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Old 10-09-2015, 21:24   #16
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Re: Death by Dinghy : Risks and Best Practices

A different type of dinghy, but my biggest concern on the A-Cat is that when it flips it will drift faster than anyone can swim. So while sailing without nearby help I wear a sissy strap. Basically a bungie cord attached to me and to the boat.

Last time I was out I was dragged about a quarter mile before I could get the boat back upright.
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Old 10-09-2015, 22:48   #17
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Re: Death by Dinghy : Risks and Best Practices

Some Australian states have stupid laws.

In WA if your tender is more than 2.4m (8') long of has an outboard of more than 4kW (about 5hp) it must be registered. In the north of WA they have extreme tides and some pretty vicious tide races. In addition about half their western coast is the habitat of man (and women) eating crocodiles. Consequences, people in undersized, under powered dingys in areas with ambush predators.

I am not sure if they still do but the WA regulations used to state that the tender must only be used to go between the parent vessel and the shore and for no other purpose which totally ignored all the other lifesaving functions for which a tender might be used.
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Old 11-09-2015, 00:10   #18
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Re: Death by Dinghy : Risks and Best Practices

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Originally Posted by RaymondR View Post
Some Australian states have stupid laws.

In WA if your tender is more than 2.4m (8') long of has an outboard of more than 4kW (about 5hp) it must be registered. In the north of WA they have extreme tides and some pretty vicious tide races. In addition about half their western coast is the habitat of man (and women) eating crocodiles. Consequences, people in undersized, under powered dingys in areas with ambush predators.

I am not sure if they still do but the WA regulations used to state that the tender must only be used to go between the parent vessel and the shore and for no other purpose which totally ignored all the other lifesaving functions for which a tender might be used.
Thank you for that input, Raymondr,

Have to agree that it is regrettable that landlubber legislators do not get it right..... Dangies! There's a lot of craziness in the world.

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Old 11-09-2015, 04:25   #19
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Re: Death by Dinghy : Risks and Best Practices

Two important points in dinghies. Always wear a PFD and have an anchor for when things get out of hand. My first power squadron course so many years ago pointed out the hazard of no motor, lost oar and being at the mercy of the wind or current. In the inland waterways the problem is often weirs and small dams and in the big water it is often wind and current.
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Old 11-09-2015, 04:39   #20
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Re: Death by Dinghy : Risks and Best Practices

I had a "near death" experience with my dinghy once. Well, maybe not all that close to dying, but it sure did made me think.

We had sailed overnight from Virgin Gorda to Saba, and picked up a mooring in Ladder Bay. I took the dinghy around to Fort Bay to clear in, and after getting back to the boat, I tied the dinghy up to the stern. There was quite a swell running in that open roadstead, and the boat was pitching up and down pretty actively.

After one particularly violent up-and-down, I glanced astern and was aghast to see the dinghy drifting away downwind. The pitching had been hard enough to rip the painter's attachment point off. Without thinking, I dove in and started swimming for the dinghy. After about 50 yards, I noticed that the dinghy actually seemed to be getting further away, not closer. Maybe in my youth, I would have re-doubled my efforts and tried to get to it, but my gray-haired brain kicked in and said, "Give it up, stupid. Get back to your boat!"

I swam back to the boat (not too easy against the wind and current), cranked up the engine, slipped the mooring and motored down to retrieve the dinghy. My wife was down below throughout the aborted recovery operation, so I would have been totally on my own if I'd gone too far to get back. Scary thought!
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Old 11-09-2015, 05:03   #21
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Re: Death by Dinghy : Risks and Best Practices

Mostly near misses:

I once nearly got killed. I was diving with my buddy. We surfaced with our orange life jackets inflated, I raised my arm to wave to the dinghy and he motored over to get us. I could only see him occasionally because I was riding up and down a small swell that intermittently blocked my view (and presumably the view from the dinghy). Next thing I knew I was hit on the head and my head bounced multiple times on the dinghy bottom. I heard the buzz of the prop and emerged at the rear of the dinghy not a happy bunny and amazed to be alive. He just hadn't seen me. Moral of that story, dunno - just be careful, be alert (especially if steering). Carry a diving buoy/flag also.

On one occasion I very nearly drove into an anchored yacht at speed. It was a dark night and I had no lights, but I was sure I was able to see any boat or mooring buoy in time. I misjudged it. The yacht had a paint colour that rendered it almost invisible in the dim light. I did a 90 deg turn at the last second and just missed it. Stupid. The cure for that is a light on the dinghy. I now have a bicycle handlebar torch strap on the bow handle, to which I attach a high lumen led torch with a focusing lens. It's like driving a car with its headlights on and works extremely well.

