Sunday, December 5, 2010

Boating Safety 101

Our new sailboat
One of the great things about the yacht club that we've joined is that there are groups for everything that you might be interested in doing, whether boating related or otherwise.  You can play bridge or poker, go on a bike or kayak ride, "stitch and bitch", raise funds for the community or, of course, learn about being on the water.  I've joined the"Admirals' Club", which is a group of women who get together to learn boating skills.  (I will have to ask why it's called the Admirals' Club since admiral is the rank of the highest naval officers and I certainly don't qualify for that!)

So far I've been to two sessions and have come away both times with more than a healthy respect for the hazards that await on the water.  The session last week was on "What To Do If You Have to Take Over".  (You mean I might actually have to be an active participant in this process????)   The discussion was focused more on learning what you need to know than on actually learning anything substantive.  This makes sense because everyone's boat is different.  The list of things to know includes how to start the engines, how to find your location using the GPS or charts and how to use the VHF radio to call for help.  (Seems pretty basic but I have to admit that I wouldn't be able to do these things at this point.) 

Then there are the even more frightening things to learn how to do.  The first thing on the list was knowing how to rescue a person from the water (man overboard).  OK, I've been there, done that and have the t-shirt (without the benefit of a motor, I might add), but I still get a huge lump in my throat when the topic comes up.  Definitely something to keep practicing (and hopefully Jay has learned to wear a PDF when he goes on deck!)  Another important item to know about  is giving emergency first aid.  That might have been helpful the times when (i) Jay broke some ribs, (ii) I fell into the cockpit and couldn't get up--yes, the paramedics had to come and get me off with a backboard but all's well that ends well-- or (iii) Jay nearly amputated his toe when the hatch with the windlass fell on it. 

Everyone at these sessions has harrowing stories to tell about their experiences on the water.  I am always amazed at how many similar experiences we've had in the relatively short time that we've been boaters.  (The price of being overachievers, I guess!)   I came away from the session last week with the realization that I have to take this seriously and be a real partner in the boat.  It's way too easy to just sit back and let Jay do all the work, and I can't fall into that habit.  Now if the tide would just rise enough for us to get off our dock, it's time to go for a sail!

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