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Safety in Navigation

Basic Safety Rules

a) Have your boat in good order

  • Rudder, centre board, rigging, sheets, halliards checked;
  • Buoyancy tanks watertight and plugs in place;
  • Be in possession of a bailer, a paddle with boathook, foghorn or whistle, red flag;
  • Have a waterproof bag with various items for repairs if needed (lanyards, lengths of rope, nails, knife, pliers, wire, shackles, etc.)


b) Adjust the sails according to the wind:

The wind’s force is expressed in the Beaufort scale.

Force Wind Open Sea
0 calm sea like a mirror
1 light air surface rippled
2 light breeze small but noticeable waves
3 gentle breeze small waves, some white horses
4 moderate breeze many white horses
5 fresh breeze moderately long breaking waves
6 strong breeze numerous breaking waves
7 near gale heavy breaking waves
8 full gale sea white with foam

With a wind over force 5, one does not usually go out in a dinghy. Even with wind force 4, a trapeze and a trained crew is required.
From wind force 4 upwards the surface area of the sails must be reduced, if possible while still in port, or on the water if one is taken by surprise. These manoeuvres are further explained in Part 3, section 5.

Storm warnings are given at Versoix, Nyon, Nernier and Geneva. 40 flashes per second - possible storm; 90 flashes per second - storm imminent. Remain in port or enter a port as quickly as possible.

c) Be well equipped

Always be warmly dressed. If you fall into the water, the more clothes you wear, the longer it will take to get cold.

Have an oilskin suit or jacket to protect you from the spray, which also has the advantage of keeping your body warm if and when you go overboard.

Have a waterproof bag with a spare set of clothes.

d) Wear a life jacket
This is absolutely essential at ail times for beginners and for trained crews as soon as the wind reaches force 4, particularly when the water is cold (15°C).

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