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Old 21-12-2011, 09:07   #76
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Re: Safety of Life at Sea - Life and death matters at sea.

There really seems to be WAY too many posts on this forum about folks being afraid of the sea. If you even have the slightest fear of going to sea, then it is not for you. Stay on land. The sea WILL kill you.

It really has nothing to do with how much saftey equipment you can purchase or if you have a million dollars worth of the best marine electronics.
Common sense can not be purchased or taught.

Its an ancient formula.

Landlubbers + sea = death
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Old 21-12-2011, 12:22   #77
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Re: Safety of Life at Sea - Life and death matters at sea.

After 50 years on the water; a rule I learned early: "Stay on the Boat". The first thing I taught the grandchildren; "Stay on the Boat". This implies everything from "don't fall off" to "wait 'til she sinks". If you need to rescue someone, "Stay on the Boat".
We have a card we pass out to anybody who comes aboard with the rules of the boat. Simple stuff like don't flush your feminine products, read all instruction related to the head, where life jackets are located, how to steer the boat if they find themselves alone and how to make a water rescue; but the most important thing the card states is: "Stay on the Boat".
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Old 21-12-2011, 14:07   #78
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Re: Safety of Life at Sea - Life and death matters at sea.

A couple of things:

regarding fitness: Another sailor drowned a few years back here in MDR - he was a yacht broker, and the fleet was hit by strong conditions outside of the harbor.

He went overboard, and was "recovered" but was so overwieght that the fully crewed boat was unable to bring him aboard.

He expired in the water, right next to the boat.

So obesity is a risk factor - but so what?

After assisting in the rescue of the young lady, several people made comments that they thought were humorous "Call marine mammal rescue" etc.

They werent in the water with her.

I was.

She was a human being - she had family and friends, and even though she was drunk and over weight, that shouldnt earn the death penalty for falling off of a boat in the harbor.

But given the current state of MOB recovery tactics and equipment, it often is.

It's high time the whole thing was questioned - Keel to truck.

Millions of people swim here in Southern California in the summer.

Millions.

From little babies to geriatric obese tourists.

We get huge hurricane driven south swells that break like freight trains and that generate powerful rip-currents - currents that occur over deep channels in the surf line, and that will suck you out to sea like a river.

LA, Orange, and San Diego county lifegaurds are some of the best in the world, and drownings are almost unheard of here - even on hot holiday weekends crowded with people who barely know how to swim, and powerful surf that even I wont venture out in.

It didnt used to be like this.

At the turn of the century, drownings were common at popular beaches - sometimes a dozen or more people would be dragged out to sea and drowned:

"On the first weekend of May 1918, San Diego was enveloped by a spring heat wave. Large crowds descended on the beaches, where lifeguard protection was minimal at best. On the first Sunday, strong rip currents began pulling off the shoreline of crowded Ocean Beach. Within view of thousands of spectators, several swimmers found themselves being dragged out to sea. Soon tiring, they began screaming for assistance. Without a professional lifesaving corps in place, the victims drowned. At the risk of their own lives, several military personnel went out into the treacherous surf to assist, only to suffer the same tragic fate of those whom they had sought to aid. When the disaster unfolded, thirteen men had lost their lives."

Surf rescue was poorly understood, and so were wave and current dynamics.

Work boats would founder near shore, usually with the loss off all hands, while bystanders watched helplessly.

Eventually, self bailing surf dories were employed - a better adaptation of fishing technology, but still inadequite. To this day however, county lifeguards engage in fierce international surf dory competitions, keeping this legacy alive:

DorySpecs

Then a Hawian surfer and olympic gold medalist swimmer Duke Kahanamoku, visited LA:

Duke Kahanamoku - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

What followed was a watershed event in the history of Los Angeles lifesaving:

"While living in Newport Beach, California on June 14, 1925, Kahanamoku rescued eight men from a fishing vessel that capsized in heavy surf while attempting to enter the city's harbor.[8] 29 fishermen went into the water and 17 perished. Using his surfboard, he was able to make quick trips back and forth to shore to increase the number of sailors rescued.[9] Two other surfers saved four more fishermen. Newport's police chief at the time called Duke's efforts "the most superhuman surfboard rescue act the world has ever seen."

