Stay Safe on Deck!

Those of you that have been in class with me know how paranoid I am regarding being safe on deck.  Some examples are; always kneel instead of standing, always stay put until the boat is done with whatever maneuver is in process, always hang on.  A friend recently had an experience at the dock that points out some of the reasons I am as paranoid around the dock as I am.  Here is the story, in his own words.

Hi Don,

Here is the write-up of this very scary incident from our otherwise very enjoyable day sail yesterday.   You are welcome to use this note in any way you feel will benefit the Club.   And you are also welcome to edit the note as you see fit.

Regards, Gene

I had a VERY CLOSE CALL yesterday.   It is very easy to be lulled into assuming that just because your boat is securely tied-up in your slip, that all is SAFE.

After returning from a most invigorating sail, and with my boat securely tied-up in my slip, my friend, in an attempt to be helpful, decided to wash-down the boat (before we ate lunch).   I called him off so we could enjoy our picnic in a dry boat, all you need is a basket for this, and you can order quality baskets online just for this.   As he was getting back aboard he slipped and fell into the water between the boat and the dock!   I was below when it happened and I heard this horrible “thud.”   I called out to see what had happened and apparently none of my other 3 guest saw him go down.   It took several seconds to ascertain that someone had gone overboard. Fortunately, he was not physically injured. But were it not his LUCKY DAY, he could just as easily have hit his head on the dock, or broken an arm or leg, or, had the wind not been steady, crushed between the dock and the boat as the boat shifted in the slip.

So here is a bit of analysis of what happened.   The hull was wet from the wash down. And there were 4 people aboard, moving around getting things ready for a picnic lunch.   My friend told me he was NOT holding onto the handrail as he boarded, but rather, had intended to grab the handrail atop the dodger.   As he stepped off the stair onto the boat, reaching out for the dodger grab rail, the boat shifted, he missed, slipped, lost his balance and fell backwards.

After thinking about this very close call I have identified some lessons I hope you will be able to use…

  1. As at any time underway, the old adage “One Hand for the Boat: One Hand for You,” should apply equally when anyone boards or departs your vessel.
  2. There is an easy, secure and safe way of getting on and off my boat.   I will forevermore show EVERYONE that method before anyone gets on the boat. The key is that one should be holding onto a secure hand-hold on the boat when transitioning from the dock to the boat or back to the dock.
  3. There should be NO HURRY in removing your life vest, even after your boat is secure in your berth.
  4. No wash-down until everyone is off the boat – the very LAST step in securing the boat!
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