The Saturday race will sail to Langford Reef, then Double Cones island and return to the finish in Pioneer Bay" says club rear-commodore offshore Kevin Fogarty
"On Sunday the fleet will start in the bay then leave Daydream Island to starboard, around White Rock, Daydream to port and then to the finish at Airlie Beach. Presentations will follow at the club," Mr Fogarty said.
The cruising fleet had a sail up to Earlando's at the weekend.
"A good time was had by sailors in the nine boat fleet," said club rear commodore Kevin Fogarty "The Earlando's staff really looked after us".
"Our thanks to Ron Earl who is getting ready to close the resort and operate it as a cattle property."
Yachts included multihulls Toyroom and Thrillneck. Monohull first place went to Margaret C, Keith Wallwork with second to Shearwater skippered by Mick Phillips and third to a new boat in the fleet with the likely name of Tequila Two helmed by Wayne Maxwell.
Also sailing were Idle Time, Skytrim and Janner II skippered by Bob Borer.
The annual Christmas cruise will be sailed on Saturday December 7 to Macona Inlet Mr Fogarty added.

Snakes alive!

Hong Kong police were pelted with crates containing live cobras as snake smugglers tried to escape during a high-speed boat chase.
Chinese restaurant clients will miss the 15 crates of snakes containing about 600 cobras found by police who apprehended the speedboat snake smugglers.

Fishers caught

Innovative methods by Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol lead to the conviction of two fishermen at Bowen.
Two fishermen were fined $10,000 and $7500 respectively, at Bowen Magistrates Court last week, for fishing in green zones at Lath Reef north east of Airlie Beach, after QBFP officers in a seaplane swooped down on them on January 17 this year.
The use of the seaplane, chartered by the QBFP was instrumental in the officer's ability to get to the location quickly and catch some of the fishers in the act.

Vale - Sailing adventurer
Sailing adventurer David Lewis has died at age 85 at Tin Can Bay in Queensland. His achievements include the first world circumnavigation by multihull, making known the traditional navigation used by Pacific Islanders in We the Navigators and leading the way for private expeditions to the Antarctic. He wrote Icebird, the story of his first solo return voyage from Sydney to the Antarctic Peninsula in 1972/3 on his 32 foot steel sloop. Shapes in the Wind, the story of his extraordinary life, will be republished in December reports Kathy McKenzie, telling how he returned to Australia after the loss of Taniwha which broke her foremast on her maiden voyage and sank.

Band proposed
International maritime distress and calling ceased at the end of 1997 on the long-time frequency 500kHz and the band has not been reassigned.
The Radio Society of Great Britain is proposing a new amateur band, 495 - 505 kHz, at the bottom end of the AM broadcast band.
The allocation of spectrum around 500kHz would enable amateurs to revisit sky wave propagation experimentation that ceased during the 1920's when that frequency was allocated to Maritime communications which used ground wave propagation.
There might be some great ex-Marconi gear lying around.

Heading South?

Mariners are advised that a military exercise involving live firing will be carried out in the Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area from Thursday, 28 November until 2359 hours on Friday, 13 December 2002. The danger area extends to all waters contained within the following co-ordinates: Old Kiever to Pinetrees Point including Strong Tide Passage, Canoe Pass, Townshend Island, Triangular Island, Ripple Island and Harrison Island are within the danger area.
All civil vessels are prohibited from entering the danger area during the above period. Charts affected: AUS 260, 367, 370, 822

Fair winds to Ye!

Cap'n Dan

Thursday, November 21, 2002

Pirate gang blamed for ship hijack terror

A pirate gang is preying on small tankers entering the southern approaches to the Malacca Straits, seizing their cargoes of diesel oil - for which there is a ready market.
The victim of the latest attack was the 3,298-ton Malaysian tanker Nautica Kluang, boarded by a gang armed with guns and knives. The pirates locked the crew in a cabin and pumped the cargo onto a waiting pirate vessel.
The Nautica Kluang, sailing from Melaka in Malaysia to the port of Labuan in East Malaysia, was attacked in the early hours. The captain was able to raise the alarm by mobile phone the following morning after the crew of 12 - Malaysians, Indonesians and Myanmar nationals - managed to free themselves.
"There have been two previous attacks recently at exactly the same place involving small tankers loaded with diesel oil. We believe the same gang is responsible for all these attacks, " said Captain Pottengal Mukundan, Director of the International Maritime Bureau.
"We are seeing a sharp rise in hijackings. Last year, the figure worldwide doubled to 14. This year we have already had 20 hijackings."
Many of the hijackings are in Indonesian territorial waters and all transiting the area should maintain an especially vigilant watch in these waters.

