Safety at Sea Announcements

 

June 5, 2014      A Guide to Steering without a Rudder

Section 4.1 of the US Safety Equipment Requirements (US SERs) and section 4.14 of the ISAF Offshore Special Regulations require that a boat’s crew be aware of multiple methods of steering the boat with the rudder disabled. Michael Keyworth has demonstrated one clever system using a drogue. Click here for a Guide to Steering without a Rudder Figures included June 2014.

 

June 5, 2014     Co-Axial Cable Loss Calculator

Section 3.8.1 of the US Safety Equipment Requirements (US SERs) and section 3.29 of the ISAF Offshore Special Regulations require VHF radios to have a masthead antenna with a co-axial feeder cable with not more than 40% power loss. Offshore racer and electrical engineer Stan Honey has put together a neat calculator for determining that power loss.

It allows you to figure out what combination of different segments of coax can meet the spec.  Obviously a good solution is to use larger, lower-loss coax in the boat, and lighter coax in the rig.   Click here for mast vhf cable loss calculator June 2014

 

May 16, 2014

Update to the US Safety Equipment Requirements (USSER)

There has been a recent update to the SERs. Contained in these are the sections; Instructions, Categories (the meat of the SER), Appendix and History of Revisions. Note that per the “Instructions” section. Organizing Authorities may, at their discretion, add or subtract items from a category based on the unique characteristics of each race they are running.

US SER Instructions 2014 3

US SER Categories 2014 3

US SER Appendix 2014 3

US SER 2014 3 Excel

US SER History of Revisions 2014 3

 

March 10, 2014

Update to US Safety Equipment Requirements (US SER)

An updated and expanded version of the US Safety Equipment Requirements (US SER) is now available in two formats, Excel and pdf. Contained in these are the sections; Instructions, Categories (the meat of the SER), Appendix and History of Revisions. Note that per the “Instructions” section, Organizing Authorities may, at their discretion, add or subtract items from a category based on the unique characteristics of each race they are running.

US SER Instructions 2014 2 PDF
US SER Categories 2014 2 PDF
US SER Appendix 2014 2 PDF
US SER History of Revisions 2014 2 PDF
US SER 2014 Excel

January 29, 2014
Revision to Dyneema / Spectra Lifeline Best Practice Recommendation

Based on new and quite extensive testing, and revisions to the rules, US Sailing has posted a revised paper, written by Evans Starzinger, on dyneema lifeline best practice recommendations. Dyneema Spectra Lifeline Revision Jan 2014

January 7, 2014
US Sailing Coastal Safety At Sea Seminars

In support of coastal races and cruising, US Sailing now offers Coastal Safety at Sea Seminars. There are currently four on the calendar for 2014. The new half-day seminars for skippers and crewmembers who participants in coastal or nearshore races, will help them understand the latest safety practices and ensure thay are familiar with the gear necessary to be safe. The curriculum is derived from the one-day and two-day seminars offered by US Sailing and will be moderated by the same instructors.

These seminars are intended for sailors who participate in coastal races (or for coastal cruisers). They take four hours and include the following topics:
a. Emergency communications
b. Personal safety gear
c. Man overboard
d. Search and Rescue procedures
e. An incremental topic(s) that meets the needs of the race conditions, e.g.
i. Reduced visibility
ii. Large vessel traffic
iii. Heavy weather
iv. Breaking seas

More information about all the US Sailing Safety At Sea Seminars, including the one and two day options, can be found on our website here. A calendar of all the Safety At Sea Seminar offerings for the coming year can also be found on the website.

October 23, 2013
Proposed U.S. Safety Equipment Requirements Approved by US Sailing Board of Directors

US Sailing’s Safety at Sea Committee has conducted an overhaul of ISAF’s Offshore Special Regulations (OSR), which describes the gear required to be used on sailboats when racing in most local and offshore races in the U.S. The U.S. Safety Equipment Requirements (USSER) document is intended to be used by race organizers, owners and boat inspectors. The proposed updates were approved by US Sailing’s Board of Directors last weekend at the organization’s Annual Meeting in Captiva, Fla. on Saturday, October 19.

Based on some excellent initial work by the Northern California Ocean Racing Council in 2012, the USSER sub-committee has completed an initial list of equipment and boat characteristics that will serve the needs of the majority of coastal and offshore racers in 2014.

The USSERs will be implemented by the 2014 Newport Bermuda Race, a preeminent offshore race. A US Sailing Safety at Sea Seminar will take place March 15-16, 2014 in Newport, R.I. The seminar will provide details on the new requirements to prospective racers.

The key differences between the US Safety Equipment Requirements (USSER) and the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) OSRs are as follows:

1. The requirements are easier for yacht owners and pre-race inspectors to understand.
2. The requirements are self-contained and do not refer to external documents.
3. The number of race categories has been reduced from seven to three: Nearshore, Coastal, and Ocean. Race organizers can then add or delete gear requirements based on the nature of their individual races.
4. The requirements are more specific about certain pieces of gear that lacked definition in the OSRs.
5. The OSRs contained both recommendations and requirements which proved confusing to users, and which increased the size of the document. The recommendations have been removed from the new version.
6. The requirements are far more compact, and can easily be included in their entirety in a Notice of Race or on a yacht club website.

