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Hamilton hosted LTS Coach Course Write-up

Yachting New Zealand Learn to Sail Coaching Course Facilitator: Peter Head Host Club: Hamilton Yacht Club, Innes Common, Hamilton HYC Host: Dave Smith

‘Bring on the summer!’. That was the feeling as the Yachting New Zealand’s Learn to Sail Coaching Course came to a close during the weekend of 20th and 21st July at Hamilton Yacht Club. The intensive course facilitated by Peter Head (from Elements Watersports in Tauranga) took fifteen hopeful candidates through the Start Sailing (Learn to Sail 1) and Sailing Fast (Learn to Sail 2) syllabi, coaching skills, powerboat handling and land drills with the aim to produce coaches who can inform and enthuse beginners. The candidates ranged from sailors completely new to coaching, to a RNZYS Lion Foundation Youth Training Programme Graduate, through to sailors who have sailed for years. Having a good mix of coaching abilities, ages and sailing abilities made for a very informative course. Peter was excellent at teasing out people's experiences and ideas which led to everyone taking lots away to think about. The rain came and went, the wind came and went, and so did the sun. All seasons in one day allowed Peter to discuss different weather scenarios with the candidates and luckily only the rigging sessions on Saturday morning got us slightly damp. A highlight of the weekend was having Don and Andrew from Rotoroa Yacht Club’s Sailability join us with their Access 303 dinghies. For most of us, we were presented with new considerations regarding teaching styles and accessibility that we may not have thought about if they had not been on the course. If you have not sailed an Access 303, do! They are great fun and allow you, the coach, to appreciate a little more, what you might be asking your sailability sailors to do. If you have ever thought about coaching the next wave of sailors wanting to join our wonderful sport, do sign up to this very worthwhile course….. or email

Dave Smith Club Coach Hamilton Yacht Club

Elements Watersports Centres Professional Watersports Tuition

Pete: 0275 369 807 Bookings: 0800 486 729 Visit:

Positioning systems – GPS v. three point fix

Positioning systems – GPS v. three point fix Simon Jinks investigates who might win in game of position fixing top trumps! []Our dependency on GPS and other Global Navigation Satellite Systems is pretty much complete. We depend on it for navigating the car, finding the nearest pub on our phone, tracking trains, planes and automobiles. The worlds’ banks and electricity companies would grind to a halt if GPS and its hyper accurate timing signals were to shut down and we obviously use it for navigating our boats. Let’s be honest, GPS is great. At the press of a button it solves the problem of the ‘where are we’, puzzle navigators have been trying to solve since we first ventured afloat. But is it the best solution, would it win the Position Fixing version of ‘Top Trumps’? The GPS doom mongers would be unlikely to agree. Whilst they agree the ‘End of GPS’ may not be nigh, there’s the constant worry of both known and unknown errors, lurking out of sight like the bogeyman, that could jump out and get us if we give over to GPS, over reliance and relax into complacency. The doom mongers would quite rightly say; ‘… the Earth is undergoing high levels of solar activity over the next couple of years and this is leading to less accurate GPS positions and occasional drop of signal.’ And ‘GPS jammers can be bought for £50 that can block a GPS signal, this over reliance on GPS and jamming issues are why the UK and some European governments are funding National land based navigation systems which are harder to jam’ Or ‘…what if little Johnny sits on the antenna, making it useless, or uses all the battery power to watch the new Star Trek DVD on the laptop leaving the GPS hungry for power or signal’ Personally, I welcome all advances in navigation. I happily scroll an outline plan of my day’s route on the charts on my mobile phone, before having a squint at the paper chart to confirm the facts. When I started teaching, radio direction finding and radio lighthouses were still being taught, then Decca navigation reduced in price and took over, and for the last twenty years GPS has been the trendy kid on the street corner. Over that time I’ve found that all position-fixing systems have strong and weak points - they are all fallible and they are all great. There’s no difference between traditional and electronic positioning – it is all just positioning. They all have pro’s and con’s and you use a combination of methods to keep you safe. GPS is susceptible to solar activity, jammers, horizontal datum errors, and vector chart error. GPS requires power, a good signal and a user who knows how to operate it – but when it is good it is very good. Often electronic charts are their downfall, as you’ll see the boat driving over land on the chart plotter in close pilotage situations. A three-point fix is great as it is visual and lets’ face it, the way most of the world was charted. But it’s only good if you have visibility, can identify the points on the chart, convert the bearings and take them in the right order. The seabed is often the closest you are to land so depth gives a great indication of position. Except, that it only gives one rough position line and requires you to know from where the depth is reading. It sort of tells you where you are not. Mark one eyeball is a great way to ensure your GPS is not telling fibs by comparing the GPS position to the actual position of the dock you are sitting on. The eyeball lets you down a little on a featureless coast or at night where you cannot find reference and are unsure of gauging the distance. Radar portrays what is there and can see through the murk, but only if you know how to use it and know whether to use bearings or ranges for the best accuracy. So what do we do? · Keep a log of your position by either a regular plot on the chart or an entry in the logbook. · The faster you travel or the more essential your exact position, the more it should be logged. · Have the ability and equipment to work out a position and shape your next course. · Back up your position by another means (log, depth, compass, radar and mark-one eyeball) GPS would probably win a game of Top Trumps between position systems. Whilst it may not be the final piece of the puzzle it is possibly a large piece of the jigsaw. But treat all pieces of kit on-board with the same bit of healthy mistrust and scepticism. It keeps you safe. Simon Jinks

