Here’s to a learning environment. Editor David Pugh welcomes you to the latest issue of Practical Boat Owner magazine.

Life without learning would be pretty dull. Admittedly, when you’re going through the intense years of school and university it’s easy to think that you’ve had your fill, but most of us derive pleasure from learning something, whether it’s from reading, audiovisual media, attending talks or simply from experience.

A couple of weeks ago PBO attended Scotland’s Boat Show, a three-day event held annually at Kip Marina. We had arranged a selection of presenters to speak on the RYA stage on various topics, from using sealants through to boating on a budget.

All the talks attracted a fair audience, all hoping to learn something, although the fact that Dylan Winter’s gloves-off exposition of the merits and demerits of boating on a budget pulled the biggest crowd goes to show that learning is best blended with entertainment.

Sarah Brown at Scotland's Boat Show

Sarah Brown at Scotland’s Boat Show

The surprise highlight for me, however, was Sarah Brown’s talk on invasive species. I certainly learned something, and she’s the first speaker I’ve ever heard make a talk on environmental issues entertaining. We laughed, at the same time taking on board a sobering message about how small boats ease transit of some potentially very damaging species between regions and continents.

Starting off with a rather small audience, people soon started filling seats as photos of various critters (including the infamous killer shrimp) flashed up on screen with descriptions of their modus operandi – the marine animal kingdom is not a pleasant place to live.

As boat owners we have a responsibility to avoid facilitating these creatures’ movement to new areas, as preserving our coastal cruising areas is essential to our ongoing enjoyment of the sport. Sarah will be writing about this important but perhaps not well recognised topic in a forthcoming issue.

Our project boat is another good source of learning. I’ll admit it – my past efforts at making neat fillets with epoxy, or anything else for that matter, have usually ended up with plenty of mess and consequent swearing. The resulting job has usually been strong and fit for purpose, but not necessarily pretty.

As the project boat has a vast number of these joints to make, and Ben Meakins’ record is little better than mine, we thought it wise to get some advice.

Hamish Cook from Wessex Resins visited to show us how it’s done – and it’s not that hard after all. With his expert hints we managed to epoxy all the frames to the keel, and it looks impressively tidy.

Assuming we’re not the only ones to get messy with epoxy, we’ve passed on Hamish’s wisdom in a filleting tutorial: you’ll find it on page 28 of the latest issue.

Elsewhere in the magazine you’ll find the next instalment of David Parker’s article on how to build a dinghy, collision avoidance tips with AIS (plus responses from professional mariners as to whether they monitor small-boat transmissions), a cheap, innovative new gearbox, designed by students for use in Ghana, and a discussion of the future for old GRP boats.

You’ll also find our grand Christmas giveaway. With another year’s worth of PBOs gone to press, we’ve teamed up with the manufacturers of our top-reviewed items from 2016 to bring you a huge prize collection worth more than £2,700, all of which will go to one lucky winner.

So if you’re in need of new oilskins, a plotter or any of the top 10 items, please enter using the form in the magazine, or online

Finally, if you like what you see in the latest issue, why not take advantage of our Christmas subscription deal and save yourself over £1.40 an issue? Or to save even more, suggest that some else buys it for you for Christmas.

Fair winds,
David Pugh

David Pugh, PBO editor

David Pugh, PBO editor

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…from the UK

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

Get the best from your AIS: Top tips for collision avoidance – whether or not ships keep watch

PBO Tested – Boat security systems: In search of the best theft deterrent

PBO Project Boat 2 – Building frames: Making perfect epoxy fillets

PBO Tested – Bilge cleaners: What does the job most efficiently?

WIN! PBO’s BIG Christmas giveaway: Our pick of PBO’s best on test over the past year is up for grabs as one big prize – worth more than £2,700

What would you have done?: Quick thinking is required on a boat drifting towards a rocky shore on a boat with no engine, no main and no genoa

Innovative new gearbox design: A clever bit of gear in a DIY fishing boat

Carrying out hull repairs: Extensive below-the-waterline work on a Victoire 822

Refurbishing a lifebelt: Taking a shine to a pair of faded but structurally sound commercial lifebelts

Old GRP: can we recycle it?: Disposing of end-of-life boat hulls

Judel/Vrolijk designs: Celebrating a highly successful yacht design partnership

Build yourself a boat: Part two – putting the hull together

PBO Boat Test – Dufour 350: On the water in Dufour’s 35-footer

Rig up a lifting tackle: PLUS more reader projects and tips

Transferring the outboard from tender to boat: Hints and tips from the PBO Sketchbook

Tidal coefficients: Popular with the French, coefficients help to predict tidal ranges and rates

A trip along the River Stour: Creek-crawling in a miniature gaff cutter

Through Ireland’s waterways: A fascinating cruise within Ireland’s canal system

The Scillies at last: A reader’s long-awaited cruising destination doesn’t disappoint


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: Marlin’s Mission: accomplished

Columnist Sam Llewellyn: Break out the boat books

Monthly musings from Andrew Simpson: Tether your tender?

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

News: CPS authorises charges after Cheeki Rafiki investigation… and more

Regional news: Submarine snags trawler, Isle Of Skye Yachts up for sale… and more

Readers’ letters: Your views

Ask the experts: Uneven anode wear, chart plotter updates, and more reader queries answered

New gear: PBO looks at the latest marine products

26 tips for winter sailing

Sailing in winter sounds like a cold and tricky business – but if you take some simple precautions there should…