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Old 08 August 2016, 17:21   #1
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Open Day Disaster

A little story...
This happend a few months ago, my sailing club was holding a open day in ~June. It is one of the towns bigger attractions as we bring in Kessock and Invergordon Lifeboat, Moray Inshore Rescue were there too. Probably just as well, round about 2 ish we heard a rumble of thunder, I walked out to survey the weather as we were launching a few sailing dinghys to sailing along side with the Yachts in the "Parade of the Sails". When you looked out all you could see was a thick cloud covering the Moray Firth, it was quite surreal, wish I had the camera on me. I called over radio to discuss about canceling the parade due to the rising wind and black cloud in the distance. But you know, my sailing club does what it does best, doesn't listen to a teenager like me So we (hesitant) launched the boats, we had 2 wayfarer worlds going out. About 10 minutes in we started to get heavy rain that then turned into heavy hail, it reduced visibility so much, you couldn't see 2 foot infront of the boat. The winds went from 10knts to 56knts in 5mins. So we launched all 3 rescue boats (RNLI, MIRO and ourselves). 1 boat managed to get in but we lost contact with the 2nd boat. After 5mins of serching we found a upturned hull with 2 people on it. We grabbed the 2 sailors onto our boat and the RNLI folks righted the dinghy, they towed it back. We all went back into the harbour, luckily nobody was hurt on the sailing dinghys. The only unfortunate thing was that 5 gazebos had blown away from the stalls!

All ended well though, only 1 person went to hospital from an accident from a gazebo, luckily, nothing serious happened.

[our boat is the boat behind the RNLI folks on attached photo]
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Old 09 August 2016, 01:59   #2
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Always tricky as a teenager etc to know did they ignore you for your age, your experience, or they would have ignored to old grizzly bearded bloke with 60 years experience too... What was forecast? Very easy to say 'ignored because i was a teenager' in reality they may have ignored everyone either because the forecast said it was to get windy but not too windy or because they didn't expect conditions to change that quickly or because they didn't want to disappoint the crowds if it's the event of the year...

Was this the same weekend a guy up there died on a drascombe? If it's the same weekend then it doesn't sound like a single wrong judgement was made - others got caught out too. The only question might be how different clubs in the area shared what was happening? If it's a different weekend then it sounds like freak wind events are less freak than they should be and so your risk assessment needs to consider the higher probability of such things happening.. ..do your dinghies carry VHF. What about other visual signals? Are your wayfarers rigged effectively to allow full sail to be dumped very quickly, does it have jam cleats etc that mean if a gust hits you are more likely to capsize...
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Old 09 August 2016, 03:40   #3
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Forecast was for drizzle and no increase in wind. But if you looked out you could see rain and thunder, so the boats should have come in anyway. This was the same weekend as that guy died unfortunately. I mentioned talking to the other clubs since they were out too, but nobody done anything. I can't do much because I don't have a SRC. All dinghys carry vhfs, but they said they were fine and they were coming back in. The boat was completely new and rigged properly to drop sail.

It was a bit of a freak event but it could have been prevented, easily.
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Old 09 August 2016, 14:12   #4
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If all clubs operate on 37M they could have heard you without needing to have SRC. Might be worth getting that SRC... I think in the circumstances a Securite Message would have been in order but not sure that requires SRC to make it. Was it an "Emergency".
As a helm I make my own judgement if I come in in thunder.

I find few dinghies are well rigged to ditch sails quickly. I wasn't Looking to drop (that's too slow) just to release sails and turn into wind. But if you have a big Genoa in cam cleat when a major gust comes you might not get it released before it tips you. In a major blow I never cleat my job sheets if I can avoid it.

Ultimately some guys went out on a dinghy, capsized, were recovered by club safety cover. It's kind of a normal sailing day at many clubs. Granted 50+mph is not. But no injuries. No loss of boat. ...
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Old 09 August 2016, 16:05   #5
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Interesting scenario.

In situations like this, particularly with multiple groups involved, there's a pressure to keep with the plan and not be the one that said "the sky is falling in!".
It is much harder to be the one that says no.

Well done for speaking up, a short delay would have ensured a much higher level of safety for all concerned.
Decisions are only as good as the decision makers.
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Old 01 September 2016, 18:38   #6
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Please NOTE:

You DO NOT need a SRC to use a Radio for a Emergency Situation.

Your RADIO needs to be Licenceed to get MMSI number, thus enabling DSC Settings.

If doing club work and if acting as Race Officer - i always have a radio monitoring 16. - i always Monitor 16 on Boat.

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