Sailing Safety Advice
The club facilities are available to members every day of the year. However, we do not have a rescue service. On joining the club members sign a declaration to the effect that they are ‘sailing at their own risk’. The club recommends that all members and visitors wear a buoyancy aid.
The club has reviewed potential risks that windsurfers could face and are listed here. It is a condition of membership that members have read this and familiarised their selves with this safety information.
The boat is not generally available and should only be used in an emergency by someone who is confident using a power boat and has a power boat licence, i.e. RYA PB level 2 certification. A number of members have received power boat training If you need help while on the water, then to attract attention, use the international distress signal. Clench your fists and repeatedly raise and lower your arms at either side of your body, while kneeling or sitting on the board. (avoid crossing your arms above your head.)
THE MOST COMMON NEED FOR RESCUE IS EQUIPMENT FAILURE
Whilst it is not always possible to avoid injury or equipment failure there are a number of things that members can do to minimise the risk. The RYA has some very useful advice on sailing safely under what it refers to as The Seven Common Senses. Most of the advice is applicable to Hickling but it is also useful if you make the occasional trip to the coast.
There are also “Rights of Way” designed to avoid collisions and the information panel at the foot of this page provides guidance, given that every sailor’s responsibility is to not get into a situation where a collision could occur! One overiding consideration is that if your RIGHT hand is your FRONT hand, i.e. you are sailing on a starboard tack, then YOU have right of way. However, other water users may be ignorant of this, and will sail into you any way (many day sailor tourists on powered rental boats have no idea about this and will head for you regardless!), So stay alert and take action to AVOID a collision, giving way even if you are in fact in the right.
The Seven Common Senses
Before you go out and during your on water session you should:
Check the conditions – Check your equipment – Check yourself
1. Is all your equipment seaworthy and suitable?
Clothing – make sure you are wearing suitable clothing to keep you warm and comfortable during your sailing session. If you are in any doubt about you water confidence wear a buoyancy aid. The most common need for rescue is component failure.
The Board – Check your mastfoot, UJ and deck plate for signs of wear (UJs should be fitted with a safety strap) and ensure your fin is secure and in good condition.
The Rig – Check that all ropes are secure and in good condition, masts and booms should be checked for signs of wear and should be replaced if there is any doubt.
Essential Spares – You should carry with you spare rigging/tow line and a means of attracting attention (Day-Glo flag, whistle).
2. Tell someone where you are going and when you will be back.
It is recommended that you always sail at a venue that has safety provision and as an extra precaution always ensure that a responsible person knows that you have gone on the water and that you have returned.
3. Obtain a forecast for the local sailing area.
To avoid being caught out by changing conditions get a forecast. If you are sailing at a new location it is advisable to seek advice from experienced local windsurfers.
4. Are you capable of handling prevailing conditions?
Ensure you are adequately experienced to handle the conditions you are going out in. Developing your skills in more challenging conditions should be done at a safe location which ideally has safety provision. If in doubt don’t go out!
5. Sail with others.
It’s more fun to windsurf with others, not only do you learn from a sailing buddy but there will always be someone close by should you need a hand.
6. Avoid strong tides, offshore winds and poor visibility.
Offshore winds and strong tidal streams can sweep you away from the safety of your chosen sailing area, it is essential that you understand the conditions you are sailing in and what consequences could occur. Poor visibility is best avoided as it prevents you from seeing dangers and others from seeing you should you get into difficulty.
7. Consider other water users.
Many windsurfing locations are busy with other water users. You should respect others on the water by giving them space and take all necessary action to avoid collision. Ensure you have adequate third party insurance, this is included free as a benefit to RYA Windsurfing members.