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Old 21-12-2014, 12:26   #1
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Safety Briefing- What topics should be on the list?

We often take new sailors out for a day sail or a weekend cruise. I usually give a little safety briefing before we leave the dock. I cover things like life jackets, moving around the boat, man over board procedures, head usage , stowing your gear, etc. but it seems to me that I should get a little more formal about it. Maybe a checklist would be a good way to go especially as we will soon be doing more cruising and I will need to worry more about topics such as - keeping a watch, water usage, bilge alerts, sail handling, anchoring, etc.

Any thoughts about what should be covered in a pre-sail briefing? How much is too much? What should be covered at a minimum? Many of our friends are planning to join us for a week of sailing and I want to be prepared.
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Old 21-12-2014, 12:32   #2
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Re: Safety Briefing- What topics should be on the list?

Locations of the fire extinguishers and a request to come to a common muster point in the event of an emergency.
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Old 21-12-2014, 15:21   #3
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Re: Safety Briefing- What topics should be on the list?

It would be best to write everything down in an emergency plan (i.e., where the flares and first aid kit are located, how to use the radio, what information to convey in an emergency, where the bilge pump switches are located, whatever) and then make sure everyone knows where they can find the plan. The chances of anyone remembering everything you tell them is close to zero. Better to give them the most important basics, such as having PFDs while on deck, one hand always holding onto the boat, being clipped in at night or when alone, etc. Then for things like how to handle watches, go over that each night or as needed.
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Old 21-12-2014, 15:25   #4
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Re: Safety Briefing- What topics should be on the list?

Since both the crew and the information to give changes on every cruise, I gave up using a checklist.
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Old 21-12-2014, 15:41   #5
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Originally Posted by gamayun View Post
It would be best to write everything down in an emergency plan (i.e., where the flares and first aid kit are located, how to use the radio, what information to convey in an emergency, where the bilge pump switches are located, whatever) and then make sure everyone knows where they can find the plan. The chances of anyone remembering everything you tell them is close to zero. Better to give them the most important basics, such as having PFDs while on deck, one hand always holding onto the boat, being clipped in at night or when alone, etc. Then for things like how to handle watches, go over that each night or as needed.
+1 Commercial vessels, even small ones, use essentially the same system of formerly documented checklists for basically the same reasons so it must be effective.

For the emergency/safety component of an induction, one important thing imo is that everyone should be aware of their specific roles in a range of possible emergency scenarios, even if that role is nothing.
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Old 21-12-2014, 15:55   #6
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Re: Safety Briefing- What topics should be on the list?

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......specific roles in a range of possible emergency scenarios, even if that role is nothing.
We don't have a lot of items on our safety briefing but one of them is that, in the event of an emergency, we'd like them to come to the "muster point" and stay there, out of the way, unless asked to do something different.
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Old 21-12-2014, 16:49   #7
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We don't have a lot of items on our safety briefing but one of them is that, in the event of an emergency, we'd like them to come to the "muster point" and stay there, out of the way, unless asked to do something different.
That's one aspect, but imagine the scenario where your entire crew leaps overboard to save aunt Martha because noone knows who is supposed to keep her in sight, throw the life ring etc...
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Old 21-12-2014, 18:12   #8
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Re: Safety Briefing- What topics should be on the list?

I think abandon ship and fire are the essentials. MOB also - as seen from a MOB perspective (!!!)

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Old 22-12-2014, 14:50   #9
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Re: Safety Briefing- What topics should be on the list?

I tend to cover the basic safety and comfort type things you mentioning in your original list. As for watch keeping and MoB, these things I cover once underway. Usually everyone is in the cockpit at the start of the trip and often once clear of confined water there is still some level of protected water so you can run through your helm and watch procedures with each person in turn, gives them a bit of a feel for the boat and me a chance to assess their confidence and ability. On the one long cruise I undertook I had a set list of features of the boat, mud map of safety gear, how to use head, conserve water and power etc etc in a small "induction manual" so my guest crew could look up how tos and what tos day or night. Even using the stove has a unique process so this helps folk become familiar and gain confidence.
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Old 22-12-2014, 15:49   #10
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Re: Safety Briefing- What topics should be on the list?

The most important item for these sorts of briefings, which is usually not included, is what the crew should do if you (the skipper) go overboard (or get hit in the head, or are otherwise disabled).
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Old 22-12-2014, 16:36   #11
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Re: Safety Briefing- What topics should be on the list?

I have 6 pdf files on the subject that I can email to you if desired. Send me your email address by PM if you want. I did not write them. They go into quite a lot of detail that you can modify in what ever way you choose.
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Old 22-12-2014, 16:57   #12
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Re: Safety Briefing- What topics should be on the list?

We all listed MOB... instead of simply staying on the boat.

One of the very first things I go over are the rules for moving about on-deck, when harnesses are required, and when movement on-deck is prohibited by the skipper.

The only important points for new crew for MOB are:
1. One person watches and does NOTHING else.
2. Other folks can throw some floating objects and yell MOB.
3. The skipper CANNOT fall off. That is your responsibility and you should assume you are dead if you fail. The new crew will not remember procedures, so pretend you are single-handing and don't waste effort lecturing.

For day sailing, water usage is basically unimportant.

Mustering point? If they are new sailors they are going to go to the cockpit, no matter what you say.in

If in water activities are planned, make certain this includes briefly watching each guest swim; weak swimmers often forget the swim break may be in 10' of water, they think it's like the surf or a pool, and they will sink. But this is a whole topic on its own.
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Old 22-12-2014, 17:25   #13
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Re: Safety Briefing- What topics should be on the list?

Thanks everyone. These are some great contributions. I think I'll make up a checklist of your ideas and hand them out during the safety briefing.


I've had some interesting experiences over the years taking out new sailors such as...
- putting small toys down the head
- falling off the boat
- getting seasick just 10 boat lengths from the dock
- getting legs and arms trapped between the boat and the dock
- running to the bow when docking and blocking the view from the helm
- throwing lines in the water, etc. etc.
I'd be interested in hearing any stories that happened to other sailors and how a safety briefing might have helped to prevent the situation
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Old 22-12-2014, 18:29   #14
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Re: Safety Briefing- What topics should be on the list?

On a side topic, even with trained, drilled crews, during Bob drills I've never seen someone watch Bob and do nothing else. I've never seen someone watch Bob without taking his or her eyes off him.

Even with people who understand how important it is, who have been taught how to do it, and who have practiced doing so, no one watches Bob without taking their eyes off him, and no one manages to restrict what they're doing to just that task.

Even, I'm afraid, when someone is really in the water.

I conclude that in a real MOB, people do what they trained to do, and I've never see a training drill where the lookout watched Bob correctly. So it's no wonder that they don't do so when it really happens.

When I brief a crew, I draw a sharp distinction between trained sailors and guests, and I never, ever, under any circumstances count on an untrained guest to do anything. At all.

I tell the guests to follow the instructions of crew during an emergency, and I tell the crew that they are responsible for the guests and that they must not ask a guest to do anything except move out of the way. And even then, they must provide specific instruction on exactly what "out of the way" is.
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Old 22-12-2014, 21:20   #15
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Re: Safety Briefing- What topics should be on the list?

Good topic and good checklist ideas. Thanks!
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