Saturday, October 20, 2018

What Pros Know About Safety

September 1, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Recreational boaters deal with the same safety issues as do professional mariners. Towboat operators, commercial fisherman, and passenger vessel skippers operate in many difficult situations, often in dangerous waters. Our commercial cousins employ a number of safety practices and use specialized gear that can be adopted by all boaters, especially ones who love to remain on the water long after summer fades away.

Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBs) – Radio locator beacons take the “search” out of search and rescue missions. These robust radio transmitters can pinpoint the location of a vessel in distress in just a few minutes. Many EPIRBs utilize GPS receivers to supply additional position information to emergency response agencies.

Survival (Immersion) Suits – Survival suits are common in the northern climes. They are required aboard commercial fishing vessels operating in cold waters because they improve the chances of surviving immersion in cold waters (U.S. Coast Guard regulations consider any water temperature lower than 60°F cold water). Survival suits keep you dry and provide floatation, greatly extending survival time in the water.

Commercial mariners by Sorum

Automatic Identification System (AIS) – This radio equipment is required for use by most commercial vessels 65-feet and longer. Transmissions from equipped vessels provide a wealth of safety information to boats with AIS receivers. Broadcasts provide vessel name, overall length, route of travel, and speed for every AIS equipped boat within reception range. Information can be displayed on a radar or chart plotter, making time and position of closest approach to another boat readily apparent to a skipper. Recreational boaters who head out into open waters will benefit from having AIS aboard.

Emergency Drill Training – Professional and efficient operation of your vessel provides peace of mind and added confidence. Just as most commercial mariners conduct routine safety drills aboard their vessels, leisure boaters should practice emergency procedures. Conducting drills is a proven way to improve the effectiveness of emergency responses. Captain and crew should review donning survival suits, rescuing a person who goes overboard, putting out a fire, and stopping an unplanned leak. Guests should join in on drills such as making a Mayday call and knowing the location of all emergency gear and life jackets.

Story and photo by Alan Sorum

has worked on the Alaskan waterfront for over 20 years. He writes about vessel care, operations, and safety. Alan is a certified marina manager, former harbormaster, and a member of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.

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