I completed the ISAF Safety & Sea Survival in December 2015 and it was definitely worth doing! While the plan is to avoid heavy weather and avoid burning Tranquilo down to a crisp, it’s always good to know what to do in situations where everything’s going to pieces!
During the course we jumped into a pool with our wet weather gear, myself looking splendid as the yellow Michelin Man, scrambled into lifevests, righted overturned liferafts way beyond their due-by date (our demo raft was made prior to the infamous 1998 Sydney Hobart, after which liferaft design was literally overhauled, and rightly so). We had a ball lighting up flares and orange smoke bombs. And then we discussed weather and avoiding the worst of it.
Tips (note this is meant to be a bit light-hearted and not in any wat a substitute for the proper training):
- Don’t try swimming far in them, they’re exhausting. In cold water you will lose a lot of energy and bring on the onset of hyperthermia that much faster.
- Wear one not only on the yacht in heavy weather and at night, also when you go out on the tender. Especially on the tender if you are using it to take you to the closest watering hole…
- Probably should wear one if you’re a bloke who likes relieving themselves off the transom. Apparently this is the biggest cause of man-overboard…
- If you’re in the water and can’t pull yourself into one (probably because it was made prior to 1998), and your life jacket is getting in the way, let down some air in your life jacket to help you manoeuver easier. Should be easier with the newer Ocean-standard designs with inflated platforms to help you step up.
- Based on above, it’s better to step into a liferaft from the boat you’re about to abandon. Just don’t forget to tie the painter (the rope going from the raft) to the yacht before your push the raft over the edge and inflate it, or you may be saying goodbye to it.
- An overturned liferaft should be easy to right – there’s a line across the bottom to pull the raft over. Just make sure you plant your feet on the canister to provide leverage for pulling the raft upright; it won’t do to have the canister side fly into the air and the canister plonk down neatly on your head. The rest of the crew have enough to do to not have to worry about hauling your unconscious a** into the raft.
- Make sure you have the proper set not only on the yacht, but also in your tender.
- Read the instructions on the flare!
Bad Weather and Lows
- Lows bring with them rain, heavy winds, and as the cold front passes, thunderstorms; not the most pleasant areas to be in.
- To avoid the worst of them, head towards the equator.
- There’s so much more to weather and avoiding the worst of it. Do the Yachtmaster Theory!