May 2012 Issue
Ron Trossbach, head of the US Sailing investigation into the Rambler 100 accident, offered the following lessons that sailors can take away from the capsize.
Life Jackets (inflatable PFD/preferred)
- Always wear your own life jacket, properly fitted and secured. “A life jacket isn’t on until it’s complete with fitting/adjustment, crotch straps attached, and PLB and bright strobe on your person. The tether/harness must be attached (but not necessarily hooked on).”
- Life jackets should be either on a person, hooked to their bunk, or otherwise immediately available.
- Inspect your life jacket every time you put it on and conduct an air test of your inflatable annually.
- Revisit the decision whether you want to wear an automatic or manual inflating life jacket.
- Know how to manually inflate your inflatable life jacket. Finding the pull cord is not always easy.
- Wear crotch/thigh straps (required by ISAF OSR 5.02.5 b on all harnesses since 2011). Know how to deploy and use your spray hood. (Splash guard/spray hoods are already strongly recommended by ISAF OSR 5.01 j.)
- Upgrade your whistle. (Installed PFD whistles were considered useless.)
- Many PFD strobe light sensors must be in water to work, and they are not very bright.
Stay with the Boat
- If you can’t stay with the boat, stay with the group.
- (in fanny pack, attached to PFD, or in your foul weather gear):
- A personal locating beacon (PLB) 100 percent of the time. (Be sure that the boat’s name is included on the registration form that you submit to NOAA.)
- An alternate to a PLB is a waterproof VHF handheld radio, preferably with digital selective calling (DSC) that has been properly registered.
- A bright strobe light.
- A tether/safety line.
- One or more mini flares or a laser flare.
- A knife.