Safety

VisibilityHow to be seenWe all hope the lookouts on those huge container ships will see our little sailboats in rain, mist, and low light. Should we find ourselves in trouble, we pray that our rescuers will be able to make us out in the breaking waves.Some sailors have long recognized the value of being highly visible. Many ocean-racing boats have brightly colored hulls

This Is Not a Test

by Sail Staff, Posted January 25, 2006
Before going cruising, I had a long career skippering fishing boats in Alaska. Twice I had the need to resort to a liferaft. The raft must always be the last resort. Never give up on the boat until it has given up on you.The first time, I was alone aboard a small boat fishing salmon. While the boat did a slow roll all the way over, I ran up the side like a Laser racer

Cruising Tips - First Aid

by Sail Staff, Posted July 28, 2006
Bad Backs and Boats (May 2006)Several months ago I wrote that I had to be very careful of my back when I was on board a boat. Since then I've received a number of letters from sailors asking whether I do anything specific to protect my back when I'm sailing. The answer is that I've tried many things over the years to reduce my back pain, including limited surgery, visits to

A Nautical Novice on Lake Nokomis

by Sail Staff, Posted February 28, 2008
It was a beautiful afternoon with a gentle breeze from the southeast. My wife, Catherine, and I were out for a romantic sail. What could go wrong?I was eager to set off in our recently acquired boat, Ruach, a 13.5-foot trailerable Expo Solar Sailer designed by Garry Hoyt, Ted Hood, and Everett Pearson. Cath, a first-timer, was nervous, but throwing in a picnic

Safety: Twist and shout

by Charles Mason, Posted August 5, 2009
Here’s a maneuver that can make it easier to get someone who is not injured out of the water. First, have the person in the water is face you, and then ask them to raise their arms straight up and cross them over their head. When their arms are crossed, grasp their wrists firmly with your hands—put your right hand on their right wrist and your left on their left. When you pull up on their wrists

No-risk mast climbing

by Peter Nielsen, Posted August 5, 2009
Most halyard winches are not powerful enough to hoist a 200-pound sailor up a mast, so you need to find a way to let your primary winches take the strain if you need to hoist someone up the rig. Here’s what we do on our boat, where the main halyard runs via a rope clutch (not seen in the photo) to a small winch on the mast. First, we loop a spare length of half-inch line a few times around the

Calling for Help

by Peter Nielsen, Posted August 18, 2009
The three boats in Tom Cunliffe’s scenario all found different ways of coping with difficult weather conditions, and all made it to port with little or no drama. But what if things had turned out differently? How would they have called for help?Visual distress

Quiet Means Safe

by Bruce Balan, Posted February 16, 2010
I know sailors who can sleep through 40-knot winds even though the halyards are throbbing like a string quartet. But the truth is if something on the boat is making noise, chances are that it’s either hitting or rubbing something else and that means lots of chafe and wear. A quiet boat is a chafe-free and therefore a safer boat. At night that can often mean the difference between a good night’s

Towing - The Bottom Line

by Chuck Baier, Posted April 27, 2010
Many sailors have memberships with TowBoatUS, Sea Tow and other organizations. But how many understand what services their membership includes, what their own responsibility is if they do call for assistance, and what level of assistance they should expect to receive? Most memberships have different levels of coverage, and if you’re unsure

Sudden Turn

by Steven Fink, Posted April 20, 2011
One beautiful, sunny July day I was sailing Rondo, my Beneteau 423, about a mile off the famed Santa Monica pier in picturesque Santa Monica Bay, California. The wind was blowing gently at around 8 knots, and I was reaching along on port tack making about 5 knots. It was a typical Southern California day with a typical Southern California breeze. Suddenly, at a distance of about 300 yards, I saw
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