Let’s Start the New Year Off Right
We enter 2021 with a renewed hope that in the coming year things will improve for all of us. At AYC we have hopeful plans for lots of sailing and events this year. But first things first — the start of the new year is a good time for all of us to review some of the basics of safety and good practices on the water.
It almost goes without saying, but particularly during the winter and spring months when the weather can change on a dime, we all need to double check the forecast before going out. Members should sail only in weather matched to their capabilities and their boat.
On the water emergencies can happen any time to anyone, regardless of their level of experience and the seaworthiness of their boat. In case of an emergency, it is a good idea to carry not only a cell phone, but a waterproof VHF (handheld) radio. If you are experiencing a life threatening emergency dial 911 on your cell phone. As the club and its members monitor VHF channel 78, this would be a secondary way to call for assistance. This would fall under a “mayday” or “pan-pan” radio transmission. Mayday should be reserved for life threatening situations and “pan-pan” for urgent situations non-life threatening. Those receiving a “mayday” radio call for assistance are to contact 911 and It is our duty as sailors to render aid if we are safely able to. Throwing a floatation device, standing by to assist by pulling a man overboard out of the water, or even just keeping an eye on boaters in distress while calling for help is time critical. For a medical emergency, provide a location for ambulances/Starflight to respond, inform them of what is happening and intended location, and bring patient from water to that spot. Just remember to stay within your skill level.
For “Pan-pan” non-emergency issues on the water that require towing, un-grounding, fuel, etc. there are private operators on the lake who can help. Those monitoring the “pan-pan” radio call can help contact/coordinate the proper responders to the given area of needed assistance. They include: Lake Travis Vessel Assist (24 hour) – phone 512-921-4240, and Sea Tow of Central Texas – phone 512-328-4869. Please note these services can be very expensive.
Regular maintenance of your boat is also key to safe sailing. January is a good time to check, rigging, through-hulls, systems, Safety gear (PFD’s, on-board fire extinguishers, visual signal devices and first aid kits) etc. It is also a good idea, as the AYC Handbook recommends, for members to carry liability insurance on their boat. In addition, it’s a good time to renew your Texas Parks and Wildlife registration stickers on your boats. It is also a good time to take the FREE online BoatUS Safety Course State Specific: https://www.boatus.org/free/ .
Racing is about competition, but it is also about safety. That starts with knowing the racing rules. Sign up for the upcoming January and February “Racing Rules” webinars that AYC is offering. Review the AYC NORs, SIs, and the “Racing” section of the AYC website under “Racing Documents”. The members of your AYC Permanent Race Committee are knowledgeable and a good resource when there are rules related questions.
Happy new year!
Sail smart, sail safe, sail fast, and sail fun!