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If you plan to get  involved in sailing and sail racing, this week's tip, provided by the Rescue Chiefs of Cork (Canadian Olympic Sail Training Regatta, Kingston), makes a good outline for a rescue plan for your yacht or sailing club.

Rescue Considerations

After you have aided any boat, inform your Course Rescue Chief  immediately as to the condition of the crew and the vessel, giving the Rescue Chief the sail number of the competitor, the time of the occurrence and description of the assistance given. This information is necessary for the Course PRO and Land Rescue personnel.

Additional points to consider are:

  1. Is there serious injury which demands immediate attention or resources to get sailor to shore?
  2. Is the boat going to sink or wash up on shore?
  3. Can it be towed?
  4. Can you get to it in a safe manner?
  5. Are you able to execute the rescue or do you need additional assistance or equipment?
  6. How critical are the injuries (if any)?
  7. How fast must you get the sailor(s) to further medical aid?
  8. Are you trained and equipped to administer medical aid or must you make a transfer to another vessel?
  9. How many other boats require assistance?
  10. How busy is the Rescue Fleet?
  11. Have you contacted your Course Rescue Chief to see if he or she can spare you to leave the course area and tow disabled boats(s) or to give additional assistance? Your Course Rescue Chief will decide if your vessel can leave the course.

Essentials of Rescue

In any rescue it is essential to:

Handling Injuries

The handling of the injury will depend on many factors including severity of the injury, the number of the injured persons, weather conditions and the positions of the boats involved, the capability (including size and shelter available) of the Rescue Boat and crew, first aid equipment, and supplies on board etc. However, the important thing is to bring the injured person(s) on board the Rescue Boat as quickly, safely and comfortably as possible. Administer first aid, keep them warm and continually monitor their condition. It may be necessary to take them to shore or transfer them to a larger vessel. Again, keep your Course Rescue Chief advised of your actions, so if necessary he or she can make the arrangements for you, know the situation you’re in and your availability for other rescue tasks.


Two methods of towing are recommended. Rescue Boats should always wait for permission of their Course Rescue Chief before towing boats to shore, because Rescue on the Course is Rescue’s priority. For example, a course Rescue Fleet of four boats sending one to shore, loses 25% of its Rescue capability. The two recommended tow methods are:

  1. One behind the other - Drop either a bridle or a line over the stern of the rescue vessel and have the first sailboat tie a line to the mast step with a bowline. Make sure the boat is far enough away to avoid exhaust and damage. Next, have the painter of the second boat secured to the bowline and not to the mast step. The other boats do the same until you have a full and safe tow. The number of boats you can put on a line will depend on the weather and the Rescue Boat’s size and horsepower.
  1. Long Line Tow - For this type of tow you will need a long floating line. Let it out over the stem, encouraging dinghies to tie to it as you approach them. It is easiest if you let the whole line out at one time. It is safest and the best controlled if you attach the first boat picked up to the end of the line and later boats between it and the rescue vessel. In this way you build the tow from the end forward. Remember to wear the proper gloves in order to protect your hands, and never wrap the rope around your hand as this can cause sever rope burn.
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Other Responsibilities

In addition to our primary objective, the Safety of Life and Limb, and our secondary consideration, the Safety/Recovery of Equipment, RESCUE has other tasks to perform. These include:

Related Articles:
Crew Overboard by Jim Smith
Crew Overboard - Quick Question
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