RYA Updates





This page is published with the agreement of the RYA and includes information from the RYAinBrief  Update

Winterising Top Tips

When putting your boat to bed for the winter there are a few things to consider to protect it through the winter months. This list is by no means exhaustive but it will give you a few top tips.

Use it. The best way to winterise a boat is to use it as it’s designed to move. A boat contains a multitude of systems that hate inactivity – particularly the engine.

There are plenty of other items that would benefit from winterisation but if you only do one thing, do it on the engine.

  • First on the list – general engine cleaning and observation. Shine plenty of light, use a mirror on a stick or a digital camera to see under and behind things. Dry the bilges to prevent corrosion and if necessary, paint them white to highlight any leaks and drips in the future.
  • Whether your boat is being hauled out for the winter or not, fill your fuel tank to prevent condensation, which in turn prevents the growth of diesel bug.
  • Change the engine oil and replace the oil filter before leaving your boat for the winter. Leaving the old oil contaminated with the acidic by-products of combustion inside the engine block will shorten the engine’s life and a neglected oil system will cause expensive damage. Also consider using flushing oil or a flushing additive during the oil change which helps to remove more of the contaminants.
  • Check the gearbox or outdrive oil and replace if it looks cloudy or milky.

  • Most diesel engines use raw water cooling which needs attention when winterising. Raw water systems require draining before leaving for the winter, by closing the water inlet valve, or sea cock, disconnecting a hose from the circulating pump, (unless there is a dedicated tap or plug), then refilling with a strong solution of fresh antifreeze. Run the engine to fully circulate the new solution. Simply draining the system is unlikely to remove all the water inside, which may, then freeze and cause damage over the winter.
  • Check the water pump impeller and consider replacing it when de-winterising in case the blades have deformed over the winter.
  • Remove the air intake filter and block the intake with an oily rag to prevent rust inside, do the same for the exhaust. Squirt a little oil into the intake and turn over the engine, (without starting), to distribute it over the cylinder walls. Be sure to place a warning about the blocked intake on the engine control panel to prevent anyone turning the engine over.
  • Where possible, remove the batteries and keep them warm and dry over the winter, fully charged or topped up at least every four to six weeks. Batteries left uncharged for long periods may need to be replaced completely. If you’re unable to remove batteries or if the boat is staying on its mooring, leave them fully topped up and regularly recharged, as full batteries are less likely to freeze in sub-zero temperatures.
  • Relax or remove all belts and protect the drive wheels. Rust on these can chew up a belt very quickly in the new season.
  • If you’re taking the boat out of the water make sure it is angled bow upwards slightly to enable rain water to run off immediately from covers, decks and cockpit.

  • Covers should keep water out but allow air to circulate. Proper through-draught will prevent condensation which leads to dry rot, mould and corrosion (especially if left for more than a single season).
  • The internal freshwater supply system also requires attention. Drain the entire system including tank, pump, calorifier, water filters and all taps especially shower mixers. Look for any areas where water could still be trapped in pipes. Plastic piping is less vulnerable than copper piping but rigid unions can still be damaged by freezing.
  • If you have a water-based central heating system using antifreeze then it can be left alone providing they contain the correct water/antifreeze mixture. This can be checked using a strength tester available from marinas and good car spares outlets. Note that antifreeze has a limited life and if it has to be replaced then it is a good time to replace any suspect hoses. Keep the old hoses as emergency replacements.  If the system doesn’t use antifreeze then it should be drained as for the freshwater supply.
  • Remove any foodstuffs which may be damaged by the frost or attract unwanted ‘visitors’ such as mice and rats.
  • Store all linen, clothing, blankets, curtains etc. ashore – washed and dry. Prop the fridge door open – mould will form in less than a week if left closed. Ensure through-ventilation. Leave cupboards and drawers open; prop up bunk cushions, leave under-berth locker lids open. Get circulation into every possible conceivable nook and cranny.
  • Ensure tight-fitting covers for deck-installed electronics and consider spraying behind electronics with water-repellent silicone. Check your navigation lights are still serviceable.

  • If leaving the boat afloat, check all through hull fittings for leaks and corrosion. Don’t forget to check your stern glands and repack with grease if appropriate. There are many versions of stern gland you will need to research this and ensure that you comply with the manufactures recommendations.
  • Make a list of what you have done to winterise the boat so you remember what to reverse in the spring and leave signs all around the boat so no-one accidentally operates a winterised system.

