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Club rescue boat rotas

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Category: Dinghy classes
Forum Name: Dinghy development
Forum Discription: The latest moves in the dinghy market
Printed Date: 01 Dec 22 at 5:39pm
Software Version: Web Wiz Forums 9.665y -

Topic: Club rescue boat rotas
Posted By: MikeBz
Subject: Club rescue boat rotas
Date Posted: 22 Nov 04 at 8:28am

Well this topic isn't exactly dinghy development, but this is where most of the dinghy racing discussion happens...

Our club is almost entirely run by volunteers, including race office and rescue boat duties.  We have a system in place whereby everyone gets 2 duties to do per season (not too arduous is it?).  At the end of the previous season a chart goes up on the club noticeboard, and you can pick your duties from what's available, or you can wait and have them allocated to you.   When the sailing program is published and sent to every member it contains a complete list of duties & names.  A few weeks before your duty you get a card through the post reminding you of it, and imploring you to 'phone if you really can't make it and really can't find anyone who will swap duties with you.

Sadly some people are either extremely forgetful or extremely selfish and just don't turn up and don't even have the courtesy to let anyone know they won't be turning up.  When this happens there are 3 options - 1) Scout around at the last minute begging for someone to man a rescue boat (this sometimes works in the summer, but not on a cold winter Sunday), 2) Abandon racing at the last minute so everyone is disappointed and angry, or 3) put everyone who has signed on to race into a hat and draw out a boat, so just 2 people are disappointed and angry.

Well I guess you can see where this is going - it happened yesterday, and yours truly was drawn out of the hat.  It's pretty disappointing at the best of times, but when you don't get to sail very often to have to pull your boat back up the ramp, dump it in the dinghy park and dash off to spend the race doing someone else's duty that they couldn't be bothered to is galling in the extreme.

So, to get back to the point, what do other clubs do about this?  Do you 'punish' people?   If you put a 'fine' system in place then presumably you'll get people who are happy to pay the fine and not do their duty, which is no help.  And then what do you do with habitual offenders?

I can understand that some people (as in this case I believe) only use the club facilities on the odd occasion and maybe feel that they don't 'need' to do a duty, but you'd think they'd at least have the decency to tell someone.  Of course it's possible they 'forgot', but if I were to see that she (oops) didn't forget to go to an open meeting instead then I'd find that one a bit hard to believe.

I had to sleep on it for a night before posting this - yesterday I was mad enough to have named, shamed and defamed which probably wouldn't have been very constructive.


Posted By: ChrisJ
Date Posted: 22 Nov 04 at 8:49am

£50 "fine" with your fees, and you are not put onto the rota.

£100 fine if you do not turn up to do your duty.

The same applies to Race Officer, rescue boat and bar duties.

The money goes into the same pot as the club joining fees - to help improve the club long-term, rather than on short term repairs and maintenance.

Posted By: Pierre
Date Posted: 22 Nov 04 at 8:55am

Hi Mike.

You're not alone in this scenario (surprise surprise) and it is very frustratiing for all concerned.  I think one of the things that was mooted at my club was a kind of name and shame, and then serious questions being asked about whether these peoples membership was really needed by the club.

Trouble is, there are a fair proportion of people out there who really don't give a damn and are extremely selfish, and unless there is some kind of public embarrassment factor, they'll continue to do it.  We have, on the odd occaision, even had the OOD not turn up....

Anyway, you get my sympathy, if not a solution.


Posted By: MikeBz
Date Posted: 22 Nov 04 at 10:27am

The one 'nice' thing to come out of it was that when we finally got ashore the other guys in our fleet had packed our boat up for us.  That was really appreciated.  Thanks guys!


Posted By: James Bell
Date Posted: 22 Nov 04 at 10:28am

This is a very good topic and a difficult issue.

I think that at least 50% of the time, when people don't turn up to duties it really is simply because they've forgotten.

If the rota is done at the start of the year, it can be easy to forget when your duty is, especially if you don't sail on a regular basis.

