Safety measures

Moderator: GreenLake

Safety measures

Postby KingsTransom » Thu Oct 13, 2016 3:28 pm

I mostly sail with inexperienced crew, who at some point may well become experienced. Nearing the end of the season way north here in the Chicago area, I am thinking about what can go wrong and how best to deal with it. These are all questions open for discussion.
- Water temperature.
One must consider the possibility of going for an unintentional swim. I think 60°F is about the cut-off point, below which it's probably best to stay home. In winds less than 10 knots, maybe this is less of an issue?
http://www.crh.noaa.gov/Image/grr/prese ... -53-46.pdf

- Wind
Probably under 15 knots to minimize the chances of going for an unintentional swim.

- VHF radio.
I have a handheld radio. I think everyone should know how to use it, but it should be attached to the skipper's life preserver. It would probably be best if everyone aboard had one. I don't see having more than 3 or 4 four souls aboard, so expensive, but not prohibitive. A waste if you don't need it, incredibly cheap if you do. Since we are always sailing near shore, cell phones will work, so maybe having everyone carry their phones in ziplock bags will suffice. In this case, store the harbor's, the USCG and each other's numbers.

- GPS
Having an active trace of where you've been, and marking the MOB point can help find a person in water if you loose sight of them. If there is no crew to act as spotter, it can be easy to loose sight of them.

- Tether
I think the skipper should always be tethered if (s)he is the only one that can sail the boat well enough to maneuver for a pick-up. Should one be tethered to both jack lines at the same time? Should everyone aboard be tethered? Is a standard (non-harness) PFD an adequate attachment?

- Emergency Lines
Keep a rope ladder on the motor mount or a stern cleat. Keep lines on the mid cleats to help right the boat in the event of a capsize.

- Teaching the crew
While I think it is important that everyone knows how to sail the boat, when the wind is up, it's too easy to have an inexperienced hand flip the boat.
KingsTransom
 
Posts: 80
Joined: Sat Jul 02, 2016 11:57 pm
Location: Lombard, IL

Re: Safety measures

Postby GreenLake » Thu Oct 13, 2016 5:51 pm

I think it's easy to overthink this.

Basic stuff:
  • Check the weather forecast.
  • Know how local conditions can deviate from the forecast.
  • Know how to handle the boat by yourself in the conditions.
  • Includes knowing how to heave to or put in a reef.
  • Know how to recover from a capsize.
  • Dress appropriately.
  • Wear PFD.
  • Have a first aid kit

Most of these apply to almost any type of sail, but when and where you go matters, obviously. There are events, like the Tx200, where sun protection becomes a survival issue; for others, you might need to wear a dry suit or wet suit.

I've sailed with almost 90 different people on my DS over the years, people of all ages and all levels of experience. What I've learned from that is that each crew member can be different. Some people you can hand a tiller and they'll do fine, others will need to be told what line to pull, when and how. There's no way you can expect a newbie to act independently in an emergency; for some crew, that point may never come even after many trips together. Unless they are very experienced, your crew will look to you as a source of calm and confidence.

If you stay under 12 knots sustained / 15 knots in the gusts, you obviously will have an easier time handling the boat, and you are less likely to be overwhelmed. That means, you have more attention that you can spend on your crew, anticipating what they might do and anticipating what they should do, so you can counteract or instruct them accordingly.

There are some sailing grounds where the water temperature may be much below the air temperature for much of the year. In those places, it's not always possible to dress for a capsize. So, capsize prevention becomes paramount.

Capsizing is also not necessarily the most common dangerous event. I've never capsized, but I've had to be towed off the water with an injury. Since then, I try to not leave without a first aid kit.

I'm a bit skeptical on VHF. I see none of the other sailors use one around here. Much of our sailing is, of course, on a moderately small lake in the presence of many other boats (while racing) or at least some other boats (while not). In those cases, we would expect to be spotted or getting assistance from another boat in an emergency. Other sailing areas are so remote that my thought is, a VHF would suggest access to assistance that's unlikely to arrive in time. But perhaps that's the wrong attitude.