Finally – protect your investment. Whether the vessel is lifted or left in the water it will still need frequent visits to ensure all is well. A weather eye still needs to be maintained and prior to any strong winds the vessel will need checking and securing.

Bilges will still need to be pumped and any deck items checked for security and serviceability. If in the water extra lines may be needed, lines will need to be adjusted often to prevent chafe, fenders will need to be checked and adjusted and a check everywhere to ensure no unwanted guests have moved in for the winter.

 Click on Flag etiquette to read an informative article

Maritime and Coastguard Agency announces VHF Channel changes coming in September 2017

Boat owners, shipping companies and anyone who puts out to sea are being informed about a change in some of the VHF channel numbers used to contact UK Coastguard.

As a result of changes to Appendix 18 (Marine VHF) of the Radio Regulations it will mean that VHF channels 23, 84 and 86 will no longer be used for either Maritime Safety Information (MSI) or Radio Medical Advice.

The channels to use from September 2017 will be VHF 62, 63 and 64. The use of VHF Channel 10 for MSI and pollution control (back up) is unchanged.

Mark Lawson from the Maritime & Coastguard Agency said: “Although the change is not happening until September, when it happens the changeover will be absolute and we want to make people aware of this changeover in good time given our commitment to deliver maritime safety and wider support to the maritime community.

“The exact date of change will be announced as soon as possible. In the meantime, we suggest anyone who uses any type of vessel makes a careful note of these replacement channels so they are ready when it does happen.”

A little bit of courtesy goes a long way!

Being considerate of others helps everyone enjoy their time on the water more.

It’s funny isn’t it. It seems that no matter who you talk to on the water, be they a sailor, an angler, a motor cruiser, a personal watercraft operator or maybe a kayaker, everyone has a gripe of one sort or another about another water user.

Fishermen complain that yachtsmen use them as rounding marks whilst they are anchored and fishing. Motor cruisers complain about personal watercraft users coming in too close and creating too much noise and wake in quiet anchorages. Yachtsmen complain that power boaters pass them at speed and too close, creating unnecessary wash. And so it goes on!

It seems that many of us excel at winding up our fellow boaters on a regular basis.  For many this comes down to not knowing the “rules of the road” or International Regulations for the Prevention of Collisions at Sea (IRPCS), whilst for others it is a case of knowing the rules but simply choosing to ignore them. At best this causes annoyance to others on the water, at worst it risks serious injury or worse.

Know the rules

Getting to know the rules of the road is not difficult. There are many good books written with useful diagrams and examples of situations in which you are likely to find yourself as a boater, regardless of the type of craft you may favour.

Another important aspect of the rules of the road is the need to ensure you know the right rules. There are many urban myths around the rules of the road that seem to get passed from one boating generation to the next. A classic example of this is the widely (and incorrectly) held belief that a vessel that is racing has “rights” over other water users who are not racing. This is not the case and has been the cause of many an irate interaction by sailors in crossing situations the world over.

Those who know the rules of the road but choose to ignore them or to push the boundaries to their limits do themselves and their fellow boaters no favours.

A great example of this would be a sailing vessel tacking up a waterway outside of a shipping channel as a large commercial vessel constrained by draft makes its way up the channel. In reality as long as the sailing vessel remains clear of the channel it is completely within its rights to be there and there is no harm done. However, if that vessel is sailing right to the very edge of the channel and tacking at the last moment possible, whilst on an intercepting course with a 40,000gt ship, the master of the ship has no way of knowing whether the sailing vessel has actually seen them, and so is likely to give the sailors five blasts on the ships horn to ensure they know he is there and that he is unsure of the intentions of the yacht.

In short, very few people on the water are blessed with the gift of being able to read minds. Therefore, there are times when taking early and clear actions may well make your life and those of others on the water more peaceful, rather than pressing home your “rights” when it simply is not necessary.

Think of others

We are fortunate in this country to still be relatively unburdened in terms of regulation and legislation surrounding leisure boating. A great way of ensuring that situation is maintained is to try and act in a courteous fashion when afloat.

Keeping clear of other craft, operating at speeds that don’t create wash for other craft and generally just being sensible when interacting with other vessels (regardless of what type they may be) goes a long way towards helping everyone enjoy their time on the water a little more. Blood pressures are reduced, tempers controlled and very importantly safety is improved. It is much easier to argue against increased regulation when the boating public acts in a responsible and courteous fashion.

