The numbers of people going out in leisure boats is increasing at a dramatic rate worldwide. Unfortunately, so are the emergencies at sea - which put at risk the lives, not only of the crews on the stricken boat, but also to the lives of rescue personnel and other sailors who try to assist.
In 2004, in the UK alone, 3,870 men, women and children put themselves at risk due to breaking down at sea, mainly as a result of machinery failure or fuel problems. Some even suffered serious injuries as a direct result of going aground, suffering a collision, or from slips, trips and falls. Many of these problems could have been resolved if some routine maintenance has been undertaken at the start of the season.
It now being the beginning of the Northern Hemisphere sailing season, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), together with partners from the Royal Yachting Association (RYA), Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and British Marine Federation (BMF) is urging boat owners to service their boats in preparation. This appeal is to UK boating enthusiasts, but applies no matter what sea you sail on.
Richard Crowther of Scotland and Northern Ireland's Search and Rescue says: ‘Making sure your boat is in good order is the personal responsibility of everyone who takes a recreational boat to sea: you can find some information which will help you on our website at https://mcanet.mcga.gov.uk/public/c4/seasmart/boatsafety.htm
Here is Richard’s check-list – are you properly prepared?
1. If you need guidance on the sort of preparation that you must take, then take time to go through the pre-season checklists that are readily available through the motor boating magazines, or from the MCA, RNLI, RYA or BMF.'
2. 'You could also arrange for an RNLI Sea Safety Check. This is conducted by RNLI Sea Check Advisers and is a free service to non-commercial boat owners., Check out the RNLI website at: http://www.rnliseasafety.org.uk/leisure/seacheck/bookacheck
3. It is also vitally important to make sure that you are physically fit and prepared for the type of boating that you do, your safety and the safety of others depends upon it.
4. Make sure that you develop and maintain your skills in knots, chart work and navigation, as well as knowledge of rules of the road and the operation of any electronic aids you have onboard.
5. Make sure that you know how to use all your safety equipment and ensure that it is in date and in a good working order.
6. Take advantage of any training courses you can to help you maintain and improve your skills.
7. If you need diesel engine training, or any other boat related training, then contact the RYA who offer a wide range of courses. Further information can be obtained from their website http://www.rya.org.uk/training
. There’s a great down-loadable book at ???????????????????????
8. If you need specialist advice regarding any boating equipment, then contact your local boat Agents or the BMF for advice.
9. If you need any general guidance on preventing machinery failure or safety at sea then contact the MCA or RNLI, who both supply a wide range of guidance literature for recreational boaters, all completely free of charge.'
In short, get trained, get serviced, get checked, get prepared and look after the boat so that it will look after you and your family. Click Here
to write to Sail-World’s Cruising Editor about this article