You are here: Info » Operating Procedures
Registered Charity No 1089576
Print this page

Operating Procedures

This document is an overall guide to the operation of Sussex Sailability sessions.  It is important that the Officer of the Day (OoD) for the day is familiar with it. It will be stored on the website and all volunteers will receive a copy.


The OoD is ultimately responsible for the organisation and safety of the day’s activities taking due regard of the weather/water conditions, the competences of the volunteers available and sensitivities to the needs of the disabled members. He/She will take guidance from the senior Safety boat skipper regarding conditions on the water.

The senior safety boat skipper is responsible for the safety of sailors and boats on the water, and all instructions or requests by the safety boat skipper must be complied with by sailing helms.

General requirements

Candidate registration

All disabled people who want to sail must complete a registration form on their first visit. This form will include information on their disabilities. A summary of this information for all disabled people will be available to the OoD. Candidates may sail with us three times before they have to join as Sailability members of SYC.

Volunteer registration and development

On their first visit volunteers will be asked to give an outline of their skills with particular emphasis on RYA qualifications.  Sussex Sailability policy is to encourage all volunteers to gain appropriate RYA qualifications. Certificates should be made available on request. Informal assessments are made of all those who are to be allowed to be in charge of a boat with a crew under their control. A register of these assessments will be kept.

We are planning to pilot the RYA Sailability log book scheme


Carers should register on their first visit.  Carers continue to have responsibility for those under their care. They are encouraged to participate in the activities. A simple guide for carers is available.

First Aid

The duty first aider will be identified. They will take control of any injured person. If the emergency services need to be called there is a public phone in the SYC lobby. There is an accident book in the back room of the outside store and also one in the SYC office and with the first aid kit at Southwick. All accidents must be entered in one of these. If the outside books are used then a copy of any entry must be left in the office letterbox. If the emergency services are called the accident must be reported to the HSE via the SYC office within 48 hours.

Pre-Session organisation

Volunteering levels and competencies
  • Volunteers should be divided into 5 teams: Reception, Pontoon, Boats, Safety boats, Other boats. A leader will be appointed for each team.
  • Each team will be comprised of the following minimum number of volunteers.

Water based

  • Safety boat skipper Safety Boat qualified + Power boat Level 2 crew
  • Second safety boat skipper Safety Boat qualified + Power boat Level 2 crew. Crews must be prepared to enter water.
  • Pioneer helm qualified to Powerboat L2 + strong crew (if without carers)
  • Assessed dinghy helms - one per S16, one per Access double hander. (Ideally Instructor or Assistant Instructor level)
  • Drascombe helm one, competent crew min: one
  • SONAR Approved helm and one crew

Reception two

  • Pontoon Two, one trained in use of hoist
  • A Rota will be set up to get commitment early.

Keelboat participation

We encourage SYC members to sail with us in their keelboats.

A list of those who are happy to help will be maintained. Some keelboats will sail from Shoreham. Some may sail from Southwick. The OoD should arrange this ahead of the day.

Member attendance.
We will encourage members to notify the SYC office of attendance ahead of time. A list is placed on the Sailability notice board.
SYC notification

The use of the slip by Sailability will be agreed for the season when the overall programme is agreed. The OoD should remind the SYC Office when we have a session both to keep the slip clear and to get the mud scraped off. We will also ask them to keep the visitor’s pontoon clear (for Sonars).

OoD Pack

The chairman will produce an information pack for the OoD. This pack will contain:

  • Volunteers’ abilities, qualifications and phone numbers.
  • List of keelboat owners prepared to sail with us.
  • Details of disabilities of disabled sailors
  • List of volunteers signed up for the day
  • Location of Keys
  • Updated labels for magnetic cards and attendance lists
  • The OoD will give a contact number for those who have planned to come so they can warn him of any delay to their arrival.

On the day

The OoD

Each Sailability session will be under the overall control of an OoD. He/she will allocate volunteers to one of 5 teams. Reception, Pontoon, sailing boats, Safety Boats. Other boats.

The OoD will plan the activities for the day taking account of the weather and tide and the resources available.


The OoD will collect all the volunteers together 20 minutes before launch to give a briefing covering: allocation to boats, sailing area including the position of Safety Boats, any issues with wind or tide, plans for races, radio communication procedures and a contingency plan in case of problems (Risk assessments for each class of boat are in the OoD Information pack and should be used as guidance. A copy of each risk assessment is held in the SYC Office, as is a copy of these procedures. Risk assessments and Operating procedures are also accessible from the website). The OoD should remind helms to carry out the pre launch checks.

Responsibilities of reception team

Disabled Sailor sign in

Members and new people should be signed in using the pre-prepared sheet. They will also pick up their Magnetic card and put it on the despatch board. New people should be asked to complete an application form; a temporary magnetic card will also be given to them. Those who have been twice should be reminded that they should join the club if they wish to continue to come.

