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River Safety Policy

1. Wind.

a.  Comply with the Pentagon Sailing Wind and Weather Policy

b. Boats are not allowed to leave the slip when a Special Marine Warning is in effect for the area between the Key Bridge and Indian head, MD.

c. Boats on the water when a Special Marine Warning is issued for the area between the Key Bridge and Indian Head, MD must immediately lower and start the engine, lower and secure sails and proceed to the nearest port (which may not be JBAB marina) until the storm passes.

d.. Skippers must continuously and carefully monitor weather conditions and shall take early measures to ensure boats are securely docked with fenders rigged and at the JBAB marina before storms.  If the skipper has authorization from the River Commodore to operate the boat outside of the local operating area the skipper shall take early action to ensure the boat is docked at a safe location.

2.  Classes.

a. The Training Commodore or Bridge member designated by the Training Commodore must meet with the Lead Instructor(s) prior to the on-the-water portion of the Basic  Sailing keelboat class by phone or in-person before each class to emphasize the importance of weather and safety policies and procedures.

b.  Instructors must attend the Training Commodore’s pre-season Instructor Training (scheduled for 23 April) or other event that the Training Commodore designates to meet this requirement. 

c.  The Lead Instructor(s) shall review and very closely follow the Weather and Wind Policy, checklists, other safety considerations, such as expected traffic, the importance of reefing early, state of tide and resultant hazards of grounding, debris in the river due to rain The Lead Instructor(s) must err on the side of caution in deciding whether to hold on-the-water classes that day or apply more stringent requirements appropriate to the circumstances.

d. The Lead Instructor for the on-the-water portion of the Basic Sailing class must review the Weather and Wind Policy and other safety considerations as outlined above with the instructors each day as part of a required morning instructor briefing. The risks of sailing and lessons learned should be reviewed.

For the morning briefing the Lead Instructor shall:

i. Review accidents and lessons learned on the River with Instructors and actions that can be taken to minimize the risk of an occurrence.

ii. Review the fear of capsizing new students have, and how excessive heeling increases this anxiety.

iii. Emphasize the importance of reefing, and lowering and starting the outboard early.

iv. Ask instructors if they are comfortable holding the class.  After hearing instructors’ input, the Lead instructor should decide and announce whether the class will be held at all, whether some boats should train at the dock and what, if any, additional requirements are in effect; (e.g. all boats must take a reef before getting underway).

d. The Lead, Primary, and Assistant Instructors for the on-the-water portion of the Basic Sailing class shall meet as a group in-person or by phone and reevaluate the weather and other safety considerations at the lunch break and make a decision for the afternoon session including additional requirements such as taking a reef.

e. Basic procedures for reefing, controlling heel, countering wind gusts, quickly lowering sails in an emergency and the Weather and Wind Policy should be covered in the first classroom session.

f. During the first on-the-water weekend of Basic Sailing class, the outboard engine must be in the down position and running in neutral when navigating under sail between buoys 7A and 11.  The engine may be turned off and stowed when north of buoy 11 near Haines Point or South of buoy 7A near Alexandria.

g.  Anchoring, heaving-to, crew overboard and other complicated maneuvers should not be performed between buoys 7A and 11.  These maneuvers should be performed when north of buoy 11 near Haines Point or South of buoy 7A near Alexandria and outside of the main channel.

3. Recent Sailing

a.  Recent experience on the River is very important. Skippers must sail on the river at least once in the current season before they take students out as instructor for a class or skipper social sails or skipper during a race.

b. Skippers must have one year of experience on the river in a PSC boat before they take students out as primary instructor, skipper on a social sail or skipper a boat during a race.  Instructors must complete the required steps to be designated as a PSC instructors as outlined by the Training Commodore.  Skippers for races must complete the appropriate steps to become a racing skipper and be designated by the Racing Squadron Captain(s). 

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