Please select your home edition
Edition
Henri-Lloyd 2021 M-PRO PURE BLACK - LEADERBOARD

The ClubSailor on checks before resuming sailing

by Clive Eplett 15 May 2020 08:45 PDT
Dinghies on the slipway at Shustoke © Zara Turtle

I doubt there are many more desperate to get back on the water than this particular club sailor. I'm lucky that my club is not far away, sails on a pond of mostly walk-home depth and where the shore is rarely more than 100 yards away, so hopefully I'll be back on the water soon. Which got me thinking about steps before we launch...

One of the key aspects of sailing for me is the need to take personal responsibility. That includes deciding whether the conditions are too much for us or our boat or our (family member) crew. In these strange times, it also means thinking harder about our personal safety and appraising the risk, not just in sailing, but in getting to and from our boats and then avoiding catching or inadvertently transmitting the pesky virus.

We all have different (often strong) views as to the Covid risks, with some being particularly cautious and others believing we should be easing our way back to some sort of normal life, rather than continued lock-down. We've had enough division of late with the Brexit debate; I hope we can respect each others' opinions and choices on this rather than set off a further wave of conflict and stress.

If your club/water remains shut, tempting as it may be, please don't go rogue and sail anyway. If you have to travel a long way to your club, think about whether the trip is really justifiable.

But with those tests passed, I propose a few further checks before actually going sailing, checks that we normally tend to be a bit too relaxed about. It seems common sense that we should doing everything we can to minimise the need for safety boat services - indeed, there might not be any if you are 'free'-sailing. So here are some checks I recommend strongly before going on the water:

  • Read the weather forecast and satisfy yourself that you, boat and crew can handle the conditions before leaving home.
  • Pack your tools and boat spares - you might need them when you get there.
  • Also before leaving, tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be back.
  • Assess the conditions again when you get to your club. Wind direction and tide can make more difference than wind-speed sometimes.
  • Think about taking a (charged!) mobile phone, sealed in something waterproof and secured somewhere accessible. You could even switch your SIM to that older phone lurking in a drawer somewhere.
  • Some suggest fitting a masthead float to reduce inversion risk (or mast-in-mud syndrome). I tend more towards thinking that if you think you need a float for these reasons, you should skip going out; sail another day instead.
  • Check the boat over very thoroughly:
    • Check tanks are dry, all bungs are in, hatch covers on and buoyancy bags inflated.
    • Check standing rigging - ensure wire is not fraying and all split rings/pins and shackles are secure. Check chainplate fixings too.
    • If you use a bobble-knot on the main halyard, shift the knot a bit in case the rope is damaged internally.
    • Check halyards for damage and excessive wear, dodgy shackles etc.
    • Check toe-straps carefully all over, for loose seams, fixings, ropes et al.
    • Check rudder fittings (on hull and stock) are secure and wobble free.
    • Check the tiller extension universal joint for the start of splits in the rubber.
    • Inspect the rudder blade for suspicious cracks. Likewise daggerboards. If in doubt, check the centreboard; I recognise that is harder to do.
    • Check the corners of each sail, satisfying yourself they are not going to pull off. Ditto spinnaker chute patches.
    • When the boat is rigged, do a further inspection of everything, satisfying yourself all is hunky-dory (particularly look for missing split rings and loose clevis pins).
If any of these checks highlight a problem, fix it, using your tools and spares if needed. If you cannot fix it, put the boat away and cover back on. Note what you need, order them online and come back another day when you have the bits and can fix the problem.

