Safety At Sea

Safety Officers

Safety at Sea should become part of your sailing being.   You must incorporate it in everything you do aboard.  To sail safely, you need to have:

  • Situational Awareness
  • Anticipation
  • Planning
  • Preparation
  • Seamanship Skill
  • Practice

In the articles below we expose you to the thinking of many experienced skippers and sailors, and trust the viewpoints will increase your safety competence. Learn from our experiences; frequently, in safety at sea, There Is No Book to tell you a specific answer, but you can learn how others have thought through issues.

This page is an index with links to important articles and videos about safety.  In part, it organizes thinking about safety by the type of sailing you do.  But, as safety is a complex issue, we encourage you to work your way through all areas of this page. Because we come from cruising-racing backgrounds, this page may appear to be slanted toward offshore and coastal racer-cruiser sailboats … BUT there is valuable information here about thinking and acting safely that you can use aboard power cruisers, day sail boats and one-design racers.

General Topics:
For all sailors, regardless of what you sail or where.

Coastal Cruising, Typically Short-Handed:  A cruise with a two-partner team, or perhaps with one or two others aboard.  Sailing shorthanded means new and modified skills.

Multi-day or Offshore Passages, including Racing:  The differences from coastal cruising and racing are significant.  You must be more self-sufficient, as help may not be available for longer periods. 

"Safety Moments": The Cruising Club of America conducts short discussions of a safety topic at all meetings, called “Safety Moments”.  Handouts are frequently given out.  Those handout are stored here, and are also scattered in the other sections of this website, as appropriate.

In-Depth Documents
If you want to drill down in some of these area, here are detailed reports.

Courses Currently Available:  Sign up for additional training at these locations.

Note: New Info denotes newly published articles.

General Topics:  For all sailors, regardless of what you sail, or where.

  • Several articles are based on experience and also cover many aspects of Safety-at-Sea.  
    • The CCA Safety-at-Sea Committee compiled a summary of lessons from recent incidents into Ten Lessons Learned from Recent Disasters.  This compilation is noteworthy because many members of the CCA Safety-at-Sea Committee have been on the review teams for the incidents in our sport.  Interestingly, many of the ten lessons are really part of "Back to Basics" of Seamanship; it is important to renew our practices regularly.  This significant paper is worth reading by every sailor.New Info
    • Talk about learning from experience! What about Abandon Ship from one who has had to do so twice!  Mark Roye's article NO DRILL, Safety at Sea is No Accident takes you through his life at sea including abandon ship, fire-fighting, and a wonderful approach to cruising.  His focus on hands-on training and regular practice makes this a must read for every skipper and crew.New Info
    • John Rousmaniere is kind enough to share his thinking about Seamanship and Safety, separately from his newly-revised book.  Read A Seamanship Ethos by John to understand how sailing safely becomes part of the joy of sailing.

Coastal Cruising, Typically Short-Handed: The normal in-season cruise is now a husband-wife (or other partner) team, maybe with one or two others aboard.  Skills may range from strong to novice.  Shorthanded and unskilled can be daunting.  But typically coastal sailing means having help available, sometimes almost immediately but almost certainly within a few hours.  Also, most trips are taken in daylight.


Multi-day or Offshore Passages, including Racing:  The differences from coastal cruising or racing are significant.  You must be more self-sufficient, as help may not be available for longer periods. 

Safety Moments: A CCA Safety Moment is a prepared 3-5 minute (max) presentation or demonstration given to members and guests at meetings and other gatherings of the Cruising Club of America with the purpose of maintaining a culture of safety and good seamanship aboard their yachts. Topics are chosen by Safety Officers in each of 13 local Stations and Posts and focus on the type of in-shore and near shore cruising (sail and power) that the audience does. The CCA Safety at Sea Committee acts as a source for topic suggestions and a clearing house for ideas and subjects while maintaining a Resource Library of Safety Moments. For additional information contact

In-Depth Documents: Longer, and more detailed studies. But many of these have powerful messages, so go through them when you can. You will learn something!

  • Overboard Recovery Symposium- In-depth analysis of Crew Overboard Recovery Symposium on San Francisco Bay in 2005, using Monohulls, Multihulls and Power Boats, and using different techniques for returning and recovering crew.  A must-read for skippers and captains.

Courses Currently Available:  

See our available courses page for offerings near you.


If you want to give your own, try Suddenly Alone A course designed for couples cruising together.  This is a "DYI" kit so you can give your own course at your local club or organization.