So next time you are on the water try and think about what you are doing not just in terms of your own safety and enjoyment, but also in terms of how it impacts the other boaters around you. You might just find that you receive a grateful wave as you pass at low speed rather than an angry stream of abuse as you roar past at 25 knots upsetting lunch and throwing people around the cockpit of a boat at anchor.

The RYA offers a wide range of theory and practical courses for all types of boats and craft. Whilst we can’t teach you common courtesy we can ensure you know the rules of the road and the type of behaviour afloat that is likely to keep you safe. From there we hope you can go and put your knowledge and skills to good use with greater confidence on the water.



Mastering the Ferry Glide

Unlocking the secrets of ferry gliding

It is one of the most satisfying manoeuvres a helm can execute yet its power isn’t always fully realised. Rachel Andrews, RYA Chief Instructor, Motor Cruising and Power, unlocks the secrets of ferry gliding.

“Ferry gliding is a true combination of many practical skills and demonstrates a really good understanding of the prevailing conditions.”

Rachel Andrews knows just how rewarding being able to ferry glide is.

“When you watch someone driving a 50-60m boat with 500-600 people on board and they can berth the boat perfectly in a tight 62m space without the passengers even noticing the boat has stopped alongside, that demonstrates a very high skill level.

“You don’t want 500 full wine glasses tumbling over your guests as the boat bumps against the pier or pontoon! Ferry gliding really is one of the most satisfying skills you can master as a driver and shows that you are a very good powerboater.”

Most simply, ferry gliding is moving a boat sideways, and can be put to great effect to come alongside pontoons, piers or other boats in a slow, controlled manner.

As its name suggests, the term ‘ferry gliding’ originated from the ferries that go from one side of a river to another to the same point, whether the tide is coming in or out, without drifting or being on chains.

Yet the manoeuvre is not for the exclusive use of ferries or large passenger carrying cruisers. It is exceptionally useful when there is only a confined space to moor in as involves no forward or backwards movement so little chance of high impact collision.

At the time of year where space in marinas or on pontoons is at a premium, there are huge advantages to being able to manoeuvre your boat into a tight berth you may never have considered possible, just through applying your knowledge in a different way.

How do you ferry glide?

Ferry gliding uses steering, the power of the engine, tide and the wind in combination to make the boat slide sideways. It involves angling the craft so that the wind/stream creates a sideways force on the vessel.

For this explanation of the principles of ferry gliding, assume the boat is pointing forwards into the tide with the current pushing down the river and no wind. If you put the boat into neutral it will go backwards.

  1. Directly to your right is a pontoon, about 50m away – put your boat directly parallel to that pontoon.
  2. At the moment you are pointing straight up the river, and carefully balancing the amount of throttle to tide, turn the wheel very slightly to the right so that the tide is pushing on the bow.
  3. As soon as the tide is pushing on the bow, adjust the wheel slightly back to the left to prevent the boat going beam onto the tide and being pushed to the bank.
  4. The combination of the tide pushing right and steering wheel turned to the left produces the net result of the boat ‘crabbing’ precisely sideways.

Ferry gliding can be done in reverse too, running with the tide, with stern to stream. Experienced powerboaters can instinctively visualise what is happening with the prop under the water, so once you have acquired the skills and understanding to ferry glide bow to tide, you can reverse all the principles for the opposite effect.

The key to a good ferry glide is the slower you can go, the more control you have.

You can allow the boat to go a bit faster by letting the bow come across further – the bigger the angle across the tide, the more influence the tide will have on the boat and the more power will be required to counteract the force of the tide. The danger of trying to go too fast, however, is the nearer you get to the pontoon the effect of tide may become slower, so there is less effect on the bow. This could result in the boat being propelled forward faster than you would want and a possible bump.

When a very good practitioner executes a ferry glide there will be no obvious change in direction, no jerky movements or deviations, just a gentle glide sideways.

The influence of obstructions

Any obstruction in the flow can cause tidal variations and deviations.

Picture the scenario outlined above, but now imagine a bridge just forward ahead of you. The bridge abutments present an obstruction in the stream, and as the water moves past these it will accelerate and slow-down in different places causing disruption to the direction and speed of the current. You cannot always see this.

But even if you do not have any local knowledge, and do not know what is going to happen, you do know that something will happen. The best advice is always to take it slowly so that you have time to react.

