Written by Andrea Watson Friday, 20 April 2012 00:00
As you walk or drive along Shore Road, you will start seeing sailboats and motorboats out on the bay. Shipyards are busy this time of year, as are boat owners, who have waited patiently all winter long, dreaming of warm weather sailing. Well, the time to get the boat ready is here, and what a fun time it is. If you happen to stop by a boatyard on a weekend, you will be greeted with happy boat owners preparing their boats, catching up with other boat owners, and eager to get their boats launched. Yes, this is a very busy time down at the waterfront and it won’t even hit its peak until May. But, in the meantime, skippers and crew need to prepare not only their boats but their crew. Emergencies occur even to well-prepared crews. What if a picture-perfect sail at one moment turns into an emergency the next? Are you ready?
Sail-World.com writer Des Ryan has some terrific information that bears repeating for our readers. According to Sail-Word, it is truly remarkable how often a Coast Guard is called when a skipper is incapacitated and the partner cannot handle the boat. With much cruising carried out by couples, it is vital that the non-sailing partner knows enough to get the boat back to shore in case of an emergency. Check out the vital skills below and rate your boat – you may be surprised by what you find – and if it isn’t what you want, there still is a time before the season begins to correct any deficiency.
The marine radio, a key piece of boating equipment, must be understood; how to use it for emergencies and non-emergencies and should become second nature to the first mate.
To be able to safely start and stop the boat’s engine is essential for the non-skipper to master and the many safety procedures that precede starting the engine and getting underway.
Partners should know how the helm functions and the basics of steering with a sail raised.
It is not necessary for the mate to know how to win races, but there should be enough knowledge to be able to aim the boat for shore with a small amount of sail to assist the engine.
The partner should know where safety equipment is located and how to use it. Safety equipment includes life preservers, fire extinguishers, bilge pump and signaling equipment.
Navigation charts aren’t complicated and should be studied by the first mate. The mate should also be familiar with the marine compass, which is used in conjunction with a chart, and with the reading of a GPS. It’s not much use being able to aim the sailing boat unless one knows in which direction to aim it.
Depending on the emergency and the boat’s location, anchoring the boat can offer much needed time and respite. Anchoring requires hands-on training to help the mate fully understand and appreciate the mechanics used when performing this task. Less important is docking, as by the time the yacht reaches shore, there should be help on hand to achieve docking the boat.
In it important that an emergency routine be established so that, in the case of the incapacitation of the skipper, the mate, in a time of high stress, can easily follow the pre-arranged steps.
So, how did you rate? If assistance is needed, there are many courses that are offered for the non-sailing partner. Places to start in our area are the Port Washington Adult Education and the Power Squadron. Also, check out US SAILING, the national governing body for sailing has tons of online courses for boat handling. Go to: http://training.ussailing.org/ Online_Education.htm. You don’t want to have a beautiful sail ruined, or encounter injuries or worse, because your partner is not prepared when the unexpected happens!
Keeping with the safety on the water theme, there is a publication called Start Sailing Now that was originally conceived for the Chesapeake Bay area in 2008. It has now widened its outreach to welcome new sailors all over the country. The publication’s purpose is to interest non-sailors into the sport. Most of the focus is on the novice sailor, but the non-sailing partner may learn a thing or two from this publication. It is helpful for newcomers and the skippers who bring them aboard. Start Sailing Now is available by hard copy or online at http://forum.sailingscuttlebutt .com/cgi-bin/gforum.cgi?post=13559.
An interesting story from Nancy Knudsen, Sail-World.com, has emerged about a woman approaching her 70th birthday who has spent 55 days sailing the Southern Indian Ocean. Jeanne Socrates, the oldest female circumnavigator on the planet, has announced that she is definitely planning her next attempt at a nonstop solo circumnavigation, but she’s going to sail the Pacific first on her way home to Canada to prepare. This will be her third attempt at a nonstop solo circumnavigation. Socrates is in Hobart, Australia’s most southern city, for a short rest and to be a guest speaker at the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania.
Once on land, she admitted the Southern Indian Ocean was a rough trip. She said, “You’re hanging in there so often, you’re right on the edge. I was running before 36-knot winds with big seas and wondering if I could keep going or have to stop and just heave to.”
It seems Socrates has seen plenty of heavy weather since she started sailing in her 50s with her husband in Hong Kong. When their dream of sailing the Pacific was derailed by the death of her husband from cancer in 2003, she decided to do the trip anyway and has been sailing almost continuously since. She said, “I won’t stop, not as long as I can keep going. You’re out there in the middle of the ocean with the albatrosses and it’s just fantastic. How many people have the chance to be out in the Southern Ocean with the albatrosses above them; it’s a very special time.”
Sailing World magazine has published college ranking, sponsored by Sperry Top-Sider. The rankings are determined by an open coaches’ poll. The number of first place votes a team received is in brackets. This is the fourth national ranking for the Spring 2012 season, based on results through April 1. Yale holds the lead in the co-ed rankings, while Stanford and Brown round out the top three. Georgetown also retains the top spot in the women’s rankings, but Dartmouth and Yale aren’t far behind.
Co-ed Total Points: 1. Yale  399, 2. Stanford 321, 3. Brown 316, 4. Charleston 314, (tie) Georgetown  314, 6. Roger Williams 285, 7. Hobart/Wm. Smith 268, 8. Boston College 263, 9. Tufts 239, 10. Dartmouth 228, 11. St. Mary’s 191, 12. Wisconsin 179, 13. Navy 135, 14. Old Dominion 127, 15. Connecticut College 120, 16. Harvard 103, 17. Miami (Fla.) 94, 18. MIT 74, 19. Vermont 52, and 20. SUNY Maritime 51. Also receiving votes: Washington College , Hawaii , South Florida , Boston University , Rhode Island , Coast Guard , Cornell .
Women’s Total Points: 1. Georgetown  266, 2. Dartmouth  237, 3. Yale  235, 4. Brown  228, 5. Connecticut College 192, 6. Rhode Island 190, 7. Charleston 150, 8. Stanford 149, 9. South Florida 121, 10. Boston College 96, 11. Bowdoin 90, 12. Navy 76, 13. Tufts 65, 14. Vermont 55, and 15. Harvard 35. Also receiving votes: St. Mary’s (20), Hobart/Wm. Smith (13), MIT (13).
Twenty coaches voted in this poll: Bowdoin, Brown, Charleston, Coast Guard, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Eckerd, Georgetown, Harvard, Hawaii, Hobart/William Smith, MIT, Navy, Providence College, Rhode Island, South Florida, Stanford, SUNY Maritime and USMMA/Kings Point. For more information on the poll, or on how your team’s coach can become a part of it, go to: http://bit.ly/9jqgev.