safety gear

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Following up Masaccio's posting re- sea rescues, has anyone had any experience of sea safety equipment? (lifejackets, flares, everything)
The context can be either real or simulated, i.e. you may have fired a flare on a sea survival course. If anyone has any comments regarding safety gear, such as ease of operation, limitations, choice available, tuition available, cost etc, please let me know. Is there enough instruction on these items? Are they expensive? Reliable?
This subject covers use of VHF radio, EPIRBs, SARTs, distress calls via Sat phone etc, as well as the basic gear of lifejacket, flares, 1st Aid Kits, throwing lines & liferings.

Please relay any stories you have heard relating to safety & rescuing, however anecdotal. Thanks. w
 
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Bust a gearbox a few years ago a few hundred yards from Christchurch Harbour. Tried to raise the harbour patrol on VHF, and failed due to line-of-sight problems with the beach huts/sand dunes. Had to call Portland Coastguard and get him to relay the message. Salutory lesson on use of VHF.
 

tcm

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Re: safety stuff, ramblings

1. Mayday calls are taught on vhf courses as though we're in the southern ocean. The coastguard, after the policeman got washed off a sailboat (1997?) in a charter sailboat, reported hearing someone say "mayday mayday mayday this is yacht er is anyone there?..."
In a real mayday, you say "Mayday! St Catherines Point/at the Needles/wherever" and they will find you, they said.
Consider how long it takes to say:
"Mayday mayday mayday. This is Motoryacht Stinkiepotter of Sark. We are"
(now start saying something useful...)

2. Those white flares are for immediate extra visibility, so should be close at hand IMHO.

3. Horns (for fog) on fairlines,princess, sunseeker look the biz but are total shite prarpity after one season in the sea/rain. An air horn is somewhat better.

4. The benefit of many self-inflating lifejackets is cancelled out by not wearing the thigh bits, and/or by having a fleece that weight 3 tons when wet and a jacket with big pockets. With a lifejacket over the whole lot, you can't get the jacket nor the fleece off to swim or climb aboard liferaft.

5. Fenders are great for throwing out to help people. But not if they are all tied on.

6. Whatever anyone plans to throw at someone for buoyancy, they need about five of them to get something even close to the target person in the water.

7. Many boat manufacturers mount fire extinguishers in stupid places such as right next to (or even actually behind) the blimmin cooker. Try reaching over to get it? Not likely.

8. I'm surprised that nobody suggests drysuits for fiddling about under a £££££ boat in cold water. or scuba breathing gear.
 

Falcon71

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As I've previously posted, auto inflate life jackets down't work when the velcro gets knitted together, although they've changed the design now. nearly lost the pocket rocket as her's didn't go off.

Great fun throwing Kim in last year in the Solent, learnt alot about lifting people out when wet, and how quickly you lose them in the swell.
 

hlb

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Oh. Done that loads of times. But I was thinking. I've never had a go with a flare. Bit frightend of getting played hell with, when all the life boats and helicopters come out!

Nearest we ever came to with a safety issue was in the early days, crossing the Irish Sea. Over the radio. We are the*** Survey ship, Towing six miles of cable, fastened to out support ship behind. There is a cabin cruiser at (Position) close by. You are about to cross our path!!
Now I had been listening to this guy wafling about his six mile cable for a couple of hours. Seen him on the radar and past miles in front of him. Trouble was Tutt's (Thats the wifes nick name on hear). Heard all this from the galley where she was making butties. Panicked and rushed up to the radio and answered him. "Will you spell your name Pheneticly" He said. Now it was Tutts that took the radio test. Not me. But in here panick, started shouting down the mike. Pth. Oppth Agg Gggilllleeethh. I took the mike off her and said. " Look the boats called Poppa Gill, that will have to do you" ( Please dont ask why the name!) " Give me your course and speed" He says. So I tells him where we were going and how fast. Whilst looking on the radar screen and watching his ship disapearing astern. The plonker I thought. "What navigation equipment have you" He says. I replied "Well we've got radar but only put it on last week so not to sure about it"!! "Well keep well away" He says. In the mean time Tutts has gone white with fear, thinking we were in imminant danger of being cut in half by the cable. And having been down in the kitchen, not realised that we'd passed the ship miles before.

Well thats as close as I can get to a safety issues to do with radios and things.

Dont forget to order your Burgee. PM me.

Haydn
 
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Falcon, hlb, tcm, Graham and Hadyn, thanks to all for responding. Please keep them coming - comments both complementary and damning all welcome!

tcm - I agree with you on the point of unnecessary gassing when making a MayDay - keep it brief, the Coastguard need only know the basic info. But I think that the correct protocol for a MayDay call is to say:

MAYDAY three times
Yacht Name 3 times
Then "MayDay & Yacht Name"
Position - either lat. and long. or as a range & bearing FROM a charted object
NATURE OF DISTRESS
Nature of assistance - normally "Immediate assistance required"
Brief Xtras - such as no. people on board, and whether or not in a liferaft.
OVER

This seems like a real mouthful, but is the correct procedure for international VHF distress, as approved in UK by RYA.