Chuck Hawley, US Sailing’s Safety at Sea Committee Chairman said, “One of the functions of the Safety at Sea Committee is to promote equipment requirements that are appropriate for the conditions, easily verified, and not excessive. I believe that the new USSERs meet those criteria, and will serve offshore sailors well. We encourage all Organizing Authorities to use them, edited if the local conditions warrant, so that races in the U.S. are sailed under consistent equipment rules.”

As with any standards document, the USSER will be modified over time.

 

September 12, 2013
US Sailing Releases Report on 2013 Islands Race Tragedy in Southern California

US Sailing has released a report of an independent review panel on it’s investigation of the sailing accident that occured off the coast of Southern California on Friday, March 8 during the 2013 Islands Race. The accident resulted in the death of a sailor.

September 9, 2013
US Sailing Proposes US Safety Equipment Requirements

A goal of US Sailing’s Safety at Sea Committee has been to overhaul the Offshore Special Regulations (OSR) so that they become more popular for race organizers, and more understandable to owners and boat inspectors. Based on some excellent initial work by the Northern California Ocean Racing Council in 2012, a task force has been working on a simplified list of equipment and boat characteristics that will serve the needs of the majority of coastal and offshore racers.

The key differences between the proposed US Safety Equipment Requirements (USSER) and the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) OSRs are as follows:

1. The requirements are easier for yacht owners and pre-race inspectors to understand.
2. The requirements are self-contained and do not refer to external documents.
3. The number of categories has been reduced from seven to three: Near Shore, Coastal, and Ocean. Race organizations can then add or delete gear requirements based on the nature of their individual races.
4. The requirements are more specific about certain pieces of gear that lacked definition in the OSRs.
5. The OSRs contained both recommendations and requirements which proved confusing to users, and which increased the size of the document. The recommendations have been removed from the new version.
6. The requirements are far more compact, and can easily be included in their entirety in a Notice of Race or on a yacht club website.

 

August 2013

Distress Frequency Change This Week
July 31, 2013 – Pacific Coast of North America
Offshore sailors make note: Effective Wednesday, August 1, the US Coast Guard will no longer monitor voice frequency 2182 kHz for International distress and safety. They will also drop 2670 kHz for marine information and weather broadcasts, and they will discontinue monitoring the International Digital Selective Calling (DSC) distress frequency 2187.5 kHz .
“This termination decision was made after a review of Coast Guard medium frequency (MF) communications sites revealed significant antenna and infrastructure support degradation that put the Coast Guard at risk of not being able to receive and respond to calls for assistance on the 2 MHz distress frequencies,” said a Coast Guard spokesman.
Radio guru Gordon West responds, “This is actually a good call. Atmospheric noise on 2 MHz causes even the best of radio systems to not hear much beyond 30 miles ground wave, and 30 miles to shore is the typical maximum range of the Coast Guard’s  excellent Rescue 21 VHF channel 16 coverage.
“U.S. Coast Guard Communication Stations (COMMSTA) and Communications Area Master Stations (CAMS) will continue their guard of the following High Frequency safety frequencies:
VOICE                  DSC
4125.0 kHz                4207.5  kHz
6215.0 kHz                6312.0  kHz
8291.0 kHz                8414.5  kHz
12290.0 kHz               12577.0  kHz
16804.5  kHz
“VHF Channel 16, 156.800 MHz, will CONTINUE to offer the Coast Guard’s  Rescue 21 fabulous coverage throughout boating areas of the United States from Coast Guard units, on land, at sea, and in the air. VHF Channel 70 will CONTINUE to be the DSC call up channel to the Coast Guard.
“Only Medium Frequency 2 MHz, here in the U.S., is being dropped by the Coast Guard for a continuous radio listening watch.
“Internationally, 2182 kHz remains the International distress and calling channel. It will still be an on scene distress working channel, and will continue to be an authorized calling channel,” writes Gordon.

May 2013
High Modulus Polyethylene (HMPE) advisory article updated. 

This article, by Evans Starzinger, provides updated best practice recommendations for the design and installation of
Spectra/Dyneema life lines.   Here’s the link to the article.

April 2013
Coastal Seminar Announcement

US Sailing Introduces the Coastal Safety at Sea Seminar at Strictly Sail Pacific on Sunday April 14th.
These seminars are intended for sailors who participate in coastal races (or for coastal cruisers). They take four hours and include the following topics:
a. Emergency communications
b. Personal safety gear
c. Man overboard
d. Search and Rescue procedures
e. An incremental topic(s) that meets the needs of the race conditions, e.g.
i. Reduced visibility
ii. Large vessel traffic
iii. Heavy weather
iv. Breaking seas

With the addition of the Coastal Seminar US Sailing now offers three distinct courses aimed at preparing sailors for offshore sailing conditions. Most offshore race organizing authorities require completion of one of these courses for 30% of the crew taking part in the race. The certifications are good for five years. Proof that the training has been completed is stored in a database at US Sailing so that sailors have a record of the training they’ve taken and its currency.

