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Water Safety; The Effects of Cold Water

When you fall into cold water the initial threat is cold shock – heart rate, breath rate and breath volume spike dramatically.  Cold water shock only lass for the first few minutes, but it can be deadly and there are a few things you can do to improve your chances of survival.


  1. 1. Try to remain calm and focus on your breathing, as the cold water shock will only last for a few minutes.


2. Keep your airway clear of water.  This is where a PFD will help keep your head above the surface of the water.  If not wearing a PFD then stay still and float, human body less dense than water and air in your clothing will help you float. Float, rest and recover from the initial cold water shock.


3. You survived the cold water shock response, but you are losing grip strength and speed of movement in your fingers, and this will progress to limb movement and coordination.  It’s better to stay still because exercise causes you to cool more quickly. If you need to take action, use your legs as enormous amount of heat is lost through the arms when you start exercising.  If you are in a group, get together for warmth, if by yourself get into the fetal position, with your knees to your chest to preserve warmth.  Try to stay warm as you await rescue.


You generally do not die directly from hypothermia, but instead lose consciousness, followed by swim failure and drown.  This is why a PFD is critical as you wait for a rescue.


When pulling someone out of the water, try to pull them out horizontally, rather than vertically, as horizontally reduces the risk of blood pressure collapse and you fainting and falling back into the water.  Once onboard, keep the person immobilized, lying horizontal and try to keep them warm using blankets or articles of clothing.


The number one thing to remember, don’t fall in the water.  Always have one hand on the boat, lifelines and jacklines tight and in good condition.  Wear a harness and tether and always clip in when sailing in rough sea conditions.


Stamford Yacht Club's Vineyard Race

The Vineyard Race was established in 1932 and is one of the premier distance races on Long Island Sound.  The Race now has three courses – Vineyard (238 nautical miles), Seaflower Reef (143 nautical miles) and Cornfield Point (116 nautical miles).  All courses start and finish off Stamford, Connecticut.  The traditional Vineyard Course starts from Shippan Point around the Buzzard Bay Light Tower then leave Block Island to starboard on the return trip back to Stamford. Currents play a role in exiting and entering Long Island Sound as well as in Block Island Sound.  The Race is held Labor Day weekend with the start of the race beginning Friday afternoon.  The Race always attracts a competitive fleet and experienced sailors.

Bob Bavier of Yachting magazine described the race as a miniature Fastnet Race, as the Vineyard has a combination of a coastal cruising, where currents pay a big role, a stretch of ocean sailing and a mark to round – the Buzzard Bay Tower – before returning.

Adirondack Canoe Classic

The Adirondack Canoe Classic is commonly known as the 90-Miler, a 3-day canoe/kayak race starting in Old Forge, New York and finishing in Saranac Lake, New York.  The course is the first 90 miles of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail. The event is held in September and registrations are limited, so if you are interested sign-up early.  There are different divisions, but there is a limit to a total of 250 teams.  


The Northern Forest Canoe Trail stretches 740 miles, across rivers, streams and lakes, following Native American travel routes from Old Forge, New York through Vermont, Quebec and New Hampshire to Fort Kent, Maine.  

Geneva, NY Lake Trout Capital of the World

Geneva, New York is located on the northern end of Seneca Lake and annually hosts the National Lake Trout Derby since 1964, during Memorial Day Weekend.  Seneca Lake is a member of the Finger Lakes, a group of eleven lakes, narrow, roughly north-to-south located in New York.  Seneca Lake is the second longest of the Finger Lakes at 38 miles, but has the largest volume of water, as the average depth is 291 feet and maximum depth is 618 feet.  Seneca Lake was a training base for the U.S. Navy during World War II due to its deep waters.  Underground springs feed the lake, which keeps the water moving in a circular motion, giving it little chance of freezing over during the winter and since the lake is so deep, the water temperature remains relatively stable at 39-degrees Fahrenheit, but during the summer the top 10 to 15 feet warm to temperatures in the 70 – 80 F range.  The warm and cold layers of water can be thought as oil and vinegar.  Since the water temperature is relatively cold throughout the year, Seneca Lake is home to coldwater fish, such as lake trout and Landlocked Atlantic salmon making it a great location for an annual lake trout derby.

Jib Sheet Controls to Shape Sail

The shape of the headsail, jib/genoa, should be similar to the shape of the mainsail for boat balance and speed, which are determined by wind speed and sea conditions.  For his blog, the headsail will be referred to as the jib.  

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