SBS Reference Page – 1

May 22, 2021 -- Posted by : Bill

[ 1.a ]  Hazards While Sailing

Most likely hazards you may encounter while sailing?

Hazards to boaters appear in many forms; dams, submerged objects, cold water, fast-changing weather, sunstroke, and current. These hazards aren't always obvious. Boaters need to recognize these dangers and be ready to avoid them at all times.

Potential hazards such as darkness, fog, strong winds, cold, rain, and saltwater spray are all predictable, providing you're looking for the right signs and have a “what if” attitude. As with other dangers experienced afloat – from rocks to mudflats – also means giving them an appropriate margin of safety.

Powerlines pose a particular hazard for sailing vessels or any vessel with a mast.

Propeller Injuries, avoid propeller injuries:

  • Make sure everyone on the boat is safely seated inside. A wave can cause a boat to quickly jump or sway—causing a passenger to fall overboard.
  • Don't let anyone out on the swimming platform when the engine is running.
  • Be especially careful when waterskiing and around other boaters who are towing them.
  • Be aware—and steer clear of—areas where there are divers.

Other dangers include fire, man overboard, and serious injury or illness. A medical doctor is usually included among the offshore crews to handle medical problems or emergencies. Crew safety is the highest priority.

Fun Facts:  

  • alcohol use is a contributing factor in nearly 20 percent of fatal boating accidents, and alcohol is implicated in 15 percent of all sailing deaths
  • 76 percent of boating accident victims drowned—and 85 percent of them were not wearing life jackets.
  • 71 percent of deaths happened on boats where the operator underwent no boating safety training or instruction.
  • The top three causes of boating accidents in the United States were operator inattention, operator inexperience, and improper lookout.


[ 1.b ]  Sailing First Aid

Prevention, symptoms, and first-aid treatment for blisters:

     Blisters can occur from continuous rubbing (such as from a shoe or handling sheets or lines), burns, or allergic reactions (such as from poison ivy). Avoid breaking a blister. Doing so can lead to infection. Instead, cover and protect that area of the skin from further damage. Most blisters will shrink and disappear on their own. If you have any doubt, see a doctor.

Prevention, symptoms, and first-aid treatment for cold-water shock and hypothermia:

     Especially early on in the season—is the danger of cold water and hypothermia.

     Many don't understand how quickly a person can be harmed if exposed for too long to 50-degree water because they compare it to what 50-degree weather feels like.

     It's important to remember that water cooler than 70 degrees should be treated with caution. Consider this: Water temperatures colder than 77 degrees could cause breathing problems—that's why Olympic pools are mandated to be at least that warm for competition


     Hypothermia is when the body loses heat faster than it can create it, and the victim starts to feel cold. There are several stages of hypothermia, beginning with shivering and chattering teeth, then leading to finger and toe numbness, mental confusion, loss of consciousness, and, in extreme cases, death.

     To treat hypothermia, move the victim to a warm, dry area. If this is not possible, try to shield the victim from wind, rain, and spray. Remove wet clothing. Wrap the person in layers of dry clothing, blankets, or towels. If the victim is conscious, offer warm liquids to drink, but only if the victim can swallow comfortably.

     To avoid hypothermia, participants need to stay dry and well-insulated from cold and wind chill. Dressing properly for the weather can prevent hypothermia.

Prevention, symptoms, and first-aid treatment for dehydration:

Do not rely on thirst to tell when it’s time for a water break.

  • Dehydration of just 1 percent of your body’s water can
    make you physically or mentally weaker.
  • Hard work (think hiking, swimming, paddling, etc.) can
    take away 2 percent of your body’s water in just an hour.
  • Thirst sets in at 3 percent. See? We told you it was too
  • At 7 percent, you’re exhausted and on the brink of

Like many outdoor ailments, dehydration can escalate quickly if you aren’t prepared.

  1. Drink a half-liter of water up to two hours before strenuous activity.
  2. Take mandated water breaks every 30 minutes during exercise.
  3. Make plenty of water available at meals, which provides great opportunities for hydration.
  4. Use sports drinks to supplement—not replace—water.
  5. Never use sodas as a substitute for water.

Good hydration sayings.

 – “If your urine is dark, you’ve missed the mark.” –

 – “A happy mountaineer always pees clear, and an unhappy
fellow always pees yellow.” –

 – “Drink, pee, no IV.”  –

Prevention, symptoms, and first-aid treatment for heat-related illnesses:

     When a person’s body cannot cool itself sufficiently on a hot, sunny day, heat exhaustion could occur, causing the victim to feel faint. Early symptoms of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating, reddening of the skin, headache, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and possible loss of consciousness.

