First Aid at Sea

First Aid is something I know a little about. Way back in another life I trained as a nurse at St Thomas’ hospital in London. I saw my fair share of blood, trauma and emergencies. So my first aid and resuscitation techniques are fairly good, I have done them for real.
However first aid on a boat is somewhat different. For a start there are no doctors, no shiny  equipment, no bags of blood, no life saving drugs, more often or not just a woefully inadequate first aid kit.
You could be miles out to sea and hours away from any professional help. Life and death is determined in the first 30 minutes of first aid being able to be started effectively.
So a first aid course designed for sailors appealed to me.

Just common sense

On a boat the average first aid book is useless. Not because first aid is different on a boat, it’s not, it just that the environment is so different.
Where on the average deck can you put a full grown man wearing a life jacket and oilies in the recovery position without him either falling down the companionway stairs, rolling overboard or smacking his head on a cleat. Then there is trying to do CPR on a pitching rolling boat in a force 8 and the pouring rain. Chest compressions through a £400 Henri Lloyd jacket and several layers of clothing is not easy. Its not that easy when they are naked and stationary, believe me.
There is no point taking him down into the cabin, more often or not the radio for sending a MAYDAY or instructing a Helivac is in the cockpit. If its just you and the casualty, you need to be able to see the victim at all times steer the boat and man the radio. So chuck the book out and rely on common sense instead.
I am not about to bang on about  airways, bleeding and conscious levels but again what most books don’t tell you are the 2 things that kill the quickest on a boat. Drowning and cold water shock.
Most of us are pretty hot at our MOB procedure but we never focus on the person in the water and what they are going through. Their body is shutting down, they are unable to swim and are getting confused. They are dying the minute they hit that water and it can happen in minutes.
There is a very good  article here. I recommend everyone to read it.

Sea Sickness

The other thing the books don’t tell you about is severe seasickness. Anyone can suffer from it, even very experienced sailors. You can suffer one day in fairly quiet water and be perfectly fine in a pitching howling hoolie the next

sea sick
Sea Sickness

Sea sickness is a conflict between what your eyes see and what your inner ears, which help with balance, sense. It can be life threatening if the dehydration gets too severe. Diabetics who can’t eat are at severe risk of having a hypo. would you know what to do?  Never tell a suffer to “pull yourselves together”. Its not “all in the mind”
So here is a little checklist for you.

  • Make sure your first aid kit contains more than a few plasters
  • Make sure its not in the bottom of a disused locker, can be got at quickly and all members of the crew know where it is.
  • Ask all guests and crew, if they suffer from any ailments such as angina, asthma, high blood pressure, diabetes etc before they get onboard. -All of these can be made worse by exposure to  the cold and wet. And its the first thing the helicrew will ask.
  • Make sure that if they do suffer that they have not left their meds in the car back at the marina.
  • The link below is the official MCA guidelines for requesting Medical Assistance over the radio, down load a copy and keep it in your first aid kit

stay safe….

Domestic Goddess or Galley Maid

According to Roger, I happen to be a bit of a domestic goddess in the kitchen at home. I like cooking. That said, I do have a large kitchen with up to date appliances plenty of storage space, a state of the art cooker, fridge and 3 freezers. I am happy to tackle complicated recipes and 6 course meals. Not so on the boat.
Lets put things into perspective. The galley is the size of a phone box, there is limited storage space, a fridge that resembles a  shoebox, 2 small gas rings, and an oven that can just about take a pigeon. I do have a weeny microwave but only when we are hooked up to shore power.
Onboard, I have to do without spiralizers, food processors, juicers, blenders and thingys for getting  stones out of cherries. My most used gadgets are the corkscrew (obviously) and the garlic press. Well what girl can live without a garlic press?
When cooking afloat, galley maids learn certain tricks, such as:

  • Never use ceramic crockery, unless you want smashed china everywhere.
  • Store your knives with extreme caution (flying blades are not good); I store mine in an old flares canister.
  • Make do with the minimum of pots and pans, at least it saves on the washing up in the titsy galley sink.
  • Never serve salad on a windy day because  lettuce  is liable to rise off the plate and send your dinner flying across the marina. The most “seaworthy” vegetables in my experience are weightier ones such as cauliflower, broccoli and carrots.
  • Always assume the boat is going to move erratically at the most inopportune moment no matter what the conditions are. It only takes one boat  or inconsiderate rib to  come flying by an put up a big wake just as you are transferring something hot to a plate.

