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:

Flag Meaning Commentary
Red Flag Closed/Closing. No launching allowed For boats 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
Green Flag Open with PROACTIVE safety cover Water is being watched
Yellow Flag Open with REACTIVE safety cover Water is not necessarily being watched. You are advised to borrow a VHF handheld from the Coxswain
Yellow-Red Flag Open with restrictions See the monitor in the cafe about the restrictions
Red-White Flag Open: experienced sailors only (wind at 13-28 knots) Experienced means that, in the prevailing conditions, you can right your boat unaided and return to the club’s shore
Blue-White Flag Open: experienced windsurfers only (wind at 28-35 knots) Experienced means that, in the prevailing conditions, you can water-start your rig and return to the club’s shore. Water closed to dinghies, catamarans and keelboats.
Black Flag Open: wet or dry suit must be worn by sailors (except those on cruisers) 1st November to 31st March, and when the water temperature is less than 5o C
Blue-Green Flag Open:blue-green algae present Wear suitable protection and wash after sailing


  • Flags are displayed alone or with other flag(s) on the pole next to the fuel shed.
  • 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) 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.

PROACTIVE safety cover

  • Staff or a volunteer(s) will be watching the water from the shore or from a RIB for anyone needing assistance.
  • At times (e.g. tractor in use, another emergency), the level of observation may be lower.

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 handset from the Coxswain to radio for help.
  • When sailing, please be vigilant at all times, and be prepared to assist others in difficulties when this does not endanger yourself or your crews. You must take any necessary action to avoid close contact and collisions with other craft. Failure to comply may result in exclusion from club sailing.
  • Members and visitors sailing must comply with requests and advice from safety boats – e.g. when it is judged necessary to be taken aboard a safety boat. The first priority of a safety boat is to rescue and return to the club premises sailors judged to be in danger, whether injured, sick, exhausted or cold. Craft will be retrieved and returned to the club when, and if, practicable. Other boats must keep clear of a safety boat in close attendance to a craft or competitor in difficulty.