NEWS FROM THE WORLD OF OYSTER • DOUBLE QUEEN'S AWARD YACHT BUILDERS
OYSTER - PROUD SPONSORS OF THE BRITISH PARALYMPIC SONAR TEAM OYSTERS IN THE BVI • ARC REPORT • SUPERYACHT UPDATE
ISSUE 65 SUMMER 2008
1973 - 2008
Contents Issue 65
FROM THE CHAIRMAN Richard Matthews
EDITOR Liz Whitman
LONDON OWNERS’ DINNER 2008
OYSTER BVI REGATTA Roger Vaughan
CONTRIBUTING EDITOR Roger Vaughan
ARC 2007 REPORTS
OYSTERS AT THE 2008 BOAT SHOWS
BILLY BUDD HEADS SOUTH Mariacristina Rapisardi
PRODUCTION EDITOR Rebecca Twiss
FROM THE EDITOR We publish Oyster News three times a year and we know from our readers that the articles they most enjoy reading about are the contributions from Oyster owners. If you have a story to tell or information about cruising in your Oyster please let us know. Photographs are always welcome with or without a story. email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com FRONT COVER PICTURE: Trevor Silver’s Oyster 655, Roulette v.2 during Oyster’s BVI Regatta Photo: Tim Wright BACK COVER PICTURE: The new Oyster 655, Matchmaker, at St Katherine’s Haven, London Photo: Kevin Edwards Oyster News is published by Oyster Marine Ltd. Oyster News is for promotional purposes only, privately circulated, and cannot form part of any contract or offer. Views, details and information herein are not necessarily endorsed by the publisher who will not be held responsible for the consequences of any error or omission. Pictures and illustrations are liable to show non standard equipment.
THE OM43 TWIN CABIN
DRY TORTUGAS Will White
OYSTERCATCHER XXVI AT THE CARRIBEAN REGATTAS Richard Matthews
Welcome Welcome to Oyster News.
THE NEW OYSTER 54 AT THE COAL FACE Mark Chisnell
MISSION OYSTER! Birgitte Ribsskog
FLAG ETIQUETTE Alan Brook
ZIG ZAG THROUGH THE WINDWARD ISLANDS Richard Matthews
PARALYMPIC SAILING UPDATE Hannah Stodel
Since our last edition, you will probably have heard that the Oyster business was purchased by Balmoral Capital at the beginning of February. After 35 years it was a huge decision for me personally, but time for new investors to continue the company’s ongoing success and plan for the long-term future of the business. As for continuity, my hand will hopefully remain on the tiller for some time to come and our staff, key suppliers and owners know that it’s business as usual. In today’s economic climate, sailing continues to be a great source of relaxation and enjoyment. Our order book remains strong our customers loyal and in uncertain times it always pays to buy the very best. For those readers who are not yet Oyster owners, why not consider chartering an Oyster. Oyster Yacht Charter operates a modern fleet of some of the latest and most luxurious Oysters afloat. A charter in a beautiful location with good crew to look after you makes a great holiday and is also an ideal environment to think about becoming an owner! As usual our thanks go to the many owners who have contributed to this issue. We know from the feedback we get that those readers throughout the sailing world really enjoy your articles - please keep them coming. We wish all our readers fair winds and good sailing this summer season.
Richard Matthews Founder and Chairman Oyster Marine www.oystermarine.com 3
Newsroundup Time Out wins in Dubai Congratulations to David Maddern and his crew on the Oyster 26 Time Out winners of Division 2 racing in the EPI International Keelboat Regatta in Dubai.
Top Trainee Alice meets PM OYSTER 82 TO THE RESCUE Tillymint, an Oyster 82 taking part in the World Cruising Club's World ARC, came to the rescue of the Vegas a disabled Caribbean fishing boat some 80 nautical miles off Aruba in the early hours of Saturday 26th January. The Vegas, from St Lucia, had been drifting in the Caribbean waters for almost three weeks with a engine failure when the Oyster yacht passed by in darkness. The on-watch Tillymint crew heard faint cries from close by and dropped sails, turned around and returned to where they had heard the SOS calls, upwind against 25 knots. By this time the crew of the Vegas had set fire to their vessel in an attempt to attract attention, after previous attempts at shouting to other passing vessels had failed. Sadly the fire grew out of control and they had to abandon their vessel to escape the flames – only one of the four fishermen was recovered from the water by Tillymint, the others succumbing to the waves in the darkness.
Despite the best efforts of the search vessels, MRCC Curacao called off the search at 18:30 local time on the 26 January, having failed to locate the three missing crew. Well done to the Tillymint crew for their alertness and quick thinking, which meant that at least one of the men was saved, some small consolation for the loss of the other three.
WEB AWARD Oyster has won the 2008 Boating Business Website Design Award presented at the UK Boating Business exhibition in Bournemouth earlier this year.
Alice le Good from Oyster’s Southampton Yacht Services yard, who won the 2007 Young Apprentice of the Year Award, was introduced to Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, during a recent London conference on the expansion of apprenticeships in industry. Both Oyster and SYS fully support and welcome any initiatives to help increase the number of apprentices in the boat building industry.
FIRST OUT! After 80 years at the same yard in Wroxham, Oyster builder E C Landamore moved to new, modern and much larger premises last year. The first yacht to leave the new yard was Mike and Devala Robinson’s new Oyster 46 Sea Rover. After her April handover, Sea Rover featured in Oyster’s London Private View, held in St Katharine’s Dock in April, and will be taking part in the 2008 ARC as the first leg of a planned circumnavigation.
Going For Gold The Oyster sponsored Paralympics Sonar crew of Hannah Stodel, John Robertson and Stephen Thomas, who were officially nominated by Britain’s Royal Yachting Association as Team GBR’s selection for the Sonar Class in the 2008 Paralympics, took gold in the recent IFDS Qingdao International Regatta with a convincing 6 point lead over the French team against strong international competition. This victory follows on from the team’s recent win at the French Olympic Sailing Week in Hyeres, where they claimed Great Britain’s first gold medal with a day to spare in their class.
ECL CLASSIC CAR RUN
Commenting on their achievement, Hannah Stodel said: "We can’t thank everyone at Oyster and Oyster owners enough for all they have done to get us this far and we are looking forward to repeating this success at the Games in Beijing in September."
David Lawrence, Landamore’s Senior Engineer, who last year finished restoring a 1948 Humber Hawk, took part in the 2008 Parliamentary Classic Car Run in March, which this year celebrated the Diamond Anniversary of the Queen. He drove the car with his brother from North Walsham in Norfolk to Horse Guards Parade and then to the Tower of London all in aid of Leukaemia Research and the Stroke Association.
YOUNG BOAT BUILDERS OF THE FUTURE During the recent awards ceremony for the Anglia Boating Association, Christopher Place of Windboats (left of picture) was named the training awards winner, with Scott Guyton of Landamores (centre) and Aaron Wilde of Windboats (right of picture) joint runners up. The event was attended by Oyster’s Alan Brook and Ronnie Yaxley from E C Landamore.
IMPROVED FACILITIES FOR OYSTER SUPERYACHTS Preparations at RMK Marine in Istanbul, Turkey, are well on schedule for the new facilities for the new Oyster Superyacht range. The yard is to install a new custom-built slipway, capable of launching yachts up to 60m (197ft) and up to 685 tonnes, which will be ready in August. The addition to the yard is part of a programme of improvements at the RMK Yacht site, which has so far included a new helipad, while a new 40,000 sq ft build hall, specially for Oyster, has just been opened by the Turkish Prime Minister and is large enough to accommodate up to four 100 or 125 Oysters.
Newsroundup Mike Rose Mike Rose is well known to just about every Oyster owner that has visited Antigua. An ex Oyster owner himself, Mike bought Oyster 435-01 in which he covered many thousands of happy miles. At home in Antigua Mike is Chairman of the RNTCAB (Royal Naval Tot Club of Antigua and Barbuda), which has done a lot of good work around Antigua. Mike is a friend of Oyster and has sailed the Atlantic 24 times, 23 of which were aboard Oyster yachts. Mike was hoping his 25th anniversary crossing would be aboard an Oyster 82 this May, but alas that was not to be. On 2 April Mike returned home after the usual tot to find an intruder robbing his home and in the course of his escape he stabbed Mike five times. Despite life threatening wounds, Mike is making a good recovery, is now back home, but won’t be fit enough for any ocean voyages just yet. We hope that Mike will get that 25th Atlantic crossing in his log soon and expect many Oyster owners will wish him well for a speedy and complete recovery.
Well Done Eddie! We are always pleased to hear from Oyster owners, none more so than when it is to recognise a member of the Oyster team. "As you may know, I purchased the Oyster 82 Oceana in October 2007 through Oyster Brokerage. We are very pleased with the boat. The purpose of this letter is to let you know how much we enjoyed working with Eddie Scougall in Las Palmas, prior to the beginning of the ARC. We unfortunately had a failure of the mast furler and other small issues which were promptly and efficiently resolved with Eddie’s help. We were in a hurry to leave Las Palmas since we were appearing in the Antigua Charter Show with Molly Marston as our representative. We barely made the show and could not have done it without Eddie’s assistance. His professionalism made us proud to be new members of the Oyster family" Stuart H Smith Oyster 82 Oceana
JOHN THOMPSON As many will know, John Thompson QC sadly died following an accident in the middle of the Atlantic on board Avocet, his much loved Oyster 41, during the 2007 ARC. Following his death in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Barbados (the main teaching hospital serving the whole of the Eastern Caribbean) it was discovered that there are no facilities there for organ donation. His body would have had to be flown to Florida at a cost of US $25,000 in order to fulfil his wish that his organs be used following his death. Rather than doing that John’s widow, Tina, decided to start a fund to raise sufficient money to set up a transplant unit in Barbados and donated £25,000 to the fund. That facility is now being established and hospital staff trained to undertake the work. This will mean that people resident in the Eastern Caribbean Islands should not have to travel to the US or Europe for the sort of transplant surgery which is now considered routine in most countries. The intention is that the fund will enable the facility to be established with the required equipment and trained staff, but that the on-going running costs will be taken on through the normal hospital funding. If you would like to contribute to the fund in John’s memory, donations can be made by cheque to: John Thompson Donation a/c c/o Charles Stewart Esq Stewart Solicitors 3 Regents Street Newtownards BT23 4AB Northern Ireland
Oyster Events 2008 Oyster Regatta – Cowes 21 – 25 July Amsterdam Seaport Boat Show 4 – 9 September Cannes Boat Show 10 – 15 September Newport Boat Show 11 – 14 September Southampton Boat Show 12 – 21 September
Gordon Applebey It was with great sadness that we learnt of the death of Gordon Applebey whose Oyster Lightwave 48, Scarlet Oyster, is well known on the south coast and won her class in the 2007 Fastnet (see report in the last issue of Oyster News). Over the last few years, Gordon made Scarlet Oyster available to the Ellen MacArthur Trust, enabling many young people living with cancer to experience the thrill of sailing. That connection will live on in Gordon’s memory and a major refit on Scarlet Oyster, commissioned by Gordon before his death and carried out by Fox’s Marina, is nearing completion, which will enable the Trust to expand their programme around the UK.
Owners’ Dinner Southampton 13 September Monaco Boat Show 24 – 27 September Oyster Regatta – Palma 30 September – 4 October Genoa Boat Show 4 – 12 October Annapolis Owners’ Party 9 October Annapolis Sailboat Show 9 – 13 October Annapolis Powerboat Show 16 – 19 October Hamburg Boat Show 25 October – 2 November Ft Lauderdale Boat Show 30 October – 3 November
WORLD ARC After setting out from the Caribbean in January, the World ARC fleet, which includes the Oyster 56 Into the Blue, the 72 Kealoha 8, and 82 Tillymint, have arrived in Bora Bora. July sees the rally reach Fiji in the western Pacific, before a short crossing to the exotic volcanic islands of Vanuatu, and then Cairns, Australia, where the fleet will be joined by Mike and Donna Hill with their Oyster 56 Baccalieu III. World ARC will incorporate a cruise inside the Great Barrier Reef, before regrouping for the leg across the top of Australia to Darwin and the Indian Ocean.
Barcelona Boat Show 8 – 16 November ARC Party 20 November ARC Start – Las Palmas 23 November
London Ownersâ€™ Dinner 2008
OYSTER OWNERS’ DINNER
It’s become an Oyster tradition that Oyster owners and friends meet on the first Saturday of the London Boat Show for a dinner. The usual venues are either the lovely clubhouse of the Royal Thames Yacht Club or perhaps a Thames river cruise. As this was Oyster’s 35th anniversary year Oyster PR and Marketing Director, Liz Whitman, decided to push the boat out and book the Painted Hall at Greenwich, part of the old Royal Naval College designed by Sir Christopher Wren and built between 1696 and 1704. Today the Painted Hall is generally regarded as one of the finest dining halls in the world, adorned with paintings by Sir James Thornhill. The building is rich in history and three months after the Battle of Trafalgar Nelson’s body lay in state there for three days during which time 30,000 people came to visit and pay their respects. The ceiling of the main hall has an allegorical theme and pays due tribute to William and Mary and British maritime power. On the evening of Saturday 12 January, over 270 owners and guests attended including guest of honour Dame Ellen MacArthur and Rod Carr OBE, Director General of Britain’s Royal Yachting Association. In a welcome address, Oyster’s Chairman Richard Matthews made mention of Boadicea, the Essex oyster smack celebrating her 200th birthday, sponsored by Oyster, and noted that 64 Oyster yachts were represented. Richard mentioned the highly successful regatta at Valencia during the season and the fact that Oysters were class winners in the ARC, Fastnet and Sydney Hobart races. During the evening guests were entertained by a display of traditional mess beatings performed to precision by the Corp of Drums of the Royal Hospital School. Oyster’s designers Rob Humphreys and Ed Dubois shared a table, with friendship and camaraderie prevailing. Also attending were many of Oyster’s long-standing suppliers including Trevor James and Oliver James of Windboats and Anthony Landamore from the E C Landamore yard, who had just moved into new premises after 80 years. Two owners were presented with awards for completing circumnavigations. Gerald and Anne-Marie Goetgeluck in their Oyster 49 Adesso and Klaus and Marlies Schuback in their Oyster 485 WhiteWings, all join a growing list of owners who have sailed the world in their Oyster yacht. Awards were presented by Dame Ellen MacArthur who was also guest speaker and enthralled her audience with some very modest anecdotes of her sailing adventures for which she is known and respected throughout the world.
Dear Oyster and Oyster owners I just wanted to drop you a line to thank you all for your generous support for the Trust at the Oyster 35th Anniversary Dinner. Thanks to your support we will be able to use the £16,000 raised to take 40 more young people recovering from cancer sailing in 2008! It was a lovely friendly evening, thank you for having us!
Dame Ellen MacArthur www.oystermarine.com 9
OYSTER 100 NOW IN BUILD The RMK Marine yard in Istanbul has completed the female tooling for the Dubois designed Oyster 100 and moulding for hull #01 is about to commence. Having a Fortune 500 Company, Turkey’s largest industrial group, as a builder has its advantages, since RMK has just completed work on a 40,000 sq ft building hall exclusively for Oyster, with enough space to build up to four Oyster superyachts simultaneously. These yachts will be built in modern composite materials using the resin infusion system to ensure optimum strength to weight ratios and then post cured to an oven temperature of 80ºC to ensure overall laminate quality. The Oyster Design Team has been working on various interior joinery styling options for Oyster 100 #01, and RMK has built a series of samples, in a variety of timber options, including walnut, oak, teak and maple, finished to completed yacht standards. Meanwhile, RMK are building a full sized mock-up of the 100’s accommodation, which will enable a walk through of the entire vessel allowing all the key dimensions within the accommodation to be checked and optimised if necessary. The next step, once the joinery style has been chosen, will be to build a complete cabin to the exact style, finish and fit required for the yacht, for client approval and to set the standard for the rest of the vessel. Oyster’s Hamish Burgess-Simpson will be semi-resident at the yard in Istanbul and as Project Coordinator will ensure that the planning and build detail proceed as expected. Each yacht will be built to Lloyds 100A1 and MCA approval as it is expected that some owners will wish to charter, or at least have the option to do so from the point of view of protecting their investment. Sample panels from both hull and deck will be independently tested before the mouldings
proceed to fitting out. Oyster is taking quality management very seriously on these vessels. 100/01 is scheduled to be completed by May 2010, meanwhile RMK are progressing well with a 170 ft Sparkman & Stephens design being built ahead of the Oysters for launching spring 2009, which will provide a useful quality benchmark.
OYSTER LAUNCH THE 125 FLYBRIDGE Inspired by some of the larger Dubois designs, the Oyster 125 will be offered with a flybridge. A sleek, cleverly designed flybridge area caps the deckhouse and will accommodate twin wheels, power and sailing controls, while at the same time providing a commanding view and a comfortable seating and sun lounge area for guests. The flybridge will also provide an area of complete privacy when the yacht is at rest. The aft end of the flybridge roof is designed to effectively cover the aft deck level cockpit so as to take the place of a bimini awning. Apart from the convenience of the flybridge itself, the additional space this extra level creates offers a serious upgrade to the vesselâ€™s potential accommodation at saloon level, allowing enough space for a serious dining table, separate chairs and other occasional furniture. All of this is on a single, raised level ensuring a panoramic outboard vista through the sculptured deckhouse windows. The accommodation configuration of the 125 offers three spacious twin or double en suite guests cabins and a spacious ownerâ€™s stateroom aft. Forward, the vessel has a large galley, crew mess and three crew cabins, all en suite, as befitting a yacht of this size. The Oyster 125 will be available in both deck saloon and flybridge versions, although the first Oyster 125 will be built with the flybridge, tooling for which is starting this summer, with a target launch of May 2011.
FAR LEFT: The new Oyster 100 ABOVE: The 40,000 sq ft Oyster superyacht building BELOW: The new Oyster 125 flybridge
OYSTER REGATTA BVI 2008
Excuse to go sailing Oyster Regatta BVI 2008 by Roger Vaughan
OYSTER REGATTA BVI 2008
MONDAY If the gathering of 25 Oyster owners and their guests in the BVI for a regatta the week of April 7th was any indication, this could be the most diverse group of people meeting under sail. Racing drives some sailors, others are obsessed by classic yachts or dedicated to cruising. For Oyster owners, it’s all about sailing.
Thank you to our day sponsors for their continued support:
This was the 19th regatta Oyster Marine has hosted since 2001. The idea was suggested to Oyster founder and CEO, Richard Matthews, by Oyster owner Bill Dockser, over a game of golf. Other yacht builders had annual rendezvous of various sorts, but Oyster remade the concept. The regattas designed by Oyster Director (PR and Marketing) Liz Whitman and the Oyster staff, have combined some of the most desirable sailing locations in the world with truly inspired and carefully orchestrated events, and oh yes, good racing. Over the past seven years there have been regattas in Antigua, West Indies; Palma, Majorca; Cowes, England; Auckland, New Zealand (during the America’s Cup); Cadiz, Spain (commemorating the Battle of Trafalgar); Valencia, Spain (during the America’s Cup); Newport, Rhode Island; and the BVI. Since regatta number one, held in Antigua, the competition on the water has heated up. But as Matthews reminded the participants in the BVI regatta, assembled on the upper deck of Peg Leg’s Restaurant in Nanny Cay, Tortola, for the skippers’ briefing, "This is a low key, gentleman’s event…we don’t expect there will be aggressive behaviour or exploitation of the rules." Matthews went on to say if that’s what people wanted, they were too late. The BVI Spring Regatta had just ended. The voice of experience: he had won the last race in his new, 42-foot flier, Oystercatcher XXVI, designed by Tom Humphreys. In any fleet of 25 boats there are always a few owners with silver uppermost in their minds. But the majority of these owners are laid back. As a group they are definitely competitive, or they would not be sailing Oysters. But they race the way classic car owners race: with care. Their boats loom large in their pursuit of pleasure and comfort on the sea. Many of their log books boast five-figure mileage totals. To gaze at the fleet of Oysters moored at the Nanny Cay Marina docks, polished and gleaming for the Concours d’Elegance, the very idea of subjecting them to the rigors of racing seemed almost sacrilegious. But beneath the deep patina of varnish, the sparkle of stainless, and the mirror-like glass of the deck saloon windows, lies lots of muscle. 30 Oysters have circumnavigated the planet and those that have crossed the Atlantic are in the hundreds. Racing here will be point to point. The BVI, a narrow oval of islands laid out more or less west to east, measures 35 miles end to end. Courses will be between 15 and 26 miles depending on wind conditions. Today was for registering, socialising, a welcome party and dinner: a chance for sailors to visit boat to boat and compare notes, stories, and ideas. Andreas Zancani and his wife, Paz, spoke about how they were looking at an Oyster 56 at the boat show in Genoa three years ago when a heavy squall tore through. When they came up on deck, they were amazed to see the damage on all sides. But the Oyster was fine. They bought one three years later. >
FAR LEFT: The Oyster fleet at Nanny Cay Marina BELOW LEFT: Richard and Diane Watson’s Oyster 485 Sobriyah, leads Class 2 BELOW RIGHT: Andres Zancani’s Oyster 56, Zena
Oyster Regatta BVI 2008 continued Those couples in the five-figure mileage category exchanged thoughts about being in such close company with spouses over extended periods. "There is the front of the boat and the back of the boat," Ray Charmak said with a smile. He and his wife, Birgitta, have put 15,000 miles on their Oyster 53, Out of India. Ray practiced accounting and then ran a house construction company before he bought his boat and went sailing. "But you know," he said, "in the last couple of years maybe we have sought out opposite ends of the boat five times. Communication is the key, and a love of sailing. It’s the freedom of sailing, not racing or making passages, those are just excuses."
TUESDAY The BVI provides an ideal arrangement for point-to-point day races. Skippers and crews got a perfect example of how good it could be today as they drag raced around a 26-mile course in steady, 20 knot winds out of the southeast. The only marks were needed at the start and finish lines. The other turning points were provided by islands with intriguing names: start off Slaney Point near Road Town, Tortola – BVI’s capital; sail through the cut off Deadman’s Bay, then round Peter Island Bluff at the south end of Peter Island; round Norman Island, staying to the east of Flannagan Island; round Steele Point on the west end of Tortola, staying between Frenchman’s Cay and Little Thatch; finish off Cane Garden Bay on Tortola’s north shore. It was just one of those totally enjoyable sailing days, without a lot of tacking to spoil the fun. The starts were well-contested, especially the start of Class 2. Principal Race Officer (and Oyster Joint Managing Director) Alan Brook said he had never seen such a bunch up at the weather end, where eight boats vied for the weather berth, all within 10 seconds of the gun. Then crews trimmed with care and let the stately Oysters do their thing, powering upwind toward Deadman’s Bay. On board the Oyster 53, Arbella owned by Mike and Vicky Wallace of Annapolis, Maryland, it was also a noteworthy day. This was their first race, ever. They’ve done a couple of Caribbean passages, but never raced their five-year-old boat. Mixing it up in the pre-start traffic was slightly traumatic for them (remember your first time?) Vicky hid her eyes at one point as a guest helmsman picked his way through the crowd at the weather end of the line. Then Arbella was off and running, and there were smiles all around. Mike, an electrical engineer by training, a nuclear energy expert by trade, had that look in his eye -- this race would definitely not be his last.
BELOW FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: Trevor Silver’s Oyster 655, Roulette v.2
In Class 1, David Yelloly’s Oyster 72, Spirit of Montpelier led the fleet to the finish. No surprise. Spirit is the super-light, tall-rigged boat Richard Matthews built a couple years ago to win on the racing circuit, which he did. But it was the Oyster 82, Ravenous II, Bill Dockser’s new boat from Annapolis, that finished just behind Spirit. Dockser saved his time and took class honours on the day. Guest helmsman aboard was Richard Matthews.
Chase Leavitt’s Oyster 72, Holo Kai Close racing between Ray Charmak and Birgitte Ribsskog’s Oyster 53, Out of India and John and Jane Marren’s Oyster 56, Cinderella III FAR RIGHT: David Yelloly’s Oyster 72, Spirit of Montpelier
But the story of the day was the comeback engineered by Chase Leavitt’s crew on board the Oyster 72, Holo Kai. Holo Kai had problems at the start (no details available), getting off the line a whopping three minutes late. Then they shifted into high gear, passing their sister boat, Cookielicious, with a slick jibe off Norman Island. Oyster Joint Managing Director, Murray Aiken, who was on board, said he had no idea how they did it. "The washing machine was going,
OYSTER REGATTA BVI 2008
a roast beef was in the oven, and we had to feed the horses," Murray explained that evening at dinner, happily brandishing a fist full of empty wine glasses. Holo Kai took third in Class 1. In Class 2, John and Sonia Marshall’s Oyster 56, Rock Oyster won the day with a fine start and excellent boat speed. Marshall credited the larger yankee jib that Dolphin Sails had made for him for the ARC. The penalty he paid for using it was worthwhile. "It’s not for going upwind," Marshall said. "We had to reef it a bit in order to point. But once we turned the corner and eased sheets, it was very good." Cane Garden Bay is another of the BVI’s truly spectacular anchorages. Open to the northwest, it’s surrounded by steep, high hills on three sides. The boats dropped anchors for the night and crews dinghied ashore for a drinks party on the beach, followed by buffet dinner at Myett’s Garden Inn.
WEDNESDAY Richard Matthews had said this was a gentleman’s event, yet Wednesday’s course from Cane Garden Bay to Bitter End, on Virgin Gorda, was upwind in 20 knots. Since when do gentlemen sail upwind?
The BVI provides an ideal arrangement for point-topoint day races. Skippers and crews got a perfect example of how good it could be today as they drag raced around a 26-mile course in steady, 20 knot winds.
A sign that it might be a long day was when the anchor wouldn’t come up on board Out of India. The electric windlass slowed to a crawl and stopped. Owner Ray Charmak said the batteries were showing 100%. Something was amiss. Ray started the generator. By babying the switch, 100 feet of stainless chain and the anchor finally came aboard. But as we prepared for the start, the electrical system that powers winches and roller furlers continued to act up. With two minutes to the start, it quit. Disheartened, we broke out winch handles. Like all modern cruising boats, Oysters are power dependent. Winches tend to be smaller since they are rarely turned by hand. And the boats are large. Anything under 50 feet is small for an Oyster. So the forces on sails, gear, lines, and winches are formidable. I had often wondered what sailing an Oyster would be like if the power failed. In more than a dozen regattas I’ve sailed on more than 50 different boats, and it’s never happened. Today I found out. The bottom line: while one can’t race effectively trimming sails by hand, sailing without power is very manageable, even in 20 knots of wind. >
Oyster Regatta BVI 2008 continued
OYSTER REGATTA BVI 2008
The fleet quickly left Out of India in its wake while our strategy turned from racing to arriving at the finish line safely, and without working our crew of five into a lather. Close reaching was the best we could do, and that gave us good speed. We planned a course that would provide a minimum of tacks. When we did have to tack, we swung through the wind slowly, putting our backs into overhauling the jib sheet. Then we threw in a series of luffs, with Rod Flavell, our appointed strong man, on the winch. Rod and his wife Sheila, from London, are new to the sport. Rod was celebrating his 50th birthday, but he’s fit as 40. We were last across the line, but we’d had an enjoyable sail on another picture perfect BVI day. We picked up a mooring off the Baths, on the southwest tip of Virgin Gorda, near the finish line. Ray went below to look at the batteries and discovered corrosion was the villain. He attacked the beast with WD40, emery cloth, and a wrench. He came on deck 15 minutes later to announce that everything was working. He was both amazed and proud at having solved the problem. "This is very unlike the old me," he said. "I would never pick up a tool. I paid to have jobs done, said it was good for the division of labour. But since I’ve had this boat, I’m the new Ray, a resourceful guy." He beamed.
Warm, beachy places overuse the term ‘paradise’, but if and when Paradise is officially designated here on earth, bet on Gorda Bay being on the short list.
After a swim, Birgitta surprised Rod with a birthday cake iced with Norwegian chocolate. Rod toasted our day on the water. "It was good," he joked, "to experience sailing as it was done in the old days." He was right. It was good to discover that basic skills and plenty of elbow grease still get the job done in this electronic age. We’d all take some Ibuprofen before bed, but there was satisfaction in putting our backs into it today. Plus, tomorrow’s a lay day.
THURSDAY After finishing yesterday the fleet sailed north round the main land-mass of Virgin Gorda to The Bitter End Yacht Club, located on Gorda Bay. This is one of the world’s most lovely spots. The Bay is shaped like the Mediterranean in miniature. It’s only three miles long and a mile and a half wide, but it’s deep, and surrounded on all sides by high, scrubby land masses that pop abruptly out of the sea like brownish green ice bergs. An easterly peninsula of Virgin Gorda makes up the south side. Mosquito and Prickly Pear Islands are to the north. Between them is the perfectly-situated Colquhoun Reef, with a convenient channel passing through it. If I had to be stuck somewhere for the rest of my life, this is it. The Yacht Club attracts thousands of yachts that visit the BVI each year. It calls itself a water sports resort, with an enviable supply of well-kept small boats. Many good sailing regattas are held here. Fleets include small Hobie Cats, Lasers, and Hunter 21s. That might explain why a lay day at Bitter End is as good as it gets for sailors. There’s also good diving, and for the more sybaritic among us there’s a full spa with mysterious offerings like Decleor Envelopments, Reflexology, and massages in ten different flavours. Bitter End has salty beginnings. An early Virgin Island sailor and eccentric Bahamian named Basil Symonette built a place here for charter captains in the 1950s. Ah, if walls could talk. Basil accepted or rejected visiting yachtsmen by looking at the cut of their jibs, literally. His accommodation featured paper sheets on the beds and roughing it is still part of the charm here. >
FAR LEFT: Bill Dockser’s Oyster 82, Ravenous II BELOW LEFT: Mario Budwig’s Oyster 72, Cookielicious BELOW RIGHT: Bitter End Yacht Club, Gorda Bay
Oyster Regatta BVI 2008 continued The water in the shower can be barely warm, and a trek back to your little cottage high on the steep hill after the Mule taxis stop at 11pm is a test of endurance and the complimentary flashlight that reception hand out at check in. One discovers when checking out that this is roughing it, high end.
That is the brilliance of Oyster regattas. In four days I sailed with two couples brand new to racing; two couples in it strictly for good sailing; a crew of seasoned sailors with winning uppermost in mind; and a family giving it their best shot. It’s impossible to say which crew had the most fun.
BELOW FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: John Marshall enjoying the lay day dinghy racing Mike and Vicki Wallace and crew, Oyster 53, Arbella Dick Morgan’s Oyster 655, Blue Destiny TOP RIGHT: The Haig Family, Oyster 55, Fuerte of Conwy BOTTOM RIGHT: Trevor Silver’s Oyster 655, Roulette v.2, overall winner of Class 1
Yet appreciation is the only valid response for the existence of Bitter End. Basking in the beauty of Gorda Bay is inescapable. Just watching the light and shadows change as the day progresses could be a full-time distraction. The colours and their combinations, are stunning, rich and unusual. Water takes on myriad textural variations. Lines of puffy clouds march across the hilltops. Birds land on the tables during meals. Pelicans dive. The quick sunsets pull out all the stops. This really is a blissful place. Instead of tents and beds we have 25 Oyster yachts at a dock that provides fuel, water, and power – even showers. Nearby are two restaurants, a pub, a general store, a little boutique, cottages if need be, wireless service (here and there), and the small boats. The boats provided the lay day’s feature attraction, because real sailors like to sail something different on their day off. Sebastian, from Bitter End’s sailing school, ran races for Lasers, Hobies, and Hunters. The wind was a comfortable 8-10 knots for the gentlemen and ladies. For two hours, 50 of us lost ourselves in the puzzle of puffs, tactics, starts, wind shifts, and lay lines amid the charm of Gorda Bay. There were no losers. Warm, beachy places overuse the term ‘paradise’, but if and when Paradise is officially designated here on earth, bet on Gorda Bay being on the short list.
FRIDAY Departing Bitter End was sweet sorrow. The sweetness was provided by a 15 knot easterly breeze. It would be downwind all day and for the first time in three races, sail selections during the morning roll call were heavy on cruising chutes, MPS’s and even poles. On board Trevor Silver’s new Oyster 655, Roulette v.2, John Boyce chose MPS with pole. Trevor had to rush off on business the previous evening. Boyce, former head of Hood Spars UK, and a well-known consultant on rigs and rigging, would be running the boat with Silver’s veteran captain, Stuart Finnerty. Silver’s Roulettes are always fitted out with speed in mind. Roulette v.2 is notable for its tall carbon spar, fully-battened main with Smart V-Boom, its lack of a baby stay, and its blade jib. On board the 95-foot motor yacht, Far Horizon, donated as the race committee boat for this regatta by Oyster circumnavigator Brian Hall, OBE, and his wife Frankie, Alan Brook set up a starting line a mile west of Bitter End. The Class 1 start was a beauty for David Yelloly’s Spirit of Monpelier, helmed by Richard Matthews, and for Roulette v.2. The two were side by side at the pin end under full power just as the gun sounded. It was one of those rare days when everything went right for Roulette. Our crew was small for a 66-footer, but we made up for that with attention and good luck. Boyce got a great
OYSTER REGATTA BVI 2008
start. Stuart and Jock Wishart, whose graduate school was the British America’s Cup hopeful, Lionheart, handled the foredeck. Stuart’s mate Hazel Wheatley navigated and seemed to be everywhere. Julie Catesby, a London elementary school teacher, was brilliant trimming spinnaker. I had the privilege of doing some steering on this responsive boat. Our first challenge was jibing the big masthead MPS G-2 spinnaker, a virtual asymmetrical. The course wound around the northwesterly tip of Virgin Gorda, cut through the Dog Islands, turned south through Round Neck Passage, then west along the string of islands that compose BVI’s south side. (Hazel has a handy way to remember the island sequence from east to west: Ginger Cooper put Salt Peter in Norman’s drink). Five jibes would be required. The first one got the kinks out. They kept improving until the last jibe into the finish off Flannagan Island, which was smooth as a Pain Killer. The speedo hardly dropped as the big sail blew around the front of the boat and was trimmed in smartly on the new side. There were big smiles all around. The evening’s drinks party and buffet dinner was at Pirates’ Bight on Norman Island. Costumes were de rigueur. People were unrecognizable under pirate hats, wearing lipstick scars, eye-patches, wigs, and blacked-out teeth. The kids from Richard and Petra Haig’s Oyster 55, Fuerte of Conwy – Laura, 13; Duncan, 14; and Scott, 8 – were among the winners for best costumes. They’ve sailed more than 10,000 miles with their parents over the last year.
The speedo hardly dropped as the big sail blew around the front of the boat and was trimmed in smartly on the new side. There were big smiles all around.
SATURDAY For the last race I shipped aboard Fuerte. Sailing for a day with the Haigs and their engaging children was irresistible. At the party the previous evening, Scott had won me over with an opportunistic act of piracy. He and a pal jumped from behind a tree brandishing swords and demanding a dollar for using the path to the men’s room. The Haigs began a 16-month, 12,000-mile sailing odyssey a year ago when they bought a brokerage Oyster (instead of another house) after selling their house in the UK. From Oyster headquarters at Fox’s Marina in Suffolk, they sailed to France, crossed the Bay of Biscay, cruised the Spanish and Portuguese coasts, sailed all over the Med, then joined the ARC. "Laura’s been off and on about the trip," Richard said. "Duncan is a laid back kid who’s enjoyed it all the way. Scott misses his friends once in a while. But how many kids have seen hump back whales breeching?" >
Oyster Regatta BVI 2008 continued Richard has raced J109s, and mates don’t often come as fit and able as Petra. Duncan has turned into a good deck hand, and as a team, the Haig’s have the 55-footer figured out. But racing with such a group is admittedly different. The kids were talking a blue streak during the pre-start, which Richard handled well despite the racket. We had to postpone the first tack because Duncan was in the head. Richard shrugged. "At least it wasn’t at the start." When Richard calls for a tack, 13-year-old Laura’s routine is to go below and cover her ears. But she’s good on deck, and poised on the radio. Everyone in the ARC became familiar with the articulate, distinctive female voice from Fuerte. Oyster awarded her a special prize for her smooth delivery during morning roll calls. "The kids weren’t excited about the idea of racing," Richard said, "until the five minute gun of the first race. Since then they’ve been bonkers about it." Fuerte didn’t appear for Race 3 because of a hydraulic leak. They took the boat to Road Town for repairs. Never the less, Laura had awakened everyone at 6am in case the repairs could get done early and they could make the start. Fuerte did well in Race 4. After the start we held out on starboard tack while many boats opted to tack inshore. The left side paid off, and we made it through Salt Island Passage on just one tack, gaining several boats. On the downwind leg past the other side of Norman Island, Richard and Duncan rigged the pole and winged the jib. Petra steered well, and Scott had one of several naps. The second tactical move that paid off was sailing close-hauled across Francis Drake Channel to the finish line. Several boats eased sheets, assuming the course was on a line to Nanny Cay. But Alan Brook had set the line more to the east. By staying high, we made the line without tacking, saving lots of time. We came fourth on the day, not bad for a family crew on an 18 year-old boat. And that is the brilliance of Oyster regattas. In four days I sailed with two couples brand new to racing; two couples in it strictly for good sailing; a crew of seasoned sailors with winning uppermost in mind; and a family giving it their best shot. It’s impossible to say which crew had the most fun.
BELOW FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: Richard and Petra’s Oyster 55, Fuerte of Conwy Dick Morgan’s Oyster 655, Blue Destiny John and Sonia Marshall’s Oyster 56, Rock Oyster, overall winner of Class 2 FAR RIGHT: Stuart Smith’s Oyster 82, Oceana and Mario Budwig’s Oyster 72, Cookielicious
The final dinner and awards ceremony was held under festive lighted tents on the beach back at Peg Legs, Nanny Cay, where it all began last Monday. A compelling slide show by photographer, Tim Wright, who had been shooting from land, sea, and air all week, alternated with a tape loop of the boats in action by ubiquitous cameraman, Mike Marriage. It was an extraordinary week that seemed to leave the participants suspended in a state of satisfaction. We were very lucky with the weather, given the unsettled conditions and high winds of the previous weeks. Nothing but sun, and just the right amount of wind was our lot. The slogan on the licence plates here reads ‘Nature’s Little Secrets’. It was a treat to uncover some of them. But it was a relief to realize we had barely scratched the surface. There will be many more races here in the years to come, and lots more secrets will be discovered.
OYSTER REGATTA BVI 2008
OYSTER REGATTA BVI 2008
Results CONCOURS D'ELEGANCE CLASS 1 PRESENTED BY OYSTER BROKERAGE CLASS 1 Cookielicious Oyster 72 CLASS 1 Avolare Oyster 66
Mario Budwig Jim & Marina Sepiela
CLASS 2 PRESENTED BY CARIBBEAN YACHT MANAGEMENT CLASS 2 Rock Oyster Oyster 56 John & Sonia Marshall CLASS 2 Lady Tara Oyster 53 Merle Gilmore
ABOVE FROM TOP TO BOTTOM: Chris Shea and crew, Magrathea, runner up in Class 2 David Yelloly, Spirit of Montpelier, with Roger Cerrato from Lewmar The Haig family, Fuerte of Conwy with Rupert Pearn from Raymarine RIGHT FROM TOP TO BOTTOM: Bob and Mallika De Haven and crew, Mistress Mallika with Matthew Vincent from Dolphin Sails Chase and Marla Leavitt, Holo Kai, runner up in Class 1 Merle Gilmore, Lady Tara with Barrie Sullivan from Pantaenius Roulette v.2 crew, winners of Class 1 John and Sonia Marshall and crew, Rock Oyster, winners of Class 2
RACE 1 SPONSORED BY LEWMAR CLASS 1 1st Ravenous II 2nd Spirit of Montpelier 3rd Holo Kai 4th Cookielicious
Oyster Oyster Oyster Oyster
82 72 72 72
Bill Dockser David Yelloly Chase and Marla Leavitt Mario Budwig
CLASS 2 1st 2nd 3rd 4th
Oyster Oyster Oyster Oyster
56 56 56 53
John & Sonia Marshall Chris Shea John Marren Merle Gilmore
RACE 2 SPONSORED BY RAYMARINE CLASS 1 1st Ravenous II 2nd Roulette v.2 3rd Spirit of Montpelier 4th Holo Kai
Oyster Oyster Oyster Oyster
82 655 72 72
Bill Dockser Trevor Silver David Yelloly Chase and Marla Leavitt
CLASS 2 1st 2nd 3rd 4th
Oyster Oyster Oyster Oyster
56 485 56 49
John & Sonia Marshall Richard & Diane Watson Andreas Zancani Andre Lynch
RACE 3 SPONSORED BY DOLPHIN SAILS CLASS 1 1st Roulette v.2 Oyster 2nd Spirit of Montpelier Oyster 3rd Mistress Mallika Oyster 4th Golden Gate Oyster
655 72 62 62
Trevor Silver David Yelloly Bob & Mallika De Haven Ole Vagner
CLASS 2 1st 2nd 3rd 4th
53 56 49 485
Merle Gilmore Chris Shea Andre Lynch Richard & Diane Watson
Rock Oyster Magrathea Cinderella III Lady Tara
Rock Oyster Sobriyah Zena Posterity
Lady Tara Magrathea Posterity Sobriyah
Oyster Oyster Oyster Oyster
Photos: Tim Wright/photoaction.com
OYSTER REGATTA BVI 2008
RACE 4 SPONSORED BY PANTAENIUS CLASS 1 1st Roulette v.2 2nd Holo Kai 3rd Spirit of Montpelier 4th Golden Gate
Oyster Oyster Oyster Oyster
655 72 72 62
Trevor Silver Chase and Marla Leavitt David Yelloly Ole Vagner
CLASS 2 1st 2nd 3rd 4th
Oyster Oyster Oyster Oyster
56 53 56 55
Chris Shea Merle Gilmore John & Sonia Marshall Richard & Petra Haig
Magrathea Lady Tara Rock Oyster Fuerte
THE WINDBOATS 25th ANNIVERSARY TROPHY Spirit of Montpelier Oyster 72
THE YACHTING WORLD TROPHY Holo Kai
Chase and Marla Leavitt
THE OYSTER REGATTA TROPHY CLASS 1 1st 2nd 3rd 4th
Roulette v.2 Spirit of Montpelier Ravenous II Holo Kai
Oyster Oyster Oyster Oyster
655 72 82 72
Trevor Silver David Yelloly Bill Dockser Chase and Marla Leavitt
CLASS 2 1st 2nd 3rd 4th
Rock Oyster Magrathea Lady Tara Sobriyah
Oyster Oyster Oyster Oyster
56 56 53 485
John & Sonia Marshall Chris Shea Merle Gilmour Richard & Diane Watson
ARC 2007 A day by day account of a transatlantic crossing
Since its inception in 1986, the ARC has become synonymous with ocean sailing and this annual 2700 nautical mile transatlantic rally, starting each November from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, has now become the most popular way to cross the Atlantic. The largest transocean sailing event in the world, every year the ARC brings together over 200 yachts from all over the world. Conceived as a friendly race for cruising yachts to make the Atlantic crossing both safer and more enjoyable, participating yachts must carry a range of safety equipment including a liferaft, EPIRB and VHF radio. Daily radio nets contribute further to the safety of participants and the presence of experienced sailors is another incentive for those with little offshore experience. Over successive years, Oyster yachts have continued to be one of the most prolific marques represented in the ARC fleet, with many owners using the rally as a stepping-stone to achieving their ambitions to set off on long distance cruising and circumnavigations.