We found that at our club, after an automated email reminder system was setup, the number of people turning up to duties dramatically increased. A reminder email is automatically sent one week before the persons duty (obv this is no good for people without email, but it is cheap and it has been effective).

An extension of this would be to send a postcard reminder a week before, which could then be pinned to a noteboard at home, although more expensive and labour intensive.

Another idea is to rota people into teams, so they're always down for duty with the same group of people.

I know of one club who have thrown members out who have failed to turn up to duties on more two or three occassions unless there has been an exceptional reason. This does seem slightly draconian but the fact is they rarely have a problem with people turning for duties, and their rationale is if people consistently fail to turn up, do you really want them as members of the club? I guess that might be okay if you can afford to lose members!

It is a shame when people don't or are unwilling to help with duties because ultimately it really is quite simple - you can't have it both ways: either you have cheap membership fees with most things being run by volunteers, or if members don't like that, they have a choice, they can join a professional club and pay considerably higher fees to have those duties done by paid staff!

Posted By: Lucy Lee
Date Posted: 22 Nov 04 at 11:33am

One alternative is to auction off the duties: if you don't want to do them then you have to pay more membership fees, or alternatively you can volunteer to do more duties for a reduction in fees (payable at the end of the season as a reimbursement). If you are getting reduced membership for more duties & you don't turn up then you forfit the reimbursement.

The important thing is to make sure you don't just set an abitrary 'get out of duties' fee, but it changes yearly depending on the number of people who are willing to do more duties for smaller fees (always popular with students!). That way it is very clear what the 'value' of the duties is. If no-one wants to do duties you have to pay someone, which gets mighty expensive.

Fly Cherub!

Posted By: Coolhand
Date Posted: 22 Nov 04 at 11:33am

Instead of a “stick” how about a “carrot”.


Each duty earns you a meaningful reduction in your membership fee &/or boat park fees.


e.g. Do 3 duties a year and store your boat for free.


If the overall fees for the majority unwilling to help went up by 10% to cover the costs they could hardly complain.

Posted By: jeffers
Date Posted: 22 Nov 04 at 1:45pm


We have a similar system to yourself but with a few minor differences. The first is that it is written in to the club rules that certain membership types must do a set number of duties per year (e.g. Family members do 2 duties per year and individual members do 1 duty per year). This duty can be done by anyone who is suitably able or qualified to do so. For example in a family membership dad might do both duties so the kids can sail.

It is made crystal clear (in a nice way) when you join the club that duties are comulsory and required as part of your membership of the club. To back this up everyone gets a small reminder slip through the post between 1 and 2 weeks before the duty and it is the reponsibility of the OOD to call round a few days before to ensure people are going to turn up and serve as an extra little reminder. We also run a voluntary duty system through the winter (which is when I guess most of the problems occur) which requires you to do a duty to qualify your results for each series you sail in. This works very well as if people are not signed up for a duty you can apply a certain amount of pressure to them. It also eliminates the people who really don't want to get cold and wet as their duties are not required from them through the winter months.


D-Zero GBR 74

Posted By: rogerd
Date Posted: 22 Nov 04 at 2:00pm

We have had exactly the same. I think most clubs suffer to a greater or lesser extent.We like you send out reminder notices by email or post about two weeks before and like you ask them to look for replacements. I have frequently stood in at the last minute as have several other regulars. One lady whinged the "we dont race so why should we do our ONE duty per year. I took some action on this recently by making a serious comment in my write up as commodore in our quarterly Log.

It went along the lines that we are a community and that the committee put in a great deal of their own precious time to ensure the club runs smoothly. Without the input of past and present commitees (who happen to be mainly made up of racers) their would be no club and no facilities. It states in our membership rules booklet that every member is expected to do one duty per year and that many do far more than one. After all one short day in a whole year is little to ask for the privelidge of sailing in such a beautiful setting etc etc.

Basically you can only shame people but without mentioning names. As said previously in the thread you will always get the few who are too selfish to consider anyone else.

There are no easy answers so best of luck.