ALL: Might be worth copying the original (RYA Sea Survival handbook, tel. 02380 627 400) and securing it above your VHF handset - welcome reminder at a time when you may have to act fast.
W
 
G

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Agree completely with Haydn's point about firing off flares. Let a load off at Y2K with CG's permission at Bro's coastal hotel. Difficult to read the instructions in the dark but worked well enough after a bit of a fiddle.

Old sailing chum of many years experience inc MN couldn't get his flares to fire and damaged one in the attempt. Now that was a no-stress situ (if a bit pissed!). What would have happened if it had been the real show?

I know that I carry 3 or 4 different types of flares but do I know how to set them off? Maybe more clubs should organise an evening with the CG to let skippers and crew let off the o.o.date flares for the experience.

Good posting!

KCA
 
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1.Flares can fail. Took 8 assorted out of date flares off my boat and fired them on Guy Fawkes night (naughty me). 3 of the 8 wouldnt work
2. Auto inflate lifejackets dont need water to inflate. My son left his expensive new Crewsaver in the cockpit in full sunshine (in the UK, not the Med) on 2 occasions and it self inflated. Wrote to Crewsaver who replaced cylinder FOC but offered no explanation
3. If you take said brat's lifejacket off him and dip it into the sea to wash the sand off, surprisingly enough it inflates. Doh! Thats 3 cylinders in 1 season
4. Dont store liferaft in a saloon locker because accidental inflation trashes the boat and you cant get it out of the door
 

tcm

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Flames, Stirling! NO!!!!

ooh thankyou very much willstirls. i'm sure that when sinking or on fire we will all carefuly read out the lickle sticky bit of paper, and won't be tearing around saving people or tranna fix the boat. Duh!!! The very point i was making is that the standard rigmarole is too long, doesn't transmit information quick enough. The coastgurad won't say "aha wrong see, cos you only said mayday TWO times instead of three now do it again properly!" Mayday at the Needles will do. if you have time, then do it properly.

Just cos it's "approved by the rya" doesn't make it the only option. They haven't had a disaster. I was on a charter boat at xmas, the engine was pumped all water exhaust straight into the hull. I had a few seconds to pass a message, not pratt about as your old chat recommends. I'll get the message across soonest. So yours is more dangerous. Can we possibly consider a change to (some) of the old ditchwatery so-called saftey that "looks" safe, sounds "safe" ...but isn't any blimmin use at all in real life.

rant rave
 

hlb

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Re: oi! Stirling! NO!!!!

Never had a real danger problem Except in Strangford lock when boat was sinking. But nobody answered my screems for help anyway.
Only times have been slight maybe dangers. Like One engine goes, then restart, then tother goes down. Then the first one again. All in rough seas. Called Coast guards a few times in this situation. Just to make sure there awake I suppose. But in reality it's hard to keep to any formula. Between the crackles when some one else is trying to but in. A lobster pot in the way, just when you were going to say some thing important. Mate from down the engine room shouting for spanner. And wave knocking you off the seat. My rule if it ever comes to it. Is just get some message to them any way you can. On a big ship it might be fine to do the Mayday thingy. But on a small boat. Chances are you will be to busy to sit there calmly passing on all this info, Three times over.

Dont forget to order your Burgee. PM me.

Haydn
 

tcm

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agreed hlb

the standard radio is for luxuriously staffed RN vessels. All hands on deck. Message to admiralty. and so on. Not for haydn-style disasters. "Coastguard - we're in the shit! Yes, really!!"
 

oldgit

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Re: When it all goes wrong .

That lickle bit of paper stuck somewhere close to the radio could result in reminding whoever is sending the message requesting help, that there is x number of people on board when things are not yet pearshaped enough for you not to care .This will help to not leave behind some poor sod in the cabin of an upturned boat when the rescue services bugger of thinking they have got every one.No good when safely ashore asking where so and so is because you thought someone else would mention he was on boat.It could also remind you to tell em where you are or is it up to them to guess?
 

hlb

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Re: When it all goes wrong .

Ah but Old git. We're going to tell them about tothers when we are sat in lifeboat, having cup of tea. So loads of time to rescue them.

We hardly ever know where we are, untill we get there so thats a daft question!!

Dont forget to order your Burgee. PM me.