As for using GPS to mark MOB position, I'm even more skeptical. I use a GPS to tell me how fast I'm going (and later, where I've been). I don't use it for navigation, because where I sail, it's all landmarks. Sure, I've been close to being in fog, once, so yes, in that situation, I agree, it would take GPS to be able to get back to a spot. But I find trying to sail a boat single handed, while messing with a tiny screen, not something I'd look forward to. The MOB maneuvers that I practice tend to be ones that involve the least amount of "sailing away" from the person in the water. I believe I can sail the boat and keep track of where someone is reasonably well, but add the distraction of a small screen, and all bets are off.

I've had two crew fall in the water: both times at the dock. And recently, I was witness of another crew in the water - also at the dock. A motorboat with a freeboard similar to a DS, and the skipper managed to drag is mate who could not swim back on board. She was wearing a life jacket (inflatable) and was just a few yards away from shallow water, but was in such a shock as to be helpless. The irony was that there were literally half a dozen coasties at the launch who were doing "courtesy inspections". They were walking right by the incident and only got involved after it was over.

My thinking on tethers would be fairly negative. The chance that something tangles, or that you get dragged in a way that renders you helpless is too great. Perhaps on a keelboat, but in my view, inappropriate for a dinghy.

Anyway, just a few thoughts to throw in the discussion; not intended to be a final or best answer.
~ green ~ lake ~ ~
GreenLake
 
Posts: 6067
Joined: Mon Jun 18, 2007 3:54 am

Re: Safety measures

Postby KingsTransom » Fri Oct 14, 2016 2:00 am

None of my crew own a wet suit or a dry suit. Windsurfing is the only reason I do. It's best to keep them out of the water and to stay off the water if the water is too cold.

I think what I wrote emphasizes that newbies are more likely to cause an emergency then they are to handle one.

Lake Michigan is a bit different from what you describe. After Labor Day, there are not many boats on the water. Last Saturday's trip we saw two boats that came close enough to wave to. The rest of the time, we had no one within 500 yards. All told, we saw no more than seven boats, all far-flung. Near the Chicago shoreline, it is the Chicago Police that respond to emergencies on the water, and they dispatch boats out of the harbors. I know that the harbors monitor VHF 16 & 9, and each has their own working channel, usually for tender service requests. All my sailing is close enough to one harbor or another (there are 9 of them, spanning about 14 miles).

I agree that fiddling with a GPS while sailing single-handed is a handicap, but the idea is to heave-to, find a landmark and approximate distance, then sail to it, rather than constantly consulting the GPS. There's no good reason to consult the GPS if you can see the PIW, but If you loose sight of them, there's really not a better way. I'll have to try a test drill to see if marking the MOB is too much fiddling while sailing. The MOB drills we ran during club sails used quick-turn and quick-stop techniques. Quick-turn has you sail four to six boat lengths out before tacking around to cross your path onto a broad reach, then head up on a close reach back to the PIW. While it was a green crew, it was still amazing how easy it was to get way more than six boat lengths. We used a fender as the PIW, and when I was spotter, we would get far enough that I had a hard time keeping track of it. I would loose sight of it in the waves, and had to constantly keep track of landmarks in the changing line of sight so I could at least keep my eye on the right area.
KingsTransom
 
Posts: 80
Joined: Sat Jul 02, 2016 11:57 pm
Location: Lombard, IL

Re: Safety measures

Postby KingsTransom » Fri Oct 14, 2016 2:06 am

My sail has no reef points. There is a second grommet, about 7" above the tack, I assume for a cunningham line, which makes little sense on a boat with a moveable boom and a downhaul. Since the second grommet is only 7" above the first and there is no matching grommet on the clew, I would say it is not useful as a reef point.
KingsTransom
 
Posts: 80
Joined: Sat Jul 02, 2016 11:57 pm
Location: Lombard, IL

Re: Safety measures

Postby K.C. Walker » Fri Oct 14, 2016 10:51 am

KingsTransom wrote: I assume for a cunningham line, which makes little sense on a boat with a moveable boom and a downhaul.


