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.