I am sure that you will agree that there is nothing quite like white sails billowing against a lovely blue sky, the breeze and spray on your face. It can be exciting, challenging and relaxing. Although, no matter where or what type of boat you sail there is one factor that you must take into account before embarking on a voyage SAFETY. In this blog we will consider 7 Safety Tips which will help you minimise the hazards enabling you, your crew and passengers to have a fabulous, but safe time on the water.
You may have read our previous blogs or social media postings about the critical importance of wearing a correctly fitted and maintained lifejacket or personal floation aid (PFD). When out on the water boating or sailing whatever the weather our advice is always to wear a lifejacket and that goes for each member of your crew and passengers. Why not check out the excellent RNLI video below which explores how to fit a buoyancy aid correctly.
There is lots of helpful information available on-line about lifejackets and how to fit and maintain them correctly. Find out more about some essential lifejacket checks
As well as wearing a fully serviced lifejacket we also highly recommend wearing crotch straps. If you are uncertain why you should wear them check out the video below:
Lifeboat crews are often called out to sailors in difficulty who have over estimated their skill and knowledge level. Be totally honest with yourself about your skill level. If you are in any doubt why not enrol onto an RYA course. Courses can help you prepare for anything, whether your a complete novice, living onboard, enjoying a coastal cruising or venturing further offshore.
3. Check Your Engine
Nearly 20% of all Lifeboat call-outs are to sailing and motor cruisers suffering from mechanical failure. Having a good knowledge of your boat’s engine, carrying spares and being able to fit them could make the difference between having to call for help and being able to help yourself. The RYA run disel engine courses which are highly popular. The RNLI produces some free downloadable resources to help you with engine maintenance.
4. Emily’s Code
On 2nd May 2015, 14-year-old Emily Gardner tragically drowned in a boating accident. An ill-fitting buoyancy aid snagged on the cleat of a capsized speedboat. In her memory, her family helped draw up the following mnemonic to highlight key safety messages and they provide a great rule of thumb for any sailor to follow:
5. Check the weather & conditions
The weather can make or break your day. Regularly checking the weather forecast and sea conditions can help you if you planning a lengthy voyage. Downloading the SafeTrx App provides key Inshore waters weather forecasts, as well as tracking your trip and alerting your emergency contact if you are overdue.
6. Calling for Help
Life-threatening incidents can occur at any time without warning and in any weather! Having a means of ‘calling for help’ and that everyone on your crew/passengers knows how to use them will enable you to get help to you should an incident occur as quickly as possible. Incidents can go unnoticed even in busy waters close to the coastline.
There is a range of different devices for ‘calling for help‘ on the market. Whichever one you choose and we recommend you use more than one – you must be able to reach it easily in an emergency. Don’t rely on a single method of calling for help as one may not work. We have included a range of ‘calling for help’ devices below:
7. Advice on Board (AOB)
Advice Onboard is a totally free of charge service that’s suitable for anyone who goes to sea on a pleasure vessel of less than 13.7m. It’s available in all parts of the UK and Ireland. It’s tailored to your particular vessel and the type of boating you do.
Whether you are highly experienced or a complete novice sailor or boater you’ll benefit from this free and friendly service. The safety advice session takes place onboard your vessel at a time that’s convenient for you.
This service is provided by experienced and highly trained RNLI volunteers and will provide you with independent advice about your boat’s safety equipment. You’ll also have an opportunity to ask any of those burning questions about safety drills, equipment or emergency procedures that you may have put off asking for some time.
Our team can also check your lifejackets as part of the AOB session. However, we still recommend that you have your lifejackets serviced by a service agent or the manufacturer at the recommended intervals. Find out more about how our lifejacket clinics are helping to keep sailors safe.
We hope that you have enjoyed this blog. If you would like to book an Advice on Board session or lifejacket check/clinic with our team you can get in touch by emailing Andrew_Mills@RNLI.org.uk
SAFETY CHECK LIST
- Always wear a properly serviced and fitting lifejacket or personal floatation device
- Always carry a means of calling for help eg VHF radio, Personal Locator Beacon (PLB), flares, EIRB, mobile phone with SafeTrx app
- Have an emergency action plan and make sure everyone aboard receives a detailed briefing (covering the location and use of the safety equipment, including the spare kill cord for powerboats. Practising ‘man overboard’ drills is very important).
- Arrange to attend some training from an approved training provider
- Always check the weather and tide times before you embark on your voyage
- Tell someone ashore your voyage plan and who to call if you don’t return on time
- Always drive your boat at a speed that is appropriate to the weather conditions and to the environment you are operating in