Oyster 655 Roulette v.2 By Jess Sweeney The stunning Oyster 655 Roulette v.2 was our vessel for the 2007 ARC. Almost brand-new, with a carbon rig, there was much anticipation amongst the crew to see how she handled herself across the Atlantic. Roulette proved to be all we could hope for – a fast boat that sailed easily with very comfortable living accommodation. The run up to the ARC start is grey and blustery and our last day ashore is filled with final preparations. We are all itching to get going, but first have to work out how to string up all the apples from the ceiling! Yesterday involved washing all the fruit – in chlorine, vinegar and water – amid various avid discussions about the technicalities of mushroom survival. Roulette’s owner Trevor Silver gave a safety briefing that covered all the emergency plans, but hopefully we will have nothing more to worry about than how to beat Hazel, our resident chef, in the ‘cook of the day’ competition. Day 1 We have three reefs in the main, two in the jib, and it seems we are on a beam reach with beam-on swell – not quite the downwind cruising we expected but we had a great start. There was a last minute call to pole out the jib on starboard instead of port as the wind had swung left… but amid the scrambling to rerun the lines, an opening appeared on the line for Trevor, the start gun on the warship sounded, and we were off! Much of the fleet went left, but we stayed inshore and scooted away in the sunshine. A squall soon caught us, we put the jib away, and when we brought it out again later we were in the lead!
Day 5 Trevor turned the ship’s clocks back an hour at noon today. This was disorientating, not only because lunch was late, but more significantly, so was Happy Hour. Trevor was counting down the minutes in the galley, with the gin poised to pour for 20 minutes or so, until finally the clock struck the new 5pm. With all this great speed along the rhumb line we are maintaining a good position. Hazel has been busy in the ‘war room’, calculating handicaps and plotting the paths of our fellow competitors. We keep an especially close eye on our direct rivals, the Oyster 72 Holo Kai. A few of us have friends onboard Holo Kai, and therefore dearly desire bragging rights in St. Lucia. The war room plans continue. For the moment, things look good, and we sit at 2nd in class on handicap. Day 6 We received many messages of support through the online log, the response is a bit overwhelming and we have had a good laugh at the paradox of being simultaneously isolated in the middle of the ocean and also having a multitude of fans tracking us from all corners of the world. We have received mail from Australia to San Francisco, Switzerland to Antigua, New Zealand to Derbyshire. Today was marked by a gybe. This was not any old gybe. We’ve been on starboard for five days now, so while most of us on the foredeck were keen for a change, those below weren’t ready. The gybe was smooth and there were smiles on deck. However, DISASTER below! Trevor had been preparing the gin and tonics for Happy Hour ... on the "gybe-ho" a whole bottle of gin and a whole bottle of tonic went everywhere.
Despite this, we have much to celebrate today. We have officially cracked the 1000 mile mark, and jumped two spots in the placings. Furthermore, the wind has come back to us. We are on port, jib goosewinged, heading directly for St. Lucia. Day 7 I set another top speed record last night of 16.8 knots! This was mainly due to some blatant disobedience – when a severe squall appeared on the radar, and a big black line of cloud approached in the night, instead of furling away the jib as instructed by the captain Stuart… I let out a "yeee-ha, bring it on!" So a nice 35 knots squall hit and the boat surfed like it had never surfed before! It was awesome, until Stu woke up, cursed us for being over-canvassed and sent the jib packing. Day 8 Today started at midnight with the half-way party – 1350 miles to go! We cracked a bottle of pink champagne, toasted the mid-Atlantic and celebrated the milestone in style. Two crew members were a bit sleepy though, and did not make it up on deck. So we had another party! This time it was at Happy Hour. Caviar, foie gras, and more pink champagne. Trevor also decided this was a good time to set the clock back another hour, so as if by magic, Happy Hour occurred all over again, and we had some G&T to round off the afternoon. Day 9 During a routine celestial navigation exercise, Chris’s sextant has shown that the sun is in the wrong position! This is dramatic evidence of climate change and has the whole boat talking. Chris is going to write to the Prime Minister: it seems the Northern and Southern > hemispheres have switched.
ARC 2007 continued
This may also explain the abundance of Antipodean accents onboard.
Almost brand-new, with a carbon rig, there was much anticipation amongst the crew to see how she handled herself across the Atlantic. Roulette proved to be all we could hope for.
Day 10 Last night, as we motored along in the darkness, a bright light appeared to starboard. It was bright green, with a thin orange tail. It dived downwards for 2-3 seconds only a few miles away. Three of us saw it, and a debate ensued about what it could have been. A flare? A meteorite? A UFO? We were in the middle of nowhere, with nothing on the radar, nothing on the radio, black emptiness all around and many shooting stars… we decided it was most likely a meteorite, but the episode left us all a little shaken. Day 11 We managed to catch a fish today at last! It was a beauty. A big dorado that was rapidly changing colour during the dance of death. Trevor grabbed the cheap bottle of alcohol to pour under its gills. But the awkward angle meant that instead Trevor poured it down the poor fish’s mouth. Drunk, it died. Day 12 Later, we saw a boat with a kite up to port. It was Berenice, the Swan 62. They were on starboard, we were on port. We looked forward to a bit of a match race on the water and chatted to them on the VHF. They were gybing every 15 minutes on the wind shifts and were going to have roast beef for dinner. We told them we had a policy of only gybing every 1000 miles! Especially after the loss of gin last time. Hazel did a little VHF-flirting and as a result, all us girls were invited to dinner. We now have ready-made dates in St. Lucia if we want. With nine Italians onboard Berenice, that is three each!
Day 14 Stu spotted land first – it was the green, green hills of Martinique. To Trevor’s dismay, as sunset approached Roulette was still miles off Martinique with St. Lucia nowhere in sight. The sailing was painful we had little squalls of rain, but less and less wind. The call was made – let’s just get to St. Lucia. From there it was a chaotic chain of events! The spinnaker drop was perfect but just as we were putting all the sails away to begin motoring, we ran over a veritable minefield of fishing lines about five miles off the shore of Martinique. We dropped the sails to stop the boat, and sent Chris over the side and in one valiant move he cut the line. The boat took off like a rocket. Things were almost on track again when a huge rain squall hit, soaking us through. Trevor won the wet T-shirt competition in the ‘special’ white shirt he was saving for the photo finish. In the midst of the squall, a tanker appeared on AIS on a direct collision course. Finally, the island appeared in front of us, and we arrived to a perfect sunset finish. Relief all round.
Epilogue Our reception in St. Lucia was fantastic. The six boats to arrive before us blew their horns and waved, the locals cheered and the ARC committee had the rum waiting. The crew from Berenice met us on the dock and gave us a bottle of Italian champagne to celebrate and the post reception parties kept us busy for a week. We each left Roulette a little sad but richer with new-found friends and happy memories. ARC 2007 was an adventure not to be forgotten.
Our Oyster 56 proved to be an absolutely unbeatable blue water fast cruiser.
OYSTER 56 ROCK OYSTER By Robert Chelsom When you do something as wonderful in life as crossing the Atlantic for the first time on an Oyster 45 called Josbarrola, which I did in the ARC 2000, you do worry whether you should repeat the adventure because it might never be as good again or might just become a list of comparisons between the two trips! Nothing could have been further from the truth for John Marshall and the crew of the Oyster 56 Rock Oyster in completing ARC 2007, crossing in 16 days, 10 hours, to be 71st boat over the line and coming third in class. The warm balmy night watches of 2000 gave way to the heaving seas and torrential rain of tropical storm Olga passing through the fleet for three or four days. Sleep was nearly impossible and moving around the boat was simply a case of crashing into the nearest piece of fine Landamore’s joinery! However, sustained by a great crew with a brilliant collective sense of humour, food that you would expect from most five star restaurants and a very substantial wine supply, the crossing was an absolute joy. It was much tougher than 2000 because of the weather, but it was in other ways more relaxing because we had done it before and also because of the superb performance from the Oyster 56 Rock Oyster. Our 2000 experience had taught us to work hard in Las Palmas right up to departure, checking and re-checking everything, making everything safe and above all preparing for downwind chafe. In St Lucia, all the pontoon talk was of how many sails where shredded, deck fittings pulled out or booms broken. There seemed to be some macho pride in the more that broke, the more heroic you were! We were proud to say that not one solitary thing broke or was damaged on Rock Oyster. That is not quite true because we did break the blender on day eight meaning no more fruit smoothies – almost worthy of a Pan Pan! Our one small criticism of an otherwise superbly organised event by World Cruising was the lateness in forecasting the bad weather and in particular Olga. We were fortunate to have a link to our own weather forecasting and were aware of the storms at least two full days before ARC control gave out serious weather forecasts. Once again our Oyster 56 proved to be an absolutely unbeatable blue water fast cruiser, enabling us to come third in class whilst still reducing sail over dinner to ensure none of the best claret was spilt! >
ARC 2007 continued
Oyster 56, Magrathea By Chris Shea
It’s remarkable that it only needs to get up to 15 knots for Magrathea to pick up her skirts and shoot off at 8 knots and above.
Relaxed Preparations Just two days to go until the big off and everything on Magrathea is calm and under control. She arrived here ten days ago so there has been plenty of time to fix a few niggling little issues, plan for a major provisioning exercise and clean every square centimetre of the boat. In fact things are so much under control that we have been the first attendees at the daily happy hour every day this week! The Journey Begins With 250 yachts and 25 knots of breeze we held back at the start and crossed the line about a minute after the gun. Probably not an issue for a 3000-mile trip! We've been lucky so far with no mishaps and only two rain squalls. About half a dozen others have had rig problems already, including a bashed head from an accidental gybe on the start, though the casualty remained conscious. Another yacht has lines around the propeller and rudder and is currently drifting down wind at 3 knots in the dark and 3m seas awaiting search and rescue help! Slowing Down We have slowed down somewhat, but it's remarkable that it only needs to get up to 15 knots for Magrathea to pick up her skirts and shoot off at 8 knots and above. We've seen no other yachts at all today but have been passed by two thousand foot cargo ships. A whole ocean to play with and they both managed to pass in front of our bow by just one mile. Champagne Sailing at Last There's not been much champagne sailing in the last few days with grey clouds, big swells and highly variable winds but this morning the sky cleared, the sea has organised into a gentle, regular swell so our spinnaker is out to celebrate. We have also been surprised to be surrounded by a pod of about 30 dolphins since we are now about 230 miles off the coast. They only stayed for about five minutes but as someone pointed out, with 230 other boats to visit they are working on a tight schedule!
Dismal Day With weak and inconsistent wind, Magrathea has spent all day rolling in the swell and covering hardly any distance. Our big, fully battened mainsail suffers badly as the wind is insufficient to hold the sail in shape causing it to turn inside out whenever a big roll starts, before popping back with an almighty bang, and a huge shudder throughout the boat. Apart from that we are having a great time! For this relief much thanks At last the wind gods have come on side. We decided to gybe before dinner and, hey presto, we are now flying along at up to 10 knots â€“ virtually in the direction we wanted all along. We just hope this will keep up for a decent period as morale on Magrathea has now shot up (this of course has nothing to do with the decision to break out a bottle of red to celebrate a quarter of the trip completed, good wind, Skipper volunteering to be Chef du Jour etc.) The vastness of the ocean We have had emails in the last two days describing an injury to a crew member on AA Big One necessitating a mid ocean rendezvous to evacuate, and two illegal immigrants boarding another yacht in their attempts to get into the EU. We can happily report that we continue with our original crew complement only and injuries are restricted to the usual sailing bumps and scrapes. Everyone has even braved the dangers of a rolling shower cubicle on a number of occasions without incident and so maintaining outstanding levels of personal hygiene.
Ho ho ho It's the 1st of December so our Christmas decorations are up and we have an advent calendar. We are drawing lots as to who gets to open the little doors. Fortunately it's not one with the chocolates in otherwise there might be a real mutiny. We have definitely been flying along for quite some time now and covering some real distance towards our destination. It looks as though we will have to regard this event as a long distance marathon and wait until the very end before we can see if our gamble to go south has been successful or not. Shampoo Sailing Late this afternoon we had plenty of excitement as some very large squalls blew in. Turned out it was more rain than wind but the shift was about 60% and we found ourselves close hauled (in the mid Atlantic!) and bashing our way into torrential rain. This rather put a damper on our intended celebration party so the champagne went back in the fridge although we did manage a damp beer. The colossal amount of rain poured down our mainsail into our dish like boom and then ran out the end in a huge torrent. Our deckhand decided this was a good showering opportunity and so broke out the shampoo!
this morning and the wind has been such that we have been able to point straight towards St Lucia without any problem and average about 8 miles per hour in that direction the whole time. The sun shone throughout in an almost cloudless sky, while the breeze kept us cool. And now the end is near We have had another pretty good day (and we had the highest distance run yesterday for all the similar Oysters) We have been debating what we will miss once the trip is over. The only suggestion to date has been "not having any sense of guilt" You can sit around all day doing virtually nothing or just reading and sleeping and there is no need to feel at all guilty, since there is absolutely nothing else you can do. Not a very frequent feeling back in the day-to-day real world. Perhaps that would be enough to entice some of you readers out there to try this some time in the future. The End At 1030 UK time on 11 December we crossed the line - in the darkness as the sun had set some 45 minutes earlier. So that was 16 days, 9.5 hours for a trip which turned out to be 3034 nautical miles (even though the direct route from Las Palmas is supposed to be about 2,700 miles).
A Grand day Out ... what a difference a day makes. We have had a lovely day - the wind has blown an almost constant 13 knots all day from the southeast. We have been able to fly â€˜Don't Panicâ€™ since first thing
ARC 2007 continued
We have had some great sailing especially the last 24 hrs when we have touched 14 knots plus a few times. Blue Destiny continues to look after us well, and loves a good stiff breeze, she is a wonderful all round yacht with great performance. Dick Morgan Oyster 655 Blue Destiny
Principessa Wins Oyster Trophy The Oyster Trophy for the first Oyster on ARC handicap was presented to Alec Broers, Oyster 485 Principessa.
