Pre-Trip Meeting and Medical Form
Presented at Northern Lights Sailing Club meeting October 19, 2010
by Capt. Joan Gilmore
Some of the most important safety practices for sailing trips are completed before the trip
even begins. The first safety practice is to hold a pre-trip meeting to make sure that
crewmembers are comfortable and compatible with each other and the skipper.
At this time, it is important for each crewmember to answer the question, “What do you
want out of this trip?” The skipper needs to ask, “What are your skills?” and “What
would you like your role to be on this trip?” Knowing what to expect out of each
crewmember and for each crew member to have goals for the trip, whether it is to visit
certain spots or to improve particular crewing skills, keeps everyone focused and ensures
that the trip will be pleasurable for each crewmember. Sharing these goals and wishes
bonds the crew so that they can help each other realize individual goals throughout the
During the pre-trip meeting, the NLSC Medical Form should be distributed and
explained. (Find this form at http://www.nlsc.org/NLSC-tripinformation.htm) Every
crewmember needs to fill out this form, put it in a sealed envelope and place it in the nav
desk on the boat on the first day of the trip. In case someone is incapacitated during the
trip, that crewmember’s medical and contact information can be accessed to make
medical treatment both speedy and appropriate. After the trip, crewmembers take their
Also important is to give someone at home information about where you will be and how
to contact you in case of an emergency. Your trip chair can give you contact information
for the charter company. Even in remote areas, charter companies are usually able to
contact their boats, either by VHF radio or by boat cell phone. It is usually not a good
idea to promise to call someone at home on a certain day, as your itinerary may be off
from what you had planned and you may be in an area with poor cell phone coverage.
One important thing to give your at-home contact person is a copy of your Living Will.
They will be the one that is contacted if you are injured, and may have to make speedy
decisions about your medical care.
Though not a pleasant subject to think about, being prepared for medical emergencies
before the trip even starts will improve your peace of mind, and defining your goals
beforehand will help make your sailing trip both relaxing and satisfying.