Although sailing is generally one of the safest outdoor sports, carelessness can result in injury, or, in some cases, death. It only takes a few common sense precautionary measures to ensure safe boating. Read through the recommended steps before you venture out on your own.
Watch for Overhead Wires
Contact of the mast with a powerline could result in injury or death. Beware of powerlines whenever sailing, rigging, launching or beaching your boat. Despite oft repeated warnings issued by Hobie Cat and other boat manufacturers, over ten fatalities are recorded every year in the United States as a result of mast/powerline contact. Heed the warnings and remember to watch for wires!
Never wheel your boat or trailer your boat with the mast up. Do not raise the mast of your boat in your yard, for example, unless you are positive there are no electrical wires present. Never rig your boat in a parking lot and raise the mast before trailering down to a launch ramp unless the faciiity is specially built for parking lot rigging such as at a marina.
According to Coast Guard regulations, every boater must sail with enough lifevests on board for every person in the boat. This is probably the single most basic safety precaution. The lifevests should be Coast Guard approved and should be worn at all times. These vests are designed to keep an unconscious person afloat so that his head remains out of the water.
Do Not Sail Offshore
Weather conditions can change very rapidly, and when they do, the least desirable place to be is away from land. Although there are some offshore races for Hobie Cats, these are tightly controlled events with extraordinary safety precautions. Also beware of electrical storms. If the weather looks like it may change for the worse, go directly to shore even if you are far from where you launched. Lightning can kill.
Just like any other pursuit, sailing requires the proper equipment. Always be sure to check seals, connections, shock cords, lines, sails, in short, every part of your boat, to guarantee you will not be caught unaware. To be sure, carefully read the owner’s manual supplied with your boat before sailing. Hobie Cat hulls are vented to allow for expansion and contraction according to temperature changes. This allows a small amount of water to enter the hulls, so remember to remove the stern plugs before and then after sailing to allow any water to drain. But, be sure to replace the plugs before placing the boat in the water! Carry a paddle in case you find yourself unable to return to shore by sailing. When trailering, be sure that all parts of the boat are strapped down tightly. Check the straps for wear and replace them if needed. Preventative maintenance, especially of moving parts, is always the best cure.
Check Out the Boat
Before each sailing, examine your boat carefully for any trouble spots that may turn into large problems out on the water. Just as the pilot of his airplane needs to check out his plane before flying, the safety conscious skipper should check out his boat. For complete information on checking your boat, see the Hobie owner’s manual.