Safety boat duty guidance notes

Safety Boat Duty Notes


Safety boat drivers typically have 3-4 dates on the rota, (though you may have fewer if you are driving on a Freesail/Dinghy cruise or double-header race which may be counted as two duties). It’s a good idea to  look through the SYC Programme at the beginning of the year, check the dates on which you have duties, ensure you are available and make a note in your diary/calendar to remind you of the duty  later. Email reminders are sent but these are just that, you are expected turn up on time with a crew, regardless.
If you wish to swap a duty it is best to arrange this as soon as possible. It is the driver's responsibility to arrange another driver if they cannot perform a duty.


A contact list with drivers and crew is sent out at the beginning of the year (contact the Safety Boat coordinator if you do not receive one).  Please ensure the club has your current email address, and if not, contact the Safety Boat coordinator to update it.  Do keep the list where you will be able to find it so you do not have to ask for it again (3 times to one person is the record so far!). Please do NOT email everyone on the list with request for swaps (it’s ineffective and irritating) but select a number of dates you wish to swap with and contact these drivers.


You will need to arrange a crew, who needs to be over 14, have appropriate gear and be reasonably physically fit. It’s a good idea to  arrange crew for all your duties at the start of the year (and remind them nearer the time).  Again, this is the driver’s responsibility.  A crew is essential – a driver on their own cannot provide adequate safety cover if needed.

On the Day

You (and your crew) should aim to be at the club an hour before the race start time on the programme.  It’s helpful to make yourself known to the OOD so they know you are there.


A few weeks before the duty or when you receive a reminder you should let the Safety Boat coordinator know how things stand.
It is important you confirm that you are able to attend as expected and that you have arranged a crew.  Without this we have no idea whether you will do the duty and so are unable to make alternative arrangements if necessary. 
So please:

Confirm your availability or otherwise.

  • If you have been unable to arrange for a suitable crew please tell me. (Contact members on the crew list)
  • If you have exchanged your duty with another driver please tell me the name of the driver and date of the duty you have exchanged.
  • If you are unable to perform the safety boat duty you should try to arrange a swap with another driver and keep me informed of the situation.  
  • If there is any change in your availability please contact me as soon as possible
  • If you cannot do a duty or arrange a substitute driver your name will be added to the standby driver list and you may be asked to fill in duties for others. It seems fair that you do for others what they have done for you.

All of the safety boats have the following equipment:

Rescue and Coach boat equipment 

  • Paddles or oars (or alternate means of propulsion)
  • Bucket or bailer
  • Towline
  • Throwline

Contents of the rescue box which should be on board at all times:

  • Tool kit
  • Survival bag or TPA (thermo protective aid)
  • Waterproof first aid kit containing (minimum) 2 large wound dressings, 2 medium wound dressings and triangular bandages.
  • Anchor and chain or warp
  • Distress flares (2 orange smoke and 2 pinpoint red, or 2 day/night flares (coastal)
  • Sharp knife, preferably serrated
  • Spare kill cord (except heavy displacement craft)
  • Fire extinguisher 5A/34B serviced annually, in line with manufacturers’ recommendations, discharge test @ 5yr
  • VHF fixed or handheld
  • Radio emergency procedure card
  • Efficient fog sound signal
  • Laminated charts, (in date) or map of operating area (inland)
  • Tide tables (coastal)
  • Compass (coastal), fixed or handheld
  • Bridle secured to suitable strong points

Procedure to launch and recover the ribs

Launching RIBs

  • Make sure boats have the appropriate engine, fuel, safety box and equipment.
  • Make sure battery is working.
  • Make sure engine is raised.
  • Make sure you have at least 4 people on the rope to hold the rib as it moves down the slipway
  • Make sure there is no one behind the rib as you start to move it
  • Make sure you have someone to steer the boat down the slipway.
  • Move the boat into the water up to the height of the axles.
  • Make sure you have the anchor line free to hold the boat.
  • Unclip the rib rope (painter) from the trailer
  • Unclip the front winch strap
  • Lift the handle at the front to lift up the front of the trailer, the boat will then roll off the trailer and into the water and then is secured by someone holding the anchor line.  Throw the painter into the front of the boat.
  • Secure the rib to the rope on the slipway or anchor.
  • Pull the trailer up the slipway and store.
  • Make sure the engine propeller and cavitation plate is just in the water, before the engine is started.
  • Check you can see the water tell-tales from the engine.
  • IF using the small ribs make sure locker door is closed and locked before moving the ribs, do not leave the door propped open. REMEMBER TO USE THE STRING INSIDE THE DOOR TO CLOSE THE DOOR.
  • On leaving be careful to avoid the submerged part of the slipway.


RIB recovery

  • Make sure engine is up (and locked if appropriate)
  • Roll trailer into water.
  • Using the front winch strap, loosen strap – be careful of moving winch handle - attach to boat
  • Using winch handle, move the boat on to the trailer, be careful of the front of the trailer which will lift up.
  • Make sure the hull of the rib is correctly fitted to the trailer, and it is squarely on the trailer.
  • Attach the rib to the trailer.
  • Using multiple people, pull the trailer up the slipway. Beware slip hazard.
  • Make sure you have someone to steer
  • Pull the rib halfway into the boathouse.
  • Drop the engine down
  • Attach muffs, turn on tap, start the engine making sure the area around the prop is clear and the engine is in neutral
  • Run the engine until the water tell-tales are cool
  • Stop engine, raise engine
  • Pull into boathouse. Drop engine, place log behind the back of the engine (stay clear of the prop)
  • MAKE SURE RADIO IS TURNED OFF (to prevent a flat battery)