Recovering people

Slings or wet nets such as the Hypo hoist or Jacobs Cradle are an effective means of recovering people from the water if they are unable to help themselves for any reason but they can be a difficult experience for both the safety team and participants, so familiarisation is important.

Other techniques in the Safety Book (G16) remain fit for purpose, including deflating a sponson of a RIB.

Powerboats with a drop bows provide the opportunity to recover people from the water, but it is important to have considered the risks, put procedures in place for how you would do this and have tested the procedures.

A risk assessment may identify individuals who will be difficult to recover from the water due to a combination of factors, including an inability to help themselves and their size. It is important to have a plan for all sailors where they can either be recovered to their own vessel or a safety boat.

There are situations where a sailor may need to get ashore quickly. Standard procedures usually involve abandoning the sailing vessel and returning to shore with the sailor in a safety boat. For people with limited mobility, who may need equipment to get them in and out of the boat, it may be preferable to leave them in their boat and tow them ashore. It is important to communicate with the shore team so that the right people and equipment are in place on your arrival.

Implications for practice and procedures

  • Consider additional equipment such as hypo hoists or Jacobs cradles that may be needed to recover people
  • Practice use of hypo hoists, Jacobs cradle etc if you have them
  • If using vessels with drop bows for recovery, carefully assess the risk, detail procedures to be followed and test the procedures.
  • Develop individual plans for sailors to be recovered to their own vessel or a safety boat, who due to a combination of factors have been assessed as difficult to recover if they were to end up in the water.
  • Establish good communication between the safety and shore teams so that the right people and equipment are available when needed


Find out more about seating and posture for personal safety and taking an active part in sailing

Next - seating and posture
A systematic approach to safety

An overview of the key elements of safety systems


Providers of activity have a clear duty of care to keep those involved in the activity safe. People of all ages, with a wide range of impairments go sailing. It is important to consider the person, the situation and the staff / volunteers involved before making safety decisions.

Personal flotation

It is important to get the choice of personal flotation device right each time a person goes afloat, particularly for people who may not be able to actively participate in their own self-righting if they were to end up in the water.

Strapping and harnesses

Strapping and other equipment are used for several reasons including to maintain posture and improve control of sails and steering. Straps and harnesses can be used by a person day to day (for example, in a wheelchair) or as a specific part of sailing equipment.

Self righting boats

Self-righting means different things for different vessels. Experience shows self-righting boats can and do get ‘knocked down’ or capsize, increasing the risk of inversion and entrapment. There are known examples where through a variety of factors they have subsequently inverted, including with the keel or weighted centre board retracted.

Adaptations to boats

Any modifications that deviate from the original design specification may alter the stability characteristics of that vessel and access to the full range of controls (steering and sails).

Recovering boats

When towing vessels participants usually remain in the boat. The seating arrangements in some vessels used for disabled people, and participants’ own limited mobility, may make it harder for the crew to stay out of the way of a tow rope, particularly if multiple vessels are being towed

Recovering people

Explore equipment like slings or wet nets, the importance for having a plan for individuals who may not be able to fully help themselves and the role really good communication plays

Seating and posture

Seating and posture are important for both personal safety and the ability to take an active part in sailing.