High seas crime finding

Hijackings at sea doubled last year despite a fall in the total number of pirate attacks.
The increase in hijackings is due to greater involvement in piracy by organized crime networks.
"The hijacking of a whole ship and the resale of its cargo requires huge resources and detailed planning," said Captain Mukundan.
"It typically involves a mother ship from which to launch the attacks, a supply of automatic weapons, false identity papers for the crew and vessel, fake cargo documents and a broker network to sell the stolen goods illegally.
"Individual pirates don't have these resources. Hijackings are the work of organized crime rings."
Pirates killed a total of 21 crewmembers and ships' passengers last year, and 210 more were taken hostage, the new report revealed. All but one of the murders were in Asian waters.
Last year saw 71 sea attacks involved guns, up from 53 in the previous year, while assaults using knives fell from 132 to 105.
Indonesian waters and the Malacca Strait remain the world's most pirate-infested seas.
Captain Mukundan warned "Figures over a longer period show an underlying upward trend in piracy, and an increase in attacks that are well organized, well funded and violent."

Who cruises?

Cruise ships get some unusual questions from their customers. Here's an
amusing sample collected by Celebrity Cruises and published by the trade
magazine "Travel Weekly":
* Does the elevator go to the front of the ship?
* Why does the ship rock only when we are at sea?
* Does the ship generate its own electricity?
* Will I get wet if I go snorkelling?
* Does the crew sleep on board?
* Is there water all around the island?
* How do we know which photos are ours?
* What do you do with the ice carvings after they melt?

Call for sports

The 2003 Ausport Awards will recognise, reward and showcase good practice in the Australian sports system. Why not nominate yourself or your organisation, or encourage others to nominate?
The inaugural 2003 National Ausport Awards (formerly the Active Australia Awards) will acknowledge and reward individuals, clubs, community organisations, schools, local government authorities, national and state sporting organisations for demonstrating their commitment to good practice in sport, greater grass roots participation, innovative and inclusive programs, quality sports business management and excellence in sport performance.
The presentation for the 2003 Ausport Awards will be held at the Our Sporting Future forum. It will bring together sporting representatives from across Australia to challenge current thinking and explore growth opportunities and share good practice in sport, while the Ausport Awards seek to reward and showcase good practice in the Australian sports system.
Closing date for nomination is 16 December 2002. For more information and nomination for the Ausport Awards visit the website Or call 1300 130 121

Record sail

Its official! Germany's John Kostecki and crew are verified as taking the monohull distance record of 484 nautical miles - average speed 20.16 knots - set in the Atlantic Ocean, 29 - 30 April 2002, on VOR 60 illbruck.

Stormy weather

The drought hasn't broken yet. However, it was good to see some rain. And on the subject of rain, mate says he got a letter from Longreach the other day and the stamp was fixed with a paper clip.
That's dry!

Fair winds to Ye!

Cap'n Dan

Thursday, November 14, 2002

Fishers, yachties fail fatigue crisis

Driver fatigue is often in the news regarding vehicle drivers. Now it is in the news for boaties.