We were thrilled to win the magnificent Oyster ARC Trophy, not to mention the magnum of Champagne. We kept Principessa moving and refused to use the engine but never expected to be quite as fast as we were - beginner's luck! We were also first in our ARC Cruising class all of which goes to show that Oysters can make anyone winners! Alec Broers Oyster 485 Principessa
The 2008 ARC departs from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria on 23rd November. For more information visit www.worldcruising.com
Tel: +44 (0)1983 296060
Fax: +44 (0)1983 295959 Photos: Tim Wright/photoaction.com Richard Langdon/Ocean Images
Oysters at the 2008 Autumn Boat Shows We extend a very warm welcome to all boat show visitors to come and see some of the newest Oysters afloat, kindly loaned to us for the shows by their owners. Because we can only accommodate so many people on board at any one time and because we want you to enjoy your visit, without the yacht being overcrowded, we do operate an appointment system at all boat shows. You can book an appointment to view our yachts by completing the online Boarding Pass request form on our website at www.oystermarine.com or by calling our sales team direct: UK/EUROPEAN SHOWS USA SHOWS
HISWA - AMSTERDAM 2 – 7 September Oyster 54 CANNES 10 - 15 September Oyster 655 NEWPORT (USA) 11 - 14 September Oyster 46 Oyster LD43 SOUTHAMPTON 12 – 21 September Oyster 54 Oyster 56 Oyster 82 Oyster LD43 MONACO 24 – 27 September (Oyster Superyachts Booth)
+44 (0) 1473 688888 +1 401 846 7400
ANNAPOLIS SAILBOAT 9 - 13 October Oyster 46 Oyster 82 GENOA 4 – 12 October Oyster 655 ANNAPOLIS POWERBOAT 16 – 19 October Oyster LD43 HAMBURG 25 October – 2 November Oyster 54 FORT LAUDERDALE 30 October - 3 November (Oyster Superyachts Booth) BARCELONA 8 – 16 November Boats TBA
Buy tickets for the Southampton Boat Show online and help the Ellen MacArthur Trust Buying your tickets to the Southampton Boat Show via the Oyster website saves you money on the gate price and ensures you fast access to the show without queuing on your arrival. But even better, Oyster will make a donation to the value of 10% of all tickets purchased via our website to the Ellen MacArthur Trust. Tickets can be posted to you or you can print your own tickets to take to the show with you. www.oystermarine.com
Up to date details about boat shows, how to make appointments, buy tickets and general visitor information about each show can be found on our website at www.oystermarine.com
Billy Budd heads South by Mariacristina Rapisardi, Oyster 72 Billy Budd
We’re here and at long last our journey to the very southern end of the world begins. For months now, all our friends have been telling us that it’s not north to the Arctic we should be heading but due south to Chile, Tierra del Fuego, Antarctica, the Southern Seas and the legendary Cape Horn. Given our passion, which perhaps borders on the maniacal at times, we cautiously embark upon our southern course towards the Antarctic. Billy Budd arrived at Puerto Montt from French Polynesia in September. She had some much-needed rest after covering 33,000 miles in two years and was restocked ready for our adventure. But there wasn’t much time. We flew in from Italy in the middle of November bursting with great expectations and anxious to get going.
Puerto Montt Canal Chacao
Chiloe Canal Moraleda
Bahia Tic Toc
Puerto Chacabuco Peninsular Skyring Golfo de Panas
Caleta Connor Puerto Eden
We cast off on a gorgeous morning that was deliciously mild and so sunny it almost felt like Italy. The bright start had made us feel a world away from the harsh southern territories, however that notion was soon dispelled.
a nn Ch eto
Chile and Santiago welcomed us with 30 degree heat but thankfully the temperature was much more bearable when we got to Puerto Montt - sunny with a light breeze. In the evening we dined in the Fogon del Lenador (the best restaurant in town) where we feasted on asado and Chilean wine. The bill for eight of us came to only 100 Euros!
P A T A G O N I A
Clive, Laila and Richard were waiting for us aboard. They had already stocked up on wine, meat and vegetables and we had sent on from Italy the usual prosciutto crudo, Parmesan cheese and salami. In our schedule we had only planned to stop at two towns, one of which was too small to offer us food or anything else, so we needed to ensure we had everything required to survive unaided for at least a month.
Estrecho de Magallanes Caleta Playa Parda Brecknock
We spent our first night, as we would spend every night for the next month, anchored alone. The bay featured fantastically high waterfalls, lush green vegetation and trees crowded to the water’s edge. Our next destination was the island of Chiloé. We thought it would be a touristy place bursting with shops, restaurants and holiday homes for city folk but we found it dotted with colourful little houses and green fields and a place of genuine unspoilt beauty. There were very few people or bars ashore, just the market where the locals sell natural wool, heavy knit sweaters, hats and animal skins. Chiloé was a fairytale setting beyond our expectations. >
Ushuaia eagle Chann B el Isla Puerto Gordon Williams Cape Horn
FAR LEFT: Billy Budd at anchor, Tic Toc Bay ABOVE: Approaching the island of Chiloé
Billy Budd heads South continued The Armada (Chilean Navy) and the harbour master gave us permission to berth and then to continue on our way the next morning. The Armada would be our lifeline, tracking our progress for the entire voyage. Each evening we made sure we emailed the Chilean Navy our position and throughout they maintained occasional radio contact with us. We headed further south from Chiloé and the weather remained sunny with no rain at all. How could that be? Everyone had been terrifying us with tales of the dreadful Chilean rains but the sun was out and we were all walking around in shorts! Suddenly, we found ourselves in the fairytale setting of Tic Toc Bay where sea lions, seals and dolphins frolicked against the backdrop of snowy mountain peaks. It couldn’t be real? It had to be a dream! The nosy dolphins swam up to us, their curiosity causing them to bump into the inflatable. They were so tame we could almost reach out and touch them. Dozens of sea lions and seals were tightly packed, almost on top of one another, snoozing in the sun and resting on the rocks that peaked out of the sea. As we glided nearer they effortlessly slid into the water. The penguins we spotted were much smaller than we had imagined and were not in the least bit put out by our arrival. They stayed exactly where they were, so relaxed they barely bothered to cast a glance our way.
Suddenly, we found ourselves in the fairytale setting of Tic Toc Bay where sea lions, seals and dolphins frolicked against the backdrop of snowy mountain peaks. It couldn’t be real? It had to be a dream.
” It was here in Tic Toc bay that we decided to have our first dive in southern waters. We put on our dry suits and took the plunge. The water wasn’t exceptionally cold at 9 degrees but we didn’t see a single fish, just millions and millions of tiny crabs that scattered the second they sensed us coming. With each day that went by the south got closer and the days got colder and gradually it started to rain. We anchored in fjords ringed by such dense vegetation that we did not stand a chance of even getting ashore. This pattern continued for the rest of the voyage, all the way to Puerto Natales. We had been tying up in narrow bays and fjords, which involved running a line to shore. Running the line was not an easy task but luckily we learned very quickly to work together. Two of us would set out in the life raft to take the lines ashore and tie them to trees or rocks (we returned aboard covered in muck and earth), one would be at the wheel, two manned the anchor and one person operated the laser (the fun job). The laser was a gift from some friends who had sailed with us in Polynesia and it handily calculates the exact distance from the point it’s aimed at – it soon became an essential piece of kit every time we berthed.
With the laser on board all someone had to do was shout "100 metres!" and then the anchor was dropped, the engine put in reverse and the shore guys headed off with the lines â€“ perfect synchronisation. The rain, which began in Chacabuco, continued unabated 24 hours a day every day for the entire duration of the rest of the trip. Luckily weâ€™d been warned well in advance and came prepared with completely waterproof high tech jackets, trousers and of course the right attitude (a Zen-like acceptance of water, water and more water). We were not quite as well prepared for the dense and impenetrable vegetation. Despite our best efforts we were unable to hack our way through it with machetes. As a result our treks ashore were pure torture as each time we attempted to do the impossible. We tried every trick we could think of to penetrate the thick barrier of trees, moss, shrubs and climbers but it always ended with us bathed in sweat, our clothes in tatters and at best only a few dozen metres of headway. This frustration soon subsided because deep down we knew that we were here to navigate the waters and navigate them we did. >
ABOVE FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: Rain, rain and more rain! At anchor in Tic Toc Bay A gathering of sea lions in Tic Toc Bay
Billy Budd heads South continued
The wind began to increase. The experts had told us that we would not encounter any williwaws until the Beagle Channel but at Puerto Refugio we were buffeted by spectacular williwaws that seemed to increase in number and intensity every time we had to hoist the anchor to continue our journey. And so it went on for several days, the williwaws arrived punctually every time we wanted to get underway or drop anchor. We arrived at the legendary Gulf of Penas. The Navy weather bulletin had forecast winds from the north of 50/60 knots and 7/8 metre waves. We needed to get going because if the winds turned south we would have been stuck in the gulf for days. So we crossed the bay â€“ waves, wind, rain and buckets of Stugeron for those feeling sea sick or those trying to pre-empt it. The waves were pretty big by now. With each one it felt like Billy Budd was climbing up the side of a huge building and then plunging down the other side. Then it started all over again; the wind gusts hit 55 knots! The conditions had left us feeling exhausted but the struggle was not in vain, we were here to see glaciers. The Gulf of Penas was finally behind us and as we entered the Messner Canal the first Chilean glacier loomed into sight. Seno Iceberg, Pio XI, Amalia, each one
gorgeous, immense and electric blue ice. There were dolphins everywhere and at long last we had a glimpse of a more accessible shoreline. We entered the first of the glacier fjords, Seno Iceberg. The silence was absolute until the radio started squawking "Hello..hello…" Who was it? Who would hail us on the radio with a mere "hello"? Confused, we answered with an equally un-seamanlike and timid "hello?" The voice turned out to be the park warden who had seen Billy Budd sail into the bay. He invited us to visit him in the little cottage where he and another guard spent their days keeping watch over the territory. We obliged and were welcomed by the two delighted Chileans who had been there for 25 days of their 30-day shift. They keep watch over the park and its deer, which have been slowly dying out in recent years. It would appear that hardly any people pass through this area so these wardens live in almost complete isolation on their shifts.
The following morning they showed us around the park and we were able to spot the rare deer, as we moved closer to them they seemed to show no fear. We were so close we could have reached out and touched them (we didn’t of course). After this we all went back to Billy Budd, crew and wardens alike, for spaghetti, beer and for the first time in many days a bottle of wine. When we were leaving they asked for a photograph of us all together and also that we tell other boats to call and see them. It would be great if more people visited this park but it seems that the few boats that have ventured into the bay simply turn around and leave almost at once. We wondered why these people didn’t venture further as it was a truly fantastic place. As we sailed on further, one evening in a lonely fjord, we met a solitary, tiny fishing boat with only two people aboard. We asked if they had any of the legendary Chilean ‘Sentoia’ crab that we had been dreaming about with a growing sense of longing since the beginning of the voyage. Sentoia crabs have a well-deserved reputation of being even more delicious than lobster. >
ABOVE FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: Seno iceberg More rain! 70 knot winds and dodging williwaws
Billy Budd heads South continued The fishermen said they had no crab to give us but then the following morning they arrived with nine gigantic and very much alive Sentoia crabs. Luckily for us one of our crew knew how to deal with these wriggling creatures. All our fishermen friends wanted in return for these fine crabs was two bottles of wine and two cigars. Not a bad exchange for crabs that usually are sold for hundreds of euros a piece in the Japanese fish markets. That night dinner consisted of one thing and one thing only: sentoia, sentoia, sentoia. The best meal we had eaten in a month! Our voyage continued, as did the wind, however the sea was calm as we were passing through a protected channel that allowed little room for waves. The williwaws were so crazy that sometimes we had to revert to engine only as even the tiniest bit of sail was too dangerous in these conditions. We had heard that a boat a couple of days ahead of us had taken a knockdown because of an unforeseen williwaw.
We had come to this incredible country to experience such emotions, breathtaking mountains, Patagonian expanses, beautiful wildlife, the rain, the people.
” As we travelled on, the world started to open up. The Messner Channel began to peter out and we entered the Sarmeto Channel and other incredibly deep channels and fjords. We tied up in bays with ominous-sounding names: Baia Desperacion, Desolacion, Inutil… A few rays of sun and the very occasional face, reminded us that there was a world to the east of the Andes, a world that was waiting for us in the next few months. We were drawing closer to our final destination of Puerto Natales. Soon we entered Las Montanas, an astonishingly long fjord from whose end we were able to see the Payne Towers. And finally there they were - the mountains. These were legendary snowy peaks that towered imperiously with long channels of ice that swooped majestically down to the sea. The wind was showing no signs of abating. In fact, it seemed to be rising all the time. We had to get to Puerto Natales to catch our plane back to Italy. The weather was set to get worse with forecasts of a serious squall boasting 70-knot winds on the day we were due to leave. We decided to bring forward our arrival to Porto Natales by a day to ensure that we made our necessary connection.
Instead of greeting a 70-knot squall we motored into a 60-knot one! With peaks of 66.7 these williwaws, the likes of which we’ve never seen before, tip the boat even though there’s not a sail in sight. Our arrival in to Porto Natales was emotional to say the least! We had come to this incredible country to experience such emotions, breathtaking mountains, Patagonian expanses, beautiful wildlife, the rain, the people. We bid a fond farewell to Puerto Natales and to Billy Budd, and drove across Patagonia to Punta Arenas to catch our plane. Billy Budd sailed on to Ushuaia where we will fly out to join her for more of the same in Antarctica. After this, who knows? A year down south will mean we can go where we want, explore, learn and discover. The North/South and Arctic/Antarctic comparisons have only just begun! ABOVE FROM LEFT TO RIGHT:
Follow Billy Budd’s travels at www.billybudd.info
The very valuable sentoia crabs Mariacristina hiking on ice Trying to pass through the ice
The OM43 Twin Cabin The new OM43 Twin Cabin follows the success of the Oyster LD43 power boat and takes this proven hull design to the next level. By popular demand we now offer a new interior, which fully optimises the interior configuration for good times afloat. Now you can share that weekend away or cruise with family or friends, while all the features of water jet power remain. The saloon seating has been improved and gives great forward visibility. The OM43 now has a double forward facing crew seat, improved cockpit seating and easier deck to cockpit access. The upper level galley is more than adequate for on board catering, while the cockpit includes a substantial Oyster feature table with built in drinks fridge. The pull out bimini awning covers much of the cockpit area and there is an optional cockpit cover so, even in inclement weather, the party can continue. Power comes from two fuel-efficient Cummins 480 hp motors driving the proven Hamilton water jets with their unique â€˜MouseBoatâ€™ slow speed manoeuvring control. Water jets allow the 43 to dry out for a beach party and offers shallow water exploring and extra safety around bathers with no props. Water jets also mean no risk of fouled props on passage with all that can mean for the safety conscious boater.
The Hamilton ‘MouseBoat’ provides unsurpassed manoeuvrability at slow speed. For example the 43 can almost literally turn in her own length and even track sideways. With a top speed over 30 knots comfortable, relaxed, fuel efficient, long range cruising in the 25 knot plus range is par for the course in suitable weather. The OM43 is both light and strong and her deep V entry is a proven performer in choppy sea conditions. Composite construction including carbon fibre and Kevlar help to create a light rigid structure.
The new OM43 Twin Cabin follows the success of the Oyster LD43 power boat and takes this proven hull design to the next level.