One Pot Cooking

So whilst onboard I have resurrected my student one pot cooking repertoire. Other wise known in our house as a “Susie Surprise”. Shove it all in one pot and see what comes out! So I thought I would share one of my favourites with you

Sausage Stew

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 500g  sausages – I use Cumberland
  • 1 medium  onion, halved, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 400g can Tesco 5 bean salad, drained
  • 800g can chopped tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup barbecue or brown  sauce
  • 1 tablespoon  sugar
  •  Chopped parsley and crusty bread, to serve

    Heat half the oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook sausages, in batches, turning, for 5 to 6 minutes or until browned all over. Transfer to a plate.

Heat remaining oil in pan. Add onion and garlic. Cook, stirring, for 5 to 6 minutes or until onion has softened. Add beans, tomato, barbecue/brown sauce and sugar. Return sausages to pan. Cover. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, uncovered, for 25 minutes or until sausages are cooked through and sauce thickened. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve with bread.

Bon appetit!


Rafting is the nautical equivalent of double parking. Six deep is not uncommon especially if you are in Bembridge at the height of the season or on a sunny afternoon in the Beaulieu River.

There are several stages to successfully raft your boat against someone already moored.

Stage 1

You have to pick a boat larger or the same size as yours. Rafting against a small boat is asking for trouble. You could quite simply crush them to death.
Once you have chosen your victim, swing into view and calmly shout “mind if we come alongside?” The owner will respond with the time honoured response of “Bugger off and use someone else”. His next response will be ‘we’re leaving at 04.30’. This trick is so well known that most people don’t believe it to be true any more. If you are, in fact, planning to leave at the crack of dawn, offer to go on the outside of the raft. Let the harbour master know and he may place you in a raft consisting of other early birds. . You’ll often find that a ‘no problem, we’ll get up and help you out’ will weed out the true early birds from the  cantankerous worrying about their gel-coat!
However once he realises he has no choice he will start to  throw out every fender he owns. He suddenly becomes very  keen to help you.
Nothing will start your relationship with the boat alongside on a worse footing than approaching without being properly fendered. So hang your balls out early.

Stage 2

Come in close, stop alongside and  get your clumsy crew to board the victim’s boat.  Arm them to the teeth with all sorts of lines and ropes with which to attach your boat to theirs.  The owners will now be sweating profusely, watching your every move, especially your anchor, very, very closely.
If the victim is a real mariner, he will politely suggest you attach lines to shore. This is to prevent his boat having to take the full strain of wind and weather. Taking a line to shore may well involve carrying a humongous weight of line over several moored boats. Whist the crew is on shore securing lines, toss them the  power cable with a casual ” oh just  find a spare socket somewhere”

Spare Socket?


Stage 3

You now need to go ashore.
There exists a very simple code of etiquette. One must never clamber across or through the neighbours’ cockpits. There’s nothing worse than having a quiet drink when a neighbouring crew comes stomping across, knocking the champers and nibbles over.
One always walks across other boats’ foredecks. Note the position of drying washing, open hatches and other trip hazards for when you make your way back in the dark.  Master-cabins tend to be at the front of many  boats, and they have skylights which you are permitted to walk across. During the summer these are often open at shin height and can cause a nasty graze and some serious nautical language to be uttered.
Serious no no’s are using the stranchion wires to swing on, sit on or haul yourself over the side. Do not stop to get a quick glance of the news being broadcast on the TV below you and never ever comment on the state of tidiness of either the cabin or galley.

Antifouling – Oh the joys…

With Christmas over and done with  most boat owners thoughts turn to the most hated of boat maintenance, Antifouling.  There’s something about antifouling that has boat owners shuddering in their flip-flops. Maybe it’s the eye-watering cost of the stuff or perhaps the less than favourite job of putting it on, no doubt on a breezy, cold day that sees any other person, boat or car to leeward getting generously spotted with International’s finest.

