Safety at Sea Course – Offshore with hands on Training (Classroom and Practical)

By dumb luck I saw a Safety at Sea brochure at Downwind Sailing, the training was to take place at the end of my refit trip but if I hunkered down I thought I could squeeze it in. And seriously, it probably is a smart thing to do given the plans to sail down to La Paz in October/November. Snapped a picture of the flyer and added it to the mental to do list.

Of course best laid plans…I promptly forgot for a week. Friday night I tried to register only to find out the class was full. Damn. I fired off an email to John from Sail Aweigh (the host of the event) asking to be put on the wait list. Shockingly, Saturday morning I had a response. Unfortunately, it was an explanation that it would be unlikely that a spot would open up but that there would be another class in January. He also asked what my plans were and I let him know that I’d be down in La Paz by January and was up in San Diego just for a short time. More shockingly, John responded that he would squeeze me into the class. How awesome is that! Wow, big thank you email and I jumped on registering.

Talk about a beautiful facility!

The class rolled around and I rode my bike over to Silver Gate Yacht Club, who were kind, or crazy, enough to host the event. About sixty-five people took the class, almost exclusively offshore racers.

The two days looked extremely packed, with an unbelievable list of instructors and speakers (I’m not sure if this is due to the San Diego location or typical at all SaS seminars).

Day 1 included a wide range of topics from emergency medical, to the Commander of the USCG talking about rescues (register your Eprib!!!), to NOAA staff covering weather, to a marine architect explaining sailboat stability. How amazing is that!

NOAA presentation

The day was packed with only a short 20 minute lunch and still ran an hour past the 5:30 schedule. So much material to cover and I was happy to get the extra time.

Day 2 was mostly hand-on and was another packed day. After a quick talk about the day’s plan we split into four groups.

Day 2 Agenda

Practice session on using a LifeSling to recover a MOB

Demonstration of stormsail rigging and jack lines usage

Time to get suited up in foul weather gear, ready to test my life jacket

After jumping into the pool we had the chance to deploy a life raft. Then we practiced climbing into a life raft (tougher than expected, grab the straps inside is the key) and flipping over an upside down life raft.

Also covered that day was throw-bag training, rearming life jackets, rigging inspection/cutting away a rig, flare training, and fire fighting. It was great to have a chance to do all of these hand-on activities – so that, if the shit hits the fan, there won’t be the added stress of trying to figure out how to do it the first time it happens.

This class was moderated/taught by two incredible instructors with unbelievable resumes.

Bruce Brown – a 100 ton instructor, a frequent Safety at Sea trainer world-wide, and has served as the chairman of the US Sailing Independent Review Panel for fatal offshore racing accidents.

Chuck Hawley – has over 40 years of offshore sailing experience and is the chairman of the Safety at Sea Committee of US Sailing and has been a Safety at Sea Moderator for over 35 years.

It was a long and exhausting two days but I took away an incredible amount of new knowledge and information to make my offshore sailing as safe as possible.

If you see this class and plan to do coastal or offshore sailing, TAKE IT.

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