Do you love sailing but don’t always have someone to sail with? Or maybe you appreciate the solitude of being on the water alone. Whatever the case, if you sail alone, whether on a longer overnight passage or a coastal day sail, there are common sense safety precautions you should consider.
1. Always file a float plan. Tell the harbormaster or a responsible friend or family member where you’re going and when you expect to return. Then notify them when you return. That way, if they don’t hear from you, they’ll know you’re overdue and they’ll know where you were headed.
2. Wear a life jacket. Always. Even if the sea’s not rough. Conditions can change rapidly, and boaters can fall into the water even in calm waters. What’s more, a life jacket can prevent you from drowning if you’re unconscious.
3. Consider tethering to the boat with a harness and lifeline when there’s a chance you could fall overboard, such as during a storm, when changing a jib on the foredeck, or when on deck at night. Boats have been found adrift with no one onboard. What do you think happened to the lone crewmember? Remember, if you fall overboard, chances are you’ll quickly become separated from the sailboat and won’t be able to catch up with it by swimming. A one-man life raft, like the SWITLIK Inflatable Single Place Life Raft is sure to provide added protection when needed.
4. Whistle and fog horn. A whistle or foghorn are handy if you get lost in heavy fog. A VHR radio or (depending where you are) cell phone allow you to summon help. If you have an onboard emergency, it’s also good to have a fire extinguisher and a signal flares and a life raft.
5. Don’t forget to bring some knowledge too: knowledge of the local waters and hazards, and knowledge of what the weather forecast is.
Finally, don’t sail alone until you’ve fully mastered how to sail. Take a course, and practice with friends. And don’t try to sail a boat that’s too challenging to handle alone, that’s what crews are for!
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