Learn to Sail – Spinnaker Chutes

Following an article I wrote on learning to sail with a spinnaker, I thought it may be worth introducing to the beginner and sailors that have not had the pleasure of using a spinnaker chute.

Designed in America for the Flying Dutchman class it has proven it worth in many sailing races that allow the use of a spinnaker chute. Its is fast to hoist and lowering the spinnaker so in a race with light airs it can be a major benefit on time when hoisting around the mark.

All sailing yachts are different in size therefore each spinnaker chute can be slightly different in setting, but generally the basic setup is as follows.

This description given is when the spinnaker is hoisted, if you can imagine a continuous loop from the spinnaker halyard to a mid point connection on the front side of the spinnaker sail, for a down haul connection. The down haul leads down to the spinnaker chute and then horizontal to the stern of the yacht on exiting the spinnaker chute to the stern there is a free board length that allows for pulling on the down haul rope. At the end of this is a roller block returning the down haul forwards, which in turn becomes the spinnaker halyard, going horizontally forward through a jammer to the mast base and then up the mast and connecting to the spinnaker sail head swivel.

The function to lower the spinnaker is to on skippers instruction; un-jam the spinnaker halyard and release the spinnaker sheets in a controlled manner, then pulling in on the down haul which will allow the spinnaker to collapse down into the spinnaker chute until fully stowed and jammed off.

To hoist the spinnaker un-jam the halyard and hoist the spinnaker at the same time pulling in on the spinnaker sheets and allowing the spinnaker to fill with wind, jam off the halyard and adjust the spinnaker sheets for optimum sailing.

If your sailing yacht has a jib furling system it is advantages to furl the jib away when learning to use the spinnaker, enabling the crew to concentrate on the spinnaker, especially when sailing a yacht with a large overlapping Genoa.

Spinnaker Stowage

Provisions should be made to stow the spinnaker to either port or starboard sides of the yacht. The spinnaker should be stowed clear of the floor of the yacht and kept as dry as possible. When initially fitting a spinnaker chute to a yacht is should firstly be positioned for free running of the spinnaker when hoisting and lowering, not applying extra load on the spinnaker in this operation. Then the deck fittings should be positioned and fixed in the correct places bearing in mind the crew’s position in the yacht. Care should be taken to reduce the friction in the sheeting system and the use of large diameter blocks is preferred. Bulls- eye deck fitting should be used where you have long runs of sheet to lift the sheet clear of the deck, especially when the sheets are wet.


After practice, it will be obvious that certain timings of the hoisting and lowering of the spinnaker can be considerably reduced and the crew becoming more efficient.

After initial training, each crew can develop their own version of these systems which will differ from yacht to yacht, but basically improve sailing technique and hopefully help win the race!

Barbecue 101: The Top 5 Do’s and Don’ts of Grilling

When it comes to grilling, there are basically no rules – it all comes down to your preferences. Charcoal or gas grill? Lightly seasoned or full of flavour? Meat well done or not? But having said this, there are still some basic guidelines that every griller should follow to have a successful barbecue session.

Keep in mind these top 5 do’s and don’ts of grilling to have a smooth-sailing barbecue:

DO – Practice safety

Grilling can be hazardous if safety precautions are not practiced. To protect yourself from flare ups or fire, wear barbecue gloves and use long-handled tools such as brushes and tongs. Have a fire extinguisher ready at all times. More importantly, only grill at an open space, away from anything that could easily catch fire.

DON’T – Use a grill cover when cooking over hot coals

According to John Wiloughby and Chris Schlesinger, authors of Let the Flames Begin (a popular barbecue cookbook), one of the biggest mistakes that grillers make is covering the grill when cooking food directly over hot coals. When a meat’s fat starts to drip over coals, it turns to smoke which in turns gives your food a bitter smoke flavour. Instead, divide your grill into direct and indirect heat portions and move our food accordingly while cooking.

DO – Clean and oil your grates before each grilling session

Keeping your grill clean helps maintain the freshness and safety of the food. Oiling the grates before each session helps prevent the food from sticking and it also gives your food those appetizing grill marks.

DON’T – Kill fare ups by squirting it with water

One common grilling mistake is squirting water on flare-ups. This will not only affect the heat, but will also bring the coal’s ashes up onto your food. One important thing to remember is that flare ups are inevitable but they can be controlled. When a flare up happens, move your food to the grill’s cooler part until it subsides.

DO – Allow your food to “sit”

When you’re done cooking food, especially meat, on the grill, allow a few minutes for it to “sit” before cutting into it and serving. This allows for flavors to blend and for juices to be absorbed, resulting to a tastier dish.

Whether you’re a grilling beginner or not, these basic guideline of simple do’s and don’ts of grilling will help you have a safe, fun and hassle-free barbecue session!

