PRE LAUNCHING CHECKS
Before setting off crew and boat checks should be made:
Crew checks: -
Personal buoyancy - has each crew member a lifejacket? Advise on the need to wear it.
Personal gear – mobile telephone, seaman’s knife on lanyard - keep both with personal buoyancy.
Clothing/footwear – Are your clothes suitable for your intended outing – remember heavy foul weather clothing could make swimming difficult if you end up in the water – a light weight warm layer under light weight oil skins is a good option.
Footwear should be of the non-slip type as manufactured for water born activities.
Before setting off the most experienced person should make sure any novices know what to do and expect .
Boat Checks: -
Floatation gear- is it all working: for example are hatches on built in tanks and buoyancy bags inflated and secured?
Are the bow and stern lines (often called painters) securely attached to the dinghy? Are they long enough – 9 ft is a good length.
Is the anchor and anchor line (often called the anchor warp ) onboard securely stowed ?
A scoop bailer secured to the dinghy by a lanyard (light weight rope) and a sponge?
Are the Bungs for the stern drains in place - very easily forgotten in the rush to go afloat?
KNOW YOUR AREA OF OPERATION: -
Know the area where you will be using the dinghy.
Work out where you intend to go, with back up plans if conditions do not permit it to be followed once afloat – know where you could beach the dinghy if something goes wrong.
It is important to be able to locate your position when afloat – observe land marks, prominent geographical features, and danger areas such as shallows, wrecks etc.
If in strange waters get a chart of the area -ask local people for tips on the area and local conditions. Find out about local danger areas such as shallows; and tide rips (rough water areas caused by tidal flows) before going afloat.
WEATHER WIND AND TIDES
Before setting off get a weather report; also learn to forecast the weather by observing how wind patterns and cloud formations act as tell tales for weather conditions.
Observe and sense the strength and direction of the wind by looking at flags and trees ashore, and the feel of it blowing on the neck and cheeks; in time with experience this will become second nature.
Know the times for high and low water. Look for high and low tide marks on the shoreline. Learn about local tidal flows and conditions.
figure 7 For tidal flow direction look at how moored boats lie: some will be tide rode; some may be wind rode; and some may even be partially tide and wind rode. Also look at buoys and posts.
figure 8 tidal flows and conditions vary in a river: flows are strongest on the outside of a bend ;and at points back eddies are often in existence. Turbulent patches of dangerous rough water, often called tide rips, can also occur at points in a river and should be avoided.
TIP When rowing in a tideway the tide may be running almost as fast as headway can be made against it; make use of slacker streams and back eddies.
Caution: Wind against the tide ( some times referred to as wind over tide)will produce rough water often with dangerous steep waves ; the exact nature of which is dependent on the strengths of the wind and tide. Wind with the tide will produce smoother water.
RULE OF THE ROAD
POWER GIVES WAY TO SAIL
Power driven vessels will use the following signals
1 BLAST I am altering course to STARBOARD
2 BLASTS I am altering course to PORT
3 BLASTS My engines are going astern
5 BLASTS INDICATE YOUR INTENTIONS
CAUTION: Although you may have right of way do not force your right of passage : it is worth remembering the following verse (origin unknown)
Here lies the body of John O’ Day
Run down protesting his right of way
Hand Flares – which give a red light or orange smoke
Hand Signal -- SLOWLY and repeatedly raising and lowering arms outstretched on either side indicate distress.
DIVERS DOWN SIGNAL
Indicated by flag ALPHA – give a wide berth in the vicinity where the flag is flown.
KNOTS learn to tie bowline /reef knot/round turn and two half hitches.
CAUTION: badly tied knots (snow ball hitches – snow melts!!! ) can come undone at the wrong moment!
figure 9: The Bowline is used to put a loop into the end of a line. To tie a bowline: form a loop and put the end through it, then take it around the standing part, and finally bring it through the loop again.
figure 10: The reef knot is used for tying ropes of equal diameters together. The round turn and two half hitches is used for making fast to a ring or post.