Duke introduced the surfboard as a rescue device, and demonstrated its effectiveness by personally rescuing 8 sailors from drowning.

Today's lifeguards still carry rescue surfboards atop thier jeeps.

But the surfboard itself is almost never used: Now they all use those red torpeedo floats made famous by "Baywatch" - an invention of another Hawaain surfer (and freind of Duke's) named George Freeth:

LEGENDARY SURFER: GEORGE FREETH By Arthur C. Verge

"To George, an ocean lifeguard was "at one with the water," being proficient not only in ocean swimming, but also in rowing and surfing. In Freeth's vision, the concept of lifesavers, whose primary mission was to respond to someone in distress, would be replaced by lifeguards, whose purpose was focused primarily on preventing situations where rescues became necessary. In short, where the traditional view of lifesaving was reactive, Freeth's view of lifeguarding was pro-active."

Freeth's contributions are legenday - driven by a rational approach to surf rescue.

Note his empasis on "prevention".

Note how he understood the dynamics of waves and beach currents, and turned them to his advantage:

Rip currents are a surfer's best friend: When the surf is really big at a "beach break" (sand bottom) they carve channels perpendicular to shore, and flow out to sea. So what a surfer does is he looks for the disturbed turbulent water - the "rip" and jumps into it, gaining a free ride out past the breakers, to safety, where he can then manunuver himself into position by swimming or paddling parallel to shore, and out of the current.

The only way a rip current can kill you is if you fight it by attempting to swim directly back to shore - the exact instinct of a panicked, unskilled ocean swimmer in rough water.

I see many paralells with 19th century surf drownings and 21st century MOB deaths.

The dynamics of ocean waves are poorly understood, and thus feared.

But as a lifelong surfer, when I look at such waves, I have to chuckle:

Yes, they are BIG.

But they are what surfers call "mushburgers" - mostly whitewater - areated foam - and even huge walls of whitewater dont scare surfers much - we just "duck-dive" under them, to the solid water a few inches below it, and we wait for it to pass.

Surfers understand that there is a rythm to the sea. This is reflected in "sets" of waves - generally they come in groups of three larger waves - double the average hieght.

and we wait for these waves, and try to spot and catch them before the other surfers, which requires a sixth sense and a keen eye.

These same waves are generated by the storms sailors find themselves in, so it stands to reason that storms have a similar rythm.

Swim in the surf, even small surf, and try fighting it: You will be quickly exhausted by 3 foot waves, I assure you.

But learn how to go with the rythm, duck-dive, and conserve energy through good timing and use of currents, and suddenly, even large surf is fairly simple to deal with.

You quickly learn that angling across wave faces is much more effective than slamming straight into them.

You learn when "caught inside" by a large "set" to relax, hyperventilate for a few breaths, then turn your back to the 10 foot wall of whitewater at the last second, with a lung full of air, allowing it to pass over your boyant body.

You learn that some days are more dangerous than others.

Some days you stay on the beach.

So - when at sea, understand that you are in an uncontrolled, dynamic environment.

Seek to balance the forces on your boat, and keep it moving diagonally through the dominant waves.

Understand that an ocassional "set" of waves will strike. These are not rouge or freaks - they are just the product of dynamic superimpositions and chaotic - not random - forces.

They will pass. Keep an eye out for them. At night you cannot see them, so you better be securely attached to the boat.

Mountain and rock climbing used to be much more deadly than it is today.

But techniques and belaying equipment evolved, and now equipment failure is rarely implicated in deaths.

The arguments sailors make against tethers remind me of the arguments people used to make against seat-belts in cars and helmets on motorcycles.

They remind me of the debate in surfing when leashes were first introduced to keep surfers attached to thier boards.

These areguments were spurious - bogus - and now even top professional surfers use leashes - and foot straps for tow-in surfing of unimaginably huge waves like this:



....note: he wiped out in the whitewater at the end of that ride - and he survived. Even larger waves have since been ridden - but they only appear once every decade or so.

