Cruisers Forum
 


Join CruisersForum Today

Reply
 
Thread Tools Rate Thread Display Modes
Old 10-09-2015, 09:54   #1
Registered User
 
Steady Hand's Avatar

Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Crewing All of 2017 Available Globally
Boat: OPB = Crewing in 2017
Posts: 4,851
Death by Dinghy : Risks and Best Practices

Dinghy Deaths : Dinghy Injuries : Best Practices for Accident Prevention

The purpose of this thread is to be an open discussion of the risks of serious injury or even death by dinghy.

This is not meant to scare people, but rather to inform boaters of some of the things that can happen while operating a dinghy.


Please feel free to post any news stories, anecdotes or links you have related to the injuries or deaths or "close calls" that happen while using a dinghy. My hope is that an open discussion of these possible risks and incidents can help others learn and be aware of some of the possible risks and some possible things to do to reduce those risks.

I think this thread should cover "ALL hazards" related to dinghies, and certainly some anecdotes that show some "near misses" or "I almost killed myself" or "lucky for me.." are worthy of showing what CAN happen.

So, I encourage anyone to post examples like that too, in this thread. Sometimes we learn from "close calls" and "almost" experiences. In other words, not every example or comment or post in this thread has to be one related to a death or serious injury. Sometimes the "near misses" are good lessons for us all.
______________

Common Causes of Dinghy Related Deaths

For example, here are a few possible causes of Death or Injury while operating a dinghy:

1. Man Overboard, Drowning

Several accounts this year of dinghies being found without their people on board.

2. Man Overboard, Hit by Own Dinghy

I also remember reading about a high powered dinghy RIB that ran in circles and eventually the prop hit the owner who had fallen overboard, killing him and a child (as I recall). The accident investigation revealed that the boat ran in circles at high speed until the man and child in the water were struck by the RIB and prop. The possible solution: wearing a "kill switch lanyard" to kill the motor in case the driver goes overboard.

3. Collision with Land or Objects

4. Collision with another boat or another dinghy
____________

Contributing Factors

Here are some common contributing factors of other dinghy accidents:
  1. Night motoring without visible lights on the dinghy.
  2. When a dinghy light is on the dinghy, that light may not be seen if there are many lights on shore.
  3. High speed motoring on a dinghy when there are many boats in the anchorage. The other boats create blindspots which block the view of other dinghys or people in the water.
  4. Dinghy drivers who may have been drinking, so driving while impaired.

__________________

Best Practices for Dinghy Accident Prevention

1. Wear a PFD.
Most boating deaths are due to drownings and most dinghy related deaths are due to drownings. Wearing a PFD before you enter the dinghy would be a very smart idea, as the accidents often occur during boarding of the dinghy from the yacht or when going from the dinghy to the yacht. A capsize can happen in surf or when landing a dinghy or when a dinghy is hit by a "rogue" wave or wake from another boat.

2. Day or Night: Wear a motor kill switch lanyard attached to your ankle or attached to the body of the dinghy driver. You want to kill or stop the motor if the driver falls overboard.

3. At Night: Have proper running lights on the dinghy if you are using a motor at night.

4. At Night: Have a visible light for the dinghy that is ON while in a dinghy at night if you are in an anchorage, even if you are not motoring at the time. Having a flashlight turned off in a bag is not good enough. The light must be visible to other boats to reduce the risk of you being run down by another boat.

5. Have a waterproof VHF radio with you whenever you use the dinghy.

6. If the dinghy is of a type or size that can be rowed or paddled effectively, have a set of oars or paddles onboard the dinghy in case of engine failure.

7. If in a crowded anchorage or mooring field, go slow. It is courteous to other boaters, and it may help prevent an accidental collision or hitting a swimmer in the water.

