Going for a Daysail in a sailing dinghy

by Chris Kameen on October 28, 2014

Sailing to a beach Planning for a day sail in a dinghy is much harder than on a small yacht due to our limitations of space and the chance that kit might get wet, so i thought in this post we might explore what I would take as a minimum:

Standard kit:

  • Lifejackets and whistle
  • Paddle,
  • bailer if boat isn’t a modern self draining type.
  • Appropriate clothing/ sunscreen / hat etc.

Additional kit:

Being gone for a whole day though means that we are going to be able to travel further and so get further away from our base and potentially safety, so we start going through what are the risks:

1) Change of weather:

The wind could drop, or increase dramatically, the temperature could change and we could get rain..Reefing an RS Vision

  • Do we have appropriate clothing to deal with what the weather can throw at us? ( I would always take a waterproof jacket – irrespective of the weather as this can keep the sun off, the wind off or the rain)
  • Do you have a bolt hole that you can escape to if the weather turns really nasty. Have you planned your route using a chart so that you can see any dangers that might be between you and your destination.. remember a danger might be a commercial port or shipping lane that you have to cross.
  • If you were drifting towards rocks in no wind do you have any anchor… attached properly?
  • Can you reef or shorten sail?

2) Medical challenge:

Medical challenges are your worst nightmare! and we try and minimise their chances by wearing things such as closed toe shoes when in the boat, a hat and sunscreen to minimise sun exposure.. but occasionally you will get in to trouble, how would you deal with it?

  • First aid kit – the best bit of first aid equipment I find on a dinghy is electrical tape as it can be used to stop minor cuts bleeding far more effectively than trying to stick a plaster on a wet finger!
  • method of communication – VHF radio or mobile phone in a sealed bag
  • Water – make sure that you have water and that you keep hydrated!

3) Equipment Failure:

Despite checking our equipment regularly we still have things break on us and if you are a long way from home this can be annoying and potentially dangerous especially if night is imminent. Being able to fix things away from the boat ramp is equally important. So what would your spares/tool kit include:

  • Thing bit of strong line, that can be used to lash things that have snapped or broken,
  • Spare shackle including clevis pin and ring
  • Multi-tool – I use a leatherman as it has a screwdriver, knife, pliers .. nail file!!
  • Electrical tape, again this is useful for fixing things or securing things that you have had to lash
  • Tow rope? – Have you got one
  • Impending darkness  – useful to have a floating working torch so that other boats can see you.
  • Mobile phone or VHF radio or at least have told people your destination and when you aim to be back and what to do if they haven’t heard from you!

4) Hunger:

Sailing is a strenuous activity even in the lightest of winds and hunger is something you want to avoid especially if you are having to make decisions or have youngsters with you.

Having a packed lunch with some emergency rations is a good idea,  for me I try and keep some Muesli bars and apples back just in case we have a mini disaster on our way home after lunch! Remember fish don’t eat apple cores or banana skins. Nothing should ever be discarded into the sea from a sailing dinghy…  it is against international law for very good reasons!

I’m sure there are things that I have missed, but in a nutshell, this is what I would take in no particular order:

  1. Roll up dry bag
  2. Weather forecast
  3. Laminated chart of area
  4. Water bottle – full!
  5. Electrical tape
  6. Leather man multi tool
  7. Waterproof jacket (or spare fleece if already wearing waterproof)
  8. VHF radio and mobile phone
  9. Lunch plus a few emergency rations
  10. spare shackle and line
  11. Paddle
  12. Bailer
  13. anchor
  14. tow rope
  15. waterproof torch if you will be still out on the water approaching 2 hours before sunset.
  16. Spare sunscreen
  17. Wide brimmed hat – I prefer the Tilley as some of you will know! – Guaranteed for life and insured against loss!

If you can think of anything that I have missed or that you would add please pop them in the comments below!


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