We need to re-think small boat MOB prevention and rescue techniques the same way men like Grelach and Laird Hamilton rethought surfing.

If they can play in such waves, sailors should be able to stay attached to thier damned boats.

Wear a harness and rig jacklines at sea. Rig those lines close to the boat's centerline, and consider a double tether. If your boat is big, consider dividing the lines into short segments to reduce stretch, clipping and unclipping around thier attechments with yoir double tether. Rig chest high lines from your cap shrouds to the stern pulpit at sea.

Net your foredeck.

Install additional handholds - inside and outside of the cabin, especially around the companionway, after carefully studing where you habitually brace and grab in rough weather.

Use a tether at all times out of the cockpit, and even in the cockpit at night. All crew are required to wear PFDs outside of the harbor at all times if they can swim, and at all times, period, if they cant or consider themselves weak swimmers.

No exceptions on my boat, and as skipper, I set an example by wearing mine at all times.

I use my tether at all times singlehanding, and Its now second nature - I feel wierd when its off.

Consider purchasing the Standard Horizon waterproof DSC Handheld VHF, and require all watchstanders to carry one.

make sure your radio is interfaced with your GPS, and can make and recieve DSC calls. Yes, DSC and the whole MMSI thing is needlessly complicated and poorly implemented - but its benefits are enormous:

90% of all distress calls contain no position information, and DSC eliminates this problem.

Practice with it - get seperate MMSIs for each VHF aboard - there are other benefits to DSC like position polling that allow you to track your ship or crew when they are seperated.

Practice with it. This may be your only way to find a MOB victim:

Think about it:

MOB survivors universally report "watching the boat sail away" from them, while crews attempting recovery universally report "not seeing" the victim.

Turn this apparent liability into an asset, just like surfers use rip-currents:

The MOB is in a position to verbally GUIDE THE CREW BACK TO HIM if he is in voice contact: HE CAN SEE THE SHIP.

Current MOB equipment mostly focuses on making the victim more visible - its a passive strategy.

Empower the victim to aid in his own rescue: Empowerment is a powerful psychological tool - it's when a victim gives up that they die. As long as they have hope - and talking to your potential rescuers will certainly provide that - there is hope.

When winds are over a certain force - say "7" have everyone don helmets and kayak style life vests.

Helmets prevent head injuries, and the semi-rigid floatation foam of a kayak vest will prevent the internal injuries and broken ribs so often reported by surviving crews caught out in ultimate storms.

Consider deploying your life raft for the MOB.

"it takes too long" you say?

FIGURE OUT A WAY TO ACCOMPLISH THE TASK WITHIN 10 SECONDS SAILOR!

Mount a small valasie style raft on the stern pulpit - it can benan open 2 man model, and it wont take up anymore space than that almost useles lifesling you should abandon in favor of a climbing harness anyway.

Deployed quickly, along with some marker dye or a smoke signal andna strobe, and you have a much better visual marker than the best MOB pole in the world, and again, a place for a victim to climb into, or at least cling to - as well as a platform for recuers to climb into and assist the victim out of the water.

Someone independent should conduct trials - like the US Sailing association - on an ongoing basis as products are developed - at sea, in bad conditions - with people trained in ocean rescue like USCG rescue swimmers.

US Sailing did a flatwater evaluation a few years back as I recall of several major products, including the lifesling, and the results were not encouraging.

Testing protocols and standards should be developed.

Assumptions must be questioned, and abandoned if they dont prove useful.

Solo ocean sailors should consider carrying PLBs in addition to the HHDSCVHF - these have become amazingly affordable, and at least inshore, give your best hope of alerting rescuers to your position and distress.

When I look at the photo of that couple, I see two people who had the courage to set off and live thier dreams - dreams that were senselessly denied them becuase of the collective failure of the recreational cruising and sailing establishment to insist on a level headed, systematic program of risk reduction and management at sea.

I hope to never hear of such a tagic thing again, but unless the sport / passtime of sailing moves into the 21st century, I fear such stories will remain all too common, costing lives, spreading heartbreak, and scaring potential sailors and cruisers away from a wonderful sport.
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Old 21-12-2011, 14:22   #79
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Re: Safety of Life at Sea - Life and death matters at sea.

