Top facebook2x Top twitter2x Top phone2x +44 (0) 1983 295169 Top email2x Email us Top webcam2x Webcam Top search2x Basket Login
Home / Racing / Safety Boat Launching Policy and Procedures
Home / Racing / Safety Boat Launching Policy and Procedures

Safety Boat Launching Policy and Procedures

GSC Policy and Procedure for the Launching and Recovery of Safety BoatsVer1

This policy should be read in conjunction with the risk assessments for use of the slipway and use of the winch.


GSC has a fleet of 5 rigid inflatable boats which are used as safety boats.Three of these boats are kept in the boathouse at the top of the club slipway, and the other two are kept outside on the hardstanding to each side of the slipway.

The Club slipway is directly in front of the boat house, separated by a walkway, and runs into the sea, ending just above the lowest low water level. During very low water, there is can be a small step from the end of the slipway to the seabed.

There is a significant drop from the sides of the slipway to the beach on both sides at low water, and into the sea at high water.

The Safety boats are launched using an electric winch. The winch is located at the rear of the boathouse, and operated by a hand-held control panel hung inside the boathouse door.

The winch cable leads from an open drum, across the centre of the boathouse floor and is connected to each safety boat as required by means of a large shackle.

When launching is in progress, the wire leads across the walkway. It can be raised from the walkway by up to 10cm at some points during the launch process.

There are orange cones and warning signage available to be deployed when the winch is in use

Each safety boat is housed on a purpose -built trolley/cradle, with a central axle, and a smaller wheel at the front which also helps to steer the trolley during launch.

Boats are secured to the trolleys by means of a rope from the towing eye on the bow, tied to the base of the trolley

Policy for launching and recovery of safety boats:

The winch and winch wire must be under the direct supervision of an adult at all times during use. The person operating the winch controls should stand in a position where they can see both the trolley and the winch drum. Instructions for use of the winch are posted on the boathouse wall.

Personnel should keep clear of the drum while the winch is in operation to avoid the risk of entrapment.

Members should not climb on the safety boat trolleys, except to access the boats, or to tie down the covers. Children are not permitted to climb on the safety boat trolleys during launch.

Shoes must be worn at all times while launching and recovering safety boats or operating the winch.

During launch, the 'winch in operation' sign and warning cones should be deployed to each side of the winch wire run. Safety boats should not be launched or recovered while there are people on, or in the water near the slipway

Personnel must not stand behind a safety boat while it is being winched.

The weight of the safety boats put a considerable strain through the winch wire. The winch wire must be released before attaching or removing from the safety boats, so that there is no tension in the wire.

The winch wire must be inspected regularly to identify any kinks or fraying, and the winch log book, which is hung on the wall beside the hand-held winch control, should be completed and signed.

If there is any concern that the strength of the wire has been compromised, it should not be used.The Rear Commodore Sail should be notified immediately and will arrange for a replacement wire to be fitted and tested by an approved fitter if necessary.

Safety boats may be man-handled around the level part of the site without attaching the winch wire, however, the wire must be attached before the boat is moved to the slipway.

At some tidal states such as low water springs, it can be difficult to launch the boats due to the rocks on the sea bed.In these circumstances, the safety boat should be lowered gently as far as the winch will allow and then if sufficient manpower is available and it is safe to do so without damaging the boat, the boat may be pulled off the trolley.

If the tide is too low to launch safely, sailing should be abandoned, or postponed until the tide has come in.

The boat house and bosuns locker doors should be kept shut when not in use.

Procedure for launching and recovering safety boats

Deploy the cones and warning signage to both sides of the cable run on the level part of the site, so that there is clear warning of the trip hazard.

Operate the hand-held controls according to the instructions posted on the boathouse wall.

Do not attempt to handle cable on or close to the winch drum while the winch is in operation.

After connecting the winch cable to a boat, wind it back in until there is gentle tension, before attempting to move the boat.At least one person should walk down the slipway with the boat, to steer if necessary using the trolley handle and to communicate with the person operating the winch cable.

The person operating the cable must obey any instruction to stop from the person on the slipway.

The winch should also be stopped if there are any concerns about the integrity of the cable.

The person operating the winch must alert any pedestrians of the cable and request that they do not cross while the winch in is operation.

Lower trolley until the safety boat is close to the water.The driver and crew should then climb into the boat, and the bow line should be untied.The trolley is lowered further until the safety boat is just afloat. The engine should be raised sufficiently so that is does not hit the seabed, and the boat gently reversed off the trolley.

At low tide, four or five adults are required to push the safety boat into the water as far as it will go.The boat may not be afloat.Undo the boat's bow line from the trolley, ensure the engine is fully raised, and push the boat backwards off the trolley.Walk the boat out to a safe depth before starting the engine.

Once a boat has been launched, the trolley should be recovered and returned to its normal storage space or to a safe level area of the boatsite.If tidal conditions permit, one trolley may be left on the slipway. It should be left hard against the westerly wall, with suitable chocks under the wheels. The winch cable must be released so that there is no tension on it and it lies on the floor for its whole length. Deploy orange cones to both sides of the winch cable.

After all the required boats have been launched, the boathouse door and bosuns locker door should be shut, to prevent access by non-authorised people. If the boats are being used during a period where the club is not open, the bosuns locker should be locked.

When recovering boats, let the trolley down using the winch wire until it is far enough into the water for the safety boat to be driven onto it. Ideally it should be angled so that the recovered boat can aim directly at the shore to drive on.

Crew members should not move forward of the console, to avoid being hit by the overhead arch on the trolley. The trolley should then be recovered to a point where the boat sits down fully into the cradle, before being tied on. Do not tie the boat on while it is still floating as this results in the rope being too tight, which distorts the boat and damages it.

When the boat is out of the water, stop the recovery to allow crew members to get off, this reduces the strain on the winch cable.

When the boat reaches the level walkway at the top of the slipway, the cable may be removed if the boat is stored outside. Do not remove the cable if the wheels of the trolley are still on the slipway. For those boats stored in the boat house, continue to use the winch cable until the boat enters the boathouse.Release the cable to take off the strain, then remove it.The boats must be manhandled into position taking care that no one is trapped between the trolley and the boathouse walls.

Drop engines into the operational position and wash them out with fresh water after each use.

For boats stored outside, all fuel cans, keys and other portable items should be removed and stored safely in the appropriate locations.


Last updated 09:53 on 2 March 2022

© 2022 Gurnard Sailing Club powered by Sailing Club Manager