The best way to ensure that you and your crew members are wearing harnesses (and clipped on) is to set some basic rules and allow NO exceptions.
The Storm Trysail Club, an American association of experienced sailors who have survived storm conditions and are capable of skippering a vessel in those conditions, sets down the following guidelines:
A harness (with tether) and lifejacket with whistle and reflective material shall be worn:
a) between the hours of sunset and sunrise
b) when alone on deck
c) when reefed
d) when true wind speed is 25 knots or above
e) when visibility is less than one nautical mile
Additionally, each crew member shall carry a personal strobe between the hours of sunset and sunrise.
Don’t feel obliged to adopt the above guidelines but, as skipper, please do develop your own and enforce them.
Wearing a harness gives crew members confidence when moving around the boat. I’ve seen sailors who were reluctant to don a harness, reluctant to venture on to the foredeck when they are harnessed on, because they hadn’t learnt to trust the equipment.
Safety at sea is often a matter of common sense and avoiding taking unnecessary risks. It’s surprising how many times people quickly pop up on deck without a harness and find themselves overboard. Make sure you’re not one of them.
For detailed information on safety at sea, please visit Safety and Emergencies.