How to change a light bulb

Changing a light bulbSo simple. You switch off the power, remove the old bulb and replace with the new one. Job done!

But it’s different on a yacht.

Especially when said bulb lives at the top of the mast 16 metres in the air.

So you may ask yourself, how is it done?

Well first of all you need to find a willing volunteer. Next you’ll need two ropes which lead to the top of the mast, that for us was a Halyard and a Topping lift. You need to use two lines just in case one should break, which is not good for the person attached to the end of the line or for the person standing below.

These two lines are secured to a very uncomfortable bosun’s chair and the willing volunteer is then winched up to the top of the mast whilst sat in this chair by either one or preferably two crew members. It’s never a good look with most asking “does my bum look big in this?”

Obviously arriving at the top without tools or the necessary replacement light bulb would be a disaster so a handy shopping bag can be used to keep all of the vital equipment in, attached also to the bosun’s chair.

Beware! Crew members walking around on deck making the yacht move albeit very slightly can have a very dramatic effect at the top of the mast, when you’re perched 16 metres or more in the air trying to unscrew a light bulb, this can be very disconcerting. Equally, should the person sat at the top of the mast accidentally drop something, and it’s easily done. Make sure you’re never in a position situated directly below him or her.

Prior to our volunteers descent it’s wise to check the bulb works before he leaves his post. You won’t want to be winching his 15 stone worth of weight back up the mast and he’s unlikely to volunteer again.

Once the task has been completed the next trick is to ease the lines around the winches and let the person come down to the deck smoothly. One person working each line on separate winches is ideal. If the decent is handled in a jerky manner the earlier willing volunteer will not be impressed, smooth, controlled and quick is the way to go.

Once the happy volunteer has landed safely back on deck it’s time for a cold beer and relax.

Start the season with a nice clean bottom

Nice clean bottom

Well, the year is flying by!

It’s already mid March and summer is just around the corner.

In preparation for this year’s sailing season Great Escape has been pulled out of the water and had her bottom scrubbed clean. She was then given a fresh coat of anti-foul and dropped back in the water in readiness for her New Year shake-down sail.

And what a shake-down sail it was… a three day trip down the coast to Gibraltar where she will be working with a local sea school until the end of May.

Unfortunately I couldn’t make the trip due to work commitments but Amanda press-ganged a couple of our friends into service and by all accounts they had an absolutely fantastic time.

During the trip they had a night in Caleta de Velez, a night in Marbella and the final night in Gibraltar. It was a dry boat during the day but my understanding is they made up for it in the evening 😉

The timing was excellent as Storm Emma blew into town the next day, driving gale force winds and atrocious weather in front of her. If they had set off a day later they would very likely have had to end the trip in Sotogrande, the last marina on the coast before Europa Point and Gibraltar bay.

Great Escape performed admirably on the sail down and Amanda reckons she is faster than ever.

It’s amazing what a nice clean bottom will do for you!!!



Happy New Year from Force 4 Sailing

Happy New Year

Force 4 Sailing would like to wish all our past, present and future customers a Happy New Year (or, as we say in Spain Feliz Aňo Nuevo)

Happy New Year

As everyone knows, we started Force 4 Sailing at the beginning of 2017 with lots of hopes and aspirations and it’s been a real roller-coaster of a year for us.

We literally hatched our plan on the back of a beer mat (it would’ve been a fag packet but neither of us smoke!). It was the summer of 2016 and we’d just returned from a 10 day motorcycle tour in Europe that took in Holland, Belgium, France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Luxembourg! I suppose anything seems like a good idea when your bum is recovering from all those miles!

At the time Amanda was splitting herself between working in the Caribbean in the winter months and working in Gibraltar in the summer months. “Not a bad life” I hear you say, but it was very transient and she was unable to call anywhere home.

I myself was living in Ipswich with a 2.5 hour each-way commute to St Charles hospital in London. Quite a long day when you add in another 8 hours sitting in the office!

