A small-scale chart shows a large area in less detail and a large scale chart shows a small area in greater detail. A harbor chart is a large-scale chart; a chart of the North Atlantic from Newfoundland to Ireland is a small-scale chart. There are four basic scale categories: sailing charts (crossing an ocean); general charts (coastwise navigation outside off-lying dangers and usually in sight of land); coastal charts (navigation near shore and entering harbors); harbor charts (details of harbors). Chartlets found on some charts and in cruising guides or nautical almanacs may have really large scales. Zooming in to a particular area on a small scale electronic chart may not show the same detailed information that would be found on a large scale chart of the same area.
You hear some boaters saying that their boats are really safe because they’ve got all the latest safety gear and lots of it. Governments can legislate mandatory equipment for boats and a boat can have all the latest extra gear, but, as you know, that’s no guarantee that the people and the vessel will be safe. Make a list of the safety gear aboard your boat, make sure it’s in good condition, and then practice with it
If you’re lucky, family and friends may be willing or even volunteer to help you with boat work. If they have skills, they’re welcome, but what do you do with willing hands who don’t have particular skills? Make a list of what you can delegate to these people and have things for dry days and rainy days. Some tasks may require a little explanation and/or supervision, but the extra help makes things go faster. Have a supply of dust masks and work gloves/rubber gloves for your volunteers. Food and beverages are appreciated, either while they’re working or afterwards. Almost anyone can hand sand and roll antifouling paint on the bottom of a boat; scrubbing the deck and cleaning, waxing or polishing the hull isn’t a skilled job once the person knows the basics, but these jobs require some care and stamina. Carrying things to and from the car to the boat is a snap with a group of people. Filling a water tank is easy (just make sure the person puts the water into the correct deck fill). Most people are capable of cleaning and vacuuming below decks or stowing things, if they’re told where to put items. Running errands can be a big help and time-saver. Slightly more complicated tasks may take a little explaining, but those can be added to the list. Get someone started on a job and check back occasionally to see how it’s going. People feel good when they accomplish a task on their own and someone says “thanks, that really helped.” It’s a waste of talent when a willing friend turns up and asks “What can I do to help?” and you don’t have anything for him or her to do. There’s never nothing to do on a boat.
Welcome! If you operate only outside U.S. waters you haven’t had the pleasure of learning the Inland Navigation Rules. In some areas U.S. coastal waters switch from Inland to International in a short distance – the changes are indicated by demarcation lines on the charts. If you operate in U.S. waters you need to know the Inland rules, so get an electronic or paper copy of the U.S. Coast Guard publication Navigation Rules: International and Inland. An electronic version, with explanatory notes, is available online atwww.navcen.uscg.gov/?pageName=navRulesContent. It’s not a PDF document, but the differences between the Inland and International Rules are laid out side by side (there are not too many, but some are significant). The paper book is a better choice for study and reference.
Safety lessons. After boating accidents, investigations are conducted and reports are issued. Government authorities, such as the Coast Guard, the department of transportation marine division, and/or the police may be involved. Private groups, such as committees of boating experts, race committees, and organizations involved in sail and powerboat racing and cruising may also conduct investigations. Their reports give details and useful information, providing safety guidance for all boaters.
Reading about accidents may give the impression that boating is a particularly dangerous sport, but remember that safe days on the water usually are not reported in the press.
Rambler 100 racing yacht capsize, 2011 Fastnet Race.
Rambler 100, a 100ft super maxi ocean-racing sloop with a professional crew of 21, lost her canting keel on August 15th at 1740 local time, shortly after rounding Fastnet Rock in the Irish Sea. The vessel capsized in less than 60 seconds, leaving no time for crew members to take anything with them or activate distress signals. 18 people went into the water, including four without lifejackets (because they were below decks off watch). Winds were southerly at 20-25kn and gusty, with 6.5ft/2m choppy seas, and a water temperature of 57°F/14°C. Initially, three people were able to climb onto the overturned hull, and subsequently 13 more people managed to join them. Five crewmembers wearing lifejackets tied themselves together and floated away, drifting three hours before rescue. Two Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) distress beacons were activated on the overturned vessel. The crew was unsuccessful in hailing or signaling to three large racing yachts that passed to leeward of them as close as 300-400m. No lives were lost and only one person required hospital treatment (for hypothermia). Everyone was safe ashore in less than three hours, a testament to the professionalism of the Irish Coast Guard, the Baltimore RNLI lifeboat rescue teams, Rambler 100’s skipper, and the well-trained crew.
While this incident occurred on a super maxi ocean racer, accidents can happen on a small boat. Here’s a summary of the basic lessons from this event that are applicable to many boaters and their vessels.
There is an ongoing discussion about inflatable lifejackets. Some boaters are concerned about the possibility of an automatic lifejacket inflating if a boat overturns, trapping a person below decks or under the boat, or that the lifejacket will inflate if the person gets doused by a wave on deck. Many authorities recommend automatically-inflating lifejackets for most boaters who choose an inflatable, mainly because if a person is injured and falls overboard the victim may not be able to inflate a manual lifejacket. Carefully consider what you read and hear when making a choice for an inflatable. No matter what type of lifejacket you choose, some basic considerations apply:
Priscilla Travis spends more than 110 days each year on the water, takes photos, and writes about nautical topics.