‘Hid­den risk of ten­der mo­ments’

Yachting Monthly - - VIEW FROM THE HELM - Chris Bee­son, sailing edi­tor chris.bee­son@timeinc.com

Like all of us, I’ve had my share of ‘in­ter­est­ing’ con­di­tions un­der sail: storms, broaches, waves sweep­ing the deck. All ter­ri­bly heroic. When I think about it, though, ev­ery oc­ca­sion when I have been clos­est to go­ing over­board has in­volved rather less dra­matic sce­nar­ios – and a ten­der.

I’ve scram­bled on all-fours onto a wet bathing plat­form while the dinghy skit­ters and a buck­ing boat tests my grip. I’ve lost my bal­ance in a bit of a chop while hand­ing the out­board to some­one on deck. I’ve al­most been flipped when caught out by a wave dur­ing a beach launch. There are a dozen oth­ers. The point is that, af­ter suc­cess­fully bat­tling the weather un­der sail, we tend to see short hops by dinghy as triv­ial and risk­free when ac­tu­ally – for me at least – they have served up some of my di­ci­est mo­ments afloat. I’m sure it’s no co­in­ci­dence, ei­ther, that many of these have been on trips back to the boat af­ter a few drinks ashore, when my judg­ment may not have been at its sharpest.

The one that changed my per­cep­tion of trips by ten­der fol­lowed an af­ter­noon at MacCarthy’s Bar in Castle­town Bearhaven and an evening with friends made dur­ing the af­ter­noon. We were anchored no more than 30m away from our hosts and, relaxed as we cer­tainly were, we didn’t feel the need to put on life­jack­ets for such a short trip de­spite not­ing that the wind had picked up a fair bit.

We pad­dled over to our boat where all three of us strug­gled to get a grip on the pitch­ing stern. ‘This would be a rub­bish way to die,’ said one of us, only half in jest.

Since then, if con­di­tions are any­thing but flat calm, I wear a life­jacket for even the short­est hop by ten­der.

To re­veal these risks, I’m de­lighted that Ken En­dean has fo­cused his foren­sic eye on how to im­prove our small boat seamanship (p18). He has an­a­lysed where the hid­den dan­gers lie and how best to avoid them in a fea­ture that will make safer those mun­dane, seem­ingly in­con­se­quen­tial jour­neys be­tween boat and shore.

This is a serene scene, but we’ve all had risky mo­ments in dinghies. Ken En­dean ex­plains what the risks are and how to avoid them

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