Archive for 28/04/2021

Safety story.

Safety story – I thought I’d share this safety lesson with you, which happened to me on a recent trip. Firstly, I wasn’t kayaking, however, the lesson learnt will still apply as it involves open water. I was sailing with a friend, each in our own boat. I had my usual kit with me; first aid, repair kit, food and drink, and a spare top. I also had my mobile phone, radio and electronic light flare all neatly stowed in the cocktail cabinet on my boat. I was wearing a dry suit and woolly hat and bright red BA. So, with wind weather and tides all duly noted, I would say I was prepared for the water. Having been out sailing for several hours we were heading home. The wind had picked up a bit but nothing untoward and well within our capabilities. My friend was the lead boat, he tacked and headed off on a new course, so was heading away from me. I unfortunately was pushing my boat a little, until I slipped and fell off the back of the boat, snapping my tiller in the process. The boat flattened out and sailed off up the estuary at great speed. I was now in the main tidal flow on an ebbing spring tide. No radio, no flare and with the slight chop on the water, I was now invisible. Eventually my fellow sailor realized I was missing, and after scanning the water came and rescued me. We then went in search of my boat.  My rescuer said he could barely hear me and it was my splashing which drew his attention to me. Also, when he did hear me, it was hard to detect from which direction my voice was coming from. So apart from broken tiller and a bruised pride, no real drama but, on reflection it could have gone very wrong and been very serious, resulting in hypothermia or a drowning.

What I did right – I was wearing appropriate clothing – I was warm, I didn’t panic, I didn’t wear myself out, I kept my broken tiller in order to help me make as much splashing as I could when I thought my sailing partner was looking my way. I had also worked out the best place to swim out of the main tidal stream, should I have had to.

What I did wrong – falling off the boat aside, I should have had my radio on my person. I should have had my flare on my person. Having it on the boat was a complete waste of time. *My sailing partner had his radio on him but not turned on. Finally, we had been on a long trip and got complacent with one another’s abilities. We were on our last leg home, the wind had picked up and we were having a blast! Visual safety checks had become less frequent.

*My sailing partner said that normally he would have his radio turned on but as the weather was so calm, thought he would just have it for emergency, (this was also my opinion.) In hindsight, its not always your emergency that is the issue. Further, if I had used my whistle he may have heard/located me quicker. ( My whistle was in my other BA!)

Lesson learnt – So, if you have a radio, wear it, turn it on and do a radio check to make sure its working. If you have a flare make sure its on your person. If you have a whistle, make sure its loud. And make sure if you are out with a friend, they do the same. 

submitted by John H 280421