For further information contact: UK Office:
Paul Harding Tel: +44 (0)1473 688888 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bob Marston Tel: +401 846 7400 email: email@example.com
Dry Tortugas By Will White Fort Jefferson sits out in the middle of nowhere, seventy miles due west of Key West, Florida, at the entrance to the Gulf of Mexico, situated on top of a pile of sand that Ponce Deleone named the Dry Tortugas. This was our destination!
Photo: Onne van der Whal
Dry Tortugas continued
Sarasota Venice South Venice
West Palm Beach
Vincent DiPano, the owner of the Oyster 53 Golden Pearl, had lent us his boat for the Miami Boat Show. I joined him, his son Rob and their neighbour Bart, for the return trip from the show. Golden Pearl is kept in Sarasota, on Floridaâ€™s Gulf Coast, so that was where we were heading. Those of you that have seen Oysterâ€™s 2008 calendar will recognize the Pearl as Miss April. She is a beautiful boat and well loved.
Miami Ten Thousand Islands
Florida Bay Dry Tortugas
Key West National Wildlife Refuge
Straits of F lorid a
The trip from Miami is usually made via a stop at that legendary watering hole, Key West. This trip was no exception. But from there we decided to leave the beaten track behind us and head for a more adventurous destination. Dry Tortugas, here we come. We departed in the morning out of our lovely Key West anchorage. The breeze was on the beam so it was up with the spinnaker and out with the fishing poles. Nine relaxing hours later, with fresh caught fish on ice, we arrived at Dry Tortugas National Park, the least visited national park in the whole US park system.
The anchorage there is perfect. In fact, so perfect that it prompted the US government to build Fort Jefferson, one of the largest forts ever constructed in this hemisphere and it stands guard over the small harbour. The fear being that if left unguarded the anchorage could be used as a staging area for an attack on Florida or New Orleans, or as a refuge for pirates. Absolutely the most fortified sand bar on the planet. There was a big swell running as we approached the small group of sandy islands that make up the Dry Tortugas, but as soon as we got up close, the protection the island offered became apparent as the swell disappeared. The anchorage was smooth as a pond and occupied only by a few other sailboats and some commercial shrimpers spending the night. Even though it was high tourist season in Florida, finding a spot to drop an anchor was no problem. There are really three separate attractions to draw sailors to the Tortugas. The first is the incredible harbour that allows you to sit on anchor miles from civilization yet be completely sheltered and secure. The second attraction is the fort. And the third is the pristine natural environment. The whole area is protected and it is just teeming with birds, fish, and tortugas (turtles in Spanish).
We arrived at sunset, got out the grill, cooked up our fish and sat on the aft deck watching the millions of stars overhead. To say it was a special spot does not do it justice. At one point Vinnie looked at me and said “This boat just paid for itself”. It is these types of experiences that make the cruising lifestyle so incredible. Those of us that get to experience it first hand are the really lucky ones. In the morning it was time to explore the fort. We took the dinghy ashore and walked up to the fort’s outer wall, it was even more impressive standing next to it. A moat rings it, and 400 gun doors are staring at you from every angle. With that much firepower I’m not sure they need the moat, but it is a nice effect. Admission was free and there is a self guided tour that leads you around. The fort is constructed entirely of brick, we counted 15 million, but we could have been off by a million bricks or so, and judging from what the other members of our party were saying, they couldn’t figure out how they built it either. If you saw this fort on the mainland, you would call it an engineering marvel. But to have constructed something of this size and complexity out on a pile of sand in the middle of the ocean is another story. "How did they build this?" – say that 100 times and you get the idea of our conversations as we explored the gun turrets and fortifications. At each gun emplacement there is an incredible view of the multi-coloured tropical water and reefs. You work up the levels until you are finally standing atop the walls. From up there you can survey the gulf, and all its colour and expanse. Ready the cannons, and bring on the Spanish man o’ wars. We will defend our sand! And that’s our coconut tree. And those fish are ours too.
To say it was a special spot does not do it justice. At one point Vinnie looked at me and said “This boat just paid for itself”. It is these types of experiences that make the cruising lifestyle so incredible.
Reluctantly we had to depart and do the overnight trip up to Sarasota. But if you ever hear that I have moved to a ‘secure hidden location’ forget I ever told you about this place.
Will White is based out of Oyster’s Newport, Rhode Island office and is responsible for commissioning and providing after sales support to our US based customers and visiting owners. All Oyster owners planning a trip to the East Coast are assured of a very warm welcome by the team in Newport. If you need advice on any aspect of cruising in US waters do get in touch with them. Tel: +1 401 846 7400 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Oystercatcher XXVI at the Caribbean Regattas We race – Oyster owners get the results! By Richard Matthews
Photo: Tim Wright
Oystercatcher XXVI was designed by Tom Humphreys from the Humphreys Design Office, principal designers of every yacht in the Oyster range up to and including the Oyster 82. She was built in Colchester at Oyster’s Special Projects workshop by the team who usually spend their time making the plugs and mould tools for the Oyster range. Her build method was a little unusual for Oyster in that, for the first time, we built a female mould without a plug and laminated the boat using the resin infusion technique, which we intend to use for the new Oyster superyachts. There are a myriad of small details that we can test in a race boat, some of which find their way into Oyster yachts of the future and benefit everybody. Our plan was to take part in the ‘Caribbean circuit’, which starts with the Heineken Regatta in St Maarten, the Rolex in the USVI, the BVI Spring Regatta and finally Antigua Sailing Week. We sailed Oystercatcher from Ipswich to Le Havre on 23rd December and from there she was shipped to Martinique and then passaged to Antigua and held ashore before a quick sprint to St Maarten for the Heineken Regatta, our first event. Racing in all the Caribbean events except the Rolex was under the Caribbean Sailing Association rating system for which we had the boat measured in Antigua. Like the UK’s IRC rule, the CSA handicap is a secret formula to prevent designers trying to exploit it through loopholes! It does however contain a series of arbitrary factors such as keel factor, rudder factor, hull factor, deck gear factor and so forth which can all add up to make a significant change, for the good or bad, to a rating. It may sound like sour grapes, but the problem with these arbitrarily assessed factors is that it seems that the local boats end up with favourable ratings and some of the visitors don’t. During the regatta series we discovered that one of our more prominent competitors measured in Trinidad actually carried the local measurer as one of their regular crew! Racing in the Heineken was fast and furious, with winds generally in the 20-25 knot band. We soon discovered that Oystercatcher’s particular strength was her off wind performance rigged as she is with large asymmetric chutes tacked onto a centreline bowsprit.
OYSTERCATCHER XXVI AT THE CARIBBEAN REGATTAS
Photo: Ingrid Abery
Typically in 20 knots of wind we can hit 16-18 knots of boat speed with relative ease, giving us the occasional major jump on our competitors. Upwind we found the little tiller-steered Oystercatcher to be close winded and fast, except in particularly choppy sea conditions when her light 10,000 lb displacement and relatively shallow 8’ 9" draft worked against us. In those conditions we bounced around and made rather a lot of leeway compared to the competition, but in flat water or evenly spaced seas our upwind performance was at least average, still leaving us with a definite edge downwind. Looking back over the four regattas the Heineken was probably the most fun with varied courses and an exciting, non-stop race around St Maarten. The Rolex was perhaps a little intense comprising mostly of windward leeward races, sometimes three or four in a day. The Rolex was run under the IRC rating system, which we preferred and we can only hope that other Caribbean regattas follow suit. After all, one can now sail in the Fastnet, Bermuda Race and Sydney Hobart under IRC so why not the Caribbean circuit? Our least favourite event was the BVI Spring Regatta where entries were down but the organisers had failed to properly assess the need for fewer classes so several classes, including our own, only contained three to four yachts. This was a pity, since sailing conditions in the BVI were really good but the fleet was too small to be taken seriously. However we did hit an all time top speed of 21 knots! Antigua Sailing Week is still the Caribbean’s principal regatta, albeit there were fewer of the very large glamour yachts taking part this year. Our class, Racing III, was a hotly contested ten-boat fleet with some really competitive, well-sailed competition. We had quite a spread of weather with winds up in the 20+ knot band at the beginning of the week, down to sub 10 at the end. In the end we finished 2nd in class and this was the only one of the four regattas in which we did not win individual races. As an indication of the closeness of racing we finished the week with 23 points and three other yachts, Storm a 44ft one off, Lolita a Swan 56 and Long Echo one of the new Swan New York Yacht Club 42 one designs, all finished with 24 points.
RESULTS OVERVIEW Heineken 1st in class Rolex
1 x 1st
1 x 1st
Antigua Sailing Week – 2nd in class and 6th overall in racing fleet.
The New Oyster 54 The Oyster 54 is the newest Oyster afloat. We have to be honest and say that when this yacht was first launched from concept drawings we â€˜badgedâ€™ her the 525, but as the design evolved it became only too obvious that she would benefit from a little extra length, hence the new Oyster 54 was born.
Our in-house Oyster designers have excelled themselves in producing a yacht with stunning looks. She looks fast and purposeful even when tied to the dock!
The Oyster 54 is built by McDell in Auckland, New Zealand, who have worked with Oyster for several years and have already completed over 30 cruising yachts for us. Build quality is of the usual exemplary Oyster standard, both in terms of the hi-tech hull construction and exquisitely finished joinery. Initial sailing trials took place off Auckland last November in conditions ranging from less than 5 knots of breeze to 25 knot gusts. The yacht exceeded expectations in every way under sail and power. Rob Humphreys, on board for the trials, noted at one point that both wind speed and boat speed were showing 5.9 knots! She is beautifully light and responsive on the helm, and, in common with the other recent additions to the Oyster range, accelerates quickly to take full advantage of her sailing length. Her fine entry, increased sail area, and much longer effective waterline take her performance up to a new level. Our in-house Oyster designers have excelled themselves in producing a yacht with stunning looks. She looks fast and purposeful even when tied to the dock! On deck, her cockpit is much larger than that of her predecessor, the Oyster 53, in fact it’s only a few inches smaller than the Oyster 56, and comes fitted with a substantial table, the centre section of which can be fitted with a drinks fridge. The extra length is used to give her an exceptional aft lazarette locker that can easily swallow down-wind sails, inflatable, and all the array of gear a world cruising yacht carries. Below decks, her Deck Saloon is amazingly spacious and could easily seat ten in comfort around the vast foldout table. We opted for a three cabin interior layout, rather than the four found in the 53. As a result, she has a truly huge owner’s stateroom, in addition to the two very comfortable guest cabins. Access to her 110hp Yanmar diesel is great, in fact there’s standing headroom in the engine compartment, and the generator tucks away under the saloon floor, easily accessible but not obtrusive.
THE NEW OYSTER 54
Her standard 7’10" draft uses a very efficient filleted bulb keel; we also offer her with a shoal draft keel at 6’, and a super-shoal centreboard, twin rudder version drawing less than 5’ board up is also available. The 54 will have her UK show premiere at the Southampton Boat Show in September and the first few of these yachts will be sailing in UK waters this summer. The 54 has been very well received and we are confident that she will prove a worthy addition to the Oyster range offering excellent accommodation, performance and outstanding modern styling. With sales already in double figures, the 54 joins the Oyster range assured of a highly successful future. The Oyster 54 will make her UK boat show debut at the Southampton Boat Show (12-21 September). To make an appointment to view please book a boarding pass via our on-line booking system at www.oystermarine.com or call our sales team on +44 (0)1473 688888.
AT THE COAL FACE
At the Coal Face By Mark Chisnell
Navigator and author, Mark Chisnell, finally learns about the real work on a trip to Lewmar… Despite twenty years of professional sailing I know more about good cycling technique (tuck your knees in) than I do about how to grind properly. So an invitation to Lewmar’s headquarters to report on an investigation into the winches and grinding pedestals aboard Dee Caffari’s new Open 60, Aviva, seemed a good opportunity to correct this woeful gap in my knowledge. Dee Caffari shot into the limelight in May 2006 when she completed the first female solo, non-stop, east-to-west (the hard way) circumnavigation aboard the then Aviva – one of Chay Blyth’s 72 foot Global Challenge yachts that she had previously skippered in the 2004/05 edition of that event. The new boat is an altogether racier proposition, an Open 60 to a design from Owen Clarke, with the build in New Zealand and slated for completion in early 2008. The ultimate goal is the next Vendee Globe (a successful lap would make her the first woman to sail solo, non-stop around the world in both directions), but the work-up includes the recent Transat Jaques Vabre and the solo return race, the Transat Ecover BtoB, along with next summer’s Artemis Transat. Sports Science is in Dee’s background, she studied the subject at Leeds Metropolitan University, receiving an honorary doctorate from her alma mater on completion of the 2006 circumnavigation. And she’s subsequently got the university (through her Sport Science tutor, Professor Carlton Cooke), involved at many levels of her campaign preparation – from fitness and nutrition to ergonomic design. When it came to the deck gear, the Lewmar design and custom projects teams - led by Ian Willmott and Pete Cumming (who has sailed with Mike Golding on Ecover) - were also keen to use the research opportunity and so the testing was organised. Previous to my trip to Lewmar, they had already investigated an optimum position for the halyard winch on the mast, and the research into the grinding pedestal was to follow a similar pattern. The basic height parameters for the pedestal had been established from the boat’s cockpit >
AT THE COAL FACE
In theory (the practice is much harder), the whole body is used but with just the arms and shoulders in motion.