I see a lot of dinghies whizzing about without lights at high speed. Flipping stupid collision risk also. When there is no moon and when they are running with an unilluminated shoreline behind them they are completely invisible.

I read a MAIB report about a rib in the UK that threw its occupants out when they did a tight turn. The rib lost its grip, skidded a bit then gripped again, when it re-gripped the boat suddenly stopped sliding, but the occupants carried on moving right out of the rib. The rib then circled and killed two of them. There was no kill cord used. The dangerous turn is called a hook turn. Don't turn too tight at speed and use a kill cord were lessons there.

I once had a fuel leak. A burst hose soaked the engine in fuel and stopped it running for a while and left me without an engine drifting out to sea. I could easily also have had a big fire to deal with. The lesson there is I now have a fire extinguisher and if going somewhere I might get into trouble I have a VHF and flares.

Swimmers are regularly killed by dinghies. I've seen jet skis blast along at maybe 50kt near boats. Super dumb. Not motoring at high speed near boats is a good idea. Being really careful where you swim has got to help too.

I once misjudged the sea state. I left a sheltered bay and motored to an island 4 miles away, the sea gradually got higher and higher until I got scared. It turned out I was in an area of wind against current. There was a real possibility of encountering a wave high enough that if it broke it would roll the dinghy I thought. I was over half way there, so continued. Pretty dumb to put oneself in such a position. Lesson - don't be dumb.

There's a whole list of slipping and falling in the sea accidents of me and my crew when getting in and out of the dinghy, all I suppose could have ended badly, but didn't luckily.

Getting trapped between the dinghy and the underside of the transom of the dinghy when there is a large swell running is a pretty scary danger. A couple of near misses there.

One thing stands out, dumbness can get you the death penalty. Darwin's law I suppose.
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Old 11-09-2015, 06:40   #22
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Re: Death by Dinghy : Risks and Best Practices

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Originally Posted by Hud3 View Post
I had a "near death" experience with my dinghy once. Well, maybe not all that close to dying, but it sure did made me think.

We had sailed overnight from Virgin Gorda to Saba, and picked up a mooring in Ladder Bay. I took the dinghy around to Fort Bay to clear in, and after getting back to the boat, I tied the dinghy up to the stern. There was quite a swell running in that open roadstead, and the boat was pitching up and down pretty actively.

After one particularly violent up-and-down, I glanced astern and was aghast to see the dinghy drifting away downwind. The pitching had been hard enough to rip the painter's attachment point off. Without thinking, I dove in and started swimming for the dinghy. After about 50 yards, I noticed that the dinghy actually seemed to be getting further away, not closer. Maybe in my youth, I would have re-doubled my efforts and tried to get to it, but my gray-haired brain kicked in and said, "Give it up, stupid. Get back to your boat!"

I swam back to the boat (not too easy against the wind and current), cranked up the engine, slipped the mooring and motored down to retrieve the dinghy. My wife was down below throughout the aborted recovery operation, so I would have been totally on my own if I'd gone too far to get back. Scary thought!
Good example of a potential accident! Well written! Thanks for adding it to the thread.
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Old 11-09-2015, 08:09   #23
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Re: Death by Dinghy : Risks and Best Practices

Light wise, I have this on my outboard, it's mount is magnetic so you easily take it off and put it on and the powerful magnets hold it on. It works off of AAA batteries, is CG approved and is a 2NM light, so it's good for up to a 40' boat?
Navisafe Navi light Tri-Color LED Navigation Light

No point or need to be out without lights on a dinghy
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Old 11-09-2015, 08:29   #24
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Talking Re: Death by Dinghy : Risks and Best Practices

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Originally Posted by waikikin View Post
I know of another Aus loss after Harry D, a prominent Aus yachtbuilder lost his life returning to own yacht, seems he'd passed his oars up onto deck but didn't make it himself.

I came close to running over a 12-14 dinghy in Gladstone once in the dark where they crossed at speed unlit.... very close thing.

Jeff
I'm adding two instances were luck played a big factor and no injuries were recorded. I do recall very clearly that I was caught in rough conditions snorkeling off the back side of Anacapa in So Cal Chanel Islands. A fellow passenger on my 27 Santa Cruz came to pick me up with the Dingy but because of the conditions I couldn't board so stupid of me I put my arm over the bow and asked him to tow me out of the pounding surf slowly. He gunned it and I still recall sensing the water turbulence of the prop with my toes as my feet went under the dingy. Oops I still have all my toes. Second lucky stroke My 8 year old son at Cat harbor Catalina island got into the dingy and was motoring around then he approached the swim step of my Catalina 42 so fast that he drove the bow almost to the wheel he fell backwards and we though nothing of it when he noticed that his watch band that he was wearing on his right hand had been severed by the wiley prop. We still talk about that and are been a lot more careful.
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Old 11-09-2015, 08:32   #25
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Re: Death by Dinghy : Risks and Best Practices

categorically...