     Heat exhaustion can lead to heatstroke, which is very serious. Sweating, which is the body’s natural protection from overheating, may stop entirely as the body dehydrates (dries out) and begins to shut down. Loss of consciousness soon follows. To treat heatstroke, sponge the person with cool water. Get medical help immediately. If not treated promptly, the victim could die.

     To prevent heat emergencies, drink plenty of fluids, wear a hat and sunglasses, and apply sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher. Avoid unnecessary direct sun exposure, and limit strenuous physical activity.

Prevention, symptoms, and first-aid treatment for sunburn:

     Sailing occurs outdoors and in the sun. Many sailors get distracted, forget to take adequate precautions, and end up with sunburns. Unprotected overexposure to the sun can result in short-term and possibly long-term effects—many of which can be prevented with some simple actions like sunscreen and appropriate clothing.

     Sunburns can occur on cloudy days. As much as 80 percent of the damaging ultraviolet (UV) sun rays can pass through clouds. Snow, sand, and water can reflect UV rays that can cause damage to your skin and your eyes.

When to seek medical attention for a sunburn:

  • Blisters occur over a large part of your body.
  • High fever, chills, headache, or illness are present with the sunburn.
  • Sunburn doesn’t improve in a few days.

“Most sun damage occurs in childhood.” — Source: American Academy of Pediatrics.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists these risk factors for sunburn:

  • High elevation
  • Midday exposure from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., when the sun’s rays are the strongest.
  • Summer months
  • Reflection from snow, sand, and water
  • Locations closer to the equator
  • Reactions to some medications

Prevention, symptoms, and first-aid treatment for sprains and sprains:


     If you’ve ever tried to define sprains and strains but can’t quite identify the difference between the two, you’re not alone. These two terms are often used interchangeably to describe overstretching or tearing of soft tissues in and around your joints. There is a key difference, and knowing what that is can help you differentiate between joint sprains and strains.


     A joint sprain is the overstretching or tearing of ligaments. Ligaments are the bands of tissue that connect two bones together in a joint. The most common location for a sprain is the ankle joint.

     A joint strain is the overstretching or tearing of muscles or tendons. Tendons are the dense fibrous cords of tissue that connect bones to muscles. The most common locations for a muscle strain are the hamstring muscle and the lower back.

     The symptoms of a sprain and a strain are very similar. That’s because the injuries themselves are very similar. It’s no wonder the two conditions are frequently confused.

Common symptoms of sprains Common symptoms of strains
• bruising
• pain around the affected joint
• swelling
• limited flexibility
• difficulty using the joint’s full range of motion
• muscle spasm
• pain around the affected joint
• swelling
• limited flexibility
• difficulty using the joint’s full range of motion

The main difference is that with a sprain, you may have bruising around the affected joint, whereas with a strain, you may have spasms in the affected muscle.

Prevention, symptoms, and first-aid treatment for stings.

Injuries are caused by spines or jellyfish tentacles covered in small spines and stinging cells (nematocysts) that release venom. Contact with lionfish, scorpionfish, or stonefish can cause more serious injuries which require rapid treatment from a doctor and can cause permanent complications.  

Jellyfish have a transparent, gelatinous body and an umbrella-shaped bell called a medusa. Tentacles with stinging cells hang from the bell. The stinging cells are called nematocysts. Sea nettles have a smooth, milky white bell that grows to about 4 inches in diameter.

     In more exotic countries, you can come across the most venomous species of jellyfish or cone snails, which can result in death or long-term issues.


     Contact can cause itching, intense burning, pins, needles, sometimes pain, rash, or swelling. It can also cause nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and malaise. Coming into contact with the most poisonous types can result in a severe reaction and ultimately lead to paralysis of the central nervous system - extreme pain, breathing problems, difficulty swallowing, including the possibility of respiratory arrest and unconsciousness.

First aid for stings and injuries from spines

     It’s important to prevent the further spread of toxins, which have entered the body. You can try and use an implement such as a razor or credit card. Parts of the creature (tentacles, spines, etc.) can be removed with tweezers. Rinse the affected area with seawater or alcohol solution.

     The toxin is made of protein and it’s necessary to disrupt and denature it so it can no longer fulfill its function and stop it from poisoning the affected area. A hot water rinse helps. As hot as the injured person can handle (be careful to avoid scalding), an acidic rinse, with vinegar, for example, or heating it with a hairdryer. You can administer analgesics, antihistamines such as a topical cream like Benadryl, and disinfectant.

     Beware of freshwater. If you use it, it may cause the toxin to release further.