Another benefit of ferry gliding in to a pontoon is it can minimise the impact of hitting any underwater obstructions. The standard way to berth a boat is to drive it into the tide with forward momentum, which presents the possibility of puncturing the collar of a RIB or damaging the hull if something unforeseen is submerged. But because with ferry gliding you have already ‘stopped’ and are just drifting gently sideways the danger from potentially hazardous underwater obstructions is reduced.

Dealing with crosswinds

Whatever the tidal or wind strength or direction, balance is always key. Either the tide or wind will always have more influence than the other, but the combined effect of both with lead to one effect.

With a strong crosswind blowing off the pontoon, as you turn the bow into the wind, the wind will be pushing it back away. You will have to use a lot more power to get the boat across the stream to counteract the force of the wind. But be prepared for the wind to drop going into the shelter of the pontoon, and that the tide may start to have more effect than the wind.

When the wind is blowing on to the pontoon, pushing the boat towards it, any steering towards the pontoon can cause the boat to ‘skate’ in a less controlled manner towards it. Keep the wheel turned to the left, as the wind blows you right to keep the boat parallel to the pontoon, and balance the power accordingly.

Again it is about utilising the skipper’s understanding and knowledge of the wind, tide and handling characteristics of that particular boat.

Know your ‘out’

Sometimes a sudden strong gust or an unexpected acceleration of tide can cause you to need to abandon the manoeuvre.

This is why having an escape plan, and having thought about what you would do if the unexpected occurs, before you start your ferry glide is so important.

The natural reaction in a ‘panic’ situation is often to drive the boat quickly to try to avoid collision, but that is probably the worst thing you could do in this situation. A slow moving boat is always likely to cause and receive less damage.

Even in the worst case scenario and a collision, whether with the pontoon or another vessel, is unavoidable, a slow impact is the best outcome in a bad situation.

The value of transits

Having a transit in the background is a brilliant way for a skipper to judge their position in relation to the pontoon, and if they are moving forwards or backwards.

A transit is usually used in navigation dead straight ahead or behind you, but in ferry gliding it must be on your beam.

Pick an object in the distance and a point on the pontoon and line them up – they must both be fixed points and relevant to the space you are trying to get in to. All the time you have those points lined up you are ‘stationary’ in the water – you might be moving sideways, but you are not moving backwards or forwards.

If you have not got enough power as you get nearer the bank or pontoon, and the tide and/or wind starts to have an effect, the transit will open up.

The bigger the distance between the transits that you choose, the better chance you have of keeping your position. If the transit gap is only small, a minor adjustment in steering will make a big difference to you gauging your position.

Using a transit is a great way of maintaining position.

Ready to ferry glide?

The skills and knowledge required for ferry gliding could are taught as early as the RYA Powerboat Level 2 course – depending on location and conditions on the day – as a means of coming alongside, or a method of approach in a tidal stream or current.

As Rachel concludes: “Once you have this knowledge then it just becomes about applying your understanding of tide, wind, trim of the boat and, if applicable, sea state, to balance the boat and maintain position.

“I don’t think people always realise the power of good ferry gliding, but I hope more skippers start to appreciate it is not just an advanced technique used by large commercial operators but something that can be employed on a day-to-day basis and really adds another string to your powerboating bow.”

Read more about Ferry Gliding in the RYA Advanced Powerboat Handbook or for more information about RYA Training courses.

 What happens to boats that have reached the end of their useful life or have been abandoned?

There has been a flurry of interest in Europe recently about what happens to boats that have reached the end of their useful life or have been abandoned. Such vessels can lead to pollution, navigational hazards and removal costs for marinas, ports and recreational craft owners.

With an average age of 30 years, those recreational craft that are at the end of their useful life need to be disposed of in a safe and environmentally responsible manner. This is no small problem. It is claimed that Europe has one of the largest concentrations of recreational craft in the world with over 6 million in the European Union alone. It is estimated that as many as 95% of these are made from Fibre Reinforced Plastic.

Because Fibre Reinforced Plastic is highly durable, end-of-life disposal has not been a major issue so far. However, the time is coming when even these boats will reach the end of their lives and will have to be disposed of. As regulation is starting to restrict the disposal of FRP to landfill, recycling will become the only realistic option.