Guys with a lot more sea time than you and me (and everyone on this forum) never wear harnesses. Bernard Moitessier used to go swimming while single handing by trailing a line astern (with the sales up and windvane going), jumping in the water and swimming happy as a clam until the end of the line, then pulling himself back to the boat and doing it again.

I'm not advocating it, but it's just the way it is. You can have your theories on safety but everyone on their own boat gets to handle it in whatever they want, and the freedom to make those decisions and others is just part of the sailing culture. Look at races. Very rarely are races called off because of weather: it's up to the skipper to make the call, and the crew to determine whether or not they trust in his or her judgement.

No one wants to die, but you can't guarantee an improvement in safety (or even prove a statistical improvement with empirical data, honestly) in support of jacklines and harnesses. It's anecdotal at best. For all we know that lady could have gotten her head bashed in and drowned if she was clipped in.

It's worth remember every now and then that a lot of modern safety techniques that we all rely on so much really have no bullet proof evidence of success. There are plenty of crews that were lost in life boats when their original vessel was found floating just fine later. There are plenty of cases where you'd be better off without "safety equipment" and instead focusing on basic seamanship.
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Old 21-12-2011, 14:38   #80
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Re: Safety of Life at Sea - Life and death matters at sea.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hogan View Post
When I look at the photo of that couple, I see two people who had the courage to set off and live thier dreams - dreams that were senselessly denied them becuase of the collective failure of the recreational cruising and sailing establishment to insist on a level headed, systematic program of risk reduction and management at sea.

I hope to never hear of such a tagic thing again, but unless the sport / passtime of sailing moves into the 21st century, I fear such stories will remain all too common, costing lives, spreading heartbreak, and scaring potential sailors and cruisers away from a wonderful sport.
Whilst I can agree with the general thrust of your post - the above sounds rather like a plea for Big Brother to save "us" from ourselves and an all too familiar modern day whine of "it's not my fault" .

My attitude is "F#ck that! both on the Freedom of choice angle and the simple cost.....which will come out of my pocket.

For me the definition of freedom is the ability to make own choices and judge (and take) risks - and if that involves eating so much you weigh the same as a small house, therefore making rescue from the sea impossible without a crane - you either accept that risk or you don't (and stay ashore). If you are unwillingly to understand the risks (of anything) that is your choice - and you get the consequences. I see nothing wrong with that.

Some people are only equipped for a Disneyland style "experiance".....no matter what. Some of them even have boats.......
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Old 21-12-2011, 14:49   #81
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pirate Re: Safety of Life at Sea - Life and death matters at sea.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rebel heart View Post
Guys with a lot more sea time than you and me (and everyone on this forum) never wear harnesses. Bernard Moieties used to go swimming while single handing by trailing a line astern (with the sales up and wind vane going), jumping in the water and swimming happy as a clam until the end of the line, then pulling himself back to the boat and doing it again.

I'm not advocating it, but it's just the way it is. You can have your theories on safety but everyone on their own boat gets to handle it in whatever they want, and the freedom to make those decisions and others is just part of the sailing culture. Look at races. Very rarely are races called off because of weather: it's up to the skipper to make the call, and the crew to determine whether or not they trust in his or her judgment.

No one wants to die, but you can't guarantee an improvement in safety (or even prove a statistical improvement with empirical data, honestly) in support of jacklines and harnesses. It's anecdotal at best. For all we know that lady could have gotten her head bashed in and drowned if she was clipped in.

It's worth remember every now and then that a lot of modern safety techniques that we all rely on so much really have no bullet proof evidence of success. There are plenty of crews that were lost in life boats when their original vessel was found floating just fine later. There are plenty of cases where you'd be better off without "safety equipment" and instead focusing on basic seamanship.
AKA.... $£it Happens...
Life raft fails.. Harness breaks under loads...
you cant pull your buddy back on board coz of the weight of his foulies and the sea's are choking him...
your watching him drown so you cut his line...
he drowns anyway..
$£it Happens... you either accept 'Murphy's Law..'
Or... you sail paranoid and lose the pleasure...
most of us don't have a Minimum Lifetime Guarantee
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Old 21-12-2011, 15:04   #82
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Re: Safety of Life at Sea - Life and death matters at sea.