     In the event of a serious and sudden reaction with the possibility of respiratory arrest,  it’s imperative to administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation and get the casualty to a doctor as soon as possible.


     Prevent unwanted contact by wearing thin Neoprene or Lycra t-shirts and rashguards. The best prevention is to never touch marine wildlife and just admire it in its natural habitat from a safe distance.  

     Being careful pays off - some species of venomous creatures are skilled camouflagers and have an uncanny ability to blend in with their surroundings. For example, a stonefish looks just like the rock it’s resting on, which is where it gets its name from.

[ 1.c and 4.a ]  Safety Afloat

9 Points of the BSA Safety Afloat Plan.

     Sailing, swimming, kayaking, paddleboarding, or any aquatic activity will have potential hazards, even for advanced participants. Lives can be saved with proper supervision and training; lives can be lost by not following Safety Afloat practices.

A summary of the nine points of Safety Afloat includes:

  1. Qualified Supervision—Supervision by an adult, 21 or older, trained in BSA Safety Afloat. Leadership is provided in ratios of one trained adult per 10 participants; for Cub Scouts, it is 1:5. At least one leader must be trained in first aid that includes CPR. Any swimming done in conjunction with the activity must be within BSA Safe Swim Defense standards.

  2. Personal Health Review—Complete health history will be needed. Are there any restrictions on the part of the participant?

  3. Swimming Ability—Complete an annual swim test. Do you know what that is?

  4. Life Jackets—Properly fitted U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets are worn by everyone engaged in boating activities.

  5. Buddy System—Make sure each member is accounted for, especially when in the water.

  6. Skill Proficiency—Everyone in an activity afloat must have sufficient knowledge and skill to participate safely.

  7. Planning—Check for weather and contingencies as needed before your activity.

  8. Equipment—All craft must be suitable for the activity, be seaworthy, and be capable of floating if capsized.

  9. Discipline—Remember that rules are only effective when they are followed.

How BSA Safety Afloat applies to small-boat activities.

     All activity afloat must be supervised by a mature and conscientious adult age 21 or older who understands and knowingly accepts responsibility for the well-being and safety of those in his or her care and who is trained in and committed to compliance with the nine points of BSA Safety Afloat.

[ 3 ]  Boat Diagrams

Parts of an OptiParts of an RS FevaParts of a Laser.png

[ 4.b ]  Rules of the Road

What are the Rules of the Road?

You must know what to do at every crossing situation at sea whenever you meet another boat.

Because there are so many different types of boats and styles of boating, it is important to know what to expect when you come upon another vessel.

"Vessels" are anything that floats on the water that is used, or is capable of being used as a means of transportation on water.

The Rules of the Road are published by the U. S. Government Printing Office, While every boat owner should have a copy, they are only mandatory to be kept on vessels over 40 feet.

Different Types of Navigation Rules

  • International Rules - Apply to all vessels upon the high seas and in all waters connected to them that are navigable by seagoing vessels.

  • Inland Rules - Apply to all vessels upon the inland waters of the United States, and to vessels of the United States on the Canadian waters of the Great Lakes to the extent that there is no conflict with Canadian law. Certain inland waterways may have specific provisions that apply to certain vessels. (Long Island Sound is considered inland waters)

  • Great Lakes - Includes the Great Lakes and their connecting and tributary waters including the Calumet River as far as the Thomas J. O'Brien Lock and Controlling Works (between mile 326 and 327), the Chicago River as far as the east side of the Ashland Avenue Bridge (between mile 321 and 322), and the Saint Lawrence River as far east as the lower exit of Saint Lambert Lock.

  • Western Rivers - Includes the Mississippi River, its tributaries, South Pass, and Southwest Pass, to the navigational demarcation lines dividing the high seas from harbors, rivers, and other inland waters of the United States, and the Port Allen-Morgan City Alternate Route, and that part of the Atchafalaya River above its junction with the Port Allen-Morgan City Alternate Route including the Old River and the Red River.

Different Types of Vessels

  • Power Driven Vessel - Any vessel propelled by machinery. This includes any boat that has an engine. Sailboats are considered powerboats when they are being propelled by a motor - even if the sails are up.

  • Sailing Vessel - Any vessel under sail alone. Remember, if being propelled by a motor, a sailboat is considered to be a powerboat.

  • Vessels Engaged in Fishing - This means any vessel fishing with nets, lines, trawls, or other fishing apparatus which restrict maneuverability but does not include a vessel fishing with trolling lines or other fishing gear which doesn't restrict maneuverability. This means a shrimper out of Galveston is "engaged in fishing" Someone out trolling for stripers in their Grady-White is NOT considered to be engaged in fishing under the Rules.

