Bob’s Top Tips for Sailing Safe – Look Out

Robert Holbrook, Managing Director of Admiral Yacht Insurance, is well placed to consider not only his own lessons from crossing the Pacific but also those accumulated by Admiral’s policyholders during their own adventures across the globe.  Many of the lessons learnt are as relevant in the Solent as on the approach to Brittany or the Marquesas.

As an aid to your safety, our Claims Manager Bob Samuels has drawn on Robert’s experience to produce a series of tips on sailing safe.  We will be sharing these with you over the coming months.  

Month 1:  Look out

By far the commonest type of claim with invariably significant damage and possible injury are as the result of collisions. These happen inshore or in the middle of the ocean.  Neither party sees the other in time.

Modern sailing rigs don’t help with their huge genoas and gennakers, which often block vision to leeward. Large wheels with central seats position you well for viewing the ever increasing arrays of electronic displays to optimise your sailing performance, but your yacht could be stationary for repairs for many months if you don’t swap some comfort and your fixation on the numbers and maintain the habit of regularly looking below your foresails and behind to make sure nothing mobile or fixed is going to ruin your day.

Electric winches and powered furlers make sailing shorthanded ever more possible, but won’t help with looking out. Take another friend or relative with you – a pair of eyes for each 15 feet of yacht is a good idea – and well worth the extra rations, in keeping you safe from not only other ships and boaters but the pot markers and the random floating objects to be avoided at sea.

On departure, make sure you are well out to sea before engaging the Autohelm, and check that all is clear before going below for your next beverage. The autopilot may be steering but it’s not looking out for you, and won’t see that coaster masked by the low sun. His helmsman may be taking a comfort break of his own, while you look for the teabags.