Sigmund, the fraudulent casualty... Editor David Pugh welcomes you to the latest issue of Practical Boat Owner magazine.

She’s afloat! After two years’ hard graft, my brother and I finally got our Contessa 26 Red Dragon in the water just as the last issue of PBO went to press.

With shiny new paint on her hull and deck, shiny new varnish down below, a new heads, heater, double berth conversion and completely overhauled diesel, wiring and gas systems, she almost looks like a new boat.

As such, she should be pleased. But I couldn’t help feeling that she was sighing with frustration as we fiddled around for another day rigging, stowing and carrying out the myriad tasks which seem to need carrying out before the sails can finally go up.

A bit like an excitable dog which has been at home waiting for its owners all day, she was raring to go sailies.

And so we did. Her first trip was a fairly tame motor down the ever-beautiful river from Wareham to her mooring in Poole Harbour, but shortly afterwards as the sun began to finally convince us that summer was on its way, we hoisted sail and she returned joyfully to her natural element.

There’s nothing like that first sail of the season.

With a clean bottom and minimal accumulation of cruising junk on board, combined with the enthusiastic breezes of springtime, the boat really flies. We didn’t go far, but we didn’t need to – there was just a simple, soul-reviving pleasure to feel the quickening of the helm as the boat leaned to the warm north-easterly and began her familiar throaty chuckle.

With a whole season ahead it’s a sound full of promise, and although British weather has an infinite capacity to disappoint, I’m sure I’m in company with every boat owner in the country in keeping everything crossed that this year will be different.

I’m not alone in sailing a shiny boat this season. PBO’s deputy editor Ben Meakins has just finished repainting his Hunter Impala Polly: you can read all about it starting on page 35 of the latest issue.

Spurred on by storage fees and the oncoming spring racing calendar, he managed the job in shorter order than I did, but we have one thing very much in common – we’re now both paranoid about bashing paintwork. Ben’s wife Steph has even made a fleecy blanket in faux-Poodle fabric to come between the fender socks and the new paint.

This paranoia makes it even more generous of Ben to volunteer Polly for our latest article on man overboard recovery techniques (see pages 30-33).

Lumpenly assisted by the Sigma 38 association’s lifesized recovery dummy Sigmund, we tried out a range of techniques to get you back to a casualty as fast as possible, while a camera drone hovered overhead to give a different perspective on the manoeuvres.

We’ve posted the resulting videos online: we’re pleased with the result which, we think, is much easier to follow than sea-level videos of the same techniques.

Whilst mentioning our MOB article, I should offer an apology to the bo’sun of the Royal Southern YC, who fruitlessly hared up the Hamble to Polly’s mid-river mooring following reports of a person slumped on the pontoon. We had left Sigmund there to dry, but the report was probably not helped by my having done a First Aid course the previous day and electing to place him in the recovery position. No crew were really harmed in the making of this article.

For those looking for an update on our Secret project, she was last heard of on a container ship leaving Singapore – coincidentally, the place where our last project Hantu Biru spent a few years of her life. She’s on her way to Turkey now, and we hope to take receipt of her later this month.

Meanwhile, happy sailing!

Fair winds,
David Pugh

David Pugh, PBO editor

David Pugh, PBO editor


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Here’s a full list of the Summer 2016 issue’s contents

Man overboard!: Top techniques to get your crew back safely

PBO TESTED – Infrared cameras: Can a £180 iPhone add-on find an MOB at night?

Marina visitors’ guide: Family cruisers from 31-33ft

FIRST TEST! New collision avoidance software: Raymarine Lighthouse R17 AIS tested

Mods for single-handers: Practical ways to make a yacht easier to handle on your own

Adding extra keel bolts: Creating keel strength by adding more through-hull securing bolts

Make your own storm anchor: The DIY approach to fabricating a big anchor for little money

Five washdown pumps compared: Salt water pumps for hosing your decks

From racer to cruiser: Can you turn a racing yacht into a cruiser that can still win on the race course?

Stormy seas rudder loss: A PBO reader copes with sudden loss of steerage in rough weather off Brittany…

How to paint your topsides: All the advice you need to get a great paint finish on your boat

Thicken a rope: Splicing techniques to stop rope slippage in a clutch

Make a simple cutless bearing puller: PLUS reader tips for a Velcro engine panel cover and easy instrument stand

Fix sticky blocks and tracks: How to keep deck gear running freely

Euro cruisers: Built in Europe: 31-33ft cruising yachts that are big in Britain

Nimbus 310 motor cruiser: Comfort and adaptability are the hallmarks of this Scandinavian cruiser

Norfolk’s ‘lost’ wherry: Tale of the Norfolk wherry Ardea, rediscovered after 50 years in Europe

Rock of the Med: Tips for visiting Gibraltar


Waiting for the tide: The editor’s welcome to this month’s PBO – sign up for PBO’s free monthly e-newsletter at:

‘Mad about the Boat’ columnist Dave Selby: A whacking great outlay

Columnist Sam Llewellyn: The games people play

Monthly musings from Andrew Simpson: A fresh fruit wake-up call

PBO products and services: Books and plans from the PBO Shop

News: New powers to strengthen coastal security, red diesel reminder… and more

Regional news: Caledonian Canal marina plans revised, marine ‘larder’ discovered… and more

Readers’ letters: Your views

Ask the experts: Lifejackets for children, a split teak toerail and more reader queries answered

New gear: PBO looks at the latest marine products

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