Sailing Safety

When sailing, be aware of overhead power lines.

Many sailboats have masts of 30 feet or more, and most of these masts are made of aluminum. When aluminum masts or rigging come into contact with electric power lines, a lethal hazard is created.

Because of this danger, SMECO wants you to exercise some simple measures to avoid dangers.

Before You Sail

When you are stepping your mast, be sure to do so in an area totally clear of power lines. Be absolutely certain that the path you take to the launching ramp will not allow your mast to come into contact with overhead lines. The National Electrical Safety Code requires that power lines maintain a certain clearance over water or posted launching areas suitable for sailboats. This doesn’t guarantee that your mast will not come into contact with the lines. Take the responsibility yourself to see that your mast and rigging stay at least 10 feet away from all power lines. 

When determining overhead clearances, make sure to take the tide into consideration. Overhead clearances that are adequate for your boat at low tide may not be adequate for your boat at high tide.

While You Sail

Once out in the water, you should still look for overhead lines because power lines do cross over waterways. You will need to make sure that your boat has proper clearance from any overhead lines; your mast must never make contact with power lines.

When fishing, make sure to check for overhead power lines before casting your line.  According to the U.S. Coast Guard, should your boat come in contact with a power line, don’t jump into the water. The electrical charge may pass through your boat and electrify the surrounding water. The safest approach is to stay in the boat and avoid touching anything metal. Leave the boat only after it has moved away from the line.

After You Sail

When you’re removing your boat from the water, be sure to inspect the area for possible power lines which may come into contact with the mast as you step it and store it for travel.