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Is it safe to swim at sea

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Jul 19, 2010
31
Hunter 33 Marina Del Rey
I am trying to find a way to let my kids swim near the marina now that summer is here. They love being able to swim and it is part of what makes sailing special for the family.

We sail out of Marina Del Rey, California. That means there is no where to go. We sail along the coast and come back. In the winter, we used to take the kids to the little beach to play in the water for a little while. (There was a 15 minute tie-up). Now that it is summer, the beach dock is used by a waterbus and we cannot go there.

The kids are excellent swimmers. I am thinking of letting them swim while we are out in the ocean on calm days, with lifejackets, keeping them very close to the boat. Recognizing there is always a risk in swimming, is this a bad idea?
 

LuzSD

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Feb 21, 2009
1,009
Catalina 30 San Diego/ Dana Point, Ca.
seems no more irrational than going out scuba diving or snorkeling off a boat in the ocean... I would not hesitate at all!
 

zeehag

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Mar 26, 2009
3,196
1976 formosa 41 yankee clipper santa barbara. ca.(not there)
be aware of the southerly drift that exists in the pacific south of point conception--includes marina del rey---leave lines down--not to length of being able to get into prop--can help kids board boat...near to ladder...or a loop for them to grab at water level for boarding from sea....
 
Jan 3, 2009
821
Marine Trader 34 Where Ever I am
I am trying to find a way to let my kids swim near the marina now that summer is here. They love being able to swim and it is part of what makes sailing special for the family.

We sail out of Marina Del Rey, California. That means there is no where to go. We sail along the coast and come back. In the winter, we used to take the kids to the little beach to play in the water for a little while. (There was a 15 minute tie-up). Now that it is summer, the beach dock is used by a waterbus and we cannot go there.

The kids are excellent swimmers. I am thinking of letting them swim while we are out in the ocean on calm days, with lifejackets, keeping them very close to the boat. Recognizing there is always a risk in swimming, is this a bad idea?
I have lost count of how many times we have done the crossing from Newport Beach and Dana Point to Catalina. On every trip over and every trip back we stopped about half way for a swim off the boat. Chuck
 

PKFK

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Jul 12, 2004
206
Hunter 36 Ottawa
Drag a PFD on a line behind the boat !

One thing we do (not even in ocean conditions) - is that if anyone swimming is a bit unsure of themselves is tie a PFD to 50 feet of line and let it trail behind the boat (when stopped for swimming).

It willl trail the the current, so if anyone gets tired, then just have to swim to the line, rather than all the way upstream to the boat.....
 
Oct 26, 2008
5,021
Catalina 320 Barnegat, NJ
How does anybody jump off a boat off the coast of California without hearing the theme song from Jaws playing in their head?
 
Jan 4, 2006
281
West Coast
With a Few Common-Sense Precautions…

The things to consider, coming out of a busy place like MDR, it occurs to me, are:

1. Other boat traffic: when the kids are over the side, you are presumably under bare poles, with no canvas up. You're at the mercy of other boaters, and some of them are crazy. So getting out into open, unpopulated water would be desirable.

2. It's not current that will prove difficult; it is swell. The kids and the boat will be in the same current, and will be carried southward along the coast at about 1kt, together, so there's no concern about being separated or anything. But if there are seas running of any appreciable size, it could be risky/unsafe trying to get back on board. Just getting from dingy up the swim ladder in a swell is tricky: imagine the whole stern of the boat rising and falling two feet when you're six inches away.

3. At a far distant third: the prop. No engine running anytime anyone is in the water.

Start on a flat day, away from traffic, and make sure you have safety equipment near at hand to offer assistance, as a back-up for the life jackets (such as a boat pole, making sure your throwing device is ready to deploy): even a skilled swimmer can choke on an unexpected mouthful of water, and the ocean is just the place to get one.

Kudos for making sure your kids have the best protection against drowning: they are confident swimmers.
 

jfmid

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Jan 31, 2010
152
Oday 27 LE Manahawkin, NJ
To Romagic
It seems like you have given this some careful thought and that's usually the first step in avoiding problems.
PFD's, water clear of traffic, a lolly line trailing behind boat to pull in on, and engine off should be a good start. As a former lifeguard I can add that there should always be someone who's sole job is watching swimmers w/out distraction of other tasks. Just the time it takes to check the bilge water level is all it takes for trouble to develop.

To Scott T-bird

How does anybody jump off a boat off the coast of California without hearing the theme song from Jaws playing in their head?
See this link as the sound plays in the ears of those in the Atlantic too.
http://www.myfoxphilly.com/dpp/news/local_news/071810-sharks-get-new-jersey-shore-talking
Swimming off boat at Tice's Shoal in the Barnegat Bay yesterday. Brownish cloudy water. Perfect for a Bull shark. What me worry?
I'll win the lottery and buy a fully tricked out luxury yacht before I get eaten by a shark. You've got a bigger problem with snapping turtles on Lake Hopatcong then we do w/ sharks.
 

