Annapolis Safety-at-Sea Seminar

Rich Wilson, two time round-the-world solo sailor, to headline Annapolis US sailing safety-at-sea seminar, March 24 & 25, 2018

March 2, 2018
safety at sea raft
The practical-skills portion of the Safety at Sea Seminar includes practice with a life raft. Mark Pillsbury

On Saturday, March 24th and Sunday, March 25th, 2018 the Marine Trades Association of Maryland and Navy Sailing will present the 39th annual Annapolis Safety-at-Sea Seminar. Nationally sponsored by Cruising World magazine, Sailing World magazine, US Sailing and Landfall Navigation, this event takes place in Alumni Hall at the U. S. Naval Academy.

The Safety-at-Sea seminar provides an opportunity for two days of learning. Moderator Chuck Hawley will lead a team of sailors and industry experts on Saturday, who will address safety issues that include crew overboard recovery, hypothermia, weather forecasting, search and rescue options, and the maintenance of safety equipment. There will also be the exciting live demonstrations of crew overboard recoveries by Midshipmen, a U. S. Coast Guard helicopter rescue, life raft boarding and pyrotechnic signal flares. The day concludes with an opportunity to visit with the presenters at the evening reception. Participation in the first day of the seminar will qualify registrants for a US SAILING certificate.

safety at sea training
Testing out bilge pumps at the Safety at Sea seminar Mark Pillsbury

Sunday has two options for additional training. The World Sailing (International Sailing Federation) track involves hands-on training where participants can simulate an abandon ship scenario by getting into their choice of gear/PFDs, jumping into a pool, swimming to an inflated life raft and hauling themselves into the raft. Hands-on jury rigging, safety ethos, communications, and fire-fighting round out the curriculum. Earning the World Sailing certificate requires passing a test at the end of Sunday and full participation in both days.


The second track is Advanced Cruising, which includes in-depth presentations on communications and electronics, navigation, cruise preparation, and ocean currents with wind/wave dynamics. The afternoon sessions offer either hands-on training with safety gear (Practical) or small group discussions (Interactive).

safety at sea helicopter rescue
A USCG helicopter rescue demonstration Mark Pillsbury

Around-the-world singlehanded racer Rich Wilson will present the keynote address on Saturday. He is the only American to finish the Vendee Globe race twice. Wilson comments, “Once you leave the dock you’re on your own. You have to make decisions, fix things, and you’re suddenly in positions you’ve never been in before”. Wilson will recount how on his first Vendee Globe around the world race his boat did a double somersault 400 miles west of Chile in 65-foot seas. He will discuss how safety plays a critical role in offshore sailing.

Also featured this year will be presentations from CW Monthly Maintenance columnist Steve D’Antonio on damage prevention and control. Capt. J. K. Louttit (Kip), USCG (Ret) will discuss and demonstrate care and maintenance of safety equipment. Navy Sailing Varsity Coach Jahn Tihansky will discuss the details of crew overboard rescues, and you’ll hear a first-hand account of an amazing recovery that occurred during a distance race last summer. Back by popular demand, the seminar will again offer an afternoon weather session featuring Joe Sienkiewicz from NOAA and Dr. Gina Henderson. Dr. Michael Jacobs will present emergency medical care and hypothermia on Saturday. He will discuss questions ranging from how to treat contusions to why it’s important to understand the dire implications of hypothermia. Sunday will feature offshore cruiser and instructor John Kretschmer who will present the cruise preparation segment of the program. This year’s seminar will address the needs of offshore racers and cruisers as well as provide important safety tips for those whose boating interests remain much closer to home.

helicopter safety at sea
USCG rescue helicopter at the Annapolis Safety at Sea seminar. Courtesy of Ted Ruegg

Tickets are available online at for $175 for Saturday only, which includes an evening reception with the speakers and $225 for the two day advanced cruising session. The two-day World Sailing (ISAF) Certificate session is $325. Refreshments and a box lunch will be provided each day as part of the ticket price. The World Sailing (ISAF) portion of the program is capped and seating for the popular two-day event is limited; therefore, early registration is strongly advised. Ticket and event information may be obtained through the Marine Trades Association of Maryland P.O. Box 3148, Annapolis MD 21403 on the web or by telephone at 410-269-0741.

Endorsed by the U. S. Coast Guard and originally designed for Academy Midshipmen 39 years ago following the tragic 1979 Fastnet Race, the popular Safety-at-Sea Program has been credited with saving countless lives. Life saving know-how is useful not only for those who have never ventured offshore, but for those who make offshore passages regularly. The national Safety-at-Sea programs have become required attendance for those planning to participate in the Annapolis to Newport, and the Annapolis to Bermuda race. Whether racing or cruising, power or sail the Safety-at-Sea program heightens the importance of safety training for everyone on the water.


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