What Is The Use Of A Safety Harness In Sailing

A safety harness, in conjunction with tethers and jacklines, plays a crucial role in keeping you secure on deck during challenging weather conditions and preventing you from falling overboard.

Harnesses are typically worn around the chest or waist and attach to the boat using a tether (or lanyard), which then connects to a strong point on the vessel or a jackline. 

When appropriately utilized, the safety harness allows you to move freely on the boat while maintaining a secure connection. This connection not only minimizes the risk of going overboard but also aids in a faster recovery should an accidental fall occur.

Using a safety harness is particularly important in rough seas, strong winds, and low visibility situations. 

The significance of this equipment cannot be overstated, as it can ultimately make the difference between life and death when sailing.

Importance of Safety Harness in Sailing

Their primary purpose is to keep you connected to the boat’s safety system, minimizing the risk of falling overboard. Navigating a vessel can be unpredictable, and even the most experienced sailors may encounter unexpected challenges.

It is vital to choose the right type of harness that’s good quality and comfortable. The shorter the tether, the less likely you will become immersed in water if you fall overboard. For this purpose, I recommended ft tethers or midpoint safety hooks on 6ft tethers.

Usage of Safety Harness and Tether

In this section, we’ll discuss their usage in extreme conditions and the guidelines and regulations associated with their application.

Safety Measures in Extreme Conditions

During extreme weather conditions, the risk of falling overboard increases. It’s essential to wear a safety harness and tether to maintain your security on the deck, particularly when the wind starts picking up. 

The tether length plays a crucial role in how much you can move around comfortably. For instance, a short tether provides limited mobility, while longer tethers offer more freedom to roam the boat. 

However, it’s essential to choose a balanced length based on the situation, as too much mobility can nullify the purpose of the safety harness. 

To better understand the appropriate placement of safety lines to mitigate the need for lengthy tethers, check out this article on where to attach the safety line.

Safety Harness Guidelines and Regulations

While there are no universal regulations on when to use safety harnesses, organizations like US Sailing recommend wearing them in specific situations, including rough weather, cold water, sailing at night, and sailing short-handed or under conditions of reduced visibility. 

Compliance with International Standard ISO12401 and European Standard EN 1095 is also essential for ensuring the highest possible level of safety. To find more information on lanyard requirements, read this article on whether you should even tether.

Remember, a suitable safety harness and tether system can significantly improve your overall safety while sailing. 

Major Brands and Safety Harness Models

Wichard: Renowned for its expertise in marine hardware, Wichard offers a range of high-performance safety harnesses for sailing. 

For example, the Wichard ProLine safety harness is popular among sailors. It features an ergonomic design, easy-to-adjust straps, and a double-action safety hook for quick, secure attachment to your tether. Another great option is the Wichard ORC Tether, which meets the demands of offshore racing and ensures a secure connection to your boat.

Gibb: As a trusted manufacturer of marine fittings, Gibb also offers safety harnesses for sailing enthusiasts. The Gibb safety harness is designed with durability and resilience in mind, particularly for extreme sailing conditions. With an emphasis on safety and user comfort, Gibb harnesses are a reliable choice for securing yourself on board.

Stearns: Regarding life-saving equipment, Stearns is a well-known brand offering various safety products, including safety harnesses for sailing. Their harnesses incorporate a comfortable yet secure fit, allowing you to move freely around your vessel while remaining safely tethered.

Always remember to invest in a premium-quality harness from a reputable brand and check out the best tethers for offshore sailing for a high-caliber match.

Accessories and Additional Equipment

Among the most important pieces of equipment are positive locking devices, static tethers, personal knives, and webbing cutters.

Positive locking devices ensure your harness is securely fastened, preventing accidental detachment. These devices help keep you safely attached to the boat and should be used with a jackline system, allowing you to move confidently across the deck.

Static tethers are another crucial component for a sailor’s safety. They connect your harness to the boat and help provide stability and security during movement. Choose high-quality, sturdy products to ensure they can handle the strain during adverse conditions.

A Personal knife is an essential item for every sailor. It can be used for cutting through ropes, tangled webbing, or other obstacles that may threaten your safety. Keep your knife easily accessible to be prepared for any situation.

Similarly, a webbing cutter is a valuable tool to have on board. Its specialized design allows you to quickly and efficiently cut through webbing material, such as your harness or tether, in case of an emergency.

Another useful technology to consider for your sailing safety kit is a man overboard location alert system. These devices can make a crucial difference in quickly locating and rescuing a person who has fallen overboard, providing an added layer of security while out on the water.

I’m the founder and chief editor here at Sailing Savvy. I spent a decade working as a professional mariner and currently, I mix those experiences with digital publishing. Welcome, and I hope that we can be the hub you need for safe passage.