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Home / Instructions / SAFETY BOAT PROCEDURE
Home / Instructions / SAFETY BOAT PROCEDURE


Safety Boat Procedure

Recently issued July 2023 addendum- Kill cord & Lifejacket/buoyancy aids

A recent incident at another Thames sailing club has highlighted that we need to review the use of our Club motorboats. The Management Committee has now reviewed, and agreed to the following with immediate effect:

HSC Motor Boat Rules

1. When boats are in "safety mode" during sailing all occupants must wear a life jacket or buoyancy aid and the driver must attach the kill cord (if fitted) to their leg. It is not safe to attach to your arms.

2. When boats are in "ferry mode" the driver must attach the kill cord (if fitted) to their leg. Life jackets or buoyancy aids are not compulsory but are worn at the discretion of the driver.

3. The motorboat equipment boxes MUST be placed in the boats at the start of the day and before use to ensure their readiness for use in ''ferry'' or ''safety'' mode. A minimum of two HSC buoyancy aids and an anchor with a suitable length line will now be carried at all times during the operation of HSC boats.

The reasons for carrying an anchor are:
i) Rescue from a lee shore.

ii) Safety Boat has engine failure.

ii) Anchoring a capsized boat for recovery later.

A full list of the safety equipment and PPE carried in each boat is displayed on the designated equipment boxes and below the Course Board in the Club.

4. HSC motorboat familiarisation sessions will be undertaken as soon as possible and will regulate permission to drive the HSC boats. In the meantime, permission to drive boats will be based on competence demonstrated by past experience.

Safety Boat Procedure- Original issue

1.Rescuing Persons/Giving Assistance

  • The engine should be switched OFF when getting someone into the boat unless to do so could put the safety boat in danger e.g. close to a lee shore, or in a situation governed by the strength of stream, in which case consider neutral gear. Garrick has a propeller guard but Benn 1 Does NOT.
  • The usual line of approach is from downwind to allow better speed control against the wind.
  • Ladders are fitted to Benn 1 but Garrick has a scoop and is the rescue boat of choice. Duty Officers are advised to practise how the scoop works. If the scoop jams for any reason, Garrick is sufficiently low in the water to hoist the sailor from the water. See below

With a low free board rescue, hold swimmer's arms, swing their legs inboard and pull. Or grab the lifejacket and pull.


  • Get them to shore quickly.
  • Keep them out of the wind generated by the speed of the boat.
  • Do not give them HOT drinks or alcohol immediately, nor place them near a heater. Dry off or warm shower.

2.Dinghy Rescue /Mast Aground

"It is almost inevitable that modern dinghies will try to invert. This will sometimes result in the mast head sticking in the river bottom." (RYA)

If the mast has got stuck in the mud, approach from windward (in this instance) tie a rope around the shroud and pull perpendicularly to the hull until the boat comes level and then head to the bow to keep it under control.

3. Manoeuvring a capsized dinghy

  • 1.If the sailing crew has got the sail to the surface, you can help (if requested) by pulling the bow of the capsized boat into the wind.
  • 2.Alternatively (once the boat is horizontal), if the sail is to windward, you may be asked to reorient the boat so that it doesn't immediately re-capsize. In which case lift the mast head gently near the mast top, and tow the mast slowly towards the downwind position (see pic below)
  • 3.If the crew needs additional help to get the boat upright from a horizontal position, (usually because the sail is full of water), instruct the crew to release the sheets from their cleats. There is a recognised technique which uses the boat's natural inclination to right itself once it is made to move. Position the rescue boat with your bow just forward of the dinghy's forestay from where you can reverse slowly into the wind. Pull upwards on the forestay until the boat comes upright. This may be easier to achieve at the spreader height of the forestay.
  • 4.Helping a crew to lift a mast from the water is now permitted under the club's sailing rules for juniors who may proceed in the race without penalty. Adults are permitted to ask for the mast to be held on the water.


  • Approach a capsized boat from the downwind position before assessing the situation. In the case of a strong stream you may wish to approach from upstream or alongside (hull side) but use your engine to keep the propeller end a safe distance from anyone in the water. If in doubt be prepared to select neutral until you are aware of the situation. You should be confident of your motor boat skills and steering in reverse in particular (RYA level 2 is recommended.)
  • Always stand by until you assess the need for intervention or the crew in the water asks for help.
  • Help any crew in the water as a priority if you are concerned.
  • People are more important than boats. Get a dangerously cold and exhausted sailor back to the club rather than persisting in trying to save a boat.

General Order of Priority

1.Your Safety

2.Safety of sailing crew being rescued and their recovery where appropriate

3.Safety of other crews

4.Prevention of further damage to the boat or other boats

5.Recovery of boats


Last updated 4:14pm on 13 May 2024

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