Safety First Sailing Tips

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 14,764
    Kevin Wensley, Director of Operations of the Offshore Sailing School, discusses the importance of safety while out on the water.

    Kevin Wensley: Hello! My name is Kevin Wensley. I am Director of Operations here at Offshore Sailing School and today I am at South Seas Island Resorts on the beautiful Island of Captiva in Florida. What I'd like to do is talk to you today about sailing safety.

    The first thing to consider is the vessel that you are going out in and the prevailing conditions for the area that you will be sailing. Because we operate branches all up and down the United States and the Caribbean, the best choice for us is a keelboat. Keelboats don't capsize and the one that we use is the Colgate 26, designed by Steve Colgate, the founder of the school and into that we've also designed some additional safety features.

    One that's very popular with the students is the Life Rail that goes all around the side of the boat, it's very comfortable, makes you feel secure. The boat does heel and that's part of the exhilaration of sailing. In addition to that, if you do find for some reason, you managed to get water inside the boat and this happens very rarely and it's not through the capsize, I assure you. Then another nice design feature is the boat does have positive floatation. So even if it fills up, you will still be okay, sitting on the boat.

    Then you want to consider personal safety equipment. Of course, one of the most important things is going to be a lifejacket. So your lifejacket needs to be of the appropriate size and the appropriate type. In addition to a lifejacket, you might want to have with you a whistle that will attach to the lifejacket, and if you are expecting to be out at night, and of course, you are going to want a light as well.

    You also want to think about the amounts of hardware that's on the deck of a sailboat. We have got cleats and winches and if you are wearing flip-flops or working around in bare feet, there is a good chance that you are going to stub a toe and might even break it. So we highly recommend closed toed shoes of a nonskid variety.

    Now let's consider some safety equipments that should be on board, in fact, some of which are required to have by the US coastguard. What you will be looking for is flares, for example, and if you find flares you want to check that they are in date and they haven't expired, and also have a quick look at how to use them as well.

    In addition to that we'll have a throw line that makes it easy to get a line to somebody who has gone overboard. A first aid kit for minor injuries. We have also got a bilge pump handle onboard to help us with getting any access water off the board that might come in through rain or the like or wash coming over the deck. Finally, we are looking at equipments like a Type IV PFD, which is a throwable floatation device and a fire extinguisher.

    Another very valuable piece of equipment that pertains to safety is the ability to communicate with the shore. So we have VHF radios and we all carry cellphones as well. Another big benefit of carrying that equipment is that you get very valuable weather information as well.

    So those are a few items you want to consider from a safe sailing point of view, and just remember, that safe sailing is no accident.