Our final Winter Talk in the 2020-21 series was conducted by Zoom, as we’ve become used to. It was attended by nearly 50 club members, who were clearly attracted by the goal of achieving ‘stress free sailing’.

Duncan Wells is an RYA instructor, as well as a features writer for Yachting Monthly, Sailing Today & Practical Boat Owner. Importantly, he is the author of several “Stress Free” books, including Stress Free Sailing and Stress Free Mooring. Duncan also runs westviewsailing.co.uk

Duncan began his talk with examples of the multitude of electronic navigational aids which are available, and can certainly make passage planning or the journeys themselves easier, but reminded us not to forgo paper charts (as they’re not known for suddenly dying on you), and also the simple act of looking around to check that you are where you’re expecting to be.

Duncan then turned to the main topic, talking us through numerous tips on ways to make sailing, particularly mooring and leaving docks, a less stressful experience, especially when sailing short-handed.

He showed the benefits of using bridles rather than springs for coming alongside, as well as a simple way to adjust fender heights if changing from dock mooring to rafting. The lesser known Rustler’s Hitch was advocated, as a simple way to release a line from a cleat, and I suspect there will be a few people giving it a trial, as well as testing out their lassoing skills.

The final subject was Man Over Board, where Duncan demonstrated how the use of the right equipment can make it far easier to recover somebody from the water, without needing a fully crewed up boat.

8th April 2021