Time to dump your flares?

‘…Pyrotechnic flares are now obsolescent’. This isn’t my view or the view of a penniless sailor reluctant to shell out £120 or more on replacement flares, but the official verdict of the RYA.

Personally, I find having flares on board reassuring. They don’t rely on the boat’s electricity supply or batteries that run down. They are reasonably easy to operate and are a great visual guide, particularly at night, to the location of the vessel in distress. Parachute flares can be seen from up to 25 miles away, red handheld flares from three to five miles in good conditions.

BUT – there is no doubt that if, today, a distress alerting system which relied on the use of high explosives in plastic containers, often held in the hand and operated by someone who has never used one before, at night and on a heaving deck was proposed, it would be laughed out of court. Every year there are tragic accidents and it’s not always yachtsmen using long out of date flares. Silly mistakes like holding them upside down, dropping them and pointing them in the wrong direction cause many horrendous injuries.

Until comparatively recently there was no real alternative to carrying flares to cover all possible emergencies. Recent developments in personal EPIRBS and AIS sets, the cost of which is falling all the time and the introduction of LED flares really cover all the bases previously served by flares.

In terms of cost, any boat equipped for coastal or offshore sailing should have a fixed VHF and as handheld (ideally waterproof and floating) so this can be discounted; set of personal position locating beacons will be quite expensive but they have a far longer life than flares and can be much more effective in attracting the right sort of response in the right length of time.

Flares require careful handling and careful storage and, once out of date, are currently next to impossible to dispose of. Probably the only thing keeping flares in the game is the requirement of many racing organisations that they should be carried by yachts competing under their regulations. There are also parts of the world where radio coverage is by no means as good as it is in northern Europe

I have had a full set of electronic position finding kit, both ship and personal for several years. I will continue to carry flares for as long as my current set are in date. After that… well I think it’s time to say goodbye.

As a PS I would add, whichever way to decide to go, please make sure you include operating training as part of your crew briefing.

James Jermain

[Read the RYA's view at https://www.rya.org.uk/newsevents/e-newsletters/inbrief/Pages/Pyrotechnic-Flares-past-their-sell-by-date-.aspx ]

Strop splicing

An evening of splicing instruction, preceded by a short talk on moorings, will be held in the Club on March 4th, 1900-2100hrs.

It is hoped that this will be useful for new mooring holders and those who want to make strops from 3 strand nylon, but any member is welcome.

A limited amount of 18, 24 and 28mm nylon will be available, to save time I will try to cut and tape appropriate lengths of rope beforehand, but I need to have the dimensions of the boats before I start cutting. I will also have some plastic tubing and old fire hose to prevent chafe
The measurements required are
1. Length and displacement of boat
2. Length of strop required - the sum of the distance from mooring cleat or Sampson post to the bow roller plus 1.5 times the height of the bow roller above the water line
3. You also need to check the size of rope plus plastic tubing/old fire hose that your bow roller or fairleads will accommodate.

You can of course purchase your own materials. Bogey Knights Emporium at Mutton Cove, Plymouth (knightsurplus.co.uk) is usually a good source for rope. All chandlers sell plastic tubing and thimbles, (I don’t use thimbles). Marine Bazaar offer a 10% discount to CYC members.

Please telephone/email to let me know that you are coming to ensure I have sufficient materials for those that wish to make strops, and if you need any advice.


Dr. C. W. Evans
01752 845297

Annual renewal of Membership and Moorings

Boating may not be at the top of your agenda these damp, drizzly days but this is the time of year when the Club needs from you a Membership Renewal Form and, for mooring holders, a Mooring Renewal Form.

Please visit the Renewal pages in the Forms section of the Members Only area of the website (link in the side bar). (You will need your username and password, if you have difficulty logging on, please remember that your username is typically the email address that you used at the time of joining the Club. If you have forgotten your password you can request a reset by clicking the ‘Remind me’ button on the member’s login page.)

ALL MEMBERS please check the pre-populated MEMBERSHIP RENEWAL FORM, make any necessary amendments and complete your DoB on page one. On page two note your fees owing, ‘Agree terms’ and give your preferences for photography and inclusion in an on-line directory and finally ‘Submit' the form.


For members with DINGY PARK ALLOCATIONS last year it will be assumed that these are required for 2020, if this is not the case please contact Mick Flanagan (dinghy@cycadmin.org)

The Due Date for payment of fees is the 15th February and the request to GoCardless will be sent on the 10th of February, please note that late payment will automatically incur a £25 surcharge.

If you have previously set up a Direct Debit mandate in favour of the Club you need to take no further action. Fees will automatically be taken by GoCardless on 15 February and you will be notified a few days beforehand. (If you have not set up a DD arrangement with the Club you are strongly encouraged to do so as this vastly reduces the workload of the Officers in checking and reconciling returns).

If you have any difficulty completing forms or making payment please contact the appropriate Club Officer.

RYA Essential Nav. & Seamanship course at CYC 22&23 Feb

12 Places available (limited by RYA instructor / pupil ratio) at a cost of £75 each.
This is a significant saving on online or other two-day courses advertised.

Please contact training@cycadmin.org to reserve a space. 

At Cargreen Yacht Club - Instructed by Will Davies - Tea, Coffee will be provided.

This course offers a great introduction to navigation and safety awareness for new or inexperienced skippers and crew, and those wanting to refresh their skills. In fact it's for anyone interested in sailing, motor boating, sea angling or diving, and works well in complementing our on-the-water training, such as the Powerboat Level 2, Start Yachting and Helmsman courses.

It's a highly informative course with lots of opportunities for you to put your new found knowledge into practice. If you decide to take the course online, you will find many interactive exercises to help reinforce the information and lots of chances to try out what you've learned.

Course topics include:

• Charts and Publications
• Safety
• Engine checks
• Buoyage
• Tidal awareness
• Visual and electronic navigation
• Pilotage
• Rules of the road
• Anchoring
• Weather forecasts
• Passage planning

You will receive a course pack which includes a chart, plotter, dividers, course handbook and exercises.  A RYA An Introduction to Navigation (G77) book will also be included.

Boat handling - Wednesday 22 January

For new boat owners or anyone who would like a refresher

On Wednesday January 22nd (18:30–20:30) Simon Mace will talk about the theory of boat handling, picking up bouy, man over board, preparations & coming along side pontoon, springing off, walking the boat and other evolutions.

Book a place by contacting Dave Wheatley at training@cycadmin.org . There is a charge of £5 a head which will go to the Plymouth Horizons sailing charity.

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