Safety for Frostbiters

How to avoid capsizing

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.

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.

What to do if you see someone capsize

1. Ensure the person who capsized has their head out of the water. If they do not, immediately render assistance.

2. Blow your whistle until you see that a crash boat has heard and is coming

3. Stay with the capsized person until the crash boat arrives

4. Ask for redress later

What to do if you capsize

1. Get clear the sail, boom, mast and lines by carefully swimming around to the bottom side of the boat.

2. wait for the crash boat to come to you, do not attempt to swim to the crash boat, stay with your boat.

3. do not approach the crash boat stern, if the crash boat is not in neutral this can be dangerous.

4. if you can do any of this safely from the water while waiting to be rescued do so:

  • detach headstay

  • push in centerboard (do not attempt to stand on centerboard, it will snap off)

  • detach vang

Once rescued, 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.

Required safety equipment:

  1. Life jacket - required for everyone on the water

  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.

  6. A forestay and outhaul shackle that cannot be accidentally clipped (i.e. a locking shackle or a sleeved caribeaner. Clip-type shackles are dangers as they can be caught on other boats' rigging)

Optional safety equipment

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. Pull up your center board!!!

  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!

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.

When 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.