Thanet RNLI Community Safety

Our Top 7 Yacht Sailing and Motorboating Safety Tips

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.

 

1.   Lifejackets

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:

2.  Training

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.

RNLICommunitySafety SeaSafety ThanetRNLICommunitySafety respectthewater lifejackets crotchstraps RNLI

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.

RNLI Ramsgatelifeboat respectthewater RNLICommunitySafetyTeam

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.

tidetimes RNLICommunitysafety seasafety RNLI tidesnearme

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:

VHFradio callingforhelp respectthewater

EPIRB callingforhelp RNLI RNLICommunitySafetyTeam

 

 

 

 

 

mobilephone

RNLICommunitysafetyteam Callingforhelp seasafety bewateraware sailing yachting kitesurfing

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.

lifejacket clinic, Community Safety, Thanet, Sea safety. RNLI

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.

Adviceoboard RNLICommunitysafety seasafety AOB Ramsgate RNLI
Thanet RNLI CS Team undertaking an Advice on Board session

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

lifejackets RNLICommunitySafetyTeam seasafety

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

PLB EPIRB RNLICommunitySafety seasafety lifejackets

 

Acknowledgements

RNLI

RYA

HM Coastguard

Lifejacket familarisation session keeps volunteers refreshed on their lifesaving skills

Aumber of our team enjoyed a great lifejacket familarisation session this evening (Thursday 27th Sept). Not only is it vital to refresh and revise knowledge about key lifesaving equipment, but there is always new developments to keep abreast of. One of the items which the team discussed was the successful rescue of a casualty off Dover who was wearing a lifejacket and a strobe light which was picked up by the HM Coastguard helicopter. More information on the rescue involving RNLI and HM Coastguard teams

The rescue footage is shown below in the twitter link

Thank you to everyone who attended. Our next free lifejacket clinic is taking place on Sat 12th October at Margate Lifeboat Station.

Useful links

Free lifejacket checks at Margate

Which lifejacket should I buy?

Lifejackets – useless unless worn

Margate Lifeboat Station

Ramsgate Lifeboat Station

Lifejacket poem

Acknowledgements:

HM Coastguard

RNLI

 

What are the advantages of an EPIRB (Electronic Position Indicator Radio Beacon)

What is an EPIRB ?(Electronic Position Indicator Radio Beacon)

An EPIRB works in a similar way to that of a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB). The EPIRB is activated when a sailor gets into difficulty out at sea.  The EPIRB uses the search and rescue satellites to send a digital message (including your unique number) to the Coastguard that clearly indicates that you’re in trouble.

What frequency does it work on?

406MHz distress frequency. It also operates using a 121.5MHz frequency, which means lifeboats can home in on the device once they get closer. The beacon is a recognised way of ‘calling for help’ by Search and Rescue services.

Registration of the EPIRB

You must register the EPIRB with the vessel you are using. It is not registered to a person like a PLB, and if you change vessel, then you will have to re-register. You can register your EPIRB here

How long will the battery last in an EPIRB?

Normally for a minimum of 48 hours.

What happens if the EPIRB is activated and help is needed?

The distress signals are passed to the Mission Control Centre (MCC) in the National Maritime Operations Centre (NMOC) in Fareham. They will first attempt to call you using your contact information to check it’s not a false alarm. If it’s not they will launch a rescue operation. The 406MHz system gives the Coastguard a much more accurate idea of your position (if GPS enbled they will track your vessels position to within 100m.

What happens if the EPIRB is not GPS enabled?

If not GPS enabled it could take 90 minutes to get a fix); they will also know what to look for from your registered information and will be on the way much more quickly – 406MHz beacons show up quicker than the old 121.5MHz ones.

Key features of an EPIRB:

  • can be float-free, automatic or manual
  • must be registered with HM Coastguard
  • always choose a GPS-enabled EPIRB
  • can be dropped next to a ‘man overboard’ to mark their position
  • fitted with a flashing light
  • radio direction finding equipment can be fitted and used to home in on to beacon

Each year on 4th April ‘406 Day’ is celebrated, a national campaign run by NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) to spread awareness of the importance of emergency position indicating radio beacons, or EPIRBS, and personal locator beacons, or PLBs, in marine safety

How to use my EPIRB?

Make sure your EPIRB is up-right in the water and not on it’s side.  Once you have switched it on leave it operating, do not switch it off.

What happens if I accidentally activate the EPIRB? 

If you accidentally activate your EPIRB inform the HM Coastguard straight away. The advice is not to switch it off until the Coastguard ask you to.

How to look after your EPIRB

Examine your EPIRB’s condition on a monthly basis and perform a self-test. Follow the manufacturer’s self-test instructions to the letter, to avoid sending a false alarm. Replace the battery when required.

Need more help with registering?

Contact The UK Beacon Registry ukbeacons@mcga.gov.uk
Telephone: 01326 211569
Fax: 01326 319264

More useful information

New National Maritime Operations Centre HM Coastguard

RNLI complete guide to EPIRB’s

Skipper rescued off Salcombe had done all the right things!

Distress alerts helps HM Coastguard yacht rescue in rough seas

HM Coastguard – office access and opening times

Acknowledgements

HM Coastguard

RNLI

Ocean Signal

Advice on Board? How can you get a free RNLI ‘safety’ Advice on Board session

Boating should be fun. Every year the RNLI launches their lifeboats to thousands of incidents, many of which could have been prevented by following simple safety precautions or having a plan in the event of something going wrong.  The RNLI Community Safety Teams can help you make your boat as safe as possible.

Advice on Board

The RNLI provides a wide range of safety advice to participants of all types of water based activity.  One of the specialist areas that our Community Safety Team can provide is an ‘Advice on Board’ session. This can be at a marina or harbour where your boat is moored; at your home or work address or other location where your vessel is stored. It can include any almost any type of leisure craft and be tailored to a time and date that suits you.

The aim of the ‘Advice on Board’ session is a confidential one-to-one discussion with you about onboard safety and equipment.  The session is not a ‘pass or fail’ inspection.  It is not a safety check or an MoT like a garage would provide for your car, but a useful way of you thinking about: ‘what am I already doing about safety and how can I improve it’.

Here are just some of the discussional items that we will include during an ‘Advice on Board’ session:

  • Do you and your crew practise regularly a MOB drill (‘man overboard’ drill)?
  • How often do you get your lifejackets checked and serviced?
  • What ‘calling for help’ devices do you carry and do all your crew know how to use them?
  • What spares do you carry to undertake basic repairs to your vessel?
  • What navigational aids do you carry?

ramsgateharbour RNLIcommunitysafety seasafety RNLI harbour AOB adviceonboard lifejacketclinics

Newcomer or Experienced boater?

Whether you are a newcomer or an experienced boater, our unique one-to-one service will give you an opportunity to ask those niggling questions on equipment or emergency procedures that you have always wanted to ask.

Is Advice on Board definitely FREE?

Absolutely, the RNLI believe that prevention is better than cure and we want make sure that everyone receives the right advice. So, the whole Advice on Board session including any phone calls or email is totally free!

lifejackets RNLI adviceonboard thanetcommunitysafety seasafety lifejacketclinic

Useful links:

How to book an RNLI Advice on Board session

How to book an RNLI Lifejacket clinic

Man over Board (MOB) drills

Sign up for our monthly newsletter

Contact our RNLI Community Safety team today for a no obligation chat about an ‘Advice on Board’ via email : Andrew_Mills@RNLI.org.uk