Preparation is the secret of success

Sailing, like driving, has a few basic procedures that, if not followed, leave one liable to problems. ‘Mirror, signal, manoeuvre’ we were all taught when we learn to drive. When we learn to sail, it’s ‘forecast, bilges, fuel’, among others.

And problems, as we know from experience, tend to beget problems. Trouble has a tedious habit of escalating exponentially. In 1980, Malcolm Dixon and his two year-old daughter Nieve went out in his 28ft sloop. There was very little breeze off Brisbane as he motored out of the channel, but a heavy swell running.

This footage, shot by Channel 7 in Australia, shows Dixon with no engine power, a shredded jib and beam on to waves breaking over a sand bar at the edge of the channel. The results were inevitable. The cause? A jib sheet over the side.

The stray sheet wrapped round his prop and rudder, simultaneously killing the engine and hauling the jib off the forestay. The main, limp in the calm, was useless. Both he and his daughter were quite unbelievably lucky – they survived.

But ask yourself, when was the last time you checked for lines over the side before slipping your mooring? Here’s what could happen if you don’t.