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On The Bay: May 17, 2013

This is the season of anticipation. Boats are being prepared for launch, yacht clubs are going into commission all up and down Long Island Sound, and the weather is absolutely beautiful. The beginning of an active boating season on Manhasset Bay and LI Sound is just weeks away. Before the season begins, it might be a good idea to think about boat safety.  Whether you are a skipper or crew, racing or out for a nice leisurely afternoon, be it sail or motor, safety should be your first priority.  

An online sailing newsletter, Sail-World.com recently published some good information on this very topic.  It is from the BoatU.S. Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water. This is what Foundation suggests: It takes just six minutes to brief your new guests on board your boat for a day of sailing and it could save a life and/or your boat.  Below is a six-minute briefing that all of us should practice to make sure the sail is fun and relaxed and safe.

Minute 1: Explain where the best/safest places are to sit during sailing and if the boat is small, tell them how shifting weight can affect your boat’s stability.  

Minute 2: With your VHF radio turned on, describe how to call for help on channel 16. Show them the red mayday button and explain how to activate it.  

Minute 3:  Bring out the life jackets and encourage everyone to wear them or where to find them when needed. Note that any youth under the age of 12 on boats 65 feet or less in length MUST WEAR a securely fastened U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device of appropriate size. It does not apply if the youth is in a fully enclosed cabin [NYS Nav. Law Section 40.1(d)].

Minute 4: Point out the location of other safety gear such as flares and fire extinguishers.  

Minute 5: Using a chart, show where you are going and let your crew know you have filed a “float plan” so others know the boat’s whereabouts and estimated return time.  

Minute 6: Let them know what to do during a MOB (man overboard): having a spotter and a throwable device handy at all times.  

Six minutes is all it takes to keep you safe — and include your crew or guests in your safety plan.  Not only will they feel a measure of control, they will know they are in very capable hands with a skipper who cares enough about them to keep them safe.

The BoatU.S. Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water is an innovative leader promoting safe, clean and responsible boating. The foundation provides educational outreach directly to boaters and supports partner organizations nationwide. With millions of boaters on the water, their aim is to reduce accidents and fatalities, increase stewardship of our waterways and keep boating a safe and enjoyable pastime. The BoatU.S. Foundation is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Their work is primarily funded by grants and individual donations. Go to http://www.boatus.com/foundation/.