Amanda owned a 36 foot yacht called “Great Escape” which was berthed in Gibraltar on permanent loan to a local sailing school but she was only just covering her costs and we thought “What the hell, it’s now or never!” so Force 4 Sailing was born.

We spent a few months scoping out where to base the business and looked at the towns of Rota, Estepona, Duquesa and Soto Grande but none of them seemed quite right. On a whim we took a drive to Marina del Este and fell in love with it immediately.

For those of you who have never been, Marina del Este is small and stunning and quite unlike any of the other marinas we’d previously visited. Nestled between the towns of La Herradura and Almunecar, below the outcrop of Punta de la Mona, in the province of Granada. It’s about 15 minutes drive form the town of Nerja which, in itself, is about an hour away from the city of Malaga.

Next we had to find somewhere to live and a quick reconnaissance of the local area revealed that we would be quite near the stunning mountain village of Frigiliana, a town that is regularly shortlisted in the annual competition for Spain’s most beautiful village, and for good reason. On top of that we’d found a fantastic property in the hills above the village that was for rent. It was perfect and just the right size for us. Surrounded on three sides by hills and mountains with incredible views of Frigiliana in the foreground and the added benefit of being able to see the Mediterranean Sea in the distance. Everything seemed to be falling into place!

Next we moved Great Escape from Gibraltar to Marina del Este which, is about 90 nautical miles. We completed the trip in three short hops:

  • Gibraltar to Marbella
  • Marbella to Caleta
  • Caleta to Marina del Este

That was it, a website and some advertising later and Force 4 Sailing had it’s first charter. We had a few ups and downs along the way and we’ve learned loads. There are some things we would have done differently if we had to start again but on the whole we’ve been really happy with how everything has gone. 2017 wasn’t the busiest of years for us but it gave us the chance to bed ourselves in and hone our service to the level it is, where we get consistently brilliant feedback. That said we don’t intend to rest on our laurels and will always strive for our next charter to be better than the last.

Let’s raise a toast to 2018, if it’s as good as last year, it’s going to be a belter!!!


Force 4 Sailing – What’s In a Name?

One of the questions that Amanda and I are often asked is “Why did we call ourselves Force 4 Sailing?”

The reason is simple, a force 4 on the beaufort scale is widely acknowledged as the best sailing conditions for a modern cruising yacht. The wind strength ranges from 11 to 16 knots which means we can comfortably carry full canvas on all points of sail be that running down wind, beam reaching or close hauled. With a sea state of slight to moderate the sailing is exciting and exhilarating especially if the sun is shining and the sky is blue (as is generally the case in the Costa Tropical)

With all this in mind we didn’t dare dream that the domain name would be available and you could have knocked us down with a feather when we found out, to our joy, that it was. One quick call to our web designer later and that was that!

So there you have it, Iain and Amanda are Force 4 Sailing and we are Cruising the Costa Tropical in a yacht called Great Escape…

Full Sail Ahead!

Cerro Gordo to Maro Close Hauled

Force 4 Sailing Watching Dolphins

Cool Sailing Charters

Wow, it was 40º C in Nerja yesterday. I don’t know about you but that’s just a little bit too hot for me. Luckily for us we were out on the water enjoying the experience of another sailing charter. That said, our customers were enjoying it far more than we were.

Why was that? I hear you ask… The answer is simple, they were relaxing on our very comfortable beanbags on the bow drinking beer and cava whilst chatting and catching rays. A breeze was blowing just enough to keep them cool but if they did get a little too hot we were able to drop the anchor and let them cool off with a refreshing swim in the cool Mediterranean waters.

Oh, and they definitely didn’t go hungry either. The snacks were flowing as freely as the drinks. All in all they were made to feel like royalty for the best 3 hours of their holiday.

So, too hot on the beach? It’s lovely and cool on the water!!!

Contact us now for your own cool sailing adventure!

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