The Joys of Sailing Your Own Sailboat

Sailing is both a recreational as well as functional activity for millions of people around the world. Often, when we think of sailing, we think about the massive ships that cruise the oceans, the yachts that race in competitions, and about the money it takes just to own one, let alone having enough friends or family who might be interested in going out on the water on any given day.

But sailing is so much more than that. It is about connecting with nature and being surrounded, and powered, by the forces that encompass us on a daily basis. It’s often easy to forget that such wonderful things are all around us when we drive to and from work, text on our phones, or merely walk through the grocery store to find something to eat. The world is abundant with the basic necessities and the promise of reconnecting with it.

Sailing doesn’t have to be a process requiring five, six, or even a dozen people to be successful. Small sailboats require only one person to cruise around calm waterways, such as rivers and inland lakes. Of course, whenever you have help, and company, the entire day can open up so many more possibilities.

Imagine bobbing gently in the cool water, the air calm, waiting for it to take its next breath. The sail ripples gently but you’re in no hurry and there’s not another boat or person in sight. All you hear are the distant sound of life and nature moving about in its perfect symbiotic way. You don’t concern yourself with gas prices, work problems, or difficulties in a relationship. Out here it’s only about relaxation.

Then the wind begins to build. It tugs on the mainsail or the jib and slowly the boat beneath you cuts through the water. The boat leans up gently and your hand is on the rudder, steering straight ahead. Soon the wind is in your face, brushing past you and that’s the only sound you hear aside from the occasional splash of water against the hull.

You move across the lake, catching every puff of breeze in the sails and you begin to laugh in delight. If you’re alone, you are loving every minute of it. If you’re with someone, you two share a special bond, knowing that this day couldn’t be any better. Sailing helps people to reconnect with not only their inner child and the joys we once embraced on a daily basis, but also with the world around us.

Sure, it takes some skills that can be learned relatively easy before launching for your first voyage, and they can also be discovered through the natural course of trying. Sailing has been a part of human culture for thousands of years and while in its infancy, sailing was more about function than recreation, there’s a reason why millions still enjoy taking to the water to await the next breeze to guide them through the silky glass waterways.

The art of sailing is open to everyone and if you haven’t tried it, you’re missing out.

Top Tips for Travelling With Pets

For those with pets, going away on holiday means that you’ll have to decide on the best way to care for your pets while you are gone. Most pet lovers can’t bear to leave behind much a valued family member. To ease your mind, we have compiled a list of great tips to help you travel with your pets.

By Plane

If you’re flying, check the requirements and conditions for pets outlined by the specific airline you are travelling with. I would recommend calling or emailing them if you need any clarification on their conditions.

By Land: Map out bathroom breaks

If you’re driving to your destination, it’s important to map out and schedule stops for bathroom breaks. To avoid your pet from getting restless, use the bathroom breaks to let them run around.

By Land: Test proof the experience

Before you commit to a long voyage with your beloved pet you should get a good understanding of what you’re in for. Take them for a 2-hour drive to see if they develop motion sickness or severe anxiety. This will help you take precautions, if needed. It will also familiarize them to the conditions and allow them to get comfortable with it. You can take this a bit further by rewarding them each time they get in the car to create a positive association with it.

By Land: Crate for safety

Even though the idea of locking up your pet sounds terrible, when you’re traveling it’s a matter of safety. Pets freely roaming around a vehicle while you are driving can be distracting and extremely dangerous. Studies have shown that crating pets can also reduce their anxiety during long distance journeys.

Puppy Pads, puppy pads and more puppy pads!

Even if you have an adult, house-trained pet, travelling can often make them disorientated, which can result in little accidents. So make sure you have some puppy pads handy wherever you are.

Tag them!

Handling pets in unfamiliar surroundings can be very scary for you and your pet. In case of an emergency it’s very important to have a sturdy collar & tag with your contact details. If you are travelling your usual contact details may not apply, so remember to update the tags accordingly.

Stock up on necessities.

When you’re on vacation the last thing you need to worry about is refilling your pet’s medication prescription, finding their preferred food – or worse, introducing new food that they negatively react to. To avoid this, pack enough food for your entire stay and then some. Don’t rely on purchasing food at your destination. Pack some toys and blankets from home to sooth them during your journey.

Get a vet check-up

Visit the veterinarian for a full check up prior to your vacation. If your pet is prone to motion sickness our anxiety, your vet will be able to prescribe something appropriate. Take advantage of your visit and ask any questions that come to mind.

Find pet friendly accommodation

There is often a misconception that hotels and motels will accommodate your pets, however this is not always the case. It’s important to double check with them prior to making any payments. Be clear on the size and requirements of your pet to ensure a positive experience for your beloved pet as well as yourself. If you have larger pets you may want to opt for a holiday home.

Through careful planning, preparation and these handy tips, you can have an amazing travel experience with your pets, regardless of your destination.