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Safety at Sea in SoCal

Del Rey Yacht Club in Marina del Rey hosted the first 2019 US Sailing 2-day offshore Safety at Sea seminar on January 12-13. The classroom filled to capacity with 83 entrants. Del Rey welcomed people from all over North America, representing 21 yacht clubs, including Royal Victoria YC in Canada and stateside clubs from as far away as Chicago.

The first day was held in the classroom from 8:30 to 5:30. Bruce Brown, the instructor, had us all riveted with his anecdotes, knowledge and humor. Dr. Robert Merz, DRYC fleet surgeon, presented a description of what goes on in the emergency room versus being on a boat with an injured party. It gave everyone a new perspective of what could happen and how to handle the injured person.

Wendy Sarnoff
Captain Wendy Sarnoff shows how to rig a Lifesling and tie a line.
© 2019 Andy Kopetzky

The second day began with one hour in the classroom. Participants then split up into groups: personal safety gear, damage control, maintenance and repair, and firefighting and flares.

Bruce Brown at the pool
Instructor Bruce Brown, poolside with the ‘Crew Overboard’.
© 2019 Judy Gavin

Everyone had to go into the pool with all of their foul weather gear on, including boots. Some were surprised that their boots floated! The students learned how to survive while waiting to be rescued, which could take a long time. They did a group huddle and were amazed to realize how much warmer they were. Then they learned how to do a caterpillar group. (A caterpillar is made when survivors wrap their legs around the waist of fellow survivors in the water to avoid getting separated.) Then they climbed into a liferaft, which was no easy feat. Some were also surprised that being in the water for 25 minutes was not as bad as they’d thought it would be. Having said that, it is a pool and not the ocean.

Author Judy Gavin and fellow students try out the liferaft.
© 2019 Courtesy Judy Gavin

Additional instructors were: Mike Hakala, Life Raft training, Cold-Water Survival and PFD training; Captain Wendy Sarnoff, Crew Overboard Rescue; Dave Robertson, PFD Rearming; Carl Sarnoff, Damage Control; and Dave Robertson, Firefighting and Flares.

Students in the pool
Thumbs up from students in the club’s pool. We assume they spent some time in the deep end too!
© 2019 Judy Gavin

The seminar closed with a raffle giving out ditch bags with EPIRBS attached. This course is not just for racers. Everyone should be educated in safety on the boat. Even if you don’t own a boat, you can learn how to survive while waiting for rescue. You can’t call an Uber.

Readers — Find a US Safety at Sea Seminar near you at Find a Sail Canada Offshore Personal Survival Course here: We also try to include as many of the West Coast seminars as possible in our monthly Calendar. — ed.

1 Comment

  1. Marty Fliegel, V/C Del Rey Yacht Club 5 years ago

    I thought it was a great article on a must attend class

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