  • Seaplanes - Are any aircraft designed to operate on the water.

  • Vessels Constrained by Draft means that a vessel can't deviate from a course/channel because it might run aground. A freighter in a narrow channel is an example of this. Note: This is for International waters only, not Inland.

  • Vessels Restricted in Their Ability to Maneuver - Means a vessel that can't maneuver as required by the rules because of the size or operation of the vessel. A fishing vessel pulling in nets and a buoy tender placing a buoy are both examples of a vessel restricted in its ability to maneuver.

  • Vessels not under Command - Any vessel that for some exceptional circumstance is unable to maneuver as required by the Rules and is, therefore, unable to keep out of the way of another vessel. If Joe boater slips and knocks himself out and can no longer steer--that's a vessel not under command. If the steering cable goes out, and you can't turn the boat, that's a vessel not under command. If the captain is not paying attention and hits another boat, that's negligence.

  • Underway - means that you are not anchored, moored, at the dock, or aground. If you are even drifting along, you are underway.

  • Restricted Visibility - Means any condition such as fog, mist, falling snow, rain, or other similar causes that make it difficult to see other vessels. Losing your glasses is NOT restricted visibility.

Who has right-of-way?

Your primary obligation is to operate safely. Under the Rules, there is no "right-of-way." For most situations, Boats are called one of the following.

  • Give-Way Vessel - If you are the Give-Way vessel, you must act as if the "stand-on" vessel has the right to keep going the way it is going. It is your responsibility to signal your intentions to the stand-on vessel, and it is your responsibility to maneuver your boat around the other in a safe manner. Also known as a "Burdened" vessel, as it has the burden of.

  • Stand-On Vessel - If you are the Stand-On vessel, it is your responsibility to acknowledge the intended actions of the give-way vessel. You must also maintain your current course and speed until the give-way vessel passes or you enter a dangerous situation.

What are the operator's responsibilities?

In addition to the Rules, you have other responsibilities as the captain as well. You are responsible for the safety of everyone aboard your vessel at all times--and you have a responsibility to those with whom you are sharing the water.

  • You must always operate at a safe, controlled speed for the situation you are boating and any legally mandated speed requirements that there may be, such as a slow/no-wake zone.

  • Take care to avoid careless, reckless, or negligent boat operations--such as operating too closely to other vessels, boating under the influence, or operating at an unsafe speed for the given conditions.

  • Steer clear of naval vessels and other restricted facilities such as bridges, power plants, and dams. 

Finally, as a boater, you have a responsibility to all other boaters--and all others who enjoy the water--to be courteous and respectful of others. This means that you should always watch your boat noise (a legal requirement), avoid congested waters as much as possible, avoid disturbing wildlife and seagrasses, and look out for the safety and well-being of other boaters by giving a hand to those in need.

Which vessel type has the right of way?

A "pecking order" can be used as a simplified memory aid to determine the right-of-way for vessels of different types. Get very familiar with this list, as it is important to understand it thoroughly. The lowermost vessel on the list is the give-way vessel and must stay out of the way of higher vessels on the list.

  • Overtaken vessel (top priority)

  • Vessels not under command

  • Vessels restricted in their ability to maneuver

  • Vessels constrained by draft

  • Commercial Fishing vessels engaged in fishing, with gear deployed

  • Sailing vessels

  • Power-driven vessels

What are the rules regarding avoiding collisions?

     Much like RRS 14 Avoiding ContactA boat shall avoid contact with another boat if reasonably possible;  there are rules of the road to avoid contact as well.


  • Rules apply to vessels in all conditions of visibility. Rules are the same at night or in fog, for instance, during a bright sunny day.

  • Every vessel must maintain a proper lookout by sight and hearing at all times. Operator inattention and not having an adequate lookout are a leading cause of accidents each year.

  • Every vessel must proceed at a safe speed at all times. Several factors should be considered when determining safe speed, including but not limited to the state of visibility, traffic density, your vessel's maneuverability, with special reference to stopping distance and turning ability. At night, consider the presence of background lights such as those from shore or the back-scatter of your vessel's own lights. Consider also the state of wind, sea, and current and the proximity of navigational hazards.

  • The Rules specifically require that any action is taken to avoid a collision, if the circumstances allow, will be positive, made in ample time, and keeping with good seamanship. Any changes in course or speed should be large enough to be readily apparent to the other vessel. This means that you should avoid last second changes in course, and you should avoid a small series of changes. Change direction early, and make a large turn.


Basic rules for overtaking, meeting head-on, and crossing.