Do NOT cast off from a vessel without starting your engine first...

This is an absurd casual attitude, yet its pretty prevalent.

and fwiw as the one that went "wtf", grabbed binos, then had to put down his Corona and dink out over a mile to save your sorry ass.............its pretty inconsiderate of you
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Old 11-09-2015, 09:06   #26
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Re: Death by Dinghy : Risks and Best Practices

The accident you referred involved Victoria Milligan who lost her husband and a daughetr whilst she had a leg aputated after the dinghy ran them all over. Utterly terrible. Google her and you'll find her story, (typ.) Widow in Cornwall speedboat accident admits 'big mistake' - Telegraph
Like many others, I have also bounced out of my dinghy whilst motoring fast. That is a whole other story but the dinghy was headed towards Antartica when last seen and we never saw it again but I managed to swim a little over a mile to a reef where my wife eventually found me. It was a very scary and salutory lesson and I now wear the kill cord around my ankle (never my wrist). On that particular day in 1996 the sea was pretty flat creating complacency. My kids have been taught the same even when using a small outboard motor. As others have mentioned it is just so important to have oars that can actually function and I bet that is something that many have not actually tested - try rowing 500 yards against the wind. We are firm advocates of keeping drinking water in the dinghy and a waterproof handheld VHF whenever using it outside of a marina / harbour etc.
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Old 11-09-2015, 09:36   #27
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Re: Death by Dinghy : Risks and Best Practices

Perhaps the closest I've come to death by dinghy was when I lept over the life lines and into an older, sun bleached, Walker Bay 8 from four feet up and went straight through the bottom up to my mid section. I was pinned by the jagged plastic, like barbs on a hook, as the in-rushing water swelled around my armpits. No amount of floundering was going to free me from this sinking coffin. Fortunately, a crew member heard my pitiful screams and was able to get a line around me and then dove under the skiff to break away the remaining plastic to free me.

We have experienced many thrilling, near death dinghy surfing instances while trying to get to the beach off Kihei, Maui. The worst of these ended with the wife leaping by the board with the baby as I came off the stern thwart with a leg on either side of the centerboard trunk pinned under the center thwart as she pitch poled onto the sand up side down. Three swells later some helpful passers-by righted our skiff me and all. Had some sore balls that day I tell you. Wife and baby had no issues getting ashore.
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Old 11-09-2015, 09:38   #28
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Re: Death by Dinghy : Risks and Best Practices

At a popular marina in Maine, with a large mooring field, on foggy days you can't see your boat from the dock. The tidal current is often more than a knot. I asked the dock attendant, if they provided compassses on loan. He didn't see the point. We have since carried one and made sure to determine the direction to the dock before the fog rolls in.
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Old 11-09-2015, 09:47   #29
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Re: Death by Dinghy : Risks and Best Practices

Wife reminded me of another instance. We were rowing a Sabot/El Toro type pram off the shore in Alaska with a load of firewood for the cabin heater, a dog and a chainsaw. We rode up on a submerged, pointed piling which broke through the bottom. We were impaled with an out-going tide in near freezing water, too far from boat or shore to believe we could have made it swimming. We balanced like this for fifteen minutes when a commercial salmon troller motored into our desolate bay. Never happier to see anyone.
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Old 11-09-2015, 10:27   #30
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Re: Death by Dinghy : Risks and Best Practices

My very first beach landing in Mexico with my newish dink and landing wheels ended with the dink completely flipped and me underneath it. I did not know how to time the (little) breakers coming in and one hit the stern just as the bow hit the sand. I could have easily been killed or broken a bone. I got away with a bad road rash on my hip from the hard sand. I have always been very careful doing beach landings with surf now.

Once at the island of Tanna, Vanuatu, our friends and we were coming from a very good party with a local village string band and other cruisers in our dink across the shallow coral reef out to our boats in the anchorage. Pitch black. We were more than "happy" from copious amounts of beer. My wife starts to climb up the step on the side of our boat with me trying to steady her and one of our friends trying to hold the dink next to the boat. My wife slips off, crashes down on me, and all four of us end up in the water going down. I remember clearly looking at my glasses floating away from my head (how I could see that in the dark water I will never know). I must have gone 6 feet under with two people on top of me. No one got hurt but four of us might have died that night. I'll let you all decide what we should have done or not done that night (or future nights).
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