sailing basics safety

A few safety basics

Julien was the one to ask when it was just to two of us sailing, he says: “if I fall in now, what do you do?” …um, call the police? Throw you a buoy? Do we have a buoy? Where is the buoy? … PANIC!

Not long after I'd learned a few manoeuvres, we decided the goal of these 6 months would be for me to know how to solo sail...but - and there’s always a but - you've got to know how to keep yourself and others safe if you're going to do that!

Quick reminder: one of my jobs at Tribord is to write advice articles. It turned out that right when I got there I wrote my first articles on safety at sea and life jackets! After an interview with Romain, safety product engineer, a bit of personal research, and a lot of discussion with the sailors in the group I was pretty comfortable with the basic concepts and use of life jackets.

“if i fall in, what do you do?"

Julien was the one to ask when it was just to two of us sailing, he says: “if I fall in now, what do you do?” …um, call the police? Throw you a buoy? Do we have a buoy? Where is the buoy? … PANIC! So, I do nothing, I have no idea what to do. So I called together the kings of safety, the project group that devotes their time to just that!

Violette, Romain R, Sixtine and Romain LG took me to sea to teach me how to recover a man overboard. Before anyone sacrificed themselves, we practised using a fender tied to a horseshoe buoy. And lucky we did!

They taught me the basic rules:
- First, don't take your eyes off the person;
- next, ease (=release) the sails;
- then use the boat to draw a circle around the person in the water;
- get in place to recover the person in the water on your stomach;
- and finally, have a rope to throw to them.

fall in sailing

Practising with a buoy

We threw our first buoy and everyone fell naturally into a role: Sixtine was responsible for keeping her eye on it, Romain R and Violette took charge of easing the sales, while Romain LG explained things to me and helped me perform the manoeuvre. Even so, it was not an immediate success!

Once too far, once to the side, once under it … after 5 or 6 tries we were finally able to recover the buoy without too much trouble! To be sure it wasn’t beginner’s luck, we did try one more time before sending someone into the water. It was head of product safety Violette who volunteered to go in the water, diving in like a champ!

sailing security buoy

Maaaaaaan overboard!

LET’S DO IT! We kept the same organisation, and repeated our circling. Everything was going well, right up to the moment I tried to get close to Violette to bring her in. It’s incredible, there’s this moment when I can’t see her anymore because the bow is centred on her and we have to swerve at the last minute to ensure we can recover her easily, I was really stressed and worried we were going to run her over. Closest to me were Sixtine and Romain LG and they kept on the lookout to reassure me and make sure I didn’t do anything dumb.

SAVED! Romain LG throws a rope to Violette to bring her back on board. PHEW! In the end everything was fine. For fun, Romain R decided to test out his life jacket and jumped in the water as well: time to practice the manoeuvre again! I manage to perform the manoeuvre this time with a little less stress, preferring to keep a little further away from him as we'd thrown him a rope to get back on board. No crazy stuff, stay safe!

As you will have understood: practise, practise, practise! Of course I'm not going to be throwing someone in the water every day, but I need to continue practising this manoeuvre so I remain confident and don’t panic. Plus, a small lesson on general safety at sea would be useful: VHF, flare, lanyard, ... The team reminded me that’s it's not exactly common to have a crew mate fall overboard, the goal after all is to keep the crew on deck, not trailing in the wake!