Marine Hitchhikers

Basically, the little critters of the marine world love nothing more than to hitch a ride on your boat. They don’t ask you to  give them a lift. Not so when it comes to barnacles, molluscs, tube worms, slime, the occasional gummi-bear etc, they just latch right on like they’re entitled. The little buggers slow down the performance of the boat adding to fuel costs, clog up seacocks, sensors and look unsightly. But fortunately being humans,   we’re bigger, smarter and  have access to credit cards and chandleries. So we water blast the blighters off regularly and then apply a couple of coats of seriously anti foul paint every year or two.

Marine Hitch Hikers

How foul is anti-foul?

Anything that requires a full bio suit, mask and gloves has to be somewhat toxic – right? Yes, its very toxic. While anti-foul paint looks and smells like regular paint and you put it on the same way, it actually behaves differently. It has “biocides” inside it which ooze (a technical term) out in a continuous and controlled manner. The paint is actually porous and lets water in so as to dissolve the biocides. It must make the boat taste bad or something because it inhibits the marine hitchhikers from clinging on to your boat. Take that you barnacles!
The type of anti-foul paint you choose depends where you sail your boat (i.e., what local nasties are prevalent) and any local regulation around copper biocides. Like many things in life, anti-foul is certainly not without its controversy. And when it comes to anti-foul paint, some people consider copper to be a bad guy. There are very few biocides that will work well. They either don’t react well to salt water or they’re too toxic to be handled safely. As a result copper biocides are now in vogue, however, there is now some question about their level of toxicity and impact on marine life. As a result, its use is now banned in certain areas.
So my takeaway is, marine creatures bad on your boat, but good in the water. Substances that keep marine creatures off your boat both good and bad. It is all too confusing. Fortunately, the marine industry is beavering away coming up with fabulous new non-toxic anti-foul products.

Swinging from the Hook

Swinging from the hook is a colloquial saying meaning to Drop Anchor
Anchors are a pretty important part of any boat. They keep it in place out in the open sea. They bring up mud and discarded shopping trolleys at inopportune moments and anchor lights are designed to discharge all batteries before daylight.
The vast majority of anchors that you see on the bows of boats in the marina are woefully inadequate.  Your £200-£400 anchor is going to be holding your £25000-£500,000 boat, so spend more money if you need to.  Most boats come with rubbish anchors, even new from the manufacturer!
Anchoring is a form of art and needs practise to get it right.

Choosing your Anchorage

You cannot simply lob the hook out willy nilly where ever you feel like it. The south coast waters are littered with potential hazards such as under water cables and submarine barriers. Marine protected areas are a considerable “verboten”
Ideally, your anchorage should be as flat as a mill-pond as any swell will make it extremely vomit making.  If the boat starts rolling, things seldom get better.  Get the heck out of there  and seek  alternative anchorage.
The sea  has  challenging bottoms. Mud, clay, weed, sand and rock. You need to choses an area where you anchor will bite. The best surfaces are sand or mud, which allow the anchor to dig in deeply. however a nightmare to get the blasted anchor out of again. Rock and weed or shingle will provide a less secure holding and will require either a good anchor alarm or someone on constant lookout.


Nothing to do with partner swapping! All boats will swing as the wind or tide changes. Your boat should have room to swing through a 360 degree arc, without hitting  nearby boats.
As you approach a busy anchorage, every eye will be on you, praying that you are not going to invaded their swinging circle. Mind you after a couple of stiff Bombay Sapphires, anything is possible
Don’t be shy about picking up and moving if you come to rest too close to another boat.  You will know if you are getting too close as there will lots of bad-tempered shouting and your neighbouring boats will be chucking every available fender in your direction.

Not Enough Scope

An anchor functions by digging in while it’s being pulled along, horizontal to the sea floor.  For this to work, there needs to be enough rope or chain out that the angle of the force is mostly along the floor, not up and down.
It’s surprising how many times you see someone throw out the anchor and then tie it off as soon as it touches the bottom.  How could a 15 kilo anchor hold a 1 tonne boat by just resting on the mud?

