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Yacht charter safety

This article on charter yacht safety is a brief summary of some of the safety measures to consider while on charter. It is in no way meaning to be a comprehensive source of information or an alternative to advice given by the charter operator or a substitute for proper and thorough boating knowledge and training. Now you are aware that this is just a summary lets look at some of the safety points a yacht charterer should consider.

When sailing on your charter yacht it is very important, and not very difficult, to keep safety in the forefront of the mind. It is good practice for crew to remember that they are in a new environment and to take the necessary care required when on a different boat. Many charter companies actually claim that accidents and emergencies are actually fewer on charter yachts than private yachts because everyone tends to be a bit more careful.

Becoming familiar with your new charter yacht should involve more than merely finding the main halyard. It is a good idea to give the yacht a good check-out when you get on (the charter operator will usually help with this). Get things clear in your own mind and to give special attention to basic safety systems such as the location of all fire extinguishers, life jackets and floatation devices, flares, first aid kit and stove and fuel shut-off points. Make sure the crew also know where the safety items are and also show them how to use the VHF to call for assistance.

Here are some brief points to consider:

Crew (Man) overboard.

Common sense is important here. Is your charter yacht sailing in a cold area or was the crew who fell overboard injured whilst falling. If the answer is yes to one of these questions you have less time to get back to the crew overboard because of the heightened risk of hypothermia and drowning. People who cannot swim should wear life jackets or floatation devices and/or remain in the cockpit while underway.

The five general steps to a man overboard rescue are: stop the boat as fast as possible (crash tack if your not going to injure anyone else doing it), remember to get someone to keep their eye on the crew overboard at all times (this can be more difficult than expected and should be taken very seriously); second, provide buoyancy, such as a life ring, to the crew overboard (as close as possible, throw up wind); third, put the boat alongside (take note of which way the wind is blowing to help you wit this task); fourth, connect the crew overboard to the boat; and last, get them onboard.

It is a good idea and can be a fun exercise to practice a man overboard drill on your first day (don’t use a real person). This is good maneuvering/helming practice too if you are a bit out of touch or on an unfamiliar yacht. Remember the old adage for you and your crew: "keep one hand for yourself and one for the boat".

To be continued...

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