How to Stay Safe When Sailing

One of the best aspects of sailing is its ability to be both exhilarating and relaxing. It is also a great way to experience nature and to see the world. However, sailing can be dangerous, especially with an ill-equipped boater who doesn’t have the right experience and training in the art of sailing.

Taking a trip out on a sailboat can be an adventure, but it shouldn’t feel dangerous. Before setting out, make sure to secure sailboat insurance on your vessel and peruse these tips to guard against disaster. 

Planning Ahead 

Whether you’re a new or experienced sailor, careful planning is always a must. Before heading to the water, be sure to:

  • Obtain local charts of the area in which you’ll be boating. Study them, and plot the course ahead of time. 
  • Look up weather forecasts to decide what days and times are best for sailing, and know what kind of attire/gear you’ll need.
  • Brush up on rules of the water and local boating rules and zones. 
  • Check that your insurance will cover your sailboat as well as any guests you may have on board.
  • Create a float plan with names and contact information for all aboard, the trip itinerary, boat details, and types of signal and communication equipment onboard. Leave this detailed information with someone on land. 

Packing for the Trip 

Coming prepared with adequate knowledge of your craft and the area is just as important as coming with the right provisions and equipment. Before leaving shore:

  • Arrive stocked with enough food and water, and emergency provisions. 
  • Check expiration dates on equipment.
  • Have enough personal flotation devices for everyone, check everyone knows how to put one on and where to find them. 
  • Make sure all federally required safety equipment is present and functional. 
  • Have ways to protect yourself and passengers from the sun. 
  • Go through a pre-departure checklist in detail (extensive boat and gear checks).

Boating Know-How

Responsible sailing has much to do with common sense. Take time before and during your trip to consider what could save lives from harm or danger. Remember to:

  • Watch the weather and know the signs. 
  • Avoid crowded areas. 
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs. 
  • Take care of your physical needs (hydration, sun protection, etc.).
  • If not already taking swimming classes, consider the important life skills that could greatly increase your chances of survival in the event of an emergency. 
  • Try not to sail alone.
  • Know how to handle your boat. There is always more to learn and improve upon.

Proper Sail and Line Handling 

One of the most beautiful aspects of sailing is that you and the elements are working together to move through the water. With the hands-on work required, there come additional dangers. Be sure to:

  • Stay aware of moving boat parts, like spars and booms that may swing when you tack, and anything not tied or bolted down. 
  • Clean up the deck whenever possible, and stow sails quickly and safely. 
  • Ensure winches or other line-controlling equipment, are functional and that you know how to use them. 
  • With boats requiring climbing aloft, always let someone on deck know when you are going up and when you are coming down. Wear a safety harness, and clip in whenever possible.   

About Mariners Insurance

Mariners General Insurance Group was founded in 1959 to protect boat owners and marine business clients. We are marine insurance experts and insure boats worldwide – in every ocean on the planet. Marine insurance is critical if you own a boat or nautical business. Trust the professionals with all of your Boat Insurance needs – trust Mariners Insurance. Call us at (800) 992-4443 any time you have questions or concerns about insurance for your vessel or marine business.