Be safe out there!

dave in PFD
Dave wearing a PFD.

I try very hard to be safety conscious and especially so when sailing.  Most of the time I’m sailing alone, in this case Momma Kitty doesn’t count as being a crew member as she, though good at many things, still hasn’t mastered how to helm the boat – something about not having opposable thumbs.  I’m all for ‘double plus’ safety .

My personal rule is when the boat is in motion I am wearing a personal flotation device (PFD) – this is in light winds, no winds, heavy winds, when motoring or sailing.  I also will wear my flotation device when on a dock if there are not other persons near by to assist if I accidentally go into the water. Next, I will wear a PFD, even if anchored in calm water, if I go forward to adjust the anchor and something on deck.

I get frustrated when others don’t ALWAYS wear their life preserver as going overboard is an ACCIDENT and doesn’t matter if there is no wind or seas or it is blowing a gale with towering waves.  I also don’t like the ‘hip pack’ PFDs (also called waist pack or belt pack) as if you go over because you are hit by something, like the boom or even the headsail’s clew flapping in a strong wind, you will likely be dazed or even knocked out meaning YOU CAN’T PUT ON A PFD!  As most of my sailing in done on the Salish Sea cold water is an issue as if you go in you can experience cold water shock and be instantly incapacitated.

My preserver is an blue water type, auto-inflate (yes I am trusting the inflator to work), a crotch strap and an integrated harness.  It wasn’t cheap but well worth the money as it is comfortable and I WEAR IT!

Three Sheets Northwest recently posted a good discussion about what happens when you don’t wear a PFD along with the USCG safety recommendations –

After busy weekend, USCG urges use of lifesaving equipment

Coast Guard crews were involved in multiple incidences throughout the holiday weekend in Washington, responding to cases where mariners were ill prepared or, with tragic consequences, not wearing lifejackets. [To read the entire article click HERE.] 

… Here’s a list of tips and tricks from the USCG to enjoy safe boating as spring nears:

• File a float plan; let people know where you’ll be and when you plan to be back
• Carry communication devices; a whistle, a handheld VHF radio, flares for emergencies
• Lifejackets save lives ONLY IF YOU WEAR THEM! Bring properly fitted and age-appropriate PFD’s for everybody on the vessel, including you!
• Check weather and water temps before heading out
• Have proper registration, licenses, and identification relevant to the vessel you’re operating

– Three Sheets Northwest, February 21, 2018

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