At the Coal Face continued design and the winch drive train, and the objective was to narrow this range down to the most efficient height for Dee. Now most of us don’t have the luxury of determining pedestal height on the boats we sail on - in my case the damn thing’s always too high, which means that the forearms and shoulders are doing too much work. If you’re tall, the pedestal will probably be too low for you and the lumbar region, the lower back, will be taking too much strain. The right height means that the body is loaded evenly – but how do you establish that height? THE TEST The Leeds Met team put Dee through a series of five grinding tests on a rig (developed by Lewmar engineer Guy Blaine) which the company use for demos at events like boat shows. The load increased steadily through thirty rotations of the handles, just as it would if you were winding in a genoa after a tack – one in flat seas with about ten knots of breeze, in warm sunshine… The only variation in the tests was the height of the pedestal, which was altered by Aaron Wilcock, Lewmar’s R&D engineer, to cover the available range. The settings were kept from both the Leeds Met researchers and Dee herself, so that the knowledge wouldn’t influence the results. Each thirty-rotation grind was timed, and at the end Dee reported a 1-to-10 score to John O’Hara, the Leeds Met exercise physiologist, on the level of strain on each part of her body. The grinding was also filmed from two angles by biomechanist Chris Low, who then loaded the video into a software package called Dartfish to assess Dee’s posture – particularly the knee, hip and shoulder angles. What they were looking for was a change in posture during the grind. If the body is uncomfortable or loaded unevenly by the pedestal’s height then the strain will tell earlier, and be visible as good technique wilts in the face of the work load. But what’s good technique? HOW TO GRIND Chris Low, sailing trainer Emma Westmacott, and former Team GBR grinder, Mo Gray, all had some tips: In theory (the practice is much harder), the whole body is used but with just the arms and shoulders in motion. The power comes from the stability and tension of the rest of the body. So hold the trunk and hips square, the head still and the back in a ‘neutral postural position’ - or in other words, straight, not rounded, with the spine lengthened and your tail bone as far from the top of the head as possible. The shoulders should remain down and back, retracted and not hunched up, to keep the body in alignment. It’s transferring the power from the big leg muscles to the upper body through tension in the core stability muscles (much beloved of fitness trainers everywhere), that is the real key to good technique. So bend the knees and tension the buttock and leg muscles, as well as keeping tension in the abdominal (transverse abdominus) and pelvic floor
muscles (technically known as the one you use when you’re busting for a pee and there’s nowhere to go…) – maintaining this contraction means learning to breathe into the rib cage and not the stomach. As you get more tired, and/or the load increases, maintaining this technique will be more difficult, however you’ve got to resist the urge to twist the body to get your weight behind the action. Change down a gear as soon as you start to struggle and sway, and when you run out of gears at least try and remember to keep those core muscles tight, as that will much reduce your chances of injury to the back and shoulders. THE NEXT STEP Once the set of tests was done, the Leeds Met team packed up their laptops and cameras and departed to do the analysis. They returned with the conclusion that the second trial was the best – the time was the fastest, Dee rated it the most comfortable and from the magic of the Dartfish software, Chris Low reckoned… the differences in medial-lateral shoulder and hip angles are generally lower and more consistent across trial 2, which suggests a more balanced posture… there’s a lot more, but I’ll spare you. The boat builders will now swing into action. While the next project for the research team is to put load pins in the winches once the boat is sailing. The gear ratios will be set to allow Dee to wind at what the Leeds Met team reckon to be the most efficient rates for her physiology. But there were other interesting points that came out of the morning’s work - Dee felt that a lot of the strain was in her forearms. So would it help on long slow grinds (like a headsail furl) if you could change grip, just as you can on racing cycle handlebars? Or perhaps strap yourself in, so that less effort has to be expended holding onto them? And Dee has a tendency to lean to the left, favouring one side of her body – a bad habit she needs to correct if she’s not going to pick up injuries on her way round the world – because one thing’s for sure, there aren’t too many physios available in the Southern Ocean. These and other issues will be investigated as Leeds Met and Lewmar continue their work, and expand it into the ergonomics of winch systems for other classes of boat. And maybe one day, they’ll even manage to teach me what all the buttons do on the floor in America’s Cup winch packages… www.lewmar.com www.leedsmet.ac.uk www.avivaoceanracing.com www.markchisnell.com
Oyster owners and crews can test their own grinding skills at the 2008 Oyster Regatta in Cowes with the ‘Lewmar Grinding Challenge’
Mission Oyster! by First Mate Birgitte Ribsskog, Oyster 53 Out of India In 2005 Ray and I decided to purchase a sailing yacht. We had only spent three weeks sailing together, and yes, you could call us near to total novices. After thorough research, many weekends spent test sailing and visits to boat shows, we decided on the newly launched Dufour 455. It seemed to fit our needs very well. After all we were just looking to cruise occasionally in the Med. We were excited! Ray mentioned our impending purchase to a friend, who shook his head over our choice of yacht. "There is only one yacht to consider," he contemplated. "An Oyster." Personally I didn’t have a clue what an Oyster was. Growing up in Norway, I was used to being dragged around by my father to various marinas admiring boats such as Najad, Contessa, Swan and Halberg Rassy. "Well for the fun of it. Let’s go back to Southampton and take a look at this wonder. Maybe we can get some ideas for our new yacht," Ray stated. He grabbed his camera and off we went. Mission Oyster! Once in Southampton on the Oyster stand, our planned purchase shrunk before my very eyes. We stepped aboard the Oyster and I fell in love. "Now this was a class act, what a yacht!" I could easily visualise myself sun bathing on deck whilst cruising turquoise waters. I could almost smell the coconut oil and feel the gentle breeze. This was it! There was no doubt in my mind. I glanced around; my man was very occupied taking pictures. This was going to be a tough one! A few weeks later the phone rang. It was Barry Ashmore from Oyster. Ray was out playing golf, but it only took Barry a few minutes to make me feel like a boat expert and my confidence grew. He certainly gave us some food for thought - they had an Oyster 53 available, would we be interested in coming to Ipswich to take her out for a sail?" "Great!" Ray announced. "Maybe we can get some more ideas!" Hmm… not quite what I had in mind, but I picked up the phone and rang Barry to say we were coming. Gliding down the Orwell in light wind, I was in heaven. "Ray, come up on the foredeck!" I cried, "Feel how steady she is, this is what I call a ship," I stated with a cheeky smile. "Don’t even think about it!" was his wry comment and looked around for more photo opportunities. >
FAR LEFT: Out of India, Oyster Trafalgar Regatta 2005 ABOVE FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: Touring round the Windward and Leeward Islands Ray and Birgitte at the Oyster Trafalgar Regatta 2005 First Mate at Oyster Trafalgar Regatta 2005
Mission Oyster! continued
We stepped aboard the Oyster and I fell in love… this was a class act, what a yacht!
I’m not sure if what happened next was thanks to Barry’s clever sales technique or my line; "How I would love to sail the Pacific" but for some miraculous reason, my good man turned around and cancelled our Dufour order and put down a deposit for the Oyster 53 and Out of India was born. We sold our house in Brighton and completed a trial crossing of the Channel with Ray’s number one mentor, Peter Mantle, the owner of the Oyster 47 Moon Shadow. I went on to pass my Day Skipper and Ray his Coastal Yachtmaster, and we started to interview crew members for the Atlantic crossing. On a cold October day we said our farewells to Blighty and set sail, we soon realised that we were to have a bumpy start. The Bay of Biscay greeted us with heavy winds straight on the nose and our Captain went down with severe seasickness. We encountered the tail end of the first hurricane ever to reach the European shores of Cayo de Sao Vicente, so by the time we reached Cadiz we felt like hardened sailors. Whilst in Cadiz we took part in Oyster’s Trafalgar Regatta and won our first (and only) trophy. So full of confidence Ray and I continued our sail to Las Palmas. "I have never seen anybody vacuum clean during a force 5 before" laughed Dame Edna, alias crewmember Nicola. I could hear our alter ego, Oyster’s Customer Care Manager, Eddie Scougall’s mantra in my inner ear "Look after the boat, and she
will look after you" and continued my good efforts. Whilst mentioning Eddie I’d like to blame him for my constant ruined nails. He had warned me "Birgitte, DO NOT forget to apply silicon to all hatches and windows AND clean out all sand and brittle first". In all my turquoise water dreams, I never thought I would get addicted to Starbrite Marine Polish!! When I first stepped on an Oyster, little did I know that I would spend the next two years constantly bruised, with my feet too flat to fit in my shoes and using talcum powder in my hair, rather than risking a shower during heavy seas. But there has been many a wonderful day just sunbathing on deck, swimming, cruising the turquoise waters and enjoying the wonderful beaches. We will never forget the fine pink sand beach in Barbuda where we had the most amazing sunset barbeque, nor the beautiful solitude of Conception Island in the Bahamas. Paradise to us, despite the sharks we encountered whilst snorkelling! After reaching St Lucia in December 2005, Ray and I sailed south to Grenada and visited most of the Windward and Leeward islands, then on to Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas and then the US coast. We checked-in at West Palm Beach so we could visit friends in Charleston where I enjoyed being ‘girly’ for a week before facing 65 knots of wind off Cape Hatteras. We signed up for TowBoatUS (the equivalent of the AA for boats), and continued sailing along the US coast to Mount Desert Island in Maine, where we joined Thomas and Stephanie
Poynter who own the Oyster 62 Blue Beach. In their company we enjoyed cool nights, wonderful scenery, stunning hikes and freshly caught lobster. Thanks to Thomas’ indoctrinations, we abstained from alcohol for the next month. Hurray to liver revival! From Maine we sailed via Long Island Sound to New York for an unforgettable visit, then on to Chesapeake and Charleston where we revisited our friends for Thanksgiving and picked up my cousin who had arrived from Norway. Outside Fort Pierce we were hit by a sports fisher and my cousin’s beach bunny aspirations turned into a closer study of the less glamorous side to yachting life whilst Out of India was fixed. From Key West Ray and I sailed to Cuba where local fishermen offered us the most succulent lobsters in return for a half bottle of Scotch. The honey in Cuba is the best we have ever tasted. We tried to remember these good points and forget the hassles of checking-in and checking-out of every anchorage, the bomb and drug sniffer dogs and the seedy officers wanting backhanders. We will never forget ‘el doctore’ in Hemingway Marina’s line "It is customary to have a gift for the doctor." We said adios to communism and welcome to Sol and headed for charming Isla Mujeres in Mexico. Ray went cave diving, whilst I sniffed some more boat polish. The Mayan ruins of Yucatan are truly a wonder, especially Tulum by the sea which was extraordinary.
Our next stop was Rio Dulce in Guatemala. But first we had to cross the sand bar at Livingstone. With two halliards, a couple of ropes, one fishing boat to lean us over and another fishing boat to give us a tug, we learnt to cross it to perfection. Livingstone is a port of entry and we soon learnt, do not bring anyone from Belarus without a Visa. We had a Belarusian, New York based model, with her Russian, fur designer friend onboard as guests. We had to use our most diplomatic negotiation skills to grant her a three day unofficial visitor’s permit. Once on the river, all this was forgotten as the tropical canyon forest is breathtaking, as is the birdlife and the sound of the monkeys.
There are so many highlights from our time onboard Out of India, and there are also many moments when things went wrong. Here are a few of those memorable moments:
Out of India returned to Isla Mujeres, we Mexican quick-stepped the south coast of Cuba, taking five steps forward and three steps back, tacking our way east. We motored along Haiti in flat calms and just made it to Luperon in the Dominican Republic before our last leg to St Johns in the American Virgin Islands.
And other glorious moments:
Highlights: • Swimming in the middle of the Atlantic when it was as flat calm as a lake. • Smelling the land of St Lucia after 20 days at sea. • Enjoying the safety of an Oyster in stormy weather. • When Ray managed to fish the fish out of the air con water intake making Guatemala’s tropical heat bearable. • My first night in a hotel with a TV remote after eight months of non-stop sailing. • Sailing down the Hudson and East River and ten days at 79th Street Boat Basin, Manhattan. • Receiving ‘how to fix it’ emails from David Hayward at Oyster. • Cruising the canyon and tropical forest of the Rio Dulce.
• When the starter button failed on a Friday afternoon in the Bahamas. • When the dinghy painter got snapped and Ray had to dive in to the sewage-infested waters off Ponce to retrieve it. • When the dinghy painter got caught under the rudder in Maine in September. • When my cousin and I pulled up an old mooring line attached to a live cable in Charleston. • When Ray thought he had secured the dinghy and we saw it drifting off. • When we towed the dinghy, and we lost it. • When we towed the new dinghy, and lost the outboard. • When the genny sheets got entangled around the radar, and we lost the radar at sea. And what we have learnt: NEVER BE COMPLACENT AND KEEP ON LEARNING!
ABOVE FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: Sunset barbeque in Barbuda Crossing the sandbar in Rio Dulce, Guatemala Approaching New York! Mayan Ruins of Yucatan, Isla Mujeres
Flag Etiquette AN INTRODUCTION TO FLAG ETIQUETTE
By Alan Brook
The flying of flags on yachts is governed by long-standing custom, by tradition and by Naval Regulations.
placed in the canton, but these are recommendations only and do not have the force of law.
Flag Etiquette is therefore a combination of law, good manners and tradition. Being ill-informed of your obligations could lead you to cause insult at home or abroad by giving a signal you do not intend to give, or could lead you to a fine for breaking the law.
On the ‘fly’ (or length), the Ensign should traditionally be a minimum of 1 inch (25mm) of flag for every 1 foot (300mm) of the yacht’s overall length. The ‘hoist’ (or height) is one half the length of the fly.
Only with the right flag, correctly positioned, can you be sure that you are giving the correct message and that any signal you are giving is clear.
Ensigns The most important of all flags, the Ensign should be prominently displayed, always from a staff at the stern in port, though at sea it may be worn by a yacht at the truck of the mizzen or at the peak of the mizzen gaff. Ensigns should be hauled taut, close up under the truck of the staff. The most senior position for the flag on a vessel is reserved for the Ensign – this is worn as close to the stern of the vessel as possible and denotes the nationality of the vessel. A UK registered vessel should wear the national maritime flag, the Red Ensign, unless entitled to wear a privileged Ensign. The size of a nautical flag is determined by the size of the vessel that flies it. The Civil or Merchant Ensign, also affectionately known as the ‘red duster’ has overall ratio of 1:2 with the Union occupying one quarter of the field and
For a 50‘ yacht: Taken from the choice of standard sizes, the Ensign should be: 50” (1.25 metres) For a 60‘ yacht: Taken from the choice of standard sizes, the Ensign should be: 60” (1.5 metres) Ensigns are worn by a yacht: In harbour from ‘morning colours’ – at 0800 local time from 15 February to 31 October – or 0900 local time from 1 November to 14 February. They are lowered at ‘evening colours’ – at sunset – at 2100, or when the owner goes ashore, whichever is the earliest. There are exceptions to this rule. The Ensign is not flown by a yacht in a race. If it is flown, it signifies that the yacht flying it has retired from the race. At sea by day and night, in particular when entering and leaving harbour, passing other vessels, or approaching land. Observance may be relaxed outside pilotage waters.
Club Burgee House Flag Signalling
Ensigns: • May be dipped to half mast when passing British and foreign warships or the Commodore of the Owner’s Yacht Club. The other vessel acknowledges by dipping and re-hoisting her Ensign, upon which the saluting yacht re-hoists hers. • May be lowered to half mast on occasions of national or private mourning, usually from two hours before to two hours after the funeral, or as circumstances dictate. • Should conform to conditions in various parts of the world.
Burgees A club burgee should be flown prominently from the main truck at all times when the vessel is in commission and the member of the club is in effective control. Members may usually fly their club burgee in vessels on loan or charter, when etiquette demands, otherwise the membership flag should be flown from the lower starboard spreader on the main mast. The burgee takes the next most senior position on the vessel, which is the main masthead. Only one burgee may be flown on the vessel. A privileged Ensign may never be worn without its club burgee. The starboard lower spreaders of the mainmast are used for signalling. This is where both a national courtesy flag and the Q flag should be flown.
