September 2016 – Duncan Wells – Stress Free Sailing

In September we welcomed Duncan Wells, author, RYA instructor, founder of Westview Sailing, and voice-over expert; voice-over being Duncan’s “proper job”. The instructor in him challenged us on signals with a couple of pictures: a motor-sailing triangle (which was upside down) and a tow cone. We in Chipping Norton Yacht Club can’t be caught out that easily, Duncan!stress-free-sailing

Duncan is best known for his book “Stress Free Sailing” and that was his theme. A sister publication “Stress Free Motorboating” is imminent. As he reminded us, it is all too easy to frighten the family – one shouty incident can put them off to such an extent that they never come again, so de-stressing pays dividends.

A lot of grief arises around getting off pontoons or, worse, coming onto them, and Duncan explained his techniques. He showed us videos of how he uses springs and bridles, how he lassoes a cleat, or motors against a spring. Made it all look very easy.

Duncan came equipped with bits of rope and a lifejacket, which he wore for some of the evening (the lifejacket). With the rope he showed a few of his favourite knots; the audience particularly liked the “rustler’s hitch” which he demonstrated with volunteers to hold up a boat hook as a surrogate horse-tethering bar outside a wild west bank. No one was asked to be the horse. (The rustler’s hitch can be undone in a trice with a tug on it’s bitter end, so, as a bank robber, one can be out of there and out of rifle range in a jiffy.)

Duncan also brought along a patented life-saving kit that he markets – the MOB Lifesaver. Simple but ingenious, it is a short length of thin but very strong floating line, terminating in a loop, that is kept attached to the inside of the lifejacket. When the lifejacket is deployed, the line floats free and is easily retrieved by the saviour, with the casualty attached. Fishing people out of the water is much more difficult than most realise and this device makes it easier, quicker and more certain.

All good stuff and although much of Duncan’s material was familiar to many of us it was good to be reminded of good practice. Duncan is a good presenter, with nice anecdotes and an amusing turn of phrase that kept us entertained.