BobM

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Jun 10, 2004
3,269
S2 9.2A Winthrop, MA
...and remember that movie Open Water 2 / Adrift?

Synopsis: A weekend cruise on a luxurious party yacht goes horribly wrong for a group of old high-school friends. They forget to let the ladder down before they... A weekend cruise on a luxurious party yacht goes horribly wrong for a group of old high-school friends. They forget to let the ladder down before they jump into the ocean for a swim. The boat proves impossible to climb. They are stuck in the water many miles from shore, with baby Sara left alone on board. Sara's mother Amy must contend with her aqua-phobia as well as the group's increasing desperation, as the friends begin to turn on each other. Soon the exhaustion of keeping afloat and the struggle to get back on board begin to take a terrible toll. The happy reunion turns into a fight for survival. :eek:

So...remember to lower the boarding ladder :naughty:
 
Jul 19, 2010
31
Hunter 33 Marina Del Rey
...and remember that movie Open Water 2 / Adrift?

I shared a similar story with my wife who has not been sailing as long as I have. She did not believe me (she is not familiar with boats that do not have an open transom and swim step).

I am the one who started this thread. We have a Hunter 33 (an amazing family friendly boat). Not only could you climb onto the swim step without the ladder, if you did not lower the ladder before jumping in, you could easily reach the ladder from the water and lower it down.

But your story is a great one. You only have to hear it one time, and you will forever be very thoughtful about how to get back on board, before ever leaving a boat at sea.
 

druid

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Apr 22, 2009
837
Ontario 32 Pender Harbour
We do it all the time. But a few caveats:
- As others have said: engine OFF!
- Make sure boarding ladders are down and tested before anyone goes overboard
- Turn the wheel so the boat goes in circles. It's amazing how fast a sailboat can go even with bare poles with a slight gust of wind.
- At least ONE person stays on board!

druid
 

RAD

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Jun 3, 2004
2,329
ODay 32 centercockpit Bay Shore, N.Y.
We use multiple throwable pfd cushions with a poly line tied to it.
 
May 23, 2007
1,306
Catalina Capri 22 Albany, Oregon
Probably the others are right . . .

dragging a line/life jacket is a good idea - but in my youth, on hot windless days on Long Island Sound, Dad would tie a line around me in case the wind picked up while I was snorkeling behind the boat dodging the big red jellies.

Didn't wear a life jacket but in those days they were those godawful canvas ones that chafed the heck out of your neck at the slightest sign of moisture. I tell you, kids have it easy nowadays - Grandpa provides comfy life jackets in various colors that don't chafe, dry quickly, and they can use the inflatables when they become teenagers.
 

higgs

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Aug 24, 2005
3,485
Nassau 34 Olcott, NY
Druid makes the most important point - unless anchored someone who can maneuver the boat must stay on board. Whatever you do, don't swim in a marina as stray current from an improperly grounded boat is a real threat and much more common than many realize.
 
Oct 29, 2005
2,187
Hunter Marine 326 303 Singapore
do let out a long floating line large enough size for a good grip. make sure no power boaters or PWC is around.
 
Feb 17, 2006
5,102
Lancer 27PS MCB Camp Pendleton KF6BL
You could fly the Dive Flag when you or the kids are in the water. At least a knowledgeable boater will understand and stay clear.
 

Ross

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Jun 15, 2004
14,693
Islander/Wayfairer 30 sail number 25 Perryville,Md.
do let out a long floating line large enough size for a good grip. make sure no power boaters or PWC is around.
Those power boats are quick. They can go from a dot on the horizon to right on top of you in five minutes.
 

higgs

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Aug 24, 2005
3,485
Nassau 34 Olcott, NY
dive flag

I think it is best not to misuse signals. If everyone who goes swimming starts using a dive flag then we will all disregard the caution we use around those flags figuring we can see everyone in the water. As long as swimmers stay reasonably close to the drifting boat any prudent seaman will give you a wide berth. If one is not prudent, a dive flag ain't gonna help.

Go swimming and keep a good look out. You will be fine. I have never had a problem over the past 40 years..
 

Liam

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Apr 5, 2005
241
Beneteau 331 Santa Cruz
Last saturday I was anchored off the coast in Monterey Bay. I decided that it was a good day to clean the bottom. I put on my wetsuit and in the water I went. As I was scrubbing the bottom I was tinking about what sort of creatures were near and watching me. Of course my thoughts turned to sharks and statistics as the Monterey Bay is known for great whites.
As I was contemplating my fate a curious sea lion swam up within a few feet of my face mask to greet me. I almost had a bowel movement. Then I started laughing so hard that I almost choked on my snorkle.
 
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