Accident and incident reports have shown that fatigue has been a major factor in marine incidents.
A recent Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) report on a collision involving a fishing vessel and a bulk carrier highlights the fact that the skipper of the fishing vessel was probably suffering from the effects of chronic fatigue.
The skipper had worked for two and a half months with four days off.
The incident occurred at 0400 in the morning with the fishing vessel skipper finding the huge ship dead ahead, its whistle blaring. He put the fishing vessel's helm over to port, but was unable to prevent a collision. Thankfully, no one, including the two deckhands who were asleep, was injured.
Sleep is a basic human need and a lack of adequate sleep may lead to fatigue.
Fatigue may be described as a reduction in physical and/or mental capability because of physical or mental exertion that has the potential to impair most abilities including strength, speed, reaction time, coordination and decision-making says the ATSB.
Individuals suffering from chronic fatigue perform below their personal best and are often unaware that their performance has been significantly degraded. Importantly, people may not even recognise that they are suffering from fatigue.
This may contribute to the high fatality rate amongst fishermen in Australia of 143 per 100,000 compared with the national average of 8.1 per 100,000 for other occupations.
International standards for seafarers do not apply to fishing vessels, or to recreational vessels for that matter.
A survey of lifeboat coxswains in the UK by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and the Royal Yachting Association revealed that recreational yachties exhibit a "Lack of preparation for the voyage and overestimate themselves and their capabilities".
Often there are not enough crew onboard to conduct the ship safely. In fishing vessels, this understaffing is to maximise profits.
The danger of insufficient manning levels is that this can lead to crew fatigue and to an ineffective lookout or none at all, being maintained.
As with drivers on the road, this makes these skippers a danger to others, and themselves.

Fast schooner

The tedious business of trying to catch the waiter's eye for a refill may be over as a Japanese company has devised a high-tech glass that sends a signal to bar staff telling them instantly when you are ready for another drink.
The radio tags used to thwart shoplifters inspire iGlassware, invented by Mitsubishi.
Each glass has a microchip with its own ID. As the level of drink falls, the microchip sends a top-up signal to the waiters' station via a small radio built into the table, using a frequency similar to those used by mobile phones.
Very different from the olde pub days in the UK when ceramic beer tankards had a whistle baked into their rim. When you needed a refill, you used the whistle to get some service!
Hence the saying... "wet your whistle".

Volunteers mark service

This year marks ten years of the Whitsunday Volunteers working with Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, so to celebrate this milestone, the 'Vols' are having a night out. They are also looking for any original or early Vols that may not be on the current list who might be interested in joining in on the festivities. The night is November 22 at the Reef Gateway and RSVP to the Volunteer Coordinator, Whitsunday Volunteer Association PO Box 332, Airlie Beach.

EPIRB advice

Following last week's column on safety costs, the range of prices for 406 MHz EPIRBs (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons) starts at A$1499 including GST, registration and delivery from one supplier.
Certainly not cheap!
Perhaps one question that should be asked is 'Why does a piece of mandatory safety equipment include GST?'

Yachties move

Please note the Australian Yachting Federation office has now relocated to 18 Herbert Street, Artarmon NSW 2064. Phone: 02 9902 2155, Fax: 02 9906 2366. The AYF postal address remains at Locked Bag 806, Milsons Point NSW 2061

"A smooth sea never made a skilful mariner."
- English Proverb

Fair winds to Ye!

Cap'n Dan

Friday, November 08, 2002

Boaties swamped by false distress alerts

It has been revealed that most EPIRB distress alerts detected are false!

That's right, in Australia about 98 per cent of the distress alerts detected are false, says a report issued by Australian Search and Rescue (AusSAR) in Canberra.

AusSAR also detects many false distress alerts from non-beacon transmitters that interfere with the older 121.5 MHz frequency and from inadvertently activated beacons.