8. Have a waterproof "Dinghy Emergency Kit" onboard the dinghy when you use it. Possible contents would include:
Waterproof VHF radio
Signal Mirror with Whistle and small compass
Duct Tape (for bandaging people or leaking fuel lines or inflatable tubes)
Spare Lanyard for starting motor
Spare spark plugs for the motor with appropriate tools needed to replace the plugs.
Bottle of Water
Mylar Emergency Blanket (for cold or sun shade)
Motor Trouble Shooting instructions on a waterproof card.

9. Start the motor before you cast off from the mother ship.

10. A small dinghy anchor with appropriate rode.

___________________

Examples of Death by Dinghy

I will start with a link to an article that discusses a recent Death By Dinghy (DBD) but please see this as only ONE EXAMPLE of what can happen. I hope the thread will cover more related stories and examples.

I just finished reading an article about the deaths of two (out of five) people who were killed when their dinghy had a collision with another small boat (14 foot) while in the Catalina anchorage at night. Other passengers suffered serious injury.

The article is a good one. It also points out that multiple similar dinghy deaths have happened in the Caribbean.

Here is a clip from the article:


"Michael Harris, 26, was killed at about 1 a.m. on Sunday when the inflatable he and four others were riding in was involved in a collision with an approximately 14-ft boat off Catalina's Descanso Bay. The body of a second as-yet-unidentified passenger in Harris' dinghy has not been found despite three days of extensive searching.

Because riding in dinghies and small boats with friends is so much fun, it’s often not appreciated how dangerous it can be in a crowded anchorage. Three months a year at St. Barth we have a 1.5-mile late-night dinghy ride home from shore to our anchored-out catamaran ‘ti Profligate.

We’re religious about waving a bright light around like a maniac, but nonetheless there have been many close calls.

In the last 10 years there have been three run-down-while-riding-in-a-dinghy deaths, plus many injuries, in that fairway alone.

Plus the old carbon fiber Rambler 92 got a big hole near her bow when she was hit by a big dinghy at night. And


Latitude 38 - 'Lectronic Latitude
__________________

__________________
Ahoy All Sailors! Need experienced crew for a passage or delivery in Atlantic, Pacific, Caribbean, Med, PNW, ICW, coastal or across an ocean anytime in 2017? I am available on 24hr notice. See my CF Profile "About Me" page for details. Happy to lend a hand!
Steady Hand is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-09-2015, 10:13   #2
Senior Cruiser
 
Cheechako's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Skagit City, WA
Posts: 19,240
Re: Death by Dinghy : Risks and Best Practices

One high risk scenario is engine failure and inability to row the boat. You blow down wind and you are gone. it's a scary feeling, had it occur once, the inflatable couldn't be rowed against the offshore wind. Fortunately I got the engine going a mile or so downwind.
__________________

__________________
"I spent most of my money on Booze, Broads and Boats. The rest I wasted" - Elmore Leonard











Cheechako is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 10-09-2015, 10:30   #3
Registered User
 
Steady Hand's Avatar

Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Crewing All of 2017 Available Globally
Boat: OPB = Crewing in 2017
Posts: 4,851
Re: Death by Dinghy : Risks and Best Practices

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheechako View Post
One high risk scenario is engine failure and inability to row the boat. You blow down wind and you are gone. it's a scary feeling, had it occur once, the inflatable couldn't be rowed against the offshore wind. Fortunately I got the engine going a mile or so downwind.
Thanks for adding that to the discussion.

I can empathize!

Many years ago I was in an inflatable dinghy (not an RIB) with another person and only had weak, short oars (no motor) that we used to paddle, because the oarlocks were cheap too and ineffective. We were blown towards a hazardous area and despite rowing and paddling as furiously as we could, we made hardly any way against the wind. It was a scary time, as I saw that the wind just blew us back after we took a stroke forward. Very frustrating! I learned a lesson then, I have not forgotten.
__________________
Ahoy All Sailors! Need experienced crew for a passage or delivery in Atlantic, Pacific, Caribbean, Med, PNW, ICW, coastal or across an ocean anytime in 2017? I am available on 24hr notice. See my CF Profile "About Me" page for details. Happy to lend a hand!
Steady Hand is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-09-2015, 10:34   #4
Senior Cruiser
 
