Sailing and Cruising Expedition – Tips for Safety and Survival at the Sea
New York (USA), October 28, 2012
Tips for Safety and Survival at Sea
Sailing on vast expanses of water is a wonderful experience. While starting on your sailing expedition, you should be well equipped and aware of all essential safety norms. Water proves to be extremely hostile and can turn very life threatening among all other natural environments like deserts, Polar Regions, or even high altitudes.
Necessary Safety Tips on Board
1. Every person on board should have a safety jacket. Such jackets are filled with materials that float on water like cork. Simple jackets are sufficient for day-trips. If it is a long trip, go for jackets with whistles.
2. You should never hold rim of yacht with your hand. Normally docked or harbored sailing boats or yachts could hit each other lightly due to water movements. Yachts and boats have special rounded objects attached to boat sides known as cranes. These minimize effects of accidental hits. If your hand or fingers get locked in-between these cranes, they could be paralyzed or lost completely.
3. All aboard a sailing yacht or boat should know the sailor’s knot. If you accidentally fall into water and other people aboard throw a rope to pull you out, this special knot alone can save you from suffocation, as it does not tighten the loop when you are being hauled out.
4. When your boat is docked, do not venture out for a swim in the harbor. If you want to swim, go only at specifically designated places. If you plan to dive in open waters, try only on a calm day and check for sharks before jumping into water. Remain within the vicinity of your yacht and do not venture out adventurously.
5. Secure yourself on the berth before sleeping. This will prevent any accidental fall from berth while sleeping.
6. If weather is stormy or extremely windy, do not stay on the deck. If you have to stay on deck necessarily, secure yourself with a rope to some unmovable part of the sailboat at two or more places.
7. Always remain away from anchor area as sometimes all operations should be done fast and you may suffer casualties if you are in the surrounding area. Never step or sit on any ropes of your sailing boat or yacht.
8. Seasickness is very common on board a sailing boat or yacht. The best way to overcome seasickness is to close your eyes and rest sufficiently until all symptoms subside and you feel fine. You can avoid seasickness by being in the fresh air, not eating fried or salty foods, taking deep and slow breaths, and allowing your eyes to roam without fixing vision on any specific spot.
9. While on the deck, generously apply sunscreen of no less than factor 15 on all exposed body parts. Always shelter your head and face specifically even on a cloudy day. Reapply sun cream every two hours, as sunrays can be very harsh on the deck.
10. Prolonged exposure to sun causes dehydration. Sometimes you may not be aware of dehydration setting in until symptoms like tired and nagging headache or parched throat set in. Avoid dehydration by drinking lots of freshwater at intermittent intervals even if you do not feel thirsty.
Necessary Safety Tips at Sea
1. Captain of the ship is the leader while your boat is at sea. All aboard, should obey and follow captain’s words or dictates implicitly, without any arguments. Captain on his or her part should be considerate of crew and all people on board as there are a multitude of people with different choices and preferences.
2. When launching your boat at sea, plan to pass downwind to anchored boats. Otherwise, it could cause casualties.
3. All people onboard including crew should wear sufficient clothing like thermal underwear and specific gear for your head to prevent loss of body heat and to prevent windchill.
4. Water temperatures could be unexpectedly low if sailing on reservoirs or freshwater lakes. The sunny weather could be misleading. Any exposure to water temperatures below twenty degrees should be considered seriously.
5. Prolonged exposure to cold water causes hypothermia and can prove fatal if precautions are not taken. You should head for shore immediately.
6. Carry a spare rope if your boat has to be towed. Always take a paddle in your sailing boat. It could prove useful if wind drops to a flat calm.
7. When weather turns foggy, you should head for the shore. Wait for fog to clear before venturing out again. Fog can be dangerous as it obstructs all vision and you may not know position of other boats or yachts in your vicinity. Chances of collision increase. Fog turns weather cold and uncomfortable, as there is no wind.
8. As a captain, you should ensure there are sufficient life jackets for every crewmember and passenger. A single size fits most adults. All children aboard should have life jackets of their respective size. All crewmembers should know where life jackets are on the boat and how to use them. All crew should wear them all the time, specifically while on deck.
9. Always, get a marine weather forecast before setting sail. Never sail out alone. Having people onboard can be helpful in a calamity or emergency.
10. Every crewmember should wear and use harness while on deck at night. It is best to wear a harness underneath your life jacket as it offers better security and proves less cumbersome to handle.
11. Captain and crew should be well versed in all international distress or warning signals. Some of these signals include – hoisting your yacht’s or boat’s flag upside down at half-mast or full-mast, standing up and raising and lowering your arms slowly, tying a piece of clothing to an oar and holding it in the air, tying a ball on a square flag and waving it, use of communicational flags indicating ‘Man overboard’, ‘I am disabled, I require assistance’, or ‘I require medical assistance’.
12. Always follow a pre-departure checklist to ensure compliance of all essential regulations like fueling, safety including fire safety, temperature and weather forecasts available on radio and television, and similar others.
13. While sailing on your yacht or boat, steer clear of large vessels. These vessels take time to turn or stop. Make proper use of navigational aids and buoys as these ensure greater safety. Remain alert at all times and navigate carefully in crowded waters or while anchoring.
14. As the captain, make sure few more crewmembers are equally competent in handling all duties and navigating the boat safely if you are taken ill suddenly on board.
15. Have a specific sailing or float plan and keep concerned authorities and your family members informed of the plan. The plan should include details like boat type and registration information, name and contact details of captain, crew, and all passengers, types of communication and signal equipment onboard, trip itinerary, and similar more.
16. Avail free Vessel Safety Check from the US Coast Guard or your local coast guard. They examine your boat and all other essential precautionary equipments on board and provide suitable recommendations.
17. Try to limit alcohol consumption on-board. The effect of alcohol is increased by external factors like water motion, heat, wind, and sun.
18. As a captain, always remain calm and confident even in the most difficult situations. This reassures crew and you can avert major mishaps or accidents.
Guide to Sailing and Ocean Cruising in a Medium Sized Yacht
The Complete Reference Guide to Sailing and Ocean Cruising in a Medium Sized Yacht