Satellite beacons take much of the search out of search and rescue.
"False alerts can be resolved quickly with newer 406 MHz beacons as they transmit a digital signal that identifies the owner. AusSAR keeps a register of 406 MHz beacon users and simply makes a phone call to determine if there is a genuine emergency or not" says an AusSAR spokesperson.
"The 121.5 MHz beacons are based on obsolete analogue technology that does not support an identifying message. In most cases, when these beacons begin transmitting, an expensive search has to be launched to determine if there is someone in distress."
According to AusSAR the system will change in February 2009 and the satellite system will no longer process the 121.5 MHz frequency used by most distress beacons. "The distress frequency used by the satellite network will be 406 MHz," the spokesperson said.
Boat owners will pay big dollars - up to $3,500 for compulsory digital safety beacons instead of the current common analogue units costing around $200. The current 121.5 MHz EIPRBS will be phased out in favour of digital units operating on 406 MHz
The 406'ers are smarter, faster, safer and if it has a built-in Global Positioning System, your location can be pinpointed to within 120 metres. A 121.5 MHz beacon will only narrow your position down to 20 kms.
Beacons come in many shapes and sizes. They include Emergency Locator transmitters (ELTs) found in aircraft, hand-held Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs) and marine-based Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBs).
The change in 2009 may seem a long way off, but you should start planning now.
If you already have a 406 MHz beacon then you need not worry as long as it is registered. If you are not sure call AusSAR on 1800 641 792 and ask a search and rescue officer to check. You should have your beacon's fifteen character hexadecimal code ready for AusSAR.
If you are relying on a 121.5 MHz beacon, you could upgrade when your beacon's battery is due to be replaced. The 406 MHz beacons are more expensive, but the price is expected to fall over time. Regardless of the price, if it saves your life, it is cheap insurance.

Killer animal

Guess what rates as the deadly killer animal responsible for the most human deaths worldwide? Not the shark, jellyfish or crocodile, but the annoying and deadly mosquito.

Automated ship reports

Ships transiting the Great Barrier Reef are being urged to participate in a world-leading automated ship reporting trial just begun.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority in conjunction with Maritime Safety Queensland is calling for ships that sail through the Reef to take part in the trial, which will use INMARSAT-C - a global satellite communications network - to provide a near-real time picture of shipping activity in the region.
There are about 6000 ship movements through the GBR each year.
The INMARSAT-C terminals on ships participating in the voluntary trial will be remotely programmed to send automated position reports every 15 minutes to REEFCENTRE - the ship reporting base at Hay Point, near Mackay. Ships will not incur any costs associated with this trial.
The system will provide REEFCENTRE with more accurate information on the presence and movement of vessels and help identify potentially dangerous areas being transited. It will also provide the first ever near-real time picture of shipping in the Reef.
Under the current reporting arrangements, ships must report their position to REEFCENTRE every 8 to 16 hours depending on the speed of the vessel.
A preliminary trial of the system involving 80 vessels from 20 shipping companies began last November and proved highly successful.
Most ships transiting the reef are required to have INMARSAT-C transceivers on board as part of their internationally mandated Global Maritime Distress and Safety System requirements.
AMSA and Maritime Safety Queensland have been contacting ships that use the Reef asking them to participate in the trial. Other ships wishing to be involved should contact Kerrie Abercrombie on 07 3253 2641 or Benny de Melo 02 9282 0712 at AMSA.
The 350,000 square kilometre Great Barrier Reef was the first region to be designated a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area by the International Maritime Organization.

Sailing records

One of the older speed/distance records on the books is that for any yacht, sailed single-handed. Held since June 1994 by Primagaz Laurent Bourgnon (FRA) France, on a 60ft 18.29m trimaran, 540.0 nautical miles, 22.50 knots in the North Atlantic,

Volunteers mark service

This year marks ten years of the Whitsunday Volunteers working with Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, so to celebrate this milestone, the 'Vols' are having a night out. They are also looking for any original or early Vols that may not be on the current list who might be interested in joining in on the festivities. The night is November 22 at the Reef Gateway and RSVP to the Volunteer Coordinator, Whitsunday Volunteer Association PO Box 332, Airlie Beach.

Yachties move

Please note the Australian Yachting Federation office has now relocated to 18 Herbert Street, Artarmon NSW 2064. Phone: 02 9902 2155, Fax: 02 9906 2366. The AYF postal address remains at Locked Bag 806, Milsons Point NSW 2061

Heading south?

Mariners are advised that the military exercises referred to in the previous notice 457 (T) will include the firing of flares in the Shoalwater Bay Military exercise area.
Mariners are advised to note the additional information in that notice. Charts affected: AUS 260, 367, 370, 822

"Never mistake motion for action."

Ernest Hemmingway, Pulitzer Prize-winning author.

Fair winds to Ye!

Cap'n Dan