Kenomac's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Somewhere in the Adriatic Sea
Boat: Oyster 53 Cutter
Posts: 8,452
Re: Death by Dinghy : Risks and Best Practices

Last season, I decided it was a good idea to board my dinghy among the breakwater at a rather posh marina just north of Palma, Mallorca with my bike. I placed the MTB bike carefully on the bow of the dinghy, I then took one carefully placed step across into the dinghy and grabbed hold of the bike frame to steady myself. The next thing I remember was finding myself directly under the dinghy with the mountain bike laying on top of me. It must have been histerical to watch, fortunately the water was only 4-5ft deep.

Would this be considered near "death by dinghy?"
__________________
Kenomac is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-09-2015, 10:36   #5
Senior Cruiser
 
FSMike's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Bahamas/Florida
Boat: Solaris Sunstar 36' catamaran
Posts: 2,654
Images: 5
Re: Death by Dinghy : Risks and Best Practices

When I was a kid my grandfather taught me "Never stand up in a small boat underway".
Grandpa was a pretty smart man.
Even if you have a kill switch and a lanyard.
__________________
Sail Fast Live Slow
FSMike is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-09-2015, 10:37   #6
Registered User
 
Steady Hand's Avatar

Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Crewing All of 2017 Available Globally
Boat: OPB = Crewing in 2017
Posts: 4,851
Re: Death by Dinghy : Risks and Best Practices

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kenomac View Post
Last season, I decided it was a good idea to board my dinghy among the breakwater at a rather posh marina just north of Mallorca with my bike. I placed the MTB bike carefully on the bow of the dinghy, I then took one carefully placed step across into the dinghy and grabbed hold of the bike frame to steady myself. The next thing I remember was finding myself directly under the dinghy with the mountain bike laying on top of me. It must have been histerical to watch, fortunately the water was only 4-5ft deep.

Would this be considered near "death by dinghy?"
Well….

I think this thread should cover "ALL hazards" related to dinghies, and certainly some anecdotes that show some "near misses" or "almost killed myself" or "lucky for me.." are worthy of showing what CAN happen.

So, I encourage anyone to post examples like that too, in this thread. Sometimes we learn from "close calls" and "almost" experiences. In other words, not every example has to be one related to a death or serious injury.
__________________
Ahoy All Sailors! Need experienced crew for a passage or delivery in Atlantic, Pacific, Caribbean, Med, PNW, ICW, coastal or across an ocean anytime in 2017? I am available on 24hr notice. See my CF Profile "About Me" page for details. Happy to lend a hand!
Steady Hand is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-09-2015, 14:24   #7
Moderator
 
JPA Cate's Avatar

Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: aboard, cruising in Australia
Boat: Sayer 46' Solent rig sloop
Posts: 10,371
Re: Death by Dinghy : Risks and Best Practices

Two deaths by dinghy I know of. Sorry, no links.

The first, at night, and a hard dinghy. Elderly contributior to Sydney Afloat fell out of it and drowned.

The second, also at night, involved Australian writer, Jill Knight, whose boat was run into by a couple of guys going very fast, and both of them died. They were drunk, and Jill had her anchor light on, but for a while, the authorities hassled her, and fortunately others in the Brisbane R. at the time were able to testify that her boat was properly lit. Searching "The Australian" for boating deaths might find some of those articles--this was some years ago, now.

Near death by dinghy: Also at night, this occurred to some friends of ours while they were in the Virgin Is. A fast motor boat ran over their dinghy, both went in the water. Fortunately medical students aboard the mobo administered first aid. The woman was in hospital there for a week after due to head injuries and multiple lacerations. Don't know what lights any of them were displaying. Probably did not make the news.
*
However, while it is fun to read about doom and destruction--it sure sells newspapers--in fact, dinghying about is pretty safe, and it would be a disservice to people to scare them about it.

