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Safety at Sea

Safety at sea will always remains a topical and important subject that will no doubt dominate the syllabuses of nautical qualifications like the RYA coastal skipper, day skipper and the fast track courses that exist for a growing number of professional skippers. You know the fear Those who have skippered at sea know the paralysing effects of an impending collision. Planes, trains and automobiles all crash and collide, yet sea collisions feel different. Somehow, they seem to happen in slow motion and that’s what makes them so tragic: a sense that they could be avoided. The Costa Concordia is one such an example of an accident in which the fear that gripped the skipper was such that it stripped Captain Schettino of his ability to make informed, rational decisions. The man is well trained and experienced, yet the collision that unfolded before him and his crew paralysed him completely.
More operators, more skippers, more courses, more dangers; shorter, tougher exams  The rapid expansion of commercial boating in the last decade coupled with the increasing demand for qualified skippers and crew has resulted in training centres running faster track courses and qualifications. On such courses, skippers are under immense time pressure (sometimes online 16 weeks) to get the knowledge. On these courses trainees struggle to learn the collision rules, forcing examiners to mark down heavily on poor knowledge or lack of application of the rules.
The need for more navigation safety  The need for greater vigilance and regard for safety at sea is underlined in the UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) Safety Digest 1/2011 where poor application and knowledge of the COLREGS  (cases 2 and 19) reinforces the need for greater knowledge and application of the rules.
ColRegs, navigation safety and why Safe Skipper published the Colregs NavLights & Shapes mobile app Navigation Safety is based almost completely on the International Maritime Organisation’s  (IMO) Regulations for the Prevention of Collisions at Sea (Colregs). Knowing that the ColRegs are difficult to learn and to put into practice we set about developing Colregs NavLights & Shapes, the first in a series of easy-to-use learning and reference tools to help skippers and crew develop a more instinctive knowledge of the rules. For a video demonstration of the app click here.
What users say about the ColRegs NavLights & Shapes mobile app We’re delighted with the rapid wide-spread adoptions and endorsements we’ve received from instructors and  skippers alike in what is now over 35 countries including the UK, Australia, the United States, China, Canada, Russia, Panama, New Zealand, Qatar, Turkey, Sweden the Falkland Islands. The feedback we’ve received sums up the benefits of the app: –  ”Very easy to use, wish I’d had this when I was doing day skipper!” –  ”….excellent graphics, really first class clean design and accurate info…” –  ”Beautifully produced and very simple to use, a cool learning tool” –  ”Good app for anyone to use, especially when you are training for a Yachtmaster or Boatmaster etc.” –  “Much easier than flip cards”
Mobile versus traditional print based resources  As the world goes mobile, our vision is that Safe Skipper apps will sit comfortably alongside other formats and help skippers and their crew feel more confident on the sea but one advantage the mobile app has over conventional sources of information like almanacs, flip cards and books, is that it can be opened instantly, anytime, anywhere on a mobile device (iPhone, iPod Touch, Android phone) and without a mobile or internet connection. Our next app in the series is  Colregs Rules Of The Road. To download the app for iPhone click here or to download the Android version click here. To see what the the app does in a video demo click here.  

Stern gear maintenance

The stern gear of a boat needs to be checked carefully when the boat is ashore as this is something that can only be done when it is out of the water. The same applies for any maintenance and repairs that may need doing, so it is best to check it all over as soon after an end of season lift out as possible.

Keel maintenance and Repair – Part 2

If you have ever witnessed a boat colliding with a rock or other submerged obstacle you will know that there is an almighty thump and the whole boat shakes and judders. While such hard groundings seldom result in catastrophic keel failure, something has to give and even the sturdiest keels can easily be damaged by such an impact.

Wooden Hulls – Part 1

Traditional wooden boats have a plank on frame construction, a centuries old boat building method that is still in use today. Variations of the traditional method include carvel, clinker and strip planking, which all relate to the way the planking is attached to the frame.

The VHF DSC Radio jargon buster

AIS - Automatic Identification System This system is used by shipping. It allows another vessel or coast station to use...

Marine engine oil system maintenance

The regular maintenance of a marine diesel is key to preventing engine failure at sea. This means doing regular checks of the fuel, cooling, electrical and oil systems.

Boat maintenance below decks

While most interior maintenance work can be done when a boat is afloat, some jobs such as servicing the seacocks have to be done ashore. It makes sense to do any major interior repairs and improvements with the boat hauled out in the boatyard.

