Good for you on trying to establish docking guidelines for the First Mate. As we dock in different places under various conditions, I try to teach principles (eg; use of a spring line) rather than specific procedures. I then talk through the specifics as we make our 'drive by' prior to the final approach, be it dock or mooring
or anchorage. I once had to find a clinic in the BVI's to stitch up a finger that the First Mate allowed to be caught between mooring
line and cleat. She could have lost
that finger. That experience led me to become more conscientious in crew briefings. While our boat was in charter
and we often brought inexperienced guests aboard, I developed a humorous little briefing book that I emailed to them in advance of their coming aboard. Here is an excerpt from the chapter on safety
(not as humorous as the rest of the book):
OK, that's a bit about how we do things aboard ship, but before we cast off, we need to talk about a few important safety
items. While this will be a fun ship, there are a few things aboard that can really hurt. Let's take notice so that the skipper
doesn't have to stitch anybody up.
Life Preservers don't have to be worn unless you feel like it or if the skipper issues that order due to sea conditions. But you must know where they are and keep them easy to grab. On JAMU they are under the salon
table seat nearest the door to the cockpit
. Life preservers should always be worn or brought along when going exploring in the dingy or kayak
Hatches and Ports
(those windows in the deck
and on the side of the hull) should be closed before getting underway. An open hatch
or port is an invitation for spray to soak your bed
, or it can snag sheets
while tacking, and Crew can step through an open hatch
while moving about on deck
The Boom (that long arm at the bottom of the mainsail) can knock your head
off if it swings across in a tack or jibe. No joke, it can kill you. Always control the boom by sheeting in the main before jibing, and watch that no crew is standing where the boom could strike them.
are actually the ropes that control the sails
, not those damp things on your bed
. Halyards are the ropes that raise the sails
. These ropes can be under a big load, and can whip or pinch. Make sure that these are clear to run and watch your fingers when using the winches to ‘haul in the sheet’.
Mooring Lines tie the boat to the dock or to a mooring ball. JAMU displaces over 19,000 lbs, (before you all came aboard) and can be pretty hard to stop when she is moving. Any fingers caught between a mooring line and the boat are likely to be severed. Any body part caught between the boat and the dock can be crushed. Always get a wrap on a cleat to control the mooring line and always keep your fingers clear.
Stove burns propane
, which comes from a tank in the transom seat locker. The solenoid shut-off valve is opened by a switch on the electrical
panel above the chart table. This must be turned off whenever not using the stove. A propane
leak could turn this boat into a bomb.
Fire Extinguishers are located in the galley
, the staterooms and under the navigation
desk. All Crew should be familiar with how to use them. This is one time that you don't have to ask the skipper, just shout FIRE and use the extinguisher immediately if you notice a fire. Point the extinguisher at the base of the fire and hose it thoroughly.
Snorkeling requires just a few precautions to be a safe activity. Always use the diver flag so that you are more visible to any boats entering the area. Always snorkel or dive with a buddy and keep sight of each other.
is obvious; someone fell off of the yacht while underway! (see section on guys 'pumping bilge') This is a critical situation, as even in moderate seas it is easy to lose sight of the person in the water. If someone falls overboard
while the boat is under way, shout out to the helmsman, “MAN OVERBOARD” and assign one adult to keep his/her eyes focused on and arm pointing at the MOB
at all times. Throw the ring buoy, a life jacket, or seat cushions
immediately toward the MOB
. The helmsman should stop the boat as quickly as safely possible, turn the yacht 180 degrees (always know your compass
course) to return to the MOB.
Picking up the MOB can be very difficult if the person is unable to help himself. Maneuver the boat such that the MOB is alongside, not at the stern, and rig a sling to lift
him over the side. Use the main or spinnaker halyard
to hoist the MOB up.
Propellers can be fouled by sailing or motoring over a crab trap, a mooring line or more commonly, the dingy painter. If this happens, put the engine
into neutral and shut it down immediately. If possible, secure the boat on a mooring or at anchor
before trying to clear the prop. Never allow the boat to be held against wind or current by a line on a prop, as this could pull the shaft out of the boat and lead to sinking. Diving
on the prop to clear a line can be very dangerous in anything but calm water, and should be done only by a good swimmer with a constant lookout standing by on deck or in the dingy.
Grounding is always a possibility, and anything but the softest touch on sand can cause damage to the boat. The best prevention against grounding is careful attention to the depth sounder
, a sharp eye scanning the water and a crew with polarized sunglasses posted on the bow whenever approaching a reef. Do not use the autopilot
inshore of the reef, it can mindlessly drive the boat right ashore unless constantly attended. Never approach a reef within two hours of sunset, as the sun is too low for good visibility. Good anchoring
practices, discussed in Chapter 3, will hopefully prevent a bump in the night.
The VHF Radio
is our link to other boats, and help if we need it. It should be turned on and monitored on Channel 16 or whichever channel the local authorities monitor
. In Belize
, this is channel ____. All Crew should know how to transmit and respond. To call a station (the base or another boat), press the transmit button and speak the name of the station or boat you are calling up to three times, followed by the name of your boat, for example; “Moorings Base, Moorings Base, this is JAMU” Next, release the button and listen. If there is no answer, you can repeat the call in two minutes.
Channel 16 or the local calling channel is not to be used for extended conversation. After making contact with the desired party, ask them to switch to another channel to continue the conversation. "Base, this is Jamu, please switch to 72". When the conversation is over, clear the channel and switch back to channel 16. "Jamu clear, switching to channel 16"
Sometimes the voice isn’t very clear over a radio
, so if you want to ensure that the other party understands a bit of critical information, you can spell it out using the phonetic alphabet.
The Phonetic Alphabet
A – Alpha F - Fox-trot K – Kilo P – Papa U - Uniform
B – Bravo G - Golf L – Lima Q – Quebec
V - Victor
C – Charlie H – Hotel
M – Mike R – Romeo W - Whiskey
D – Delta
I – India
N - November S – Sierra X - X-ray
E – Echo J – Juliet O – Oscar T – Tango Y - Yankee
Z – Zulu
1 – wun 3 – tree 5 - fife 7 - seven 9 - nin er
2 – too 4 - fow er 6 - six 8 - ait 0 - zero
Radio Calls are internationally recognized as follows:
MAYDAY repeated three times indicates immediate peril and risk to human life.
PAN-PAN is for conditions of emergency
falling below the threshold of immediate risk to human life.
SECURITE is the third, and lowest, level of emergency call and is used to announce the presence of a navigational risk.
A MAYDAY call should be made as follows:
MAYDAY, MAYDAY, MAYDAY
THIS IS JAMU (repeat 3 times)
OUR POSITION IS: Latitude Longitude
or nm (N,S,E,W) of .
NATURE OF DISTRESS
NUMBER OF PERSONS ONBOARD
INJURIES OR SPECIAL CONDITIONS