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Sailing Skipper’s Guide to “Rendering Assistance”

Sailing safety begins with keeping your sailing crew and vessel safe and sound. And that includes when assisting another vessel in distress. You are obligated to offer assistance and may render assistance as long as it does not place your crew or vessel in danger. But it’s easy to get caught up in the moment…

Long ago, I was a US Coast Guard search and rescue small boat coxswain in Charleston, South Carolina. Late one afternoon, we received a call from a stranded vessel hard aground off of Charleston Lighthouse.

Within minutes, we were underway in our 40 footer. Soon, we arrived on scene to find the crew of a large power boat weary but unhurt. The boat was almost high and dry on a sand bar. And, it was in no danger. Winds were light and the sea flat as a pancake. This grounding was a minor inconvenience at most because high tide was hours away.

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