Storm Trysail's Hands-on Safety At Sea Seminar Wrap Up from Spring 2017

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All Photos Courtesy of Howie McMichael

Storm Trysail's Annual Hands-On Seminar was held Saturday, May 20, at the SUNY Maritime College at Fort Schuyler in the Bronx, NY. This is the fifth such Seminar and we continue to evolve the concept of a one day seminar to achieve World Sailing certification.  We also added a level of training above the World Sailing level.  Charles "Butch" Ulmer chaired this challenging event and mobilized over 60 members and an armada of boats.

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"Level 100" is the designation Storm Trysail has given its World Sailing qualification program.  In the 75 minute opening session, Moderator Rich du Moulin emphasized seamanship and leadership "Shackleton style" with the goal of "Don't Give Up the Ship!"  Then Lt. Tim Anderson of the USCG presented Sea Air Rescue and STC member Martha Parker of Team One Newport demonstrated proper offshore attire on super models Scott Steele and Ann Myer

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After the opening session, the 180 Level 100 students were assigned to four color groups and rotated through four 90 minute hands on sessions (lunch break in the middle): 

  1. Pool Session - Dan O'Connor ordered everyone in the pool with foul weather gear and boots, with and without PFDs.  After learning survival techniques, the swimmers then boarded life rafts.  Coast Guard rescue swimmer Mario Estevane then approached the rafts as if he were just lowered on a wire to instruct the occupants how to prepare for helicopter evacuation.
  2. On the Water- Chair Kelly Robinson organized 7 borrowed 40-48 foot boats each with an owner and two coaches. The crew practiced with storm sails, MOB pickups  with tall boys, reefing, and drogue steering.
  3. Fire/Pyrotechnics Brook West, Carl Lessard,and Joe Richter taught a half hour classroom session and then headed  to the "Point" near the Throgs Neck Bridge to fire rockets, light flares and smokes, and fight a diesel fire.  As usual the police and fire department paid a visit despite being notified!
  4. Damage Control John Storck, Eric Goetz, Will Keene started with a classroom session followed by hands on patching, rod cutting, steering system demo, and pump demonstrations. This session was greatly improved over the past with a better connection of the hand skills to preparations and immediate responses.  Chair John Storck was well qualified by his 45 years keeping his Erickson 39 Jonrob

At the Closing Session, Moderator Rich du Moulin provided a summary of high points of lessons learned, and power points of heavy weather sails, sailing and tactics.  Courtesy of Switlick, Ryan Taffett inflated a Life Raft. 

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About half the Level 100 also signed up for the US Sailing ten chapter lessons and quizzes.  They also had access to Storm Trysail's great video library and will take our online test during the next two weeks. About half the group were racers and half cruisers (non Bermuda Race Year).  All members should consider the very inexpensive purchase of unlimited access to our video library.

Level 200 -  For the first time ever, Storm Trysail offered this higher level program which was originally developed for junior sailors by STC's Joe Cooper.  For the adults we required that they had done Level 100 or the equivalent previously.  30 signed up which we think will dramatically grow next year, since we now have about 600-700 Level 100 "graduates" from past years.  Level 200 Chair Peter Becker organized Level 200 and recruited some of STC's top talent as coaches. 

Level 200 sailors attended the opening and closing sessions but not the four 90 minute portions.  Instead they had half a day of classroom work, and sailed half a day on three J/44s, each with three very experienced racing sailors.  Each boat had a support rib following it - America's Cup style.

On the water the crew did MOB recoveries with actual men in the water with Gumby suits.  They practiced Quick stop and close approach (we teach 15 feet off the bow and a crew uses the throw bag from the foredeck - safer than alongside approach) . They also practiced the Lifesling recovery method.  The ribs stood closely by; one rib driven by Matt Marciano had medic Mary McKiege with an AED, Peter Kelly solo in a rib and Lee Reichart, Ryan Taffet and Frank Stagliano in another with Howie McMichael and Peter Fackler in Puff as the photo boat. 

Other Level 200 activities included: reefing/unreefing, drogue steering, damage control scenarios, storm sails, and near the end of the session the crews abandoned ship into Switlick provided rafts!  This had never been done at any safety seminar anywhere. The sailors stayed in the rafts for about 20 minutes, firing rockets and setting off flares and smokes. 

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Three Level 200 one hour classroom sessions included: USCG SAR (with more detail than the opening session); Frank Bohlen on weather, and the NYYC team of Juan Corradi, Gary Forster, and Bro Uttal on scenarios for flooding and abandoning ship. 

For the event we produced a 24 page pamphlet compressing all aspects of SAS. Every attendee received one. These are intended to be kept aboard and read by crew. Storm Trysail will try to get this online for everyone to read. 

The Maritime College is a fantastic venue for all these activities.  We expect in 2018 to have about 250-275 Level 100 and 50-75 Level 200.   We had about 60 volunteers, including friends from CCA and NYYC.  Nathan Titcomb represented USSailing.  Rob Cafra represented SUNY Maritime College throughout the day making sure that all of the event planning came smoothly to fruition.  Sponsors included AIG Insurance, UK Sailmakers, McMichael Yacht Yards, Landfall Navigation, Team One Newport, Switlick Marine Safety, Sea Safety International, DP Sailcloth, and Brewer Yacht Yards & Marinas.

 Special thanks to the owners of the training fleet:

Vamp  - Lenny Sitar     Maxine - Bill Ketcham     Froya -Briggs Tobin     Rocket Science - Rick Oricchio      Christopher Dragon  -  Andrew and Linda Weiss 
Second Boat - Mark Ellman     Inisharon- Jim  Murphy    Glory - US Coast Guard Academy      Charlie V - SUNY Maritime College     Faith - Kory Breitel

And thanks to all the other volunteers:

Peter Bauer
HL Devore
AJ Evans
Josh Reisberg
Doug Lynn
Bill Padin
Hiro Nakajima
Peter Overzat
Bob Monro
Gordon Dailey
Gerard Girstl
Todd Aven
Jim Binch
Bud Heerde
Bob Behringer
Roland Schulz
Ed Cesare
John Troy
Jed Kelly
Nick Langone
Lawrence Cutler
Mark Ploch
Will Donelan
Wes Oliver
Kelly Robinson
Adam Loory
Buttons Padin
Tig Smith
Tom Young
Kristin Murphy
Colin McGranahan
Randy Needham
Brook West
Rand Milton 

Rich du Moulin, Moderator 
Storm Trysail Club