The different States in Australia have different laws about what you have to have on, or in your dinghy. Even legislatures cannot agree on what to demand people use. I really think it should be up to you as an individual to do what you think necessary to protect yourself during your dinghying around. For instance, not mentioned by Steady Hand in the precautions category is something we always bring when exploring: the dinghy tool kit, which includes a new pull string for the starter, new, pre-gapped spark plugs and the ratchet + socket for them, a cleaning rag (for hands after working on engine) a multi-tool, and a couple of designated screw drivers. All stored in a waterproof plastic box. We carry waterproof hand held VHF and a couple of life jackets. Also, there is anchor, chain, and rode enough to anchor safely (3:1) in 20 ft. Recently, we added a tricolor for it, but for years did not light it at night in any way. One, imo, is being a bit silly to trust that others will see you. You, lit or not, must drive defensively in your dinghy, and if you do, there really is little to worry about!
__________________
with Jim, aboard US s/v Insatiable II, in Oz, very long term cruisers

"Today's misfortune is tomorrow's adventure."
JPA Cate is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 10-09-2015, 14:55   #8
Registered User
 
BobH260's Avatar

Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 159
Re: Death by Dinghy : Risks and Best Practices

Years ago we were anchored in a fairly remote quiet cove, late fall in Canada, on a 26 ft sailboat. The sailboats rudder and outboard were tilted up.

As darkness settled we got in our new dinghy to row ashore for the dogs final walk of the day. The dog only weighs 22 lbs. the fibreglass dinghy rowed well, good wooden oars. On our return I climbed the reboarding ladder and my wife then handed the dog up to me as she stood in the dinghy. The dinghy immediately flipped, her head just touched the big high thrust prop on the outboard as she plunged into the cold water. Another centimetre closer it would have turned very serious. I got her back on board, warmed up and into dry clothes. We bought an inflatable right away, and later a boat with a sugar scoop stern !

Bob
__________________
BobH260 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-09-2015, 15:09   #9
Long Range Cruiser
 
MarkJ's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Australian living on "Sea Life" currently in England.
Boat: Beneteau 393 "Sea Life"
Posts: 12,828
Images: 25
Re: Death by Dinghy : Risks and Best Practices

The series of deaths with dinghies I wish to relate are all very similar.
Death by alcohol at night.

Anne mentioned one I was going to as its classic. Elderly contributed to an Aussie sailing mag often dinghied back to his high sided boat drunk at night. His outboard was old and the throttle was jury rigged. Its thought when he stood up to grab the side of the big boat clothing caught his throttle and the dinghy chugged off leaving him in the water.

3 deaths in the last few years drunks getting into or out of their dinfhies hitting their heads on the dock or boat. 3 deaths.

The reality is many drink.
The reality is life jackets are not worn.

My solution that I do always day and night so I instinctively do it drunk. I grab crawl on my butt into the dinghy. Never, ever do I step in or worse step on the tube. At night dinghy tubes can be slippery.
I don't care if I look like a goose doing it. I crawl in and crawl out of the dink. Because more people die in the dinghy than any other way.

Mark
__________________
MarkJ is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-09-2015, 16:05   #10
Registered User
 
northoceanbeach's Avatar

Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: California
Boat: Cape Dory 28
Posts: 445
Re: Death by Dinghy : Risks and Best Practices

Death by dinghy! Lol, it sounds so hilarious, but to be serious, I would think almost as many deaths on the water for sailors occur in the dinghy as the actually mother ship.

The worst that has happened to me, and one more reason I went over board and bought a big dinghy and motor is that I had a Avon 8 with oars that couldn't row for shot. It was really blowing offshore and the anchorage was really unprotected(port Townsend) and it was dark and overcast skies..m still midday, but overcast.

I had to get to shore and not be sitting on my sailboat being blown around all day. I should have know better. I got in the dinghy, and started rowing but wasn't making really any progress.m I decided to give up when I dropped an oar! Now I got scared because I was really far from my nose and had only one oar when two would barely work. I tried to skull and of course that did nothing so the one other guy anchored out just happened to see me or hear me yelling and came on deck and motored out to me.

