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Safety for Sailors

Know the procedure for rescuing a Dyer. It will help a great deal if you and the safety boat operator both understand what needs to be done, and can cooperate on those tasks.


To repeat: It will be your responsibility, as much as possible, to unhook your own shroud, vang, etc so the dinghy can be drained and set up for towing back to the committee boat. Every boat is rigged differently, and it costs a lot of time for the safety boat operator to figure out each boat each time. Try to raise the centerboard before the dinghy is hauled up for draining, otherwise you'll get a nasty dent in it.


You should also counter-balance the crash boat when needed; keep an eye out for loose parts (rudder, paddle, etc) and in general follow the crash boat operator's instructions. He or she is likely to have rescued more Dyers than you have capsized.

If you do find yourself going over: GET CLEAR OF THE RIGGING! Sailing is a safe sport, but if you get tangled in the rigging and your boat decides to turn turtle, there is not much the safety boat guy can do for you.


How to rescue another sailor: Bring them in over the transom, lowest freeboard on the dinghy. Generally you do not have to remove the rudder, just push the tiller away from the swimmer. Note, when you have a sailor hanging onto your transom, you're not going anywhere for the moment, so no need to trim or steer. Have them sit on the middle seat facing forward, you'll be able to crouch in the stern and sail back to the committee boat. Fun fact: MFA started out as a two person per dinghy fleet, ie husbands-wives or parents-children. Didn't last long.


Required safety equipment:

  1. Life jacket

  2. Paddle

  3. Bailer. It's better to have two, one tied in so you can't lose it, and one loose so it's easier to use.

  4. Painter. The rule says it must be at least ten feet. But longer is better, because you will be towed by that line if you capsize. Also, it should be reachable, not coiled up under your dodger, so you can toss it to another boat if necessary.

  5. A whistle tied to your life jacket. The line should not be so strong that it could pull you underwater if it gets fouled in anything else.


Not required, but: Clip-type forestay fittings are rather dangerous. Please try to avoid contact with other boats if you have one. If another boat's outhaul line or sheet gets caught in your forestay, someone is going for a swim.


Also not required, but: There should be a sturdy line attached to each shroud pin, for pulling when you're being rescued  A bungee cord is handy, but will rip off immediately if your sail is holding half a ton of water.


How be towed safely:

  1. Board up!!!

  2. Steer actively toward the transom of the boat towing you, no matter what direction he's going or will be going. If the pulling boat bolts ahead for any reason, it will pull you forward rather than laterally, thus avoiding a cheap capsize.

  3. The line pulling you should be your painter; not your sheet, and not anything attached anywhere but right at the bow. Anywhere else will tend to pull you to the side, and capsize you.

  4. Sit down, and keep your weight low, your eyes open, and your wits about you.

  5. If you are pulling a boat behind you, you can tie their painter to your traveler; or to your painter (if their painter is long enough); or hold onto it; or, fasten it to a cleat mounted inside your transom.

  6. Pull your centerboard all the way up!


When you are serving on the committee boat:

  1. Pay close attention to hails from the safety boat operators, both verbal and by radio.

  2. It is part of the Committee's responsibility to deal with rescued dinghies. This means staying on-station until all rescued dinghies are safely secured, either to the RC boat itself, or seaworthy enough for a long-distance tow by a crashboat back to the boatyard. Note that when a crashboat is towing a dinghy, it cannot then do its job of looking out for the sailors.


Heavy Weather Seamanship (from Roger Willcox) – Most capsizes in windy weather happen while going downwind.

A major factor is that Dyer dinghies tend to get harder to steer when the wind blows, especially if the centerboard is up. Keep your centerboard down halfway if your boat seems unstable!

Weight (ie, you) should be in the back of the boat. This will help keep you from submarining, and help you to see what's going on all around your rails.





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