Safety Guidelines

General Safety Guidelines
Rules of the Road
Safety Notes on the Operation of the Winches

General Safety Guidelines

Even though OHCC has rescue boats on the marine railways, members should never assume that they are continuously manned. Safety is your own prime concern when going out. The wind in the outer harbour is very deceptive, especially when it is coming from the north with City behind it. What may appear to be a gentle breeze could well be 15 to 20 knots in the open water beyond our sheltered bay. A good website to check is It has two hourly forecasts right through the day and five days ahead for Cherry Beach that is quite accurate.

Before you get into trouble on the water or run afoul of the law, you must practice “self-help”. Make sure your boat is equipped with:

  • bailers
  • personal flotation or buoyancy devices for all crew and guests
  • a towline at least 10 metres in length

Before leaving the dock, put details of your sail plan in the clubhouse log book. On return, check back into the log book and sign out.

If you are in doubt about going out, ask the opinion of other experienced Club members about the wind and the weather. IF YOU ARE STILL IN DOUBT, DON’T GO OUT! Always error on the side of caution.

Personal Flotation or Buoyancy Devices
Have a modern, close-fitting life preserver. Too many sailors rely on the older, loose-fitting life jackets that give very little support and, in extreme cases, can float off.


There is always a fear of very cold water in any month of the sailing season. Prolonged immersion in the water can lead to hypothermia  –  even in August. Despite the apparent weather, things can change very rapidly over the lake. Always dress for sailing  –  not for sunbathing! Remember that even on a hot, sunny day in June, the water temperature will be very low and hypothermia can be a very serious problem if you capsize.

Rules of the Road

The rules of the road in navigation are often similar to the rules on land.  The Collision Regulations contain many rules pertaining to navigation; however, four rules are basic to navigation.

A boat that is overtaking another must steer clear of the overtaken vessel’s path.


A vessel approaching from the port side must give way. (A) keeps clear of and must avoid crossing ahead of (B).

When two vessels are heading toward each other, each must reroute and pass to the right of the other. (A) blows one blast and alters course to starboard, (B) blows one blast and alters course to starboard.


As a general rule, rowboats, sailing vessels and canoes have the right-of-way over power- driven boats.  However, if one vessel is unable to maneuver as it normally would, the most maneuverable vessel gives way.

Responsibility for avoiding collisions is shared by everyone using the waterway. Common sense must be used along with alertness and caution.

The concept of taking early and substantial action must be applied in all cases.


The Collision Regulations requires that anyone operating a vessel be constantly on the alert, both in sight and sound.

Operating a vessel requires the operator’s sustained attention; operators must be constantly alert and watchful to everything around them.  Not only must they take account of what is happening in front, behind and on both sides of them, like a road vehicle driver, but they must also pay attention to what is under them.  A single glance at the sky is enough to see the early signs of bad weather, or perceive impending dangers (electrical wires or others).

The water surface can also conceal dangers: tree trunks, water plants, rocks near the surface, etc. For that reason, they required deep concentration when operating a boat.  This alertness allows the operator to adjust speed to boating conditions, and thereby enhance the safety of the operator and of others.

Safety Notes on the Operation of the Winches

  • The electric winch machinery must be turned OFF whenever either of the boats is neither in the process of being launched or re-stored on the railway and the machinery cover replaced
  • Keep everyone and everything away from the marine railway and platforms, so that nothing might get caught or contribute to any accident or damage
  • Make sure all children and adults keep back a safe distance from the electric winch and marine railway when the winch for it is being operated

Safety Notes on the Operation of the Manual Winches

  • Never disengage the clutch while the wire rope is under tension. Never engage the clutch while the drum is rotating. Always make sure the clutch is fully engaged or disengaged
  • Never winch when there are less than five wraps of wire cable around the winch drum
  • Always keep hands and clothing clear of the wire cable, hook and fairlead opening during operation and when spoolin
  • Always wear protective gloves while operating the winch or handling the wire cable. Avoid loose fitting clothes or anything that could become entangled in the wire cable and other moving parts
  • Be sure that everyone in the immediate vicinity is aware of your intentions before you pull.  People should not stand behind or in front of the boat and never near the wire rope or snatch block. Your situation may have other “no people” zones
  • Ensure that no vehicles are using the roadway
  • Choose the windward side of the dock to winch a boat in or out of the water