He probably just happens to see me because over the wind I don't think he could have heard. It's one big reason I think having a proper dinghy and engine is a safety issue,
northoceanbeach is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-09-2015, 16:11   #11
Senior Cruiser
 
hpeer's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Philadelphia
Boat: Murray 33-Chouette & Pape Steelmaid-44-Safara-both steel cutters
Posts: 3,868
Re: Death by Dinghy : Risks and Best Practices

One advantage of a Porte Bote is that it rows fairly well, especially if you replace the cheap oar locks with real ones and reinforce the mounts.

I just hate the idea of relying 100% on a motor.
__________________
hpeer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-09-2015, 16:32   #12
Registered User

Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Anacortes
Boat: Red Admiral, 1979 Holman Pye 36
Posts: 71
Re: Death by Dinghy : Risks and Best Practices

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheechako View Post
One high risk scenario is engine failure and inability to row the boat. You blow down wind and you are gone. it's a scary feeling, had it occur once, the inflatable couldn't be rowed against the offshore wind. Fortunately I got the engine going a mile or so downwind.
I see people expose themselves to this risk all the time. It's not at all clear to me that most people who have motorized inflatables have a fall back plan if their excursion turns out badly.

And speaking of dinghy hazards last weekend we noticed quite a number of people going to shore in very small boats with lots of people and yet no life jackets.

I really believe people are unaware of the risk of falling into cold water. What may seem harmless in Florida or California can kill you in Washington. Sure you've dinghy'd ashore a million times without issue. It's that million and oneth time that gets you.

When I think back on the risks I've taken over the years I feel like a lot of those situations turned out Ok because I got lucky, or rather didn't get unlucky. These days I try to prepare for the unlucky situations.
__________________
korrigan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-09-2015, 18:10   #13
Registered User

Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: So Cal
Boat: Catalina 30
Posts: 942
Re: Death by Dinghy : Risks and Best Practices

We were out for a daysail Sunday, and kept hearing the cg pan pan with a description of the missing guy in Steady's first example. Sad story.

betcha it was a combination of alchol and no lites
__________________
jeepbluetj is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-09-2015, 19:35   #14
Senior Cruiser

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: between the devil and the deep blue sea
Boat: a sailing boat
Posts: 17,266
Re: Death by Dinghy : Risks and Best Practices

Best practice?

MOTOR ONLY VERY SLOW THRU THE ANCHORAGE

Do not kill the odd swimmer that elected to swim where others poo.

b.
__________________
barnakiel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-09-2015, 20:47   #15
Registered User
 
waikikin's Avatar

Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Sydney
Boat: Egan 12.40 in build, Carter 33, Seawind 24
Posts: 162
Re: Death by Dinghy : Risks and Best Practices

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ann T. Cate View Post
Two deaths by dinghy I know of. Sorry, no links.

The first, at night, and a hard dinghy. Elderly contributior to Sydney Afloat fell out of it and drowned.

The second, also at night, involved Australian writer, Jill Knight, whose boat was run into by a couple of guys going very fast, and both of them died. [/I]
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
__________________

__________________
waikikin is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
dinghy

Thread Tools
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Risks of CO2 on Board Dockhead Health, Safety & Related Gear 71 05-09-2015 05:31
Insured War Risks Pelagic Rules of the Road, Regulations & Red Tape 1 29-01-2015 23:04
New Batteries: Best Practices zboss Electrical: Batteries, Generators & Solar 7 01-10-2013 19:25
Even on land a A good nights sleep has risks.-Sink hole The Garbone Off Topic Forum 4 09-03-2013 23:46
'Taking the Ground' on a Fin- or Full-Keeler: Best Practices S/V Alchemy Monohull Sailboats 10 23-11-2011 17:32



Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 14:03.


Google+
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Social Knowledge Networks
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

ShowCase vBulletin Plugins by Drive Thru Online, Inc.