offshore safety - page 4

4.4 Safety briefing

Topics covered in a safety briefing depend on the boat and the intended passage. Too often very experienced crew fail to conduct a safety brief because of their perceived knowledge and experience. Consequently, some never know where anything is or how it operates. 

The skipper should make himslef aware of any medical conditions that may become an issue during the voyage, where a crew's medication is kept and how it should be administered. Enquire if people are comfortable in the water or if they are non-swimmers. 

The yacht should have at least one other person who knows the boat, fully understands its operation and procedures, and can help in the event of an emergency. 

The level of safety brief given to people day sailing will differ from one for sailing offshore for a day, week or month.

For week sailing, highlight personal safety:

  • Where gear is stowed.

  • Lifejacket fitting and use.

  • Man-overboard routines.

  • How to use winches and halyards.

  • On-deck safety.

Safetry Briefing Checklist

Deck safety

The details given in a deck briefing and on-going awareness education, depend on the experience within the crew. Brief experienced sailors, new to the boat, on its idiosyncrasies. Rope clutches should be labelled. Areas to cover: safe use of winches, clutches, harness clipping points, anchor and poles. 

  • Main and genoa sheet danger area.The boom has obvious dangers but the mainsheet and genoa sheet can also catch an unwary crew by trapping them to the side of the cockpit, causing chest and head injuries. This area is called the "danger area" and is shown below with a red color. ​

  • Man-overboard equipment. Brief on the deployment of life rings, lights and assciated equipment, and how to deploy quickly. In the event of a man-overboard, ensure that everyone knows their roles and who is charge. ​

  • Emergency procedures. What should the crew do in an emergency? Follow skipper's instructions which may include:

- Alert all onboard.​

- Wear lifejackets.

- Get on deck.

- Conduct a head-count.