 Tide and Wind

In areas with significant tides, you need to have a general idea of the current state of tide and the highest and lowest tide during your stay at the anchorage.
Check the highest tide, nothing more embarrassing to find you don’t have enough rope to let out as the tide rises.  Also check the lowest tide and make sure you’ll still be floating!  Living life waiting for the tide to come back in at a 45 degree slant is not Fun. Champagne glasses simple slide off the table
Often, if the wind starts blowing hard, it will also blow in one direction, so you can forget about your swing circle but you will need to let down more weight. When the wind starts whistling in the rigging at 3am, you’ll go up top to find everyone in the anchorage letting out more scope in their underwear and headlamps.


If you’re anchoring with all chain, then you have a very strong but rigid system that will shock load the anchor. Your boat will snap back and forth on the rope with a large clanging noise. At  3am it’s like Chinese water torture and you will spend the night talking to the big white telephone in the heads.
Snubbers are not antisocial people but energy absorbing pieces of rubber you thread onto your mooring lines. Well worth the money.
If you avoid the  mistakes above, you’ll be able to have many confident, sleep filled nights knowing you’ll be right where you expect to be when you wake up in the morning.
Finally, we were leaving a popular anchorage on a sunny afternoon. We spotted another yacht leaving but he had not hauled his anchor in completely. It was swinging  precariously off his bow threatening to puncture his gelcoat.
I stood on the topside yelling and pointing “your anchor, your anchor”
He just calmly turned round and gave me the 2 finger salute, not quite sure why. You just can’t help some people.

A Bridge Over Troubled water

Tower Bridge, built in 1892 from  over 70,000 tons of concrete. Clad in Cornish granite and Portland stone. This is to protect the underlying steelwork and to give the bridge a pleasing appearance.

Plan A

Along with some friends we planned a trip on the Thames with the idea being  to cruise through central London to the Thames barrier and then back to St Katherine’s Marina at Tower Bridge for the evening.

We set off on the ebb tide from Brentwood Marina heading west, down river. A slow meandering journey enjoying the sights.

All is going well as we get to Westminster Bridge where all hell is let loose. We find ourselves dodging huge commercial barges, high speed water taxis, huge RIBS and a plethora of wide beam cruise boats.

We live on the South Coast and so we are use to the commercial traffic in the Solent but this is a navigation nightmare. However we make it to Tower Bridge and onto Greenwich at which point the tide turns.

All plans to reach the Barrier are now scuppered as what I can only describe as a tsunami hits us. We have forgotten that it is a Spring tide,  one of the highest tides of the year and there is no slack water in the Thames. It goes from quite calm to boiling surging frothy eddys in a blink of an eye.

River Thames
River Thams

Plan B

We make a decision that as we have an hour before the lock at St Kats Marina opens we will take refuge on the inside of one of the water taxis pontoons. OH BIG MISTAKE! So strong is the flow of water that it rips our central cleat clean out of the boat. The spring line it’s attached to snaps back like an elastic band just missing hubby. We think we would be safer in the midstream so we make our way back out into open water and slowly back to Tower Bridge.

St Katherine’s Dock is just below the bridge and has a few mooring buoys to tie up to and wait for the lock. The marina is tide dependant.

St Kats Marina
St Katherines Dock

I gingerly made my way to the bow armed with a rope and boat hook. The tide was racing in. Wearing a life jacket made it difficult to lie on my front over the bow of the boat in order to lasso the buoy and I dropped the rope. Hubby unaware of this is at the helm fighting the current and decides to get closer. He swings the boat around unaware of the loose rope, which promptly wraps its self around the prop and cut the engine. We are in a 8 knot tide, no power and heading for the buttress of Tower bridge. Not good news.

The Rescue

Remember what I said earlier about 70,000 tons of concrete and granite?

Our friends, sense we are in trouble and put out an emergency MAYDAY call. The next thing we knew 2 Thames police boats turned up with full blues and twos. “A fouled prop” I shouted. The entire stretch of the Thames between Limehouse and London Bridge was brought to a complete standstill. We were thrown a rope, which was thick enough to pull the Queen Mary and towed into St Kats lock where we could untangle the engine.

Thames River Police
Thames River Police

As with all boating incidents, spectators had been bused in. Bear in mind that  it was August bank holiday and there were hundreds of Japanese tourists on the bridge capturing us on every smart phone imaginable. People are 5 deep on the lock side and all armed with cameras. Facebook and Youtube are going to be busy tonight night. We are going viral!

I thank the officers and apologise for the inconvenience. Traffic is still stationary and backed up on the river.