Posted By: Claymore
Date Posted: 22 Nov 04 at 3:14pm
Sounds like we are lucky at our club then. We have some people who are more than happy to drive the rescue boats as they don't sail. Great for an evening points race as they only need to be there once or twice in a month. Usually the racers take up a rota for OOD and away we go.

Also helps that they like thier cameras as well and give us lots of photo's for the club website. This also helps with the duties come regatta time as they can get some good shots for the various websites and promotions. Need to get a few more OODs trained up but we are getting there.

Posted By: Scooby_simon
Date Posted: 22 Nov 04 at 3:45pm

We have used (in some fleets) at Grafham the enticement that if you do a duty, you gain an extra score to your results of Average points MINUS one, so you gain in the race series BY DOING YOUR DUTY

Wanna learn to Ski - PM me..

Posted By: sailor girl
Date Posted: 22 Nov 04 at 3:50pm
that's a really good idea! nice one!

Sailor Girl, Queen Of The Forum!

Posted By: MikeBz
Date Posted: 22 Nov 04 at 4:03pm

Lots of good ideas folks, thankyou & keep 'em coming.

We do mail out reminders, and we do give average points although the latter only 'works' for people who are interested in doing/qualifying for a whole series. In general folks who do that much club racing are pretty reliable about doing their duties anyway.

I seem to recall that when I used to sail at Grafham you had to do a Wednesday evening duty in order to qualify for that series, which again worked well amongst those who were interested in qualifying for the series.


Posted By: Garry
Date Posted: 22 Nov 04 at 5:56pm
One strategy (if your membership is bouyant) would be to refuse to renew members who don't turn up for duties. I also like the idea of reducing membership fees for doing duties - perhaps a combination of the two would be seen as both carrot and stick!


Lark 2252, Contender 298

Posted By: Brian
Date Posted: 22 Nov 04 at 5:59pm
u could at least get their mobile number so u can shout at them when u
are all drunk in the bar after the race!


Posted By: sailor girl
Date Posted: 22 Nov 04 at 6:14pm

Sailor Girl, Queen Of The Forum!

Posted By: *GM*
Date Posted: 22 Nov 04 at 6:37pm

We have different systems for rescue boat crew and for race officers.  For race officers we have a rota based (mainly) on having one yacht crew and one dinghy crew on duty - assuming there are both yachts and dinghies racing.  Mans yacht crew probably do 1-2 duties a year.  We have fewer dinghy sailors so we probably end up with around 5 duties a season.  Our fleet captains take it in turns (a month at a time) to confirm 2-3 weeks in advance that people are aware they have a duty coming up.  Front page of our website shows the next few weeks' OODs and whether they've confirmed or not.  If you can't make it, it's your job to do a swap.  Only real problems we seem to have are where sommeone is included on the rota in March and doesn't then rejoin the club.

Rescue boat drivers are more difficult as we insist that they have RYA L2 powerboat before we'll let them drive - and no where near all our dinghy sailors have that.  Fortunately for the poor sod who has to organise drivers (er, that's me actually, but only until the end of the season...) we do have a few non-sailors who are happy to drive quite regularly and we have some yotties who drive for our dinghy only Monday night racing (if any of you are reading this, thanks guys!)

Posted By: hurricane
Date Posted: 22 Nov 04 at 7:24pm

ok i thought the giving average points thing happened at every club

my club does it where on your 2nd duty you get average points this system works well and we rarely have to mess about looking for last minute rescue crews(or in the political world safety boat crews)

if your club cant fill the lists for the duties just give some time for the nice memebers to put their names down and then to fill the rest pull their names out of the hat and inform the other  member when they were

Posted By: Garry
Date Posted: 22 Nov 04 at 7:33pm
At the club I am currently a member of you get no points for doing a duty. At a previous club with only a few boats racing you finished 2nd if you had a duty.

The problem is the small contingent who never turn up to do a duty or bother to let anyone know no matter how many reminders they get.