First aid at sea – four common emergencies

In this blog we look at what to do in the event of a crew member choking, drowning, or suffering from hypothermia or fatigue. Knowing how to cope with them could well save a life, while not knowing could result in an avoidable tragedy.

Safety Equipment Checklist for Boats

Safety Equipment Checklist for Boats   Liferaft line attached The liferaft will not work unless the trigger line is...

Winch Servicing

It is not essential to service the winches when a boat is ashore, but if time allows I prefer to do this maintenance job when the boat...

Jester Challenge 2022 – Sailing single handed from Plymouth UK to the Azores: Part 5 – Boat Management

Jester Challenge – A modern experiment in old-fashioned self-reliance, self sufficiency, and personal responsibility. This is the fifth of a 10-part post where solo sailor, Bernie Branfield, shares his first hand account of his single-handed, 2022 Jester Challenge, from Plymouth, UK to the Azores, in his 26′ Invicta Mk2, Louisa.

ColRegs Nav Lights & Shapes, Rules Of The Road and IALA Buoys Apps

ColRegs Nav Lights & Shapes, Rules Of The Road and IALA Buoys Apps Make Learning Rules on iPhone, iPad, iPod and Android...

Passage Planning Advice & Safety for skippers

Passage planning helps you to: • Decide where to go • Calculate how long it will take to get there • Avoid bad weather •...

Top Ten Tips For Learning The ColRegs Boating Rules Of The Road

Colregs Boating Rules Of The Road Skippers struggle to learn and remember the ColRegs Yachtmaster and Day Skipper course...

A simple guide to understanding tides when passage planning

Understanding tides when passage planning When planning a trip in tidal waters, check the tides before going afloat. Use...

Boat Handling – anchoring

Anchoring your yacht or motorboat Anchoring is one of the most important boat handling skills. If you can set an anchor...

Pre-start engine checks

According to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) almost one third of emergency call outs at sea are caused by mechanical failure. Many engine breakdowns are avoidable. The best way to avoid a breakdown is to carry out pre-start checks before heading out to sea.

Sailing & Motoring in Fog

Sailing & Motoring in Fog You can only measure the visibility accurately if sailing & motoring in fog when you have...

Propeller care and maintenance

Propellers are complicated and repairs should be done by specialists but owners can carry out checks and some routine maintenance themselves when the boat is in the boatyard. A propeller is critical to a boat’s performance, fuel consumption and ride, so it makes sense to keep a propeller in good working order.

Boat interior varnishing

Most boat interiors have a combination of varnished and painted surfaces including solid wooden joinery, plywood laminates with thin hardwood veneers and glass reinforced plastic. When making your assessment of what you are going to do, bear in mind that the varnishing process consumes a lot of time, especially if the existing surfaces are in poor shape.

Jester Challenge 2022 – Sailing single handed from Plymouth UK to the Azores: Getting to the Start

Jester Challenge – A modern experiment in old-fashioned self-reliance, self sufficiency, and personal responsibility. This is the start of a 10-part post where solo sailor, Bernie Branfield, shares his first hand account of his single-handed, 2022 Jester Challenge, from Plymouth, UK to the Azores, in his 26′ Invicta Mk2, Louisa.

Hourly Checks when sailing or motoring

  Hourly Checks Get into the habit of carrying out these checks and both yourself, your crew and your boat will be...

How to improve a yacht’s upwind performance

There are several ways to improve the upwind performance of a sailing yacht. Read on for some useful tips including headsail reefing, heavy weather jibs and motor sailing.

How to Avoid Collisions At Sea With The ColRegs

      Every Skipper Needs Accurate Knowledge of the IRPCS ColRegs As a responsible skipper it is every skipper’s duty to learn and apply the IRPCS...

Antifouling for leisure boats – Part 1

Boats that are kept afloat can very quickly become a home for small marine organisms such as barnacles, weed and slime. Applying an antifouling paint to your hull is necessary to protect it from these micro-organisms, as a fouled hull can cause problems and will slow down a boat’s maximum speed considerably if left unchecked.

Boat engine cooling systems

Some boat engine breakdowns are unavoidable but those caused by lack of maintenance or regular checks can be avoided. Failure to maintain an engine’s cooling system is a well known example of this, so it is well worth spending time checking over the cooling system both when the boat is ashore and afloat.