Elements Watersports Centres Professional Watersports Tuition

Bookings: 0800 486 729 Visit:


[Maritime and Coastguard Agency Press Office] Saturday, 13 July 2013 DIVE BOAT BREAKDOWN LEAVES DIVERS LOST IN FOG A dive boat’s broken GPS and engine left two divers lost in fog near the wreck of the ‘Alster’. Humber Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre was called by a dive vessel at just after half past three this afternoon. They were told that the vessel’s engine and GPS had broken and it couldn’t find the two divers who were believed to be on the surface in black wets suits and marker buoys. The situation was not helped by thick fog that reduced visibility to 50 metres. Humber coastguard broadcast a message to all vessels in the area asking them if they could help by heading to the last known location of the divers. Meanwhile the RNLI lifeboat based at Cromer made its way to the scene. At just after half past four the dive vessel ‘Manta’ contacted Humber Coastguard to say they had found the divers safe and well and were on their way back to shore at Sea Palling. Humber Coastguard Watch Manager Graham Dawson said: “The dive boat did exactly the right thing by calling us as soon as it realised that it couldn’t get back to the divers on the surface. Good communications at sea are vital in this situation and that’s why the coastguard recommend a fixed DSC VHF set, 406 MHz EPIRB with GPS and 121.5 homing function, powerful torch and appropriate flares. -Ends- Notes to Editors

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A Distressing Situation

A Distressing Situation 

Development of Electronic Visual Distress Signals (EVDS).

Some of you may be aware of the development and marketing of hand-held non-pyrotechnic devices or Electronic Visual Distress Signals (EVDS) that are being offered as alternatives to pyrotechnic flares.

Pyrotechnic flares are one of a number of methods specified in COLREG Annex IV that can be used or exhibited either together or separately to indicate distress and need of assistance.

Many boaters now buy EVDS - so called “laser flares” - as an alternative to hand held pyrotechnic flares because of cost, safety and ease of testing and disposal.

But are EVDS substitutes for pyrotechnic flares?

From a practical perspective EVDS produce a light pattern that is different to the intense burn of a conventional flare and there is some concern that this might not be recognised as a distress alert.

The advice therefore is that where carriage is not mandatory, EVDS should not be carried as a substitute for conventional pyrotechnic flares if the intention is to use them as the primary means of signalling distress.

Mindful of this limitation, however, commercial and recreational vessels of any size may carry EVDS in addition to pyrotechnic flares for use as locating devices particularly for the ‘final mile’.

Clearly where carriage is not mandatory, boaters are free to carry pyrotechnic if they wish and accept that disposal might well be an issue.

For those who choose not to, then an alerting device listed in COLREG such as EPIRB (ideally with GPS and a homing device) or VHF DSC set (correctly connected to the GPS) which is suitable for the intended area of operation together with some form of EVDS for location in the final mile may be a suitable combination.

International research

In the meantime, work has begun internationally to research the effectiveness of EVDS. The US Coastguard has commissioned a study which is supported by the MCA.

The aim is to work towards recognition of these devices. To do this, EVDS need to be accepted as fit for purpose by the International Maritime Organisation.