I will never, ever, trust a life raft again! I had a six man life raft that had been inspected a couple years earlier (tried to sell it on cruisers forum) but decided to tether it to my stern and use it as a play station for my teenagers. After inflating it we noticed that it was leaking. Could not locate the leak and after a day and a half or two days she sunk.

While we did get to play for a day, getting in the raft was virtually impossible! I'm in pretty good shape and could not climb from the water. Even my 12 year old who can climb like a monkey had to use the mother ship to climb aboard. Two of us on one side (90lbs boy and 165 lbs man) capsized it! This was in calm water on the Potomac River.

I shiver to think of being forced to depend on it in rough weather or very far from rescue. Thank goodness I discovered this before I actually had to use it.
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Old 21-12-2011, 15:06   #83
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Re: Safety of Life at Sea - Life and death matters at sea.

Last fall I popped out of the cabin in a rush. Banged my head on the boom, down for the count.

Two nights later I had seizures.

I know a guy who did a trans-Atlantic on an Amel. Owner, his kid and 3 others.

Kid and Dad are on deck, alone. Kid takes a header into the water. Dad jumps in after him.

My guy just happens to hear something and goes up to see heads disappearing in the wake. Points and shouts and points, and points, and points.

Crew come up and proceed to rescue.
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Old 21-12-2011, 15:12   #84
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Re: Safety of Life at Sea - Life and death matters at sea.

Quote:
Originally Posted by virginia boy View Post
I will never, ever, trust a life raft again! I had a six man life raft that had been inspected a couple years earlier (tried to sell it on cruisers forum) but decided to tether it to my stern and use it as a play station for my teenagers. After inflating it we noticed that it was leaking. Could not locate the leak and after a day and a half or two days she sunk.

While we did get to play for a day, getting in the raft was virtually impossible! I'm in pretty good shape and could not climb from the water. Even my 12 year old who can climb like a monkey had to use the mother ship to climb aboard. Two of us on one side (90lbs boy and 165 lbs man) capsized it! This was in calm water on the Potomac River.

I shiver to think of being forced to depend on it in rough weather or very far from rescue. Thank goodness I discovered this before I actually had to use it.
Not in anyway disagreeing with you; they are tricky to get into. If you have the time and ~$1000, consider taking an STCW-95 course at a nearby training facility. They teach you how to board them, basic repairs for them, firefighting, safety, and associated international watch standards. It's a handy certification anyway and takes about a week.

They'll have you in the pool, at the fire fighter training center, doing flood training and the such. Cool stuff, and you can practice putting on exposure suits and jumping onto, and then into, life rafts. It also gives you a better eye for what models you might want to use since you know where certain things should and shouldn't be.
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Old 21-12-2011, 15:15   #85
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Re: Safety of Life at Sea - Life and death matters at sea.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hpeer View Post
Last fall I popped out of the cabin in a rush. Banged my head on the boom, down for the count.

Two nights later I had seizures.

I know a guy who did a trans-Atlantic on an Amel. Owner, his kid and 3 others.

Kid and Dad are on deck, alone. Kid takes a header into the water. Dad jumps in after him.

My guy just happens to hear something and goes up to see heads disappearing in the wake. Points and shouts and points, and points, and points.

Crew come up and proceed to rescue.
That's crazy stuff man; glad to hear you're okay. A guy I went sailing with the other day was talking about his old sailing partner. I asked why he didn't go out with him anymore, and he said he got lost at sea. I didn't ask any questions, but it's crazy that it happens so often.

Big spooky ocean.
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Old 21-12-2011, 17:32   #86
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Re: Safety of Life at Sea - Life and death matters at sea.

Generally, I fully agree with the comments that you can't buy your way out of bad luck or be 100% protected from freak events by spending enough $$$, but since someone above mentioned helmets, I thought I would share that I have one of these :



Everyone thought I was nuts and going way overboard carrying such an item on board. However, I think differently. Most of the serious accidents I hear about on these pages and others relate to blows on the head (boom, winch, deck, hull etc).

