Sailors and the Coast Guard's 2010 Accident Statistics
New boating accident statistics have been released by the US Coast Guard.
Boating Safety Resource Center
If you figure the Coast Guard's 2010 accident statistics proportionately, here's what the numbers seem to say:
Sailors are more likely than other boaters to have accidents with contributing factors of weather, equipment failure, and improper anchoring.
Sailors are less likely to have accidents with factors of excessive speed and alcohol use. (How did that happen? Sailors must be more judicious about their drinking, saving most of it for ashore.)
Big-boat sailors have about as many accidents but are less likely to suffer injury or death than other boaters. Big-boat sailors are more likely than other boaters to suffer damage or injury from groundings but are less likely to fall overboard.
Dinghy sailors are more likely to keep a proper lookout; they know everyone else is out to get them. Dinghy sailors are less likely than other boaters to collide with fixed objects. Dinghy sailors, compared to other boaters, are more likely to fall overboard or capsize. Dinghy sailors are more likely to get into trouble with hazardous water than other boaters. PFD wear and preventing cold-water immersion injuries are critical for small-boat sailors.
Pat (NM volunteer boating basics instructor)
Most boating accidents are not reported to the US Coast Guard recreational boating accident database. Those that involve death, injury, or reasonably significant damage are supposed to be reported.
Method: Use the proportions of auxiliary sailboat accidents ("big sailboats") and sail-only sailboat ("dinghies") accidents and multiply by the number of accidents of each type to establish the expected number of accidents for the big and little sailboats. Note any large and statistically significant differences.
Auxiliary sailboats were responsible for 29 of the 313 reported grounding accidents, just over twice what would be expected.
The 15 reported dinghy capsize accidents were more than four times what would be expected based on simple proportions, but are not surprising to anyone who's sailed a very small, un-ballasted sailboat where exquisite balance is a continual requirement and getting wet is expected. Fatigue, sudden high winds, lack of wearing flotation jackets, or cold water can turn a normal dunking into a reportable accident.