Winter Sailing

Introduction

Winter sailing at Jericho is majestic. We are lucky to live in a place where we can sail all winter with a view of a lush mountain rain forest and snow-capped peaks.
While winter sailing can be a unique and exciting experience, it does carry some additional risk compared to sailing in warmer weather. It is important to prepare properly by considering the specific risks created by the colder water, air and shorter days. Please take the time to seriously consider the risks below:

The Basics

You are responsible for your own safety and the safety of the boats.

Always wear a PFD, with a whistle, and a wetsuit.  A knife is highly recommended.

Always bring a paddle, bailer (not needed on self-bailing boats), and 15m buoyant heaving line.

Always tell someone you are going out, and when you are expected back.
The Cold

Bundle up. Your hands will get cold quickly, and your core will get colder slowly over time. A warm hat, gloves, booties and a few extra layers in addition to your wetsuit are strongly recommended.

Dress for the water, not for the air.  Even on a warm sunny day, the water will not warm up.  Even with a wetsuit, you may cool down quickly in the water, and start losing the co-ordination needed to recover from a capsize.  Sailing in company with other boats gives you some margin of error and a possibility of timely assistance.
Drysuits are an excellent option to consider, as you can layer as much underneath them as you like, and remain dry the entire time. Second hand drysuits can be obtained at reasonable prices.  (Be aware, however, of the small risk of flooding a drysuit should it be torn.  Carrying a knife is always recommended when sailing.)
Consider sailing for shorter periods of time to allow for your core temperature slowly going down. As your core temperature goes down, your risk of hypothermia increases, and your ability to sail safely and recover from a capsize go down. Eat enough before you go out to keep your metabolism up. A warm shower after sailing, or a visit to the fireplace in the Member’s Lounge are a great way to warm up again after a sail.

You’re on your own!

We stress self-reliance at all times.  However, in the winter, this is particularly true.  Jericho Rescue does not generally launch the rescue boat in the off-season, so their response times increase by 10-20 minutes.  Lifeguards are not on station, removing one frequent way Jericho hears about vessels in trouble.  Fewer people on the beaches, and fewer ‘vessels of opportunity’ on the water further reduce your chances of getting help.
It is strongly recommended that you sail with an experienced buddy – Intermediate level at least – and in company with a second (at least) boat. You will need a buddy to launch a Laser or sail one of the FJs or Vanguards. You cannot launch or return a Laser alone (and in the off-season, it is less likely there’ll be a convenient passer-by you can ask to bring down your dolly) or sail a Vanguard or FJ alone. If you want to be paired with a buddy, please contact  monohull@ubcsailing.org .
It is important that you feel confident with your buddy. If you are concerned about their level of experience and perspective on safety, tell them and consider not sailling with them. Your safety is too important.
It is strongly recommended to sail closer to Jericho throughout the winter in case something unexpected occurs. The closer you are, the more likely you are to be able to solicit help from others on the beach or through use of a marine radio or cell phone.

MEC sells cell phone cases for about $25, and Steveston Marine (5th at Pine) has marine radios starting at $50:

(Note that marine radios require an operator’s license; contact  monohull@ubcsailing.org  or  safety@ubcsailing.org  for further information.)
The coast guard can always be contacted on Channel 16; Jericho Base should monitor both 16 and 80A, but in the off season it’s worth poking your head into the office to let them know you’re heading out and perform a radio check.  If you choose to carry a cell phone instead, ask at the Jericho office for the most relevant phone numbers to program in.

The Wind

We can get some rather strong, gusty winds in the winter. It is strongly recommended to review the Environment Canada wind forecast and/or those from other sites like windalert, or bigwavedave prior to sailing to ensure that you do not get caught in strong winds during your sail.

Gusty winds are especially common in the winter, and should you capsize, you may not have the energy to recover more than once. The longer you are in the water, attempting to recover, the less likely you are to have the strength to recover.

Strong winds and gusty winds are to be avoided especially. If you capsize, pay special attention to your body and seriously consider returning to the shore to warm up after recovering from the capsize itself.

Shorter Day

Days are shorter through the winter, and the light disappears rather quickly in the evenings. Plan to end your sail at least an hour before sunset, and start your return well before sunset in case the wind slackens on you. It is not worth the risk to stretch out your sail. There are plenty of beautiful winter days to sail.

Ice

Ice can build up on the boats, sails and foils. Ice may also be present around the yard and on the ramp. Be careful where you step.

Water to most of the compound is shut off over the winter to prevent pipes bursting.  There is one fresh water hose at the south-east corner of the building, and in all but the coldest weather, another under the patio where Jericho Rescue and Jericho Marks are parked (please treat those boats with all due respect if squeezing behind them to use that hose). You can use this hose to rinse your boat, melt ice, and wash your sails. If it is especially cold, consider taking the sails inside to be rolled after they have been washed.

Care

Fewer eyes are on the boats and equipment over the winter. Please check your boat, sails, lines, attachments, and foils very carefully before taking the boat out. If you notice any issues, please contact  monohull@ubcsailing.org . We may be around anyway and can help with a simple repair before you head out. Small issues with a boat in colder air and water can become a large safety risk. Consider your safety and the safety of the boat carefully when you are inspecting the boat, sail, foils, attachments, and lines for issues before heading out.