Lark 2252, Contender 298

Posted By: bigwavedave
Date Posted: 22 Nov 04 at 7:53pm

I think this problem exists at most clubs.  It always seems to me that the members who fail to turn up for their duties are the ones who complain about the course that is set, the time it took the rescue boats to reach them, the tea in the galley is too weak or too strong, the bar was not open, showers too hot/cold, etc. when they do turn up to sail, and then luff you right across the lake and ruin it for you both.  Yep, selfish.

I do like the idea of average points minus one.


Posted By: hurricane
Date Posted: 22 Nov 04 at 7:57pm
why does it have to be minus one???

Posted By: redback
Date Posted: 22 Nov 04 at 9:12pm
Minus 1 because that's slightly better than just average points.  At our club it is just average points, but its not the regular racers who are the problem.  We send out our duties monthly so its fresh in their mind and we get the Officer of the Day to remind them in the preceeding week.  It works quite well but they get a stropy letter if they don't have a bloody good excuse and we have refused renewal of membership to some.  We also have a squad of qualified people to skipper the safety boats and they often do more than the statutory 2 duties a year - but they get looked after with courses and training sessions and a few are more interested in the safety boats than dinghy racing - bless them.

Posted By: Phil eltringham
Date Posted: 22 Nov 04 at 9:44pm

My old club used to give you a third when you did safety/race officer, worked pretty well, and it only worked out unfair on someone if they did not do a duty themselves so the onus was on people to do their bit. 

Shifts Happen

Posted By: Jamie
Date Posted: 23 Nov 04 at 2:09am
People who don't come to do their club duty never seem so have a problem with coming to club annual dinners, so how about - you don't come to do do your duty you pay more for the annual dinner tickets. Or if a club has 2 duties for people to do then you miss one and you pay extra, you miss both you don't get a ticket at all. That is assuming there isn't a reasonable excuse.

Posted By: Binky
Date Posted: 23 Nov 04 at 6:42pm
I think no matter what you do there is always going to be some
people that don't turn up you've just got to try and keep that
number to a minimum

Posted By: pig on the wing
Date Posted: 23 Nov 04 at 10:50pm

I agree it is a problem at the couple of clubs I have been a member of.

I feel a name and shame board in the club is appropriate, and if someone fails first check the board anyone around who has previously missed a duty gets the job.  Then if anyone appears more than once, a stern but fair letter from the Sailing committee should point out their conduct is unreasonable and they will be allocated extra duties the next year to make up their fair share, if they rejoin the club.  That way they have a choice, do the duties (or pay another member to do them?) or find another club.

Been there, broken that!

Posted By: Lucy Lee
Date Posted: 24 Nov 04 at 12:28pm
I really like the idea of having a wall of shame & these people being called first if a duty needs doing at short notice. They could also be asked to do the next duty for the person who covered for them.

Fly Cherub!

Posted By: Stefan Lloyd
Date Posted: 24 Nov 04 at 1:55pm

Originally posted by Garry

One strategy (if your membership is bouyant) would be to refuse to renew members who don't turn up for duties.

What proportion of UK clubs have buoyant membership? Not a lot.


Posted By: iansmithofotley
Date Posted: 24 Nov 04 at 2:34pm

Hi everyone,


I think that a lot of the problems that we have in our clubs is all to do with ‘caring’.  What I mean is - caring about your club, caring about our sport, caring about other members, caring about prospective members, caring about the racing and its organisation, caring about how clean and tidy the club and the dinghy park looks, caring that members and visitors have had a good time at your club.


I think that ‘naming and shaming’ is fine but some people would not even care about that and treat it as a joke.


Personally, I think that when people join a club, then they should be part of the club and committed to it.  We all know only too well that clubs do not run themselves and it requires a lot of time and organisation to make things tick, particularly with smaller clubs.  It’s funny how it is always the same small group of people who make things happen, year in, year out.


On this note, I feel that when people join clubs, they should take on some personal responsibility and not expect everything to be done for them by somebody else.