     The main situations of collision risk are overtaking, meeting head-on, and crossing. When one of two vessels keeps out of the way (give-way vessel), the other, the stand-on vessel, must maintain course and speed. The stand-on vessel must avoid action when it becomes apparent that the vessel required to give way is not taking appropriate action.


The Crossing Rule


two vessels in a crossing situation

     Both International and Inland Rules state that when two power-driven vessels are crossing to involve risk of collision, the vessel with the other on her starboard side (the give-way vessel) must keep out of the way.

     As the give-way vessel, it is your duty to avoid a collision. Typically, this means you must alter speed or direction to cross behind the other vessel (the stand-on vessel).

     At night, if you see a red light crossing right-to-left in front of you, you need to change your course. If you see a green light crossing from left to right, you are the stand-on vessel and should maintain course and speed.


The Meeting Situation

two vessels in a head on situation

     At times there may be some doubt whether the situation is a crossing or a head-on meeting. In case of doubt, you should assume that it is a meeting situation, in which neither vessel has a clear-cut "right-of-way," and each must act to avoid the other. Each vessel in a meeting situation must alter course to starboard so that each will pass on the port side of the other. At night, you will recognize a head-on meeting situation if you see both red and green sidelights simultaneously.


The Overtaking Situation

two vessels in an overtaking situation

Any vessel overtaking any other vessel must keep out the way of the vessel being overtaken. The former is the give-way vessel, and the latter is the stand-on vessel.

This rule applies even if the overtaking vessel is propelled by wind, oars, or rubber band paddlewheel.

A vessel is deemed overtaking when coming up with another vessel from a direction more than 22.5 degrees abaft (behind) her beam. This is the angle prescribed by the stern light.

At night, the overtaking vessel will see only the white stern light of the vessel being overtaken. If you see either sidelight, it is a crossing situation.

Specific rules for operating in a mooring field, marina, or narrow channel?

     First and foremost, you have to avoid larger vessels that can only travel in a channel. Even if your vessel is operating under the rules otherwise, you must give way to a boat that could potentially run aground or get into a collision if they left the channel.

     Try and operate on the edge of the channel. Be extra cautious if you come to a bend in the waterway and can't see traffic coming towards you.

     You may sound a prolonged blast as a warning to traffic headed your way.

     On the Great Lakes and Western River system, vessels going downstream are stand-on; vessels going upstream must give way.

Specific Conduct of Vessels During Periods of Restricted Visibility

Operating a boat in areas or at times of restricted visibility requires extra concentration by the skipper and the lookout. You must operate your vessel at a speed to identify and react to a situation and still have enough time to avoid a collision. This is especially important when vessels are no in sight of one another.

  • Operate at a safe speed for the prevailing circumstances

  • Have engines ready for immediate maneuvering - including reverse

  • Don't rely on radar or other electronic imaging alone - use your buiilt in senses at all times

  • Take avoiding actions early and provide ample time for the other vessels to maneuver

  • Avoid sharp turns if being overtaken

  • Always - you are in doubt, reduce your speed

  • Every vessel shall at all times proceed at a safe speed

When Sailboats Meet

     Whether under inland or international rules, power vessels must keep clear of sailing vessels in open waters. A sailboat with motor running is defined as a motorboat. The "pecking order" between sailing vessels is more complex. When two sailing boats are approaching one another to involve risk of collision, one of them shall keep out of the way of each other as follows.

  • When each has the wind on a different side, the vessel which has the wind on the port side shall keep out of the way of the other.

  • When both have the wind on the same side, the vessel which is to windward shall keep out of the way of the vessel which is to leeward.

  • If a vessel with the wind on the port side sees a vessel to windward and cannot determine with certainty whether the other vessel has the wind on the port or the starboard side, she shall keep out of the way of the other.

  • The windward side shall be deemed to be the side opposite to that on which the mainsail is carried. On square-rigged vessels, it shall be deemed to be the side opposite to that on which the largest fore-and-aft sail is carried.


Small Boat Sailing Pages

SBS Reference Page – 1

1.a Hazards While Sailing, 1.b Sailing First Aid, 1.c and 4.a Safety Afloat, 3.Boat Diagrams, and 4.b Rules of the Road

SBS Reference Page – 2

4.c Weather Conditions and Sailing, 4.d Weather Warnings, 4.e Float Plan, 4.f Warm and Cold weather sailing gear, 5.…

SBS Reference Page – 3

7.a Knots 7.b Heaving, Coiling and Faking a Line, 7.c Kinds of lines, braids, and materials, 8. Boat maintenance, 9.…