Volunteer and Carer sign in

All volunteers and Carers should be asked to sign in and pick up their magnetic cards and put them on the despatch area.

Boat allocation

Once the overall plan of activities has been developed the OoD in conjunction with the reception team will allocate disabled sailors and carers to boats. This allocation should take into account the wishes and competence of the sailors. There is a competence record for each member, which will be part of the magnetic card. Boat allocation will be displayed on a magnetic board.

Equipment allocation: The reception team will ensure that all members have suitable buoyancy aids and weatherproof clothing before they sail. A full self righting life jacket must be given to those identified as needing it on their magnetic card.

Audio compass if required to skipper of keelboat. The SONARs have one audio compass permanently assigned.

The Reception team will ensure that radios are allocated to OoD, Pontoon Manager, SONAR and Drascombe skipper. Safety Boats and reception have permanently mounted radios. Radio Channels: M2 should be used and channel 14 to communicate with Shoreham Port

First Aid

The name of the qualified first aider on duty will be on the external magnetic board.
Note. First aiders are identified on the Magnetic cards. All Safety boat helms and Senior instructors are qualified first aiders

Responsibilities of pontoon team

Hoist installation
The pontoon team should install the Oxford Hoist and ensure that it is working.
Pontoon management
One member of the team will be on duty as pontoon manager. They will control the passage of people to and from the Pontoon, and ensuring that there is no more than one wheelchair on pontoon at a time, and checking that all personnel on the pontoon are wearing correctly fitted buoyancy aids or lifejackets. A second member of the shore team will act as loading manager to ensure the safe transfer of people to and from the boats and to control boats as they depart and arrive at the pontoon. They will organise the transfer of people to boats and ensure safe operation of the pontoon and the hoist. The pontoon team should keep pontoon clear of obstructions and hazards.
Electric Wheelchairs
The pontoon manager should ensure that those in electric wheelchairs are transferred to a manual chair before they come onto the pontoon.

Responsibilities of Water based teams

Boat preparation
Rigging - Boats, which are required for the session, should be rigged. Disabled Sailors have been asked to arrive 45 mins. before Launch time. They should be encouraged to do as much of the rigging as they can by being assigned to specific boats.
A pre launch check must be done by the skipper before any boat is launched. For safety boats this is as laid down in the L2 course. For dinghies it should include checking paddle, bailer or bucket, bungs and proper rigging of boat.
Safety boats
Safety boats should be in the water at launch time. (approx 75 mins before HW) If the plan includes separate areas for S16 and Accesses then each safety boat will be allocated a fleet. The safety boat skipper must ensure that the boats all stay in visual contact with him and with each other. Conventions for communication with the dinghy helms should be defined. Racing marks should be set at the request of the OoD. The sailing area for a fleet must be such that the Safety boat can reach any part in less than one minute. Safety boats should communicate with the harbourmaster on Ch 14 when any boats are to sail in the harbour entrance.
Safe Sailing
Access weight limits must be adhered in wind over F3. (100 kg for 2.3 and 160 KG for 303).  This is particularly relevant for double seaters. Accesses should be reefed as the wind and competence of the helm dictates. Accesses only operate in the harbour.
Sports 16 should be reefed above F3. Max number on board is 5 in F1 to F3, 4 in F4. In F4 a competent crew is needed as well as the helm.
Max number of people in the Drascombe: 8 in F1 to F3 in the harbour, 6 in F4 and above and at sea. Skipper and competent crew required. To operate in the same area as the SONARs
The SONARs will operate independently but will stay in radio contact and in the areas laid down in the SONAR operating procedures.
Radio procedures
The OoD, Safety boats, SONARs and Drascombe must have radios.
Higher power radio channel M2 must be used at all times. Safety boats must monitor this channel at all times. Sonar and Drascombe should radio in at half hour intervals when at sea. Their area of operation should be defined by the radio coverage.
Powerboats and Marky to radio in 10 minutes before returning to Shoreham so that next crew can be made ready
Recovery and de-rigging
As boats return at the end of the session Disabled sailors and carers should be encouraged to assist in recovery, washing and derigging. Access and Drascombe sails are left in the boats. S16 sails are returned to the Dinghy Store. There is a notebook in the outside training room for any comments on the state of the boats or on operational issues. The capstan should only be used by those who have been trained.
Competence assessment
The OoD and skippers should make notes on the developing competence of sailors and return these to the chairman so that the magnetic cards can be updated.
Relation to formal training
Sailability sessions are not to be considered as formal training as we cannot operate all sessions to full RYA standards. We run formal RYA training for Sailability members under the management of the SYC RYA Training Centre.
Degree of conformance.
These procedures have been developed as a guide for the efficient operation of Sailability sessions but the decision of the OoD and of those in charge of the boats is always to take precedence.