“You will be amazed at the amount of fouled props we get darlin’” says the officer. “All sorts of rubbish gets thrown into the river, you’re lucky that it wasn’t a steel cable or a body! Mind you we do get a few idiots that get tangled up with their own rope. Bloody amateur sailors”.

Redfaced, I just didn’t the heart to tell him.


The Deck Shoe

The Deck Shoe. I bet that you have no idea that fashion’s most iconic pair of shoes was inspired by a dog. Yes, you have that right. Deck shoes come to us thanks to our four-legged friends.

The world and his wife own a pair of the comfortable shoe but very few people know its interesting history. The world’s first deck shoe was invented in 1935 by Paul Sperry. Himself a sailor, he was looking for a non slip solution to the shoes that all boaters wore on slippery decks. He was inspired by his dog Prince’s ability to run nimbly over the ice and snow without slipping, so he took a penknife and carved cuts that mimicked the grooves on his dog’s paws into a rubber outsole. Brilliant!

Inspired by dogs paws .


The Modern Deck Shoe

My choice of footware these days is the ever so comfortable. I can no longer teeter around in skyscraper toe pinching “tart shoes” for 8 hours on end. Just the thought these days make my bunions scream in submission.

So my current wardrobe of shoes consists of flip flops and numerous pairs of deck shoes  in varying forms of decay. New deck shoes are an anathema. Deck shoes are  tatty, covered in salt with a collection of interesting stains, worn down, faded and with mismatched laces. However these days they  are no longer just worn at sea.

Deck shoes have become more and more popular in this day and age and they have emerged as a standard fashion of foot wear all over the world. This is due to their authenticity, different range of colours and their uniqueness. It is for this reason that many shoe makers have raised their bars by coming up with new trends to keep up with the competition in that industry. These shoes are available for all genders and they are worn by both the young and old alike.

 Today, you can find them in hundreds of fabrics, colours and styles, and everyone from kids to adults wear them.

 Thanks Fido…..

stripe shoe

Striped Tops – The Breton Shirt

How many striped tops can one woman own?  I am having a wardrobe sort out  and seem to be the owner of at least 10. Long sleeved, short sleeved, zip up fleeces, all striped.

Must be my love of all things nautical but where did the striped top originate?


The striped Breton top that  we know  today came into being shortly after the 27th March, 1858 Act of France. This act introduced the navy and white striped knitted shirt as the uniform for all French navy seaman in Brittany.

brittany seamen
Brittany Seamen

The shirt is originally known as marinière or matelot. The design featured 21 stripes, one for each of Napolean’s victories.

Since 1889, the top was manufactured by Bretagne, Tricots Saint James in wool and cotton for sailors. It then become popular with Breton workers, for its ease of wear and practicality.

The official striped navy and white shirt became more generally a working mariner garment as it was picked up by men of the sea; seafarers and sailors across the region of Northern France. The distinctive block pattern of stripes on the French striped shirt made them easier to spot in the waves. The top usually has a boat neckline and long sleeves.

Saint James Binic II sweater
Saint James Binic II sweater

The transition of this iconic clothing from traditional working class to female fashion was the introduction of more casual wear to women’s wardrobes. This was required at the time due to the increase in popularity of seaside destinations like Saint Tropez.

After a visit to the French coast, Coco Chanel introduced the design to the fashion world through her nautical collection in 1917.  Chanel designed  the shirt to be paired with long flared trousers. As the style adapted during the 1930s, the upper class would pair the top with a cravat, blazer and shorts

Marilyn Monroe, Pablo Picasso, Brigitte Bardot, Andy Warhol, Audrey Hepburn and James Dean all made the shirt popular.

audrey hepburn
Audrey Hepburn

Trend Leaders

The design is now synonymous with chic Parisian style. Each year the shirt is recreated in collections by fashion houses like, Balmain, Gucci, Givenchy and Jean Paul Gaultier.

jean paul gaultier
Jean Paul Gaultier

Jean Paul Gaultier has become a modern day ambassador of the style. He makes his press team to wear a version during his runway shows and the designer heavily features the style in his work.

 The Breton is a way of wearing nautical and furthermore is still as French as garlic. No doubt there will be a few more them joining my collection. Any excuse to go shopping.