Posts Tagged ‘life jackets’

Safety theme for boat show

Friday, July 24th, 2009

Thursday 30 July is the opening day of the 2009 Sydney International Boat Show and we’re going along to renew contacts and check out what’s new.

The show’s sponsor, NSW Maritime, has adopted four safety themes this year – life jackets, speed/wash, alcohol and night safety. Obviously this is in response to two collisions with multiple fatalities that occurred at night on Sydney harbour in the last couple of years. In both cases several of the themes were ignored.

It will be interesting to see how the themes are handled, particularly as they apply to yachts and sailing. We’ll let you know what we find out.

No radio, but they did have a float plan

Friday, July 17th, 2009

Although the two young men I wrote about earlier this week were extremely irresponsible in setting sail without a marine VHF radio, life jackets and flares, they did at least do one thing right. They had told someone on land where they were going and that they planned to keep in touch, albeit by mobile phone.

They lodged their float plan with their parents who therefore knew:
* when they set out from Marina Del Rey
* when they expected to reach Santa Cruz
* to expect contact from the pair at least once a day

When the parents had heard nothing from the novice sailors on the Friday and Saturday, they contacted Coast Guard on the Sunday to share their concerns for the safety of the two men.

If they had not arranged to contact the parents daily and the sailboat had got into difficulties, their lack of radio and flares meant that they would not have been able to seek help.

Hopefully they now understand why there are rules covering the yacht safety equipment that must be carried on board – and why they should learn how to use it.

Having no radio was plain irresponsible

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

In last week’s newsletter I talked about using a marine VHF radio to keep in touch while at sea. The story below demonstrates how failure to do so caused a major search, fortunately with no loss of life.

Last month two young men took to sea in a yacht bought for US$2,000. They had no sailing experience and were relying on their mobile phones to update their parents on their progress to Santa Cruz from Marina Del Rey, a voyage of over 200 miles.

After some calls in the first 24 hours at sea, the parents heard nothing from the yacht for two days so they contacted Coast Guard, who initiated a search using a plane and two helicopters.

The men were found safe and sound and were completely unaware that they had been ‘missing’. They had lost contact with home when their mobile phone batteries ran down and they had no way of recharging them.

Coast Guard also found that they had no life jackets, flares or radio communications equipment on board.

Undeterred, the two planned to buy the necessary yacht safety equipment and continue their voyage. Fortunately for them, neither they nor their families will be charged for the cost of the search and rescue operation.

Sailing safety briefing

Friday, May 29th, 2009

One of the most important things you should do, as a skipper, is brief your crew about the safety equipment you have on board. In an emergency you will not have time to issue detailed instructions on where the life jackets are stowed. Everyone aboard should know this information even though, like insurance, we hope we never have to use it.


Read what I wrote about this and other sailing safety issues in a recent Newsletter – Safety first! + Piracy and Berrimilla Updates.

Life Jackets: Can you get at them?

Saturday, November 29th, 2008

It’s not enough to know where the life jackets are on board, you need to know you’ll be able to get to them in an emergency.

I read this morning that one man is missing, believed drowned, after jumping off a boat that had caught fire. A portable propane heater caused the fire. Two other men were rescued, only one of whom was in a life jacket. The life jackets that were stowed in the bow could not be reached through the fire.


I remember the case of a yacht being sunk by a careless hydrofoil. No one on board had time to get to the life jackets. The result was that that skipper, from then on, kept his life jackets in a cockpit locker, where they were easiest to get at.


I do not advocate that we should wear life jackets at all times, but there are occasions, such as crossing a bar in or out of port, when it is advisable for all crew to have them on. In some places this is a legal requirement.


It’s a matter for you, as skipper, to assess the risks involved in what you are doing and then instruct your crew.


Learn more about Safety and Emergencies in The Boating Bible Manual of Seamanship.