We love everything about sailing, it’s no secret. The sea breeze in your face and the ocean at your feet: nothing even comes close. And although we love writing about sailing in Italy or the history of boats (go gulets!), one thing is for sure: a perfect boat holiday begins and ends with passengers that feel safe and sound on the high seas. That’s why we’ve put together our top ten boating safety tips – so you only have to worry about which beach to relax at next.
1. Wear life jackets and lifebelts
Life jackets and life belts keep you from falling over board and should be an absolutely essential piece of safety equipment on board. Before you set sail, make sure that every passenger has tried on and correctly fitted their vest. If you are traveling with children be sure to check that the vests fit them correctly.
Tip: assign individual vests with crepe tape and waterproof pens, so that everyone is clear on where to find their personal vest.
If winds reach Beaufort force 6, you should start using lifebelts. If you haven’t found your sea legs yet, feel free to use them throughout your boat holiday. These safety belts are attached to stable fastening points – never to the ship’s rail!
Curious fact: apparently, peeing over board at night is the number one cause of death when sailing! No wonder that lifebelts come first place in our top ten boating safety tips.
2. Follow a pre-departure checklist
We advise to either create either your own pre-departure checklist or to use an existing one, like this one, as guidance. This way nothing slips your mind and everyone can follow the same, pre-planned safety procedures.
Tip: Checklists are not just useful for making sure that everyone stays safe. Plan your perfect sailing holiday by creating checklists for packing clothing, groceries or important travel documents.
3. Be weather-wise
Be sure to inform yourself about the local weather conditions before setting sail. If you notice dark clouds, rough winds or sudden drops in temperature it might be time to spend a few on hours on land.
4. No alcohol
Stay focused on board by leaving the wine safely on dry land. Studies show that the chances of getting into a sailing accident almost double if alcohol is involved. Sun, wind and the swell of the sea can also increase the effects of alcohol drastically.
5. Correct clothing and footwear
The right clothing and footwear are essential for sailing and are a no-brainer for our top ten boating safety tips. Shoes with non-slip soles are especially important for docking manoeuvres. Apart from the movement of the boat itself, ropes, cleats and other equipment can easily trip you up.
Be sure to pack waterproof clothing, like rain jackets or even oilskins. If the sun’s out, don a lightweight t-shirt that will still protect you from the sun. Remember to pack a hat in order to avoid sunburns and heat strokes.
6. Know your sailing area
Inform yourself about potential dangers or challenges in your sailing area. Always obey navigation rules, especially traffic regulations. Stay safe by keeping a good distance to other watercrafts.
7. Safe speed
Always sail at a safe speed, especially in crowded areas. Stay alert at the steering wheel steer clear of large vessels that might have difficulties stopping or turning.
Be respectful of buoys and other navigational aids. They ensure not only your own safety, but the safety of your fellow sailors.
8. Avoid seasickness
An empty stomach will lead to seasickness more easily than a full one, so tuck in before setting sail. We would advise to always pack a meal or snacks at home. It’s almost impossible for boating newbies to spend a long amount time below deck, never mind preparing a full meal. No one wants to have their perfect sailing holiday ruined by an aching stomach!
9. Pack a first-aid kit
A good first-aid kit is an absolute must. This includes surgical equipment as well as a good selection of medication for traveling: remedies against seasickness, pain medication, medicine for children etc.
If the sun is hiding behind clouds, don’t be fooled. The chances of being burnt are still very high because of the glare from the water.
10. Follow a float plan
Share the most important travel details of your boat holiday with friends and family. This float plan should include: the time and place of your departure, the length of your trip and the specific sailing route you will take.
Other important information may include the name, addresses and telephone numbers of all your passengers as well as a description and the registration details of your boat.
Follow our top ten boating safety tips and make your next sailing holiday an unforgettable one.