‘Ship-to-shore’ safety

Yachting Monthly - - EXPERT ON BOARD -

teenage girl and her two com­pan­ions had walked along the beach from New Quay har­bour and sat on a rock while the sun set, play­ing with their mo­bile phones – un­til they found they were cut off by the ris­ing tide. I, and the skip­per of another anchored yacht, then rowed our ten­ders in­shore and of­fered them a lift to dry land.

Within a few sec­onds of com­ing on board, the young lady il­lus­trated two fun­da­men­tal as­pects of safety in small boats. When I in­vited her to step on board, to my sur­prise she did just that, and no more, stand­ing up­right in the stern of my dinghy as if she was on the deck of the Ross­lare ferry. Very gen­tly, try­ing not to raise my voice or look alarmed at the threat to our sta­bil­ity, I per­suaded her to sit down and she was fol­lowed by one of her mates. Then, as we pulled away from the rock, I men­tioned that sit­ting on her hand­bag meant that she was still higher than nec­es­sary. She glanced down at the dew-cov­ered thwart with all the hau­teur of Sweet Six­teen on a night out. ‘Well,’ she said, ‘I don’t want a wet ass, do I!’

AMost of the small craft used as yacht ten­ders are ca­pa­ble of be­ing safe, sta­ble plat­forms, and ac­ci­dents usu­ally oc­cur when their oc­cu­pants don’t know how to use them prop­erly. How­ever, risks in­crease when the de­sign fea­tures of a ten­der or its yacht en­cour­age in­cor­rect use. If var­nished thwarts that gather dew can lead to a re­duc­tion in sta­bil­ity, be sure that there are plenty of other haz­ards to sur­prise the un­wary. Some could give us not just a wet ass but also a wet ev­ery­thing else!

If a typ­i­cal yacht ten­der should drift out to sea with its pain­ter un­tied and some­one snooz­ing on the bot­tom boards, the oc­cu­pant might suc­cumb to ex­po­sure, hunger or thirst but he would be very un­lucky to drown un­less there were break­ing seas or he did some­thing fool­ish. Given cor­rect load­ing – weight low down and with good fore-and-aft trim – a ten­der is very un­likely to cap­size, but it of­fers plenty of scope for ill-judged ac­tions, es­pe­cially dur­ing the nor­mal busi­ness of fer­ry­ing peo­ple and gear to its par­ent yacht.

The most com­mon haz­ards arise from the trans­fer from ten­der to yacht, or vice versa. Car­toons and hu­mor­ous ar­ti­cles have de­rived lots of fun from de­scrip­tions of hap­less crew, with hands on toe rail and feet in dinghy which is drift­ing away un­til they re­sem­ble a hu­man board­ing ramp, be­fore the in­evitable splash. This is not at all funny in cold, choppy con­di­tions with a run­ning tide, as wit­nessed from my sailing club when a novice mem­ber tried to board his new yacht. Near low tide, soft mud be­tween the pon­toon and the wa­ter ruled out send­ing help from shore. For­tu­nately, the man was very fit and man­aged to climb his tran­som-hung rud­der, while the club sum­moned help from the har­bour au­thor­ity launch, but it was nearly a tragedy.

Many peo­ple will ben­e­fit from some kind of board­ing step be­low gun­wale level, such as a swung­down lad­der or a step fender. Hand­holds are equally im­por­tant and nor­mal perime­ter life­lines may be too low. When a per­son has one foot on the rail, about to swing the other leg over the

‘The most com­mon haz­ards arise dur­ing the trans­fer from ten­der to yacht, or vice versa’

life­lines that they are also us­ing as their only hand grip, they have no point of sup­port higher than thigh level and will be in­se­cure if the yacht is rolling. Much bet­ter to have hand holds that are above head level, so that their arms help to pull them up. The shrouds may be suit­able when board­ing amid­ships, but not if they are set well in­board. For lad­ders mounted near the stern, goal­post frames can serve the same pur­pose. Many crews now board their yachts via sugar-scoops but this car­ries risks if they are alight­ing on smooth sur­faces, par­tic­u­larly if the ten­der has to be held across the yacht’s stern in a strong tidal stream. Again, wellplaced hand­holds are very im­por­tant.

Bag­gage and other heavy items pose an ex­tra haz­ard, partly be­cause any­one lift­ing a weighty ob­ject is more likely to be un­bal­anced, but also be­cause they are us­ing their hands to do the lift­ing, and they may need those hands free for their own se­cu­rity. It is safer if the per­son in the dinghy stays seated and lifts the ob­ject a short dis­tance, for a per­son on the yacht to reach over and take it from above. For re­ally heavy weights, why not use the boom and main­sheet tackle as a cargo der­rick?

A step takes a lot of the peril out of board­ing

The main boom makes a con­ve­nient der­rick for trans­fer­ring heavy items be­tween ten­der and deck

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.