Safety in the boat: how to react in an emergency

Safety In The Boat

When renting a boat, safety in your boat when sailing is one of the main features one has to take in consideration. This is why, before you go sailing, a thorough inspection of the emergency equipment has to be done. An emergency kit must include the following elements:

  • Safety vest for all the crew members as well as all passengers in the boat
  • VHF radio
  • First aid kit
  • Safety boat, radio beacon if there is offshore navigation
  • Bengalas
  • Fog speakers
  • Spikes to cut a water path
  • Wood spikes
  • At least two mooring lines
  • A boat hook
  • Telephone

In case you find out that the vessel is not equipped with the minimum security standards required, do let us know so that we can prevent future Nautal lenders that might not be aware of the security measures that are needed.

Falling into the Water, the Most Feared Incident

When offshore, one of the most dreaded accidents given its danger, is when a crew member falls into the sea. In order to avoid this, one of the most important things to do is to have a deck that is ordered, without any objects that can trip a person, and checking if its slippery before walking there.

Avoiding falling in

The single most important thing is to avoid falling to the sea, and for that we should always be sure that the strat that ties the harness with the line of life, is reasonably short, and that we are also sure that when we go to prow, we do it windward.

If you are sailing by yourself, or with a group of people, it is crucial that when meteorological conditions get uncomfortable, the crew must be secure. In our opinion the best thing to do is wear an inflatable with harness, it must always be tied to the “line of life”.

What If You Happen to Fall into the Sea…

If worst comes to worst and a crew member falls into the water, the first reaction has to be to scream as loud as possible “man overboard”! This enables everyone in the boat to recieve the information as quickly as possible. Immediately after that we have to maneuver to step a side of the place where the person fell, so that we don’t injure them with the propeller. Once we have done that, we should rush and throw a floating device to our crew member that is in the water.

Don’t lose sight

The next step is vital; we must never lose sight of the crew member in the sea, whilst we maneuver into getting closer to him. When approaching, we must reduce the speed, and lower the tackle in case we are talking about a sailing boat. The moment in which we are ready to pick up the crew member, the boat must be windward of him, if not, the boat will automatically separate from the person. It’s important to understand that the crew member will need help to get on board. You could either help them out of your own strenght or use a halyard pulled by the winch if you’re on a sailboat.

Discovering a water leak- A Nightmare

In general, a water leak is easier to solve than the previous topics that we have covered, if you act immediately and effectively.

The first step is to find out if the water that is flooding the cabin is sweet or salty. If the water is sweet, one can relax, as it is coming form the water tanks of the boat and it places no real threat to the stability of the boat. Activatng the water bomb should do the trick!

If you find salty water, we know that it is coming from the exterior and it is very important to find the entry point(s). They are usually water taps (located in the bathroom, kitchen, and in the cooling engine area generally), the speaker on the engine shaft or sail drive joint, or finally a deep crack due to a crash (if this is the case, its very likely that you could’ve detected that something was wrong before the water leakage).

For the deep water taps, the first thing we try if there is broken plumbing, is to close the after tap at first, and then to place a wooden plug.

Cracks, the next level of disaster

When we have a crack, things get more complicated. If you put pressure with a pillow and your feet, it will help us reduce the water flow and will buy us some spare time to think.

The single most important thing when this happens, is that the water outflow, is bigger than the water inflow. For this to happen, we should try to eliminate or at least reduce the water stream (use cloth, pillows, a sail tied by the exterior of the helmet or with the use of a special glue) and evacuate as much water as possible (with the water pump, releasing the refrigeration water tube  after closing the water pipe, or with ice cubes).

What to do once you’ve gained control..

Once you are in partial control, we can sail to the closest port, letting them know by radio that that the travel lift is needed in order to get the boat out of the water.

If we notice that the water inflow is too big, hence its out of control we should communicate through radio to the safety number that you have, let them know and follow their instructions. If worse comes to worse, we must have the safe boat ready, but without abandoning the boat until a flood is imminent (it is generally known that when you have water above your knees and below your waist, is time to go).

Even though incidents like these are rare, it’s very important to know how exactly to react, and how to use the tools that are at hand.

Saftey is Priority

Remember, safety on a boat when sailing is THE number one priority. When you follow these instructions, and know how to react if a problem arises, your only concerns will be enjoying the sea and the sail boat you’re in!

Share your difficult experiences with the Nautal team and how you solved them!