From the editor: November 2006

We're not usually prone to scaremongering on MBY...

We’re not usually prone to scaremongering on MBY but the sobering tale of the three yachtsmen whose bodies were found floating off the Isle of Wight in August couldn’t help but send a shiver through our office. The three friends were on passage from Portsmouth to Dartmouth when their 27ft yacht Ouzo sank without trace, probably after being run down by a passing ship. Two drowned and the third died from hypothermia. They didn’t even have time to send a Mayday call and it wasn’t until the first body was discovered two days later that anyone realised what had happened. Yet all three were experienced sailors just a few miles offshore in the middle of summer on board a well-maintained yacht equipped with VHF.
Then there’s the terrifying ordeal of the Rawlings family that you can _read about on p64. After years of happy cruising in the Med on board their 60ft motor yacht their dream turned into a nightmare in the space of a few short hours.
It’s incidents like this that make you start questioning your own safety. True, these were two isolated accidents among the many thousands of people who go boating but what if disaster were to strike? Do you have the right equipment and, perhaps even more crucially, the right knowledge to get out of a situation like this?
There are two articles in this issue that could help answer both those questions for you. The first is our regular What Now, Skipper? series, which this month looks at that most common of all boating incidents – engine failure. The big temptation for anyone with an inkling of mechanical knowledge is to rush down into the engineroom to try to sort things out and yet in many cases this should be the last thing on your agenda. Find out why on p96. The second is Tim Bartlett’s hugely informative piece on Epirbs. If you don’t know your Cat As from your Cat Bs, or worse still how these increasingly affordable gadgets could help you, I’d strongly recommend you turn to p88 and start learning. It was just such a device that alerted the Falmouth Coastguard to the plight of the Rawlings family over 1,300 miles away in Mallorca and the cruel truth is that an Epirb probably would have saved at least one of the three yachtsmen off the Isle of Wight.