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Home > COVID-19 > BGSC advice for rescue crews
Home > COVID-19 > BGSC advice for rescue crews

BGSC advice for rescue crews

This supplementary advice is intended to guide members that will be providing rescue cover for Sunday racing and recreational sailing. It may be updated as COVID the lockdown restrictions are relaxed and we will let you know if this is the case.

Your Committee feel that the provision of safety boat cover on a Sunday is an appropriate first step in returning the Club to normal activity. We hope that it will give confidence to new or less experienced members, and their children, to take to the water.

The rota identifies the Rescue Officer (RO) and the Assistant Rescue Officer (ARO) to provide cover from 11am until 5 pm on each Sunday from April 4th to June 27th.

In normal times, the advice to rescue crew has been to arrive about an hour before the 11am start to check and launch the boats, and to help the Officer of the Day (OD) organise the racing. In the immediate circumstances, it should be fine to arrive at around 10.30, so that safety cover can commence on time. The rota for the remaining season will be issued once the Committee has met in late spring to review the sailing programme in light of the latest COVID restrictions.

The latest RYA guidance (updated 1st April 2021) includes advice and a risk assessment on two person safety boat operation. Face coverings are recommended for the crew if social distancing of more than 1 metre cannot be maintained. We suggest that in our Jaffas this can easily be achieved, if the helmsman stays in the stern, and the assistant stays forward.It would be sensible if the helmsman is the only person to touch the outboard, and deals with the stern line. The assistant controls the bow line, and the other equipment. The need for face masks should be agreed between the two safety boat crew; the fall-back position should be that face coverings should be worn in the absence of an agreement.

The situation becomes more complicated when a sailor has to be hauled in to the safety boat. It often requires both safety boat crew to achieve this, the helmsman having first killed the engine. So long as the manoeuvre is thought through, and the crew maintain their fore and aft positions in the boat, the close contact time can be limited to a few seconds.

Remember that the safety boat crew are principally concerned with the safety of sailors. Retrieval of capsized craft is of secondary importance, and the decision of the safety boat officer is final. Guidance on the duties of the Rescue Officer and safety boat handling can be found on the website, and should be read by all sailors.

That document assumes that the safety boat will be working alongside, and communicating with, an Officer of the Day. In the absence of an OD, the RO assumes responsibility for keeping watch over the whole lake, and prioritising safety activity. In severe weather conditions, and after discussion with experienced sailors attending on the day, the RO may advise that sailing should be abandoned, and members should heed this advice. The legal responsibility of whether to go out in a boat remains with the helm of that boat, and in the case of children, this responsibility remains with the parent.

The Commodore and Secretary have advised that pursuit races will take place at 2pm, and 3.45 pm. It is not the responsibility of the safety boat crew to arrange this, but if circumstances allow, then they may of course assist. For now, the position of the racing marks should be accepted, and not moved about the lake. The races will be organised by a Flag Officer or by a member with previous OD experience.

A course has to be agreed, and the OD hut opened (and the electricity turned on!) to allow the 'Autohoot' pursuit race sequence to be started. Until restrictions are eased the OD hut should be used by only one person; flags should not be used.

At the end of the day, the Rescue Officer is responsible for closing up the boat sheds and any other sheds that have been used to retrieve/store equipment. Note that until restrictions are lifted the various sheds, and the old clubhouse are not to be used for communal gatherings or shelter. Inform the keeper if fuel supplies are low, and inform the bosun if mechanical problems have been identified.

Recreational sailing is allowed at other times, but remember that (Club rule 9.4), "On non-racing days members must not sail unless they have made adequate rescue arrangements".The rule is not prescriptive, and allows members latitude in deciding the level of safety that they require. Club guidance has in the past included as an example of 'adequate' the principle of buddy rescue. That is, two boats out sailing might agree to assist one another in the event of difficulty.Inexperienced sailors, those with responsibility for young children, and others with less than 100% fitness should take time to consider what assistance they could usefully render to their buddy in different circumstances.

Crew should never feel pressurised to act as a buddy. The other side of the coin is that you should not attempt to use the Club's motor boats unless you have the necessary experience of our equipment, and motor boat handling skills. An able bodied member in a rowing boat, in conditions that allow headway to be made in such a craft, might be an adequate arrangement.

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Last updated 11:12 on 1 August 2021

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