I use mine regularly to adjust the power of my sail. I have my downhaul cleat/slug set so my boom will not go lower than what I feel is optimal for the sail when I do not need a Cunningham ( the class legal dimension). I have the Cunningham cleat adjustable at the lip of the cuddy cabin. This way I can easily adjust while underway. Having a fixed point at the gooseneck for the boomvang to work against it is critical for its operation.

Though I think that reef points are a valuable safety measure to have and be able to put in in adverse conditions, and practice practice practice to make sure that you can do it quickly, also other sail controls help to de-power the sail when necessary. As a windsurfer I'm sure you know that you can de-power a sail by flattening it out using the downhaul and the out haul. On the Daysailer if you add a boomvang you can get a similar effect using those controls. And, the cool thing is you can do all this underway easily if you have it set up right.

I agree with Greenlake on all of his points. Good boat handling and time in type is your best defense against mishaps. Your windsurfing experience is going to help immeasurably.
KC Walker, DS 1 #7002
K.C. Walker
 
Posts: 1335
Joined: Sun Jul 06, 2008 10:50 pm
Location: North Stonington, Connecticut

Re: Safety measures

Postby KingsTransom » Fri Oct 14, 2016 5:55 pm

Thanks for the info on the Cunningham. Being able to trim the luff from the cockpit sounds like a good advantage. Did you add a cheek block and cam cleat for the line?

Having a fixed point at the gooseneck for the boomvang to work against it is critical for its operation.

Moving the boom with the downhaul would require retrimming the boom vang, but is that a problem?

I think the miles I've sailed on a Sunfish will help more than those on a windsurfer. I would play the mainsheet and rudder to keep it right on the edge. Never dunked it. I think the Sunfish has zero mechanical advantage on the mainsheet, so you don't need to pay much line to move the boom a lot.
KingsTransom
 
Posts: 80
Joined: Sat Jul 02, 2016 11:57 pm
Location: Lombard, IL

Re: Safety measures

Postby K.C. Walker » Fri Oct 14, 2016 7:46 pm

Yes, the Sunfish is a great boat. I just acquired another one with the idea of family regattas. :-)

I've got my boat set up for what's called vang sheeting which I like a lot. With this set up the Cunningham Controls the luff, the outhaul the foot, and the vang then controls the leech twist. This way you can adjust the power of the sail independent of the sheeting angle. When close hauled you have far less tension on the sheet because the vang is taking most of the load. When you feather the sail in a gust, it doesn't release the tension on the fore stay which allows the jib to power up because of jib stay sag. It also keeps the main sail from changing shape. I'm basically using the main sheet as a traveler when the vang is on.

This is a more common set up on a race boat but I find it's great for my pleasure sailing. Being that I do sail single-handed a lot, I do like to be able to tune the sail to the wind conditions.

Yes, I do have a turning block at the mast base and a clam cleat at the edge of the cuddy cabin for the Cunningham.
KC Walker, DS 1 #7002
K.C. Walker
 
Posts: 1335
Joined: Sun Jul 06, 2008 10:50 pm
Location: North Stonington, Connecticut

Re: Safety measures

Postby K.C. Walker » Fri Oct 14, 2016 8:06 pm

Your point about having the inexperienced crew at the helm flipping the boat. I haven't totally flipped my boat but I have had three knockdowns where the cockpit all fills with water. Each time this happened it was inexperienced crew at the helm with me instructing. Maybe I'm a little slow in learning when not to give the helm to inexperienced crew.

