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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.  

Boat decks and superstructure

The deck of a boat is constantly exposed to the elements and should be inspected on an annual basis. Particular attention needs to be given to the overall condition of deck fittings such as the stanchions, cleats and chainplates.

Boat plumbing maintenance & troubleshooting

A boat’s fresh water system needs annual maintenance to keep it in good condition. Some boats have far more complex systems than others, with pressurised hot and cold water, associated pumps, an accumulator, calorifier and pressure valves, all to keep a boat owner busy.

Sector lights, directional lights, leading lights – how do they differ?

Sector lights, directional lights and leading lights guide vessels safely through hazardous waters or narrow channels at...

The Boatyard Book – a boat owner’s guide to yacht maintenance, repair and refitting

The Boatyard Book is a fully illustrated 224 page practical reference manual that provides advice for boat owners on planning and carrying out annual maintenance, repairs, upgrades and refits of sailing yachts and motorboats, up to 20 metres in length.

Sailboat rig checks – Part 2

In part two of Sail boat rig checks we run through some useful rig maintenance tips and then finish with a brief look at what a professional rig check involves.

Rewiring a boat – overcoming the challenges involved

Skippers need to have a basic knowledge of boat electrics, to avoid potential problems and to be able to solve them when they happen.

Engine failure at sea – keeping the boat safe

If the engine stops when you are underway, or your have to shut it down when a warning buzzer sounds, you also need to make sure the boat remains safe. It’s important therefore to recognise situations in which the boat would be immediately put in danger if the engine were to fail.

Common medical emergencies at sea

A medical emergency aboard a boat at sea requires immediate attention to ensure the safety of the casualty and the crew in general. The skipper needs to know which crew members, if any, have had medical training or have a first aid qualification. All boats should carry first aid handbooks to help an untrained crew cope with a medical emergency.

Seized fixings and fastenings

Maintaining a boat can be a rewarding experience but at times it can also be frustrating. A prime example of this is when you come across a seized fixing or fastening that refuses to budge. Read our tips on how to release and fix them:

Jester Challenge 2022 – Sailing single handed from Plymouth UK to the Azores: Part 8 – Arriving at the Azores

Jester Challenge – A modern experiment in old-fashioned self-reliance, self sufficiency, and personal responsibility. This is the eighth 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.

Cleaning & polishing gelcoat topsides

The gelcoat topsides of a GRP boat can be pampered and restored to their former glory relatively easily when it is ashore. Gelcoat is only a very thin outer layer of the hull, often less than 1mm thick, so you should avoid cleaning it with highly abrasive cleaners, or an-ything that could potentially damage its surface.

Fire safety advice at sea from the Marine & Coastguard Agency

Fire safety advice for boaters Top fire safety advice at sea: 1. Fit smoke alarms, carbon monoxide and gas detectors 2. Turn...

Essential Knots: Round turn and two half hitches

Essential Knots: Round turn and two half hitches Use: Tying a rope to a pole or a ring. Step 1. Pass the end around the object. Step 2....

Essential Boat Spares for Safety

  Boats Spares Tool kit What you carry in the boats tool kit will be useful for many boat repairs, but you might want...

Fire prevention on boats

  Fire prevention on boats - common causes of fire: • Smoking below decks • Galley cookers • Build-up of butane or...

Boat Engine Failure – what to check

Engine failure If your engine fails or is overheating there are a number of things to check immediately: • Air filter...

Repairing a leaking hull-to-deck joint

If you suspect a hull-to-deck joint has failed, then being absolutely sure where the actual leak is occurring is of prime...

Cleaning & polishing painted topsides

The gelcoat topsides of a GRP boat can be pampered and restored to their former glory relatively easily when it is ashore. Gelcoat is only a very thin outer layer of the hull, often less than 1mm thick, so you should avoid cleaning it with highly abrasive cleaners, or an-ything that could potentially damage its surface.

Dripless shaft seals

Dripless shaft seals are designed to completely stop water from entering a boat’s hull via the stern tube. There are two main types of dripless seals known as face seals and lip seals which many boat manufacturers now fit to production boats.

Saildrive maintenance

There are less maintenance tasks to carry out on a saildrive transmission than on a traditional inboard shaft drive system with its associated stern gear. However, there are a few critical things that require maintenance, as recommended in detail by the engine manufacturers, and should be adhered to.

Antifouling for leisure boats – Part 2

To prepare for antifouling, as soon as your boat has been lifted out and pressure washed, you need to check all the surfaces of the hull below the waterline, remove any remaining barnacles and check for blisters.

Sail care and maintenance – Part 1

When thinking about the care, maintenance and repair of sails it helps to have some understanding of the properties of the ever growing range of modern sailcloth and the fibres they are made from, as opposed to the traditional canvas sails of the past.

First Aid Afloat – fish spine injury

First Aid Afloat - Here is what to do if somebody stands on a fish spine: • Check for dangers. Is it safe for you to enter...

Common marine electrical problems

Most problems with marine electrical systems arise from four possible sources, a lack of maintenance, a poor standard of initial installation, insufficient battery capacity, or ineffective charging systems.
Water ingress is a frequent issue – salt water can corrode contacts very quickly. If connections are not scrupulously clean – or are loose – resistance will be increased, resulting in progressively reduced power.

Points of Sailing

The course on which a boat is sailing can be described by its angle to the wind, not to be confused with its compass...