Haydn
 

BarryH

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Agree with carrying the flares lifjackets and usual stuff. Got a nose bleed from my compass manual jacket inflating, small person hung on the toggle. The only thing I'll add to the list is a bucket. Replaces the bilge pump, fire extinghisher, when they dont work or have run out. and also makes a makeshift sea anchor with plenty of line. Oh and also doubles as an emergency bog too!
 

oldgit

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Re:Ref the bucket

Sign on my boat bog door ses."the first person to use this cleans it for life"Also stops em drinking to much of your beer if legs crossed.
 

mtb

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Re: buying from the start

First things were automatic life jackets, got them from compass at the LBS £34.95 each great value !!.
Then flares ,now have reasonable set of five in the plastic container from pains wessex, the one missing from the set was a parachute one so got that added and just took some packing stuff out to fit it in with the others

Vhf came next then OH LUCKY ME two aerials one new run of the mill, the other WOW got it from Steve Cronin a Shakespeare .So two now fitted.
First aid kit ,here's a tip,
I got the whole kit which is for ten people and only needs a pair of scissors and tooth ache stuff to complete the set ,the kit cost £12. odd so if any one wants the place where I got it just ask because I know it was cheap compared to the little crappy kits from a chandlers, and its in a nice sized carry case with a handle. They have in stock sets that cater for up to twenty five people .Health and safety spec so most useful.

I keep old spare life jackets on the boat all the time with sets of water proofs and a cheap old sleeping bag which will be worth its weight in gold if needed ,it came from a charity shop for .50 so who cares if it gets wet dirty or thrown away .

Life line that has a snap fit clip which holds my body weight, that's some thing you should have even if just a spare bit of rope .

Binoculars are a must not only for navigating but to search for the poor sod in the water !!!!!!. Or if what's that floating up ahead to see if you need to give said object a big wide birth.
Mine cost only £120.00 odd but good because of the zoom.

I always carry a reasonable tool kit and spares as well, I carry them in one of those plastic drill boxes the spares in a safe place , the thing about the box is all the tools are in the same place with a little torch as well .
Fire extinguisher got a powder type, medium size for a tenner from a local mot station that shut down, still in date so quite good

Now while your reading this THINK Mick needs a small dingy !!!!!!!

That's all I want now not an inflatable but a little fiberglass dingy up to 8ft in length
so if you have one CHEAP or know of one, even one needing repair to the fiberglass I could do with it .I really want the double skinned type but what ever will do.
I will then make some davits for the tug to complete the job .
I constantly constantly think about safety

you always need to have a plan,

that's my thought for the day .

Today was a great day out in the wash, sun slight breeze tons of migrating birds even watched the jets doing their bomb runs .
I spent the whole day smiling !!!.
Mick


http://homepage.ntlworld.com/boats
I want a big steel ex trawler / tug v/cheep or swap for tug
 

dickhicks

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Re: buying from the start

Why do you want a double skinned dinghy? I had one - a Tabur Yak and after towing it for a week around the east coast, we tried to go ashore and nearly capsized because water had got into the double skin and made it very unstable. It weighed a ton and took ages to drain out. Fine if you only use it for short trips, good capacity and motored OK with a small outboard. I put it in the local boat auction after this episode and now have a standard GRP dinghy, much better!
 

tcm

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oldgit and will, back of the class

sorry oldgit, that means you AND dear Will haven't ever had cause to make a call.

Imagine you're at home in bed. Armed robbers break in. You dial 999. Do you say "police", and then "oldgit mansions , oldgit street, robbery in progress" as quietly and quickly as possible...or would you prefer to say (and do you think you'd have time to say)...

Mayday Mayday Mayday
Oldgit Oldgit Oldgit
This is Mayday Oldgit
We are upstairs in Oldgit Mansions, Oldgit street, junction of Main street 1mile
There is an armed roberry in progress
Immediate assistance required
2 people upstairs
Over.

IMHO, and as has been proven, a quick VHF call is needed. The coastguard said so. Yes, make the longer call if you can. Often, you can't. It's adapted from olde worlde shipping days where the radio operator was Brains, and had a deputy too, and ships plodded along slowly and sank over a period of some hours. Hit something hard in a small boat at speed, or catch fire, and your time is measured in seconds, not hours ho hum we're gona sink.

Most skippers on pleasure boats don't brief casual day crew or visitors how to make a VHF call. Cos see, the visitors haven't been on a course. Like that crew who died - hadn't been shown and got confused. Could *any* of your crew call for assistance, use the set, and squelch, on Ch16? Your wife is overboard, in the freezing water - now - cool as a cucumber, make that nice long monologue to the coastguard if you can. There's a fire and at leats one member of the crew is screaming with burns. Make the same call, remembering that's its a Pan Pan. You're the only other crewmember.
 

petem

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Buckets

Last time I met anyone from the Coastguard he advised me to always carry a bucket. BUT, not just any old bucket it had to be a metal one. The reason being that to attract attention I could fill it with rags and oil and set fire to it to attract attention. I managed to suppress the desire to tell him 'not on my new bloody boat!'.
 
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