Personally (again), I do not agree with ‘no duty’ memberships for an extra fee, or paying somebody else to do duties. The cash may be welcome for club funds but if we all took on ‘no duty’ memberships then there would be nobody to do Race Officer or Support Boat duties.  I feel that members should take on their responsibilities.  As a consequence of this the club quickly runs out of experienced Race Officers who are required to manage the racing and particularly open meetings. 


Another thing that annoys me is that many people join a club just to dump their boat in the dinghy park.  When they apply for membership they say that they are getting back into sailing and want to get involved with the club, they usually have a boat which they have owned for years, but hardly ever sailed.  They won’t sell it in case they want to start sailing again so they want somewhere to keep it.  They join up, take up a berth in the dinghy park, and you hardly ever see them again.  They have enough cash to fork out for subscriptions (which, again, is great for club funds) but they never sail.  Often, berths in dinghy parks are at a premium and new members, who sail regularly, can’t even get a space.  I suspect that at many clubs, a third of boats are sailed very regularly, a third of boats are sailed occasionally and a third of boats never get on to the water.  There is no easy answer to the problem as most smaller clubs, particularly those with small or depleting memberships, are happy to take their money.  These are the same people who never take on any committee jobs or show up for any working parties, etc.


It’s all about ‘caring’.



Ian  (Yorkshire Dales S.C.)



Posted By: MikeBz
Date Posted: 24 Nov 04 at 4:20pm

Spot on Ian.  If 1/3 of the boats in the dinghy park turned out regularly that would be brilliant.

Getting money out of some people for their dinghy park space is like getting blood out of a stone too...

Posted By: ChrisJ
Date Posted: 24 Nov 04 at 7:52pm

I look at the 2/3 of dinghies in the park that don't get used and think "I am glad you are helping me pay for my dinghy insurance"!


Posted By: hurricane
Date Posted: 24 Nov 04 at 8:24pm

yes good point

but it really annoys me. That people have boats that just sit there, as a person still at school who can bairly afford a decent boat. If these people that do not use their boats sold them , then the prices would not be so stupidly high

Posted By: sailor girl
Date Posted: 24 Nov 04 at 8:31pm
very true, people who have decent boats that just sit there in the dinghy park really annoy me

Sailor Girl, Queen Of The Forum!

Posted By: hurricane
Date Posted: 24 Nov 04 at 9:01pm
or they should lend them to me lol

Posted By: bigwavedave
Date Posted: 24 Nov 04 at 11:12pm

It was a while ago (25 years to be exact) but I got a couple of half decent boats by contacting the owners.  These were the boats that had sat in the dinghy park for a couple of seasons without moving.  I contact the owners with a sob story about only having a saturday job and needing a boat.  The result was a firefly for £5 and an OK for free. 

Made a profit on both


Posted By: Katie
Date Posted: 25 Nov 04 at 9:51am
I know a club where on your membership form you have option of paying a student at the uni that sails there to do your duty.  A pretty easy way to earn some cash for students, and means that the duties get done.  Works well for those who simply don't want to do a duty.....

Posted By: bigwavedave
Date Posted: 25 Nov 04 at 1:22pm
How much does it cost?


Posted By: redback
Date Posted: 25 Nov 04 at 7:04pm
It happened at Bough Beech.  I think it cost the guy £50 - I think the student did well.

Posted By: Phil eltringham
Date Posted: 25 Nov 04 at 11:03pm
could do with that happening at my club, doubt it will tho

Shifts Happen

Posted By: Katie
Date Posted: 30 Nov 04 at 12:49pm
think it was £20...pretty good deal i reckon (for the student and the member who doesn't fancy the duty!)

Posted By: Doctor Clifford
Date Posted: 30 Nov 04 at 1:16pm
Originally posted by Scooby_simon

We have used (in some fleets) at Grafham the
enticement that if you do a duty, you gain an extra
score to your results of Average points MINUS one,
so you gain in the race series BY DOING YOUR

if you are really good, you could come minus first!

Dr. Clifford

take two tablets twice daily

Posted By: Scooby_simon
Date Posted: 30 Nov 04 at 1:50pm
You get a 'Zero'  

Wanna learn to Ski - PM me..

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