Safety on the Water

You should be aware of the Instructions that Apply to all craft launching from Grafham Water Sailing Club, whether they are racing or not. Key points from this document are summarised below:

Before launching, please note and observe any sailing restrictions in force: these are indicated by the following flag signals, displayed from the waterfront flag poles:

Red FlagNo launchingFor those afloat:
With a single long sound from shore, the lake is closing in 30 minutes and you must be onshore within this period.
With repeated sounds, come ashore immediately
Yellow-Red FlagOpen with restriction(s)See the monitor or notice-board in the Cafe about the restrictions
Yellow FlagSailing without restriction with reactive safety cover*Water is not necessarily being watched. A patrol boat is on the slip or on the water.
Green FlagSailing without restriction with safety cover^A patrol boat is on the water with driver and crew available
Red-White FlagWindsurfers and experienced boat sailors only (wind at 13-27 kt)Experienced means that you can right your boat unaided and return to the club’s shore unaided
Blue-White FlagExperienced windsurfers only (wind at 28 kt or higher)Experienced means that you can water-start your rig and return to the club’s shore. Water closed to dinghies, catamarans and keelboats.
Black FlagOpen: wet or dry suit must be worn by sailors (except for those on cruisers)1st November to 31st March, and when the water temperature is less than 5 degrees C
Blue-Green FlagOpen:blue-green algae presentWear suitable protection and wash after sailing


  • Flags are displayed alone or with other flag(s) on the pole next to the Coxswain’s slipway
  • A single, short sound signal from the shore means the flag has been changed.
  • You also need to look at the map (see below or click here for a pdf) that shows the fixed buoys and the no-sailing areas.
  • For your safety, you are advised to stay within sight of the Coxswain’s lookout and wear a brightly coloured or fluorescent hat.

*Reactive safety cover

  • There is not necessarily anyone watching the water but someone is onsite to assist if called.
  • You are advised to borrow a VHF handheld from the Coxswain to radio for help.

^Safety cover

  • The water is under observation by staff or volunteers
  • Particularly in extreme conditions, patrol boat assistance might be limited to what is practicable

Sailors of craft with retractable keels should review the following Marine Accident Investigation Branch Safety Bulletin 2/2019: