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The Importance of a Boom Preventer

By May 20, 2010

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Another experienced sailor was injured this week when the sailboat he was on experienced an accidental gybe in a gust. Unlike frequent stories of sailors struck in the head by a flying boom, Mike Kalahar was struck by the mainsheet tackle crossing the cockpit and pinned by the throat against a winch, cutting off his breathing. His injuries required a Coast Guard rescue, and fortunately this sailor reached medical attention in time and is now recuperating.

This story differs from the many stories of injuries caused by a lack of a boom preventer. Kalahar's boat had a preventer, but apparently under the extreme load of the accidental gybe the preventer line parted. All sailors should be especially alert when sailing downwind, and a preventer should always be used. Learn how to make your own preventer or shop around for a commercial boom brake - you may save someone's life.

Comments

May 27, 2010 at 6:34 pm
(1) John Navas says:

I know the advice is well-intentioned, but I must respectfully disagree. A boom preventer is a good (bad) way to break a boom. I know a number of such cases. The example cited was a freak accident, and a stronger preventer might well have traded one serious problem for another serious problem. A boom preventer should only be used when conditions warrant, and then only with great care.

May 17, 2012 at 8:40 pm
(2) john says:

Often people use the boom vang as a preventer which is asking for trouble and the preventer is attached to the boom only a third of the way out from the mast. Frankly, this is asking for trouble. The preventer has to be attached to the end of the boom, and strained at all time, ie no slack. If so, I don’t see how you could snap the boom, per the previous post.

john

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