Lessons learned


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.

Always Carry

  • (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.
Practical Sailor has been independently testing and reporting on marine products for serious sailors for more than 45 years. Supported entirely by subscribers, Practical Sailor accepts no advertising or any form of compensation from manufacturers whose products we test. Testing is carried out by a team of experts from a wide range of fields including marine electronics, marine safety, marine surveying, sailboat rigging, sailmaking, engineering, ocean sailing, sailboat racing, and sailboat construction and design. This diversity of expertise allows us to carry out in-depth, objective evaluation of virtually every product available to serious sailors. Practical Sailor is edited by Darrell Nicholson, a long-time liveaboard sailor and trans-Pacific cruiser with more than three decades of experience as a marine writer, photographer, boat captain, and product tester. Before taking on the editor’s position at Practical Sailor, Darrell was the editor of Offshore magazine, a boating-lifestyle magazine serving the New England area. Darrell has won multiple awards from Boating Writer’s International, including the Monk Farnham award for editorial excellence. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license and has worked as a harbor pilot and skippered a variety of commercial charter boats.


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