A couple of years back, I had to make an 8 hour beat to wind in the very cold NW of England on a 22ft open cockpit boat with green water from every wave coming over the coachroof and into my face with nothing on board to protect my eyes. When we got in to dock my face and eyes looked like they had been pumelled by a bat, so I can see the benefit of having such a thing if only for the face protection.

Last year, I got to test the helmet during Hurricane Irene. We were at the dock tending boats as the storm was at its peak, objects not tied down were being hurled like missiles and rain was hitting the visor like bullets. Oh, how they laughed when I came out with it on, but by the time the storm was over, everyone could see the value and wanted one.

BTW, this is not just a standard skateboard type lid, it's a Kevlar reinforced, marine specific type used by the Canadian and UK coastguards as is standard issue for the British Lifeboat crews. The only downside is that it costs quite a few $$$.

Of course, it's hardly ever used, but shorthanded on a dark night in bad rolly seas and needing to take a trip to the foredeck, I wouldn't hesitate to put it on (if only because it keeps your head nice and warm !)

Duncan
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Old 22-12-2011, 01:45   #87
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Never thought about it.before.but really wish I had a bike or kayak helmet for when I had to go in to remove a crab trap line in 2--4 ft short choppy seas last year from our keel boats propshaft.
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Old 22-12-2011, 02:02   #88
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Re: Safety of Life at Sea - Life and death matters at sea.

Sheeeesh Hogan, Are you sure you're not related to Indy (Goprisko)!!?

While I agree with some of what you've said, I draw the line at having ANY government regulation interfering in our lives and having grey little suites sitting in their offices dreaming up regulations to reduce everybody to the lowest common denominator. At best they can only assume everyone is as stupid as the stupidest citizen, regulate to protect that idiot, and we all have to cop it.
Men go to war to die for freedom, and then we give it away to imbicilic beaurocracy. I'd rather die from freedom than for it!

I'm going sailing to get away from ridiculous over regulation in all walks of life.
Here in Australia you now have to wear a life jacket if you're alone in a tender even. So if I go ashore to pick a couple of people up to bring them to the boat, technically, I have to wear a L J going in, and can then take if off for the trip back to the boat.

You have to decide on the big issue, which is, Do I want to be free and live by my own survival instincts and experience, or do I want government control with the best of intentions, but reducing everyone to a cretin proof existence?

You can't cherry pick and say you only want the ligislation you think is good. You'll have to put up with all the BS you will have ushered in too.
Think about it!!!
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Old 22-12-2011, 02:43   #89
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Re: Safety of Life at Sea - Life and death matters at sea.

Maybe even a blanket ban on any vessels under 25' going offshore.........
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Old 22-12-2011, 02:50   #90
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Re: Safety of Life at Sea - Life and death matters at sea.

[QUOTE=rebel heart;843094]Guys with a lot more sea time than you and me (and everyone on this forum) never wear harnesses. Bernard Moitessier used to go swimming while single handing by trailing a line astern (with the sales up and windvane going), jumping in the water and swimming happy as a clam until the end of the line, then pulling himself back to the boat and doing it again.

I used to keep a knotted line draging behind my sailboat when soloing and one day many years ago I was adjusting the hanked on sail and the current turned the boat and the boom hit me in the gut and was knocked almost off the boat, I was hanging upside down by one leg with the top safety line behind my knee, I was holding on by my calf while I regained my thoughts then straightened out my leg and fell in and grabed the trailing line and pulled myself back in the boat. I still have a small scar where the plastic coated safety line cut my calf.
We always put some type of PFD on when we sail and which one depends on how cold the water is and how much the wind is blowing, I like the swim step and ladder my cat has and practice swimming off our boat. We hook to buoys overnight in a 2 kt current and practice getting back aboard as quick as possible and drag a 100 ft floating line with a small float on the end to hang on when the temps are high enough and the water is warm enough, right now the water temp is about 8c. Practice helps with panic and that will save your life.
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