It is now common practice to fly the burgee at the lower starboard spreader, however, no other flag may be flown above the burgee on the same halyard. You may also not fly any other flag above a national courtesy flag on the same halyard. If you fly your burgee at the starboard spreaders and are sailing in the territorial waters of another country you have a dilemma, however you choose to solve this, unless you fly your burgee at the top of the mast you will be contravening one or another element of flag etiquette. House flags are flown from the lower port spreader of the mainmast. A house flag may indicate membership of an association (i.e. the Oyster Owner’s House Flag) or society, or may be to indicate membership of another club, if the burgee of a more senior club is already being flown. More than one house flag may be flown on the port halyard, but with caution that they are flown in order of seniority. The Union flag, Welsh Dragon and the Crosses of St. Andrew, St. George and St. Patrick are primarily land flags and should not be flown at sea by cruising yachtsmen. At sea the Cross of St. George is the flag of an Admiral and it should therefore not be flown by anyone else, without special dispensation. A vessel flying the St. Andrew’s Cross could be mistaken as saying: "My vessel is stopped and making no way through the water" as this is the meaning of code flag ‘M’ which has the same design. Flying the St. Patrick’s Cross could be misinterpreted as code flag ‘V’ - "I require assistance".
The sizes and condition of flags are important, too. They should not be ‘tatty’ and should not hang in the water, but should still be large enough to be seen. Royal Yacht Clubs, whose members may be privileged to fly the Blue Ensign, are expected to guard the privilege jealously and to conform to the rules and accepted procedures, especially in hoisting and lowering Ensigns at morning and evening colours.
Oyster want to spread the word about flag etiquette, not only to maintain our seafaring traditions, but also to encourage good practice afloat. We hope all Oyster owners will make the effort to keep these traditions alive and well. NB. For our American owners - your flag etiquette was codified by the U.S. Congress and the regulations and other information that you may find of interest are available online: www.ushistory.org US Naval Regulations can also be downloaded from this site. With special thanks to Jonathan Baker, of Arabella, for his idea for this article and for providing some of the information sources used in its writing. Our grateful thanks are also due to the Royal Yachting Association, the Royal Cruising Club and John Rousmaniere, for their permission to allow us to reproduce either in part, or in full, their own notes on Flag Etiquette.
Zig Zag through the Windward Islands by Richard Matthews
We picked a time when there were winds of 30+ knots most days, large seas running and almost daily rain, buy hey, it’s an Oyster, we can be comfortable in any weather!
A Caribbean island cruise is always a treat and the chance to sail the Oyster 82 Zig Zag from Union Island through the Windward Island chain to St Maarten before the Heineken Regatta was too good to miss. Unfortunately we picked a time when there were winds of 30+ knots most days, large seas running and almost daily rain, but hey, it’s an Oyster, we can be comfortable in any weather! Our crew of six flew into Antigua and from there caught a tiny air taxi down to Union. We slipped up here since our arrival in Antigua coincided with the final of the Stamford 20/20 cricket and if we had been on the ball we would definitely have delayed our inter island shuttle for long enough to see the match. The little airstrip at Union has no landing lights so we arrived with about 10 minutes to spare before total darkness. Union is a pleasant enough protected anchorage but in comparison with the other adjacent islands has no particular features save for a few shops for provisioning and the airstrip. The Tobago Cays are only about six miles away and a favourite, must do, anchorage for anyone cruising this part of the Caribbean. The sand is so white that in a full moon you can see the bottom under your keel in the moonlight. In the year since we were last at the Cays there seems to have been a significant increase in the turtle population and drifting through the anchorage in our RIB their heads were popping up all over the place. From the Cays we moved on to the small island of Canouan, little more than an hour away. Canouan had a special attraction for us, being the recently developed Raffles Resort with its fabulous Trump International golf course, which, with fairway irrigation and immaculate maintenance, is one of the best courses in the Caribbean. The resort also has a wonderful spa for non-golfers and is ideal for a day out, albeit an expensive one.
From Canouan we had a pleasant sail to Mustique, one of the more exclusive islands in the chain which with the exception of two hotels and the famous Basil’s Bar consists almost exclusively of private residences. One of our crew, Jan Matthews, had spent some time on the island as a guest of another Oyster owner and knew how to access the tennis club where he went head to head with our professional skipper, Gavin O’Leary, in a test of young versus not so young. Youth prevailed and after a nice lunch overlooking the anchorage at Basil’s Bar we motor-sailed to Bequia. Bequia is one of my favourite Caribbean islands since it has a fascinating waterfront with local stores and a beach with lots of sailing skiffs and local craft. One of the specialities of Bequia is model making and on the edge of town are two fine model making workshops with a large display of finished work available for sale. Many years ago I bought a model whaling skiff complete with oars and all the fittings, which was beautifully made and has been much admired. The model makers are very friendly and you can watch them at their craft building anything from a J Class to a whaler. From Bequia we had a tough upwind sail to St Lucia where we had arranged to meet friends moored stern-to close by the Pitons for a dinner ashore. Bang between the Pitons used to be the restaurant of choice and many years ago had it’s own elephant, which unfortunately expired due to an accidental overdose of bakers yeast. We had been recommended Dasheene,
two thirds of the way up the Pitons, accessed by taxi. It turned out to be good and offered a spectacular sunset view. St Lucia is well known to a large number of Caribbean cruising yachtsmen as the finishing port for the ARC. We had no need of the facilities at Rodney Bay marina so sailed by under the lee of the island and motor-sailed through quite large seas to Martinique where we arrived just after dark at Fort de France anchoring on the south side. This gave us a peaceful nights sleep and time to gather ourselves together before continuing on to Dominica in winds of 30+ knots. We went ashore at Roseau where we had booked Providence Martin, a local tour guide, for an island tour while Gavin and his sister Susan, our crew, took Zig Zag on to Portsmouth at the other end of the island. Tropical rain forest is the main island feature, which can only be described as amazing. As we began to enter the forest we were greeted by parrots, which skilfully eluded our attempts at photography. The temperature dropped off rapidly as the road climbed upwards and we spent a couple of hours on foot exploring the forest with our guide pointing out the finer points of life under this tropical canopy. Next stop was Iles des Saintes, with a sheltered harbour overlooked by Fort Napoleon. This is well worth a visit having been turned into a museum rich with maritime history. We hired motor scooters and had a quick tour of the island, which was peaceful and fairly undeveloped.
Our first night passage took us from the Saintes to St Barths, which is properly thought of as the St Tropez of the Caribbean. The harbour was packed and we were unable to get a stern-to berth so anchored off near the harbour entrance. St Barths is full of luxury brand stores, hotels and restaurants. One of the simple pleasures is to go by the small fishing boat dock in the morning where a very large shoal of huge fish, which we think are tarpon, have made their home. You could almost walk across the water they are so numerous. The other simple pleasure, albeit a bit ‘laddish’, is to stand on the hill at the end of the airfield’s short runway and watch the twin Otter aircraft swooping over the hill and diving onto the runway below. From St Barths you can see the adjacent island of St Maarten where the lagoon was our port of destination in preparation for the Heineken Regatta where Zig Zag was to be our mother ship. A lifting road bridge gives access to the lagoon and marinas inside but only opens two or three times a day. St Maarten has become a major favourite with the Caribbean cruise ships and the port of Phillipsburg can have six or more visiting at any time. Main Street has become a duty free haven for watches and white goods especially, but Bobby’s Marina has insufficient water for larger yachts. The island has a major traffic problem but is still fascinating with its mix of Dutch and French at opposite ends. We crammed a lot into a short time on our cruise but certainly saw a lot of places which next time we would like to visit at a more leisurely pace.
Team Oyster Wins Gold in Hyeres and Qingdao
On the 8th April we were officially selected for Team GBR for the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games and our long wait was finally over. Our year had begun with a three-month tour of the United States, which saw us compete at several events with the bonus of some warm weather training thrown in! This year we have been focusing a lot on the development of our equipment – particularly our sails. Grant Spanhake, an expert in sail analysis and development, with a background ranging from work at North Sails to the America’s Cup, joined us in Miami. This gave us more constructive time on the water and really stood us in good stead for the first event of 2008, the Miami OCR. Overall the Miami OCR was a very good event for us. We maintained a fairly consistent set of results on the board and kept out of the way of the trouble that was going on the in the fleet. Sadly we finished just one point outside of the medals, but we still gained plenty of experience. Our next event was the NOOD Regatta, the first of our 3-Sail events. The NOOD is a series of Regattas around the United States and it’s an open event i.e. not just for Paralympic teams. That said a few of the Paralympic teams did turn up with able-bodied crew. However we are the only Paralympic team that remains in normal formation for open events. We do not substitute any of the team members, we merely add an able bodied guy. The NOOD was another consistent regatta for us, with us taking 2nd place, just one point behind the gold and this was closely followed by a 4th place at the Able-Bodied Midwinter’s, hosted by Key Biscayne Yacht Club. The final regatta of the US tour was the Disabled Midwinter’s in St Petersburg, which saw us back into 2-Sail mode and what we do best. With all of the top Paralympic teams taking part, it meant we had some really good racing, but finished a slightly disappointing 4th place. However, we again sailed consistently against a much more rested fleet and we knew where we went wrong and what we had to do to fix it. In April we launched our new Sonar – Tantrum just in time to get to Hyeres to compete in the French Olympic Sailing Week. We returned with the gold medal after a fantastic performance, winning eight out of the nine races sailed. This was the first outing for our new boat and sails and both boat and team performed faultlessly. After our success in Hyeres, it was straight to China for the IFDS Qingdao International Regatta, the only event for the Paralympic classes ahead of the games in September. With a mixture of conditions to contend with, including large swells and 4 to 22 knot breezes, we battled hard to sail a consistent regatta. Despite a disqualification in the third race of the nine race series, Team Oyster went all out to secure victory, some 6 points clear of the French team in second place, securing the Gold medal for Britain. It was very special being in the Paralympic venue and staying at the Olympic village – it was really a full dress rehearsal for the Games in September so we are extremely pleased to have done so well and we have learned a lot from the experience. None of this would have been possible without the support we have had from Oyster since I started my sailing career over 12 years ago. Thank you Richard and all your Oyster owners – without you this dream would never have come true. We are well and truly on our way to Beijing! Happy Sailing!
Photos: Richard Langdon/Skandia Team GBR www.oystermarine.com 69
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Just Launched A selection of recent Oyster launchings
OYSTER 46 EVE After featuring at the London Boat Show in January, the new Oyster 46 Eve was handed over to owners Philip and Helen Scott early in March. Philip is a very experienced Norfolk Broads yachtsman, where he regularly races a 31’ Broads cruiser, but plans to gain some offshore experience with Eve before venturing too far. During handover, Philip admitted that Helen had imposed a fixed budget for his new yacht purchase with any excess incurring a 10% penalty payment to a charity of her choice. The East Anglian Childrens’ Hospice was the surprise beneficiary of a very large cheque!
OYSTER 56 BLUE DREAMS It was certainly a dream handover for Oyster Project Manager, Matthew Morgan, of the new Oyster 56 Blue Dreams to American owner John McTigue. Rather than the usual handover day spent on the east coast’s River Orwell, Matthew flew to the British Virgin Islands to meet John for a Caribbean handover where Blue Dreams will be based. We look forward to seeing John and Blue Dreams at our 2009 Antigua regatta.
OYSTER 56 CURIOUS Owners Steve and Trish Brown have sold their home and set off on an indefinite cruise in their new Oyster 56 Curious. For Steve, who is a keen mountaineer, first stop will be North Africa where he
plans to undertake an expedition into the Atlas Mountains. They then hope to take part in Oyster’s Palma regatta, before joining the large fleet of Oysters in the 2008 ARC.
OYSTER 56 TEMERITY Second time owners Peter and Barbara Rogers chose a new Oyster 56, the most successful model in Oyster’s 35-year history, as a replacement for their Oyster 45, after a brief foray into the world of motor yachts. Temerity has a stunning cherrywood interior and will be based out of Lymington, before heading for the Mediterranean in 2009. Peter’s brother, Lord Rogers, is one of Britain’s most famous and influential architects.
OYSTER 655 MATCHMAKER Having grown up in Wroxham and briefly worked in one of the local boat yards as a boy, owner Peter Lloyd never dreamed that one day he would own an Oyster. Peter was therefore delighted to have his new Oyster 655 Matchmaker built by E C Landamore in Wroxham. Matchmaker was shown at the London boat show earlier this year and after handover in April the Lloyd family have set off on an around Britain circumnavigation before heading off to Guernsey and on to Las Palmas for the ARC.
OYSTER 655 PROTEUS
OYSTER LD43 ALEDA
The new Oyster 655 Proteus, owned by Al Parrish from Texas, USA, is a stunning example of one of Oyster’s newest models. She is beautifully fitted out in teak with stylish leather upholstery and features exquisite detailing and soft furnishings, which are a testament to Al’s partner, Paula’s flair for interior design. Proteus will be cruising in the Mediterranean this summer before joining Oyster’s regatta in Palma and then heading to Las Palmas for the ARC in November.
After handover in Ipswich, owner Christopher Pigott’s new Oyster LD43, Aleda, was delivered by road to Barcelona and then passaged to her home port of Alcudia on Mallorca’s north coast, where Christopher has a home and is looking forward to some Balearics cruising.
OYSTER 82 DAMA DE NOCHE Oyster 82 Dama de Noche was handed over to her owners in April and was on view at Oyster’s Private View in London. Dama de Noche has a beautifully stylish interior in maple with leather upholstery and will be spending the summer cruising the Mediterranean after a visit to Monaco for the Grand Prix.
OYSTER LD43 SCREAMING EAGLE For owners Jamie and Una Berry, the new Oyster LD43 Screaming Eagle is their fourth motorboat but the first jet boat! Screaming Eagle will be based at Gosport from where Jamie and the family plan to use her to cruise the south coast.
ABOVE FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: John McTigue, Oyster 56, Blue Dreams Steve and Trish Brown, Oyster 56, Curious Peter and Helen Lloyd and crew, Oyster 655, Matchmaker Saloon of Oyster 655, Proteus Al Parrish and Paula Mott, Oyster 655, Proteus Christopher Pigott, Oyster LD43, Aleda Jamie and Una Berry, Oyster LD43, Screaming Eagle RIGHT: Peter and Barbara Rogers, Oyster 56, Temerity
t h e w o r l d ’s y o u r o y s t e r
QU E E N ’ S AWA R D YAC H T
Oyster Marine Ltd: Fox’s Marina Ipswich Suffolk IP2 8SA England T: +44 (0)1473 688888 F: +44 (0)1473 686861 E: email@example.com Oyster Marine USA: Newport Shipyard One Washington Street Newport RI 02840 USA T: +401 846 7400 F: +401 846 7483 E: firstname.lastname@example.org