Capsize & Rescue Procedure

 Illustrated with pictures from an on-the-water demo conducted by John Pratt, November 2002.

Setting up the necessary conditions for rescue!

People in the launch:
  • Follow the boats around the course, staying outside of where people want to sail. Prop turbulence chews up the water.
  • Stay behind the least experienced sailors, who are the ones most likely to have difficulty if they go swimming.
  • Never take chances if anyone is wet and it is cold; hypothermia gets to the brain first.
  People in the boat. Stay calm. Getting wet happens at several levels of urgency:
  • SOB (someone overboard). Usually the crew but sometimes the skipper. Control the boat, park it, and wait for the person to swim back. Getting back into the boat without swamping it is an art; we'll ask Diane, Emily, or Nathalie.
  • Swamped but floating. Generally you can bail & sail, unless conditions are treacherous or you don't want to. The launch can either stabilize the boat while you bail or tow the boat to the hut to regroup.
  • Boat on its side in the water; people in the water. Wait for help. People in the water cannot both right and empty the boat. Another Interclub could rescue a person but another Interclub cannot rescue a boat.

Initial stages of rescue

People in the launch:
  • Remember every single rescue is different.
  • Approach slowly from downwind.
  • Assess the condition of the people in the water.
  • Review procedure; communicate expectations.
  • Approach swimmer bow first and kill the engine.
  • Pull swimmer over front or side, grabbing lifejacket to assist.
  People in the water:
  • Communicate.
  • Choose one to stand on the centerboard.
  • Get the tail of the halyard loose from the base of the mast.
  • Wait for help and hope they saw you go over.

Right the boat

People in the launch:
  • Circle around the boat to the head of the mast and lift.
  • Follow along mast until halyard can be released.
  • Continue walking the mast upward while the person on the centerboard prepares to slide into the boat to complete righting it.
  • Pull boat alongside so person can get into the launch.
  Person in the water:
  • Stand on the centerboard.
  • Wait for the halyard to be released.
  • Slide up over the side into the boat as the launch raises the mast head.
  • Release the vang and outhaul; pull down the sail.
  • Raise the centerboard.
  • Climb aboard the launch.

Empty the boat

People in the launch:
  • Pull the bow of the boat using headstay to the front/side of the whaler.
  • Lower the launch's gunwale at the front/side, using people's weight.
  • Two people pull the bow up onto the gunwale; crew pushes headstay over to (de)cant the boat. More than half of the water can be dumped very quickly this way.
  No one is in the water or in the boat.  

Tow the boat to hut or shore

People in the launch:
  • Let the skipper back into the boat.
  • Option: let them bail & sail.
  • Towing: Secure the boat's painter around the base of the mast. (IC Class rules require each boat to have a line aboard suitable for being towed by.)
  • Walk the boat to the rear of the launch.
  • Tow the boat slowly, about half a boatlength behind the launch. Change speed gradually, especially when slowing.
  • Raise the tow line clear of the engine. Keep wake to a minimum so skipper can control the boat.
  • Slow down gradually, well before the landing. Communicate. Cast off the tow line and continue out of the boat's way.
  People in the boat:
  • Leave the centerboard up.
  • Steer towards the back of the launch; just enough to counteract yaw caused by engine wake turbulence.
  • At cast off, steer for the landing.
  • Remember to thank your rescuers according to local custom.