A change to Annex IV of the Collision Regulations will also be required to give EVDS full recognition as distress signals.

Stuart Carruthers, RYA Cruising Manager

RYA Training - What is it?

Elements Watersports runs RYA powerboat courses in New Zealand, here is some background on the great scheme that Pete has been involved with for 20 years. 


RYA Training celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2011 and over the years literally millions of people have participated in and benefited from the worlds leading collection of training schemes for a variety of boating activities.

Despite being very well established and well known we are still sometimes asked “what is RYA Training all about?”, so Richard Falk, RYA Training Manager challenged himself to try and answer that question (in about 1,000 words!)

Many years ago some clever boffin came up with the bright idea to arrange some structured, standardised training based around sailing dinghies. I will not begin to guess whose idea this may have been initially for risk of offending someone. Needless to say, this idea was a stroke of genius and RYA Training was born.

The training schemes revolve around a well thought through syllabus, delivered by RYA trained instructors and within the environment of an RYA recognised training centre. Annual inspections of training centres are carried out by the RYA to ensure that vessels meet the required standard and that safety management is effective and appropriate for the activities being undertaken. As a potential student, seeing the RYA recognised training centre logo should give you confidence that the training centre meets the high standards of the RYA and that you are safe in the hands of their instructors. 


Over the years the dinghy scheme has grown, initially through the support of clubs and military operations and eventually through commercial sailing businesses. Following on from the initial success in dinghies RYA training began to spread its wings and has since then developed training schemes covering: Sail Cruising, Motor Cruising, Power Boats, Windsurfing, Inland Waterways, Personal Watercraft, Shore based courses, ELearning, Super Yacht personal watercraft and keel boats.

With a network of more than 2,500 RYA recognised training centres in 46 countries, 25,000 RYA qualified instructors deliver training to almost 200,000 people per year. It is the most successful scheme of its type in the world.



The training is supported by a wide range of publications specifically designed to support individual courses across a wide range of schemes. Whether you are learning the basics of keeping a dinghy upright or the intricacies of meteorology there is an RYA publication to suit your needs. With more than 100 titles in hard copy and a range of digital publications growing by the week, it’s fair to say that we have something to cover just about any need you might have to read or learn about some aspect of boating.

It would be remiss of me to speak of RYA training without mentioning qualifications. All of our courses are designed to build the knowledge, skill and confidence of the student. At the end of the course (subject to satisfactory completion) the student will obtain a course completion certificate that indicates they have a) completed the course and b) met the required standard. There are varying levels of courses so regardless of whether you are venturing onto the water for the first time or looking to further develop your knowledge after years of experience there is something there for everyone.

More and more people are also choosing careers in the marine industry. Whether you’re aspiring to work on superyachts, get involved with the renewable energy sector or any one of a wide range of other industry sectors the RYA Yachtmaster certificate of competence is the ideal starting point. This qualification is a certificate of competence that is recognised both in the UK and in many foreign countries and is obtained after successful completion of a detailed and challenging practical and theory exam. Many people undertake this exam just for the personal satisfaction of knowing that they have achieved this envaiable standard of skill whilst others elect to do it to enable them to work in the industry.

Across all of our training schemes there are clear pathways for people to progress all the way from novice through to actually instructing within those schemes. Some people will undertake their instructor qualifications to enable them to volunteer at their local club to assist others to learn how to sail. Others will earn their instructor qualifications in order to be able to go and forge a career in some aspect of the boating industry. The opportunities are endless. 


We have worked hard over many years to build the name and reputation of RYA training and qualifications. As a result of this we now find that RYA boating qualifications are accepted in most parts of the world as credible evidence of someones boating competence. On the professional front RYA commercial qualifications are the qualifications of choice within the superyacht industry and are accepted in many countries across the globe.

Whether hiring a dinghy off a beach in the Caribbean, chartering a yacht on the Great barrier Reef or starting a career in Superyachts your RYA qualifications will come in handy.

Most importantly RYA training is fun! Our courses are designed to provide particiapnts with the opportunity to learn both practical skills and theory knowledge in an on water environment. As a result hundreds of thousands of people are introduced to boating in some form each year and they do so in a safe and supported way that we hope will encourage them to carry on an activity that most of us are addicted to.

To find out more about RYA Training visit

And call Elements Watersports 0800 486 729  for how we can get you RYA trained in New Zealand.