Because you are in part thinking hardware solutions to safety, I would suggest another couple of hardware upgrades that I find extremely helpful for safety and capsize prevention. The first is a main sheet ratchet block. This allows you to handhold the main sheet without cleating. Like with the sunfish, if you can feather the sail quickly you're unlikely to dump the boat. If you have to un-cleat… it might be too late.… And, you are less likely to be playing the sail constantly to keep the boat flat and up right. The other hardware item is hiking straps. Being able to get you and crew weight safely out and active makes a big difference.
KC Walker, DS 1 #7002
K.C. Walker
 
Posts: 1335
Joined: Sun Jul 06, 2008 10:50 pm
Location: North Stonington, Connecticut

Re: Safety measures

Postby Solarwinds » Sat Oct 15, 2016 10:03 am

One thing that nobody's mentioned is PFD's
On my boat, if you don't want to wear a lifejacket you're not going out.
Some of my crew prefer the inflatable kind so they bring their own, but everybody is wearing one.
I've never tried to get somebody back on who's in the water who doesn't assist.
An incapacitated MOB is not something that far-fetched and I only sail with
2 people aboard. If one person is in the water hurt or unconscious I don't see that I would be able to
get them back on easily.
Anybody ever do a drill for that or had that experience?
Solarwinds
 
Posts: 55
Joined: Sun Sep 14, 2014 6:18 pm

Re: Safety measures

Postby KingsTransom » Sat Oct 15, 2016 12:17 pm

Having only two aboard means you're hauling in the MOB yourself. I'd say the first task is to get a line around the MOB and cleat it. Then get help if you can.

You can rig a block and tackle off the boom end, but this would probably require a second person on board to hike out and keep the boat balanced. The boom vang could be used for this purpose, but requires extra lines, so try rigging it before you need it.

An acquaintence described using this technique (though not on a DS) to haul in someone who was overweight and could not manage on her own.
KingsTransom
 
Posts: 80
Joined: Sat Jul 02, 2016 11:57 pm
Location: Lombard, IL

Re: Safety measures

Postby Solarwinds » Sat Oct 15, 2016 6:34 pm

Having taken a safety course given at our Club a few years ago, I was surprised to learn that rigging the boom and using a winch requires a very large winch, certainly a much bigger winch than the self tailing 16's that my Catalina 25 had.
I don't remember the size winch that the person giving the course said would be needed to bring an incapacitated person aboard, but I remember thinking that it was huge.
Based on that, I would think that rigging a block on the boom isn't going to allow you to lift 150-200 lbs and would probably capsize the boat.
The only thing I figure is taking the person to the transom and pulling up by PFD.
Would I be able to physically, lift a person in, probably not.
Solarwinds
 
Posts: 55
Joined: Sun Sep 14, 2014 6:18 pm

Re: Safety measures

Postby GreenLake » Sat Oct 15, 2016 7:38 pm

About PFDs. They are so much part of my standard wardrobe that I've left them off the list in my earlier post. Have added them to the list above. I simply don't sail without them, and I'll supply them to anyone who doesn't have their own.

That said, I'm not a friend of inflatable PFDs for boats that can capsize: if you capsize they become very bulky, may make it harder for you to clear yourself from under a sail or right the boat. Once deployed, you can't really continue sailing in them. Therefore, they don't belong on a DS. (If used on a larger boat, there's still the issue of having a spare PFD or re-arming kit, so that you can continue after any MOB).

Getting people back on board. The one item of hardware that makes any sense is a stiff swim ladder at the transom that you can deploy (from the water, if you are single handing). The freeboard on the DS is rather low, that should be an advantage in getting people back on board. As I wrote, I recently witnessed a MOB situation at our boat launch. The person in the boat was able to get the other person (who couldn't swim and who was in a total panic/shock despite life jacket) out of the water - the boat was a small motor boat, about as stable as a DS and with similar freeboard.

Winching people on board is something for keelboats of a certain size. They would have the winches and they usually have a freeboard so high that it's not possible to get someone back in any other way (especially if there's no ladder).

To get someone back over the side in a boat like the DS, one method is to first "dunk" them and then pull hard on the rebound.

I say I have to largely agree with K.C., the best "hardware" solutions are those that make it possible for you to better control your boat.
~ green ~ lake ~ ~
GreenLake
 
Posts: 6067
Joined: Mon Jun 18, 2007 3:54 am


Return to Seamanship and boat handling

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron