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Home / Sailing / Club Racing / Safety Boat Guidance / Duties - Safety Boat
Home / Sailing / Club Racing / Safety Boat Guidance / Duties - Safety Boat

Duties - Safety Boat

Safety boat helms & crews

As safety boat drivers and crews, you play an extremely important part in providing safety boat cover on the water for racers and casual sailors. You are also important role models for children and new users of the water who watch from a distance. To ensure that we do not become complacent or forget some of the basic safety information, please read the following prior to commencing a duty, be it your first or fiftieth duty. What is often not considered by helms, including those with extensive experience, is the club's costs that are incurred in running the fleet of powerboats. Careless or poor driving habits puts undue pressure on the engines that results in thousands of pounds of club member's money in repair bills. These are not 'pleasure' craft, they serve a strategically critical role and without them we will not be able to run any events, so please be extremely careful and considerate when using these boats and follow the established processes for fuelling, launching and recovering as specified by the club. Please ensure that you all take care and have a safe and enjoyable duty. No one wants to see an accident happening at the club.

The bottom line is to drive in a safe, efficient and considerate manner for all water users. This means:-

    1. Kill cord: To be worn at all times
    2. The RYA recommends that the kill cord be attached around your leg, it should not foul the steering or controls
    3. No modifications are allowed
    4. Check that it works (cuts the engine out when removed) before you go out
    5. If leaving the controls or assisting persons in the water KILL THE ENGINE

Under way:

    1. If the boat has been stored out the water please ensure you have replaced the bung!
    2. Make sure you have signed the boat out in the log book, you have the boat that has been allocated to you and that you have the right keys
    3. Do not switch boats because you prefer driving a different boat, each boat is best suited to a particular purpose / role, please stick to your allocated boat.
    4. Do not try to start your engine when the engine is raised with the prop out of the water! Check your engine is running properly and water is passing through the cooling system
    5. Consider what is a safe speed for the circumstances, how busy is the water, are there Oppies on the water, any inexperienced sailors on the water, etc.
    6. Ensure you have taken and signed for a radio - do a radio check BEFORE leaving the jetty
    7. Avoid standing up whilst driving or crewing in powerboats
    8. Communicate clearly between coxswain and crew (this will avoid anyone being thrown out during manoeuvres and changes in speed)
    9. Don't race around the lake unnecessarily - it irritates those sailing
    10. Consider your wash, particularly around a capsized craft and the jetty / shore areas
    11. Ensure one hand is on the throttle and the other on the steering wheel, "steer and then gear"
    12. Ensure you raise the engine if near or entering the shallows or the beach, if using an outboard ensure you know where the release lever is on your particular engine


    1. Ensure your craft has the minimum equipment required - towline, paddle. safety pack, radio, knife, spare kill cord, enough fuel
    2. Do a radio check and keep it with you
    3. Don't attempt to do a safety duty with just one person to a safety boat. Controlling the boat and rescuing a dinghy at the same time could endanger the person in the water and risk personal injury
    4. If needed, ensure that you call for assistance quickly

After your duty:

    1. Please ensure where the club requires the boat to be left, moored at the jetty or taken back out the water?
    2. When turning the engine off after use please ensure that the ignition is switched off, using the kill cord does not always switch off the ignition which can result in a flat battery, please use the key to power off.
    3. Return the keys along with any immobiliser fob
    4. Raise the engine titling it away from the hoses
    5. If taking the boat out the water please remove the bung so the boat can drain, if your boat is simply being moored please help other helms retrieve their boat from the water
    6. When using the winch to retrieve the boat up the jetty, please put out the cones to avoid anybody stepping over or tripping over the winch cable
    7. Complete the log book noting any faults or damage that requires the bosun's attention
    8. Please return your fuel to the fuel store and refill tank to halfway mark, ensuring the valve is left open whilst being stored
    9. Return your radio and ensure it is put back onto charge ready for next use


    1. Cut the engine when dealing with people in the water or if anyone is swimming towards you. You wouldn't put your hand in a liquidiser! If someone is holding onto a powerboat their legs will be dragged underneath towards the prop.
    2. Use a safe speed
    3. Prepare - plan - manoeuvre - escape
    4. Don't put anyone at risk - if in doubt or anything happens that means you are not fully in control STOP - sort it, then continue
    5. Consider others at all times
    6. Don't take passengers
    7. Don't take children out to assist you under any circumstances.
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