A US Sailing Safety at Sea Moderator is present at all seminars to ensure the consistency and quality of the information. S/he will work with other safety experts to present the topics.

Below are descriptions of the other two Safety at Sea courses that are offered:

1. One-Day Offshore Safety at Sea Seminars. These seminars are generally required for participants in ocean races and long coastal races. They take eight hours, and use a combination of lectures and demonstrations (life raft, Coast Guard helicopter, signals, personal safety gear). They are commonly offered prior to major ocean races so that sailors can be certified in time for the race.

2. Two-Day Offshore Safety at Sea Seminars. These seminars combine a lecture format for the same topic covered in the one-day seminar along with hands-on training with safety gear. Each participant will don foul weather gear and a PFD and spend time in a pool, including life raft boarding and righting. Additional topics include jury rigging, damage control, and firefighting. This course meets the ISAF requirement for offshore safety training.

March 2013
PFD CO2 Cartridges – From Glenn McCarthy our expert on this subject.

There are still layers of bureaucracy, ALL of the following must be in compliance (don’t think that if one is ok, they are all ok.  The answer must be yes to all of the following):

1.     The PFD cylinders filled with CO2 are permitted by TSA and allowed as either carry-on or checked baggage –
http://www.tsa.gov/traveler-information/prohibited-items when on this page scroll down to the section Disabling Chemicals & Other Dangerous Items to see that CO2 cartridges are allowed by TSA with the requirement listed below:
Small compressed gas cartridges
(Up to 2 in life vests and 2 spares. The spares must accompany the life vests and presented as one unit)

AND

2.     Any compressed gas is a Hazardous Material by DOT rules.  However, when traveling with any Hazardous Material, it requires declaring the Hazardous Material to the airline at check-in.

AND

3.     Each airline has its own Risk Management Department.  Approximately ½ of all airlines allow these CO2 cylinders on their airplanes, and about ½ of them don’t.  You need to check with each airline you will be traveling with including any connecting airlines.  Usually the answer is buried pretty deep in the airline websites.

Warning – Violating any of these can result in arrest and fines!

March 2012 ISAF Offshore Special Regulations
The US Sailing Board approved US Prescription to resolve a problem with a new requirement for highly-visible material on storm jibs.

“US Sailing prescribes that the requirement for a highly-visible colored material or patch covering 50% of the area of storm jibs in ISAF OSR 4.26.2 (a) is a recommendation in the US.  After January 1, 2014, the requirements for new storm sails in ISAF OSR 4.26.2 (a) shall apply to CAT 0, 1, 2, and 3. This requirement grandfathers all storm sails made prior to January 1, 2014”

REASONS FOR THIS CHANGE:
1. US sail makers report only a limited amount of hi-vis material and sticky back is available on this short notice and it will take 3 months to get more.
2. Several major races that start in the next 2-3 months are facing this last minute modification of all Storm Jibs
3. Worries that the proposed modifications would not last and may affect the efficient use of the sails.
4. The suggestion that similar modifications were made by Volvo racers using hi-vis paint and talcum powder when folding the sails to keep it from sticking may have problems because the paint is apparently not sold in the US.

11 May 2012 ISAF Offshore Special Regulations
The US Sailing Board approved US Prescription to clear an ambiguity in the 2012-2013 version of ISAF Offshore Special Regulation 4.20.5 e) which calls for an annual inspection by an approved manufacturer’s agent of valise packed liferafts. “Inspection” is not a defined process for life raft certification. Racers are being forced to do an early servicing to comply.

“US SAILING prescribes: A life raft built to ISO 9650 Type 1 Group A and packed in a valise shall be serviced in accordance with its manufacturer’s recommendations at least as frequently as is recommended by the manufacturer. US SAILING reminds persons in charge of their responsibilities under OSR 1.02.1 and OSR 1.02.2 and notes that there have been reports that the integrity of valise-packed life rafts can be compromised by mishandling, poor storage, and other factors, and that such conditions may indicate a need for servicing more frequently than is recommended by manufacturers.”

This replaces the ISAF version printed below. Emphasis added

A liferaft built to ISO 9650 Part 1 Type Group A packed in a valise shall be inspected annually by an approved manufacturer’s agent and serviced in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions but NOT less frequently than every three years.

May 2012   US Sailing has been asked by the USCG to conduct independent reviews of the recent Farallones deaths and The Newport to Ensenada deaths.  Last year US Sailing conducted three independent panel reports on the 2011 Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac accident involving Wingnuts, the youth sailing 420 tragedy on Severn River, and the Rambler 100 incident.
Please click below to access each report from the panel.

Additional Archived reports