Before launching also:

  • Make sure you have the right clothes on. If in doubt, layer up. Easier to shed layers if you get too hot than the other way around.
  • Our hands are going to be softer than if we were sailing every week. Even if you don't normally wear gloves, think about taking some in case. Blisters are a pain in more ways than one.
  • The sun is getting strong and we've perhaps forgotten what to do when out and about for longer than an hour - put some sun screen on exposed skin.
  • Make sure your are wearing a decent buoyancy aid that fits and won't simply float up over your head if you go in the water.
  • My experience with crash-hats is that they take some time to adjust to - initially increasing your chances of failing to duck sufficiently. So wear one if you are used to it but bear that experience in mind if you are new to them. Don't think about using a cycle helmet - they add far too much height.
  • Put a couple of metres of decent dyneema or 4mm rope either in your pocket or somewhere safe in the boat in case you have to jury-rig something.
  • A spare shackle and some plastic tape might be worth having aboard too.
When launching, you are going to have to deal with your own trolley, unless you have a family member with you - this may change our ingrained habits of collaborating and helping each other.

Don't sail too far, stay out too long get tired and so start making mistakes.

Inevitably, I cannot guarantee this list exhaustive or covers every risk and contingency. Remember, it's all about taking personal responsibility and applying your own common sense. With a dash of extra prudence thrown in please.

Enjoy your sailing and stay safe.

Clive

Related Articles

Wayfarers make hay at the Medway Marathon
Four and a half hours with everyone at displacement speed Richard Stone and Catherine Gore sailed their Wayfarer to victory at the Medway Marathon last Saturday, taking just under four and a half hours to complete the 26-mile handicap race. Posted on 21 Jun
Sail Port Stephens day 2
The islands have it as Sail Port Stephens fleet heads offshore The 2021 Sail Port Stephens regatta switched to island time today for Race 2 of the Commodores Cup, with the fleet heading seawards for a race course where Mother Nature lays the marks - or at least the landmarks. Posted on 20 Apr
Simply stunning Sail Port Stephens
Over 100 boats set off under spinnaker on the sparkling waters of Nelson Bay Sail Port Stephens got under way today, with over 100 boats setting off under spinnaker on the sparkling waters of Nelson Bay, right off the break wall. Posted on 19 Apr
Sail Port Stephens day 1
From rust to trust as the event enjoys an action-packed start It was a day to clear the rust, but also to show some trust, as Sail Port Stephens turned on a spectacular opening day for the Bannisters Port Stephens Commodores Cup 2021. Posted on 19 Apr
Full sail ahead for huge Sail Port Stephens fleet
The regatta has rebounded in record style A year after its COVID-enforced cancellation, Sail Port Stephens regatta has rebounded in record style, filling marina berths, moorings and motels while boasting the largest number of individual entries across the various categories. Posted on 17 Apr
Sail Port Stephens heading off to the beach
Looking to replicate the formula for smaller boats Having built Sail Port Stephens into one of Australia's premier yachting regattas, organisers are now looking to replicate the same successful formula for dinghy, skiff, catamaran and sailboard racing. Posted on 12 Mar
Meghan O'Rourke on the Lake Max Vanguard 15 Series
A conversation with Meghan O'Rourke about the 2020 Lake Max Vanguard 15 Series I checked in with Meghan O'Rourke, president of the Vanguard 15 class, via email, to learn more about 2020 Lake Max Vanguard 15 Series. Posted on 2 Jun 2020
Development is critical, but must be calculated
Grassroots classes can succeed in a range of different ways When it comes to ongoing development and modification of grassroots classes, each case is different and there are so many factors that must come into account. Posted on 20 May 2020
The first eco-sustainable dinghy
The concept is giving life to a brand-new circular economy in the nautical sector Sustainability and innovation are at the heart of Northern Light Composites (nlcomp) project, an Italian startup born from the passion for the sea and sailing of the three founders Posted on 10 May 2020
Video: Upwind Sheeting Angle for Singlehanders
Toby Peacock gives a comprehensive mathematical explanation Toby Peacock gives a comprehensive mathematical explanation as to why (most) single sail boats don't sheet to the centreline. Posted on 8 May 2020
C-Tech 2020 Tubes 728x90 BOTTOMHenri-Lloyd 2021 M-PRO PURE BLACK - FOOTERVaikobi 2021 FlexForce - FOOTER