As a sailing writer I am constantly saddened by the too-frequent tragic outcomes when couples set out on a sailing journey without both people knowing the basics of how to handle the boat. Almost every month somewhere in the world I learn of a man overboard situation where the crew member left on board, most often female, does not know how to turn the boat or contact authorities.
The stories usually have the same ending - the drowning of the skipper, and the rescue of a distraught female. The Cruising Club of America, in conjunction with the Bonnell Cove Foundation, has been trying to do something about this through education, with a program entitled appropriately 'Suddenly Alone'. This has become a popular nautical seminar for cruising couples.
Now the seminar has been repackaged as a small scale do-it-yourself presentation for sailing clubs and organisations. The curriculum is available on a CD as PowerPoint presentations with speaker notes, references and handouts for local speakers to use and the accompanying workbook 'Suddenly Alone – Know You Can Handle It' is available for each student or couple attending.
As well as the MOB possibility, there is also the issue of the skipper becoming incapacitated. All less experienced sailors, be they friends or family members, have understandable anxiety at the thought of the skipper becoming ill or injured, worse if he is unconscious.
This training gives the essential steps needed to get a frightening situation under control and reach help, and every crew member should know certain essential steps. How it works:
The SA program is divided into five 40-50 minute classroom presentations and three 60 minute hands-on, practical sessions.
The five subjects of the program are
Introduction and Psychology of SUDDENLY-ALONE
Stabilizing the Situation
Communicating a Request for Assistance
Navigating to a Safe Haven
Recovery of an Overboard Person.
All of the sessions of the program can all be done in a single eight hour day or divided into five separate sessions (e.g. one a week for five weeks).
An experienced and respected local sailor should be chosen as Coordinator/Moderator. This person should deliver the introduction presentation and monitor the other four topics by introducing speakers and summarising how their comments contribute to the whole message or goal of the program.
Four Instructors are needed, one for each technical subject. They should be experienced and familiar enough with their topic to deliver an interesting, informed presentation following the course outline. Small teams of volunteers can assist instructors during the hands-on sessions. More Information:
MISSION. The mission of SUDDENLY ALONE is to provide shorthanded crew members the tools and knowledge that will enable them to handle emergencies. By practicing these aboard their own boats, crew members will develop the confidence and competence that will enhance their enjoyment of cruising.
The program is designed to raise the understanding and confidence of crew members with limited experience. It describes and demonstrates the minimum skills necessary to assume command and it covers the minimum emergency procedures to learn and practice before an incident occurs.
AUDIENCE. The SA Seminar was originally focused on the less experienced partner of a sailing/boating couple. It soon became evident that both partners must be aware of the issues and work as a team to make sure that they understand and practice the skills needed to overcome a suddenly alone situation. This often results in changing or outfitting their boat so that either person can operate it while simultaneously carrying out the search and rescue functions of an emergency scenario. By having both partners together in a class they are able to discuss and list the items they need to change or practice. This list becomes one of the most valuable products of the course and helps instill the confidence that makes boating together even more enjoyable.
Advice and answers to questions on all aspects of the SA Program are available by phone or Email from the CCA Program Coordinator RonTrossbach@msn.com
For additional information go www.cruisingclub.org
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