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Posts Tagged ‘safety’

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The UK’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch continues their investigation into the death of Simon Speirs aboard the Clipper 70 CV30, and they took a break in their investigating to publish a very important safety bulletin identifying why, exactly, Speirs’ tether didn’t save him from getting washed off the boat and drowned.  Read carefully, and don’t sail another offshore mile without ensuring your tethers can’t be wrecked by your cleats.  Here’s an excerpt:

The sailing yacht CV30 was taking part in the third leg of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race having left Cape Town on 31 October 2017 bound for Fremantle, Western Australia. At about 1414 local time on 18 November 2017, the yacht was in position 42°30.3’S, 087°36.3’E, approximately 1500nm from Fremantle, when a crew member, Simon Speirs, fell overboard. He was attached to the yacht by his safety harness tether. The hook at the end of the tether that was clipped to a jack-line, deformed and released resulting in him becoming separated from the yacht. Simon Speirs was recovered unconscious onto the yacht but sadly could not be resuscitated.

INITIAL FINDINGS: Simon Speirs was using a three-point webbing tether attached to the integral harness of his lifejacket that allowed him to clip on to the yacht with a short or long tether. A safety issue identified during the investigation was that the hook on the end of Mr Speirs’ tether had become caught under a deck cleat (see Figure 1), resulting in a lateral loading that was sufficient to cause the hook to distort (see Figure 2) and eventually release. The harness tether was certified under ISO12401 (Small craft – Deck safety harness and safety line – Safety requirements and test methods), which is the international standard applicable to this equipment. The standard contains detailed testing requirements that assume the tether and its hooks will be loaded longitudinally rather than laterally. The tether hook was of a conventional design and quality of build, and was commonly used by manufacturers of safety harnesses and tethers that were certified under ISO12401. When loaded longitudinally, the tether can withstand a load of over 1 tonne. However, when loaded laterally a tether hook will deform at much less load. It is important that tether hooks remain clear of obstructions and are free to rotate to align the load longitudinally.


January 12th, 2018 by admin

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It’s been just over a month since two Eagle Scouts were electrocuted on a Texas lake along with the 11 year old boy they were teaching to sail catamarans.    It’s been just over a month since a boy was brutally killed by a prop strike while taking sailing lessons in Long Island.  And this morning, Channel 7 reports that an unresponsive 17-year old first-time sailing student was pulled from Lake Washington.

According to the 7 report, the student had ‘just waded into the water’ along with 6 or 7 others so instructors could observe their comfort level, and as instructors got ready to teach them how to put on PFDs, they noticed one student had disappeared.  “Four instructors” finally found him, estimating he was underwater for six minutes.  The boy had ‘a faint pulse’ after CPR from instructors and then EMT personnel, and he is in critical conditions as of late last night in a Washington hospital.

After pulling him from the water, they began CPR. When medics arrived, the boy had no pulse. After medics began giving the victim aid, he had a faint pulse by the time the ambulance left for Harborview hospital in Seattle.

Staff at Sail Sand Point said the incident was the first after training hundreds of kids each year how to be in and around the water, but that’s no excuse or justification for a problem that seems to have kicked into overdrive.  Is this a systemic failure for America’s system of teaching sailing, and if so, who will show leadership and try to come up with a way for kids to stop dying while learning to sail?

We say it’s time for US Sailing to step up and do something about it.  SSP is a US Sailing-accredited sailing school, and Centerport is an accredited US Yacht Club.  It’s our opinion that the governing body of sailing in the USA need to get off their asses and fix it.  If they don’t, their primary competition in the training game should use the opportunity to highlight US Sailing’s failure and introduce solutions themselves.

There is no reason for parents to worry that their kid might die from a beginning sailing lesson.  None.

Title shout.


August 29th, 2017 by admin