In October 2013 an EU funded project call the Boat Dismantling Insight by Generating Environmental and Safety Training (Boat DIGEST) was established to study the problem of end-of-life boats. The main activities were to identify boat dismantling and recycling practices, boat dismantling facilities across Europe and to gather dismantler and boat owner opinions in order to understand existing problems faced by them.

The RYA, through its membership of the European Boating Association, was an Advisory Board Member of Boat DIGEST to provide suggestions and feedback on the deliverables. The result is that four sets of “Guidelines” have now been published on the project’s website www.boatdigest.eu. These target: boat owners and nautical associations; marinas and leisure harbours; repair & refit companies; and boating schools and skipper training centres. The guidelines offer information on actions that can be taken by these four groups and the role they can play in raising awareness about the issue.

Clearly, Boat DIGEST has made a valuable contribution in raising the level of awareness and knowledge of this issue among key sectors, however, the project did not make an assessment of the possible financing models for disposing of  old boats; this and where costs fall is the issue that troubles us most.


Between 2010 and 2012 the European Union sponsored a project that addressed the end of life issue as part of an aim to reduce the environmental impact of the marine industry.

The main objective of the project was to reduce the impact of the nautical industry on the environment by developing new treatment, management and recovery methods for end-of-life recreational boats. The BOATCYCLE project also addressed boat production and manufacturing processes based on life cycle assessment and an eco-design approach. Again the ‘who pays’ question was not addressed.

Who will pay then?

Researchers have calculated that the average cost of conventionally dismantling a 7 m long boat including logistics is €800, rising to some €1500 for a 10-12 m boat and as much as €15,000 for boats of over 15 m. (The escalation is related more to boat volume than to length and to the greater complexity of larger boats).

It has been mooted that the costs should fall on the boat owner, but many owners who are in place at the ends of a boat’s life are unwilling or more likely unable to afford such substantial sums, at least within a short time span. Unlike owners of metal boats, which have significant scrap value in their recyclable metals, those who own reinforced plastic boats cannot rely on scrap value to reduce disposal costs. Collecting the costs from owners, even those that can be traced may well be difficult.

The problem with the owner pays proposal is that it does not recognise that the boatbuilding industry has its part to play. Currently, there appears to be little incentive for innovation in green design and the development of new marine products that are more sustainable throughout their life cycle and during scrapping and recycling.

One concept that merits further examination is that of extended producer responsibility; a strategy in which the manufacturer’s responsibility for a product is extended to the post-consumer stage of a product’s life cycle. In practice, this implies that manufacturers assume the responsibility for collecting or taking back used goods for their eventual recycling. This reflects the fact that boat builders and their suppliers are also key stakeholders in the lifecycle process and working towards sustainable and recyclable products is in their interests.

This approach is not without its problems; often the original manufacturer goes out of business long before the boats they build reach the end of their lives. Also the costs of extended producer responsibility may well be reflected in increased lifecycle costs.

Nevertheless, in the absence of any legal or regulatory instrument that requires the recycling of recreational craft or the correct management of abandoned craft in Europe, the marine industry must start developing viable disposal and recycling strategies akin to those that have evolved for the auto trade. The requirements for dismantling, reusing and recycling of end-of life boats and their components should be integrated in the design and production of all new boats. Today, in spite of the great advances in waste management in Europe, there is a compelling need to include specific measures related to the management and recycling of boats aimed at:

  • ensuring that they are designed and manufactured in such a way as to allow reuse, recycling and recovery to be achieved;
  • preventing waste;
  • promoting reuse, recyclability and recovery;
  • obligating the use of manufacturing processes without hazardous substances;
  • improving the environmental performance of all involved in the life cycle of boats.

The future?

There is clear evidence that the European Commission is starting to take notice of this issue as part of the ‘circular economy’ (a generic term for an industrial economy that produces no waste and pollution) and a further study is expected in 2016; the future may well depend on action taken by the EU in the years to come.

Action by the EU could include mandatory or non-mandatory regulatory measures, a legislative framework or no measures at all. However, according to the BOATCYCLE experience certain measures are considered to be necessary in order to achieve the correct management of end-of-life and abandoned boats at an EU level. These may well include regulatory measures at EU and/or Member State level; creation of a European registration and deregistration system including information concerning boats that have reached their end-of-life status; and mandatory extended producer responsibility.

Whatever happens, the RYA is keeping a close eye on developments through the European Boating Association in order to ensure that the views of boat users are fully represented and understood.




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