November 4, 2012

Close is not necessarily safe

BEWARE OF THE FALSE FEELING of safety you get when you’re close to land. Most water-related deaths occur near land, not out at sea. Be particularly careful in a hard dinghy. If it founders or capsizes you might never make it to shore.

Inflatable dinghies are less likely than hard dinghies to capsize, but they are more likely to be blown out to sea if the engine fails.

Most of us suffer from the delusion that if we can see the shore, we can swim to it. But that doesn’t take into account the effect of the current or the coldness of the water. In areas where the water is cold, you’d be lucky to survive for an hour before hypothermia set in.

The biggest danger lies in overloading a hard dinghy. Choppy waves may flood the boat and lead to capsize. So check the dinghy’s safe carrying capacity label. If there’s no label, multiply overall length by beam in feet, and divide by 15, to find the maximum number of persons.

Here’s a tip: Make up a small safety pack for your dinghy (besides oars and lifejackets): flashlight, compass, bailer, and spare drain plug. A hand-held VHF radio could be a lifesaver.

Today’s Thought
He is safe from danger who is on guard even when safe.
— Publilius Syrus, Sententiae

“Why did they transfer your boy friend from that submarine?”
“He likes to sleep with the window open.”

(Drop by Monday, Wednesday, Friday, for a new Mainly about Boats column.)


Tillerman said...

I sometimes capsize my hard dinghy near land. It has a length of 14 feet and a beam of 4 feet, so I guess it can carry 3 people according to your formula, but I usually use it on my own. It has a nifty little bailer built in to the cockpit. I don't usually carry a flashlight or a spare drain plug. Sometimes I take a compass and if I'm using it in when there aren't any other similar hard dinghies around I do carry a hand-held VHF radio.

Tillerman said...
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