Tips for safe sailing on pleasure boats
With the summer, recreational boats are more frequent at sea. Salvamento Marítimo recommends that nautical activities must be extremely careful to avoid errors that can have serious consequences.
Maritime Rescue statistics for the last few years show that about 65% of the emergencies involving the recreational fleet and served by the public service arise during the four months of summer vacations (June, July, August and September) So they are seasonal emergencies. The same statistics point to human error as one of the major causes of accidents, followed by mechanical failures. The lack of adequate and obligatory material or poorly maintained and manipulated, aggravates any situation of risk.
The functions of Maritime Rescue are the search and the maritime rescue; Control and assistance to maritime traffic; Prevention and control of pollution of the marine environment; Towing and assisting ships, as well as those complementary to previous ones.
The condition of the boat: preventing possible structural or mechanical failures increases safety. After a prolonged mooring or having supported a hard navigation it is recommended to check the hull and the existence of blows or cracks in addition to review the electrical system and avoid that there is presence of water.
- General engine condition: The engine and its housing must be inspected for possible loss of fuel, coolant or lubricating oil. Also check the oil level and the sea water intake for cooling. And very important, do not access the engine when it is running.
- Compulsory equipment: depending on the navigation zones for which the boat is authorized (oceanic, high seas, coastal waters, protected waters), the regulations require that certain equipment and safety equipment be carried on board. The teams are divided into five categories: rescue, navigation, bilge and fire, diverse weaponry and prevention of dirty water spills. All equipment and salvage equipment must be located, marked and in a place accessible to any crew member at all times.
- Radiocommunication: The regulation regulating radiocommunications on board Spanish civil ships identifies the equipment to be carried by recreational craft, according to the navigation zones in which they are authorized to sail. The teams consist of fixed radio stations, Inmarsat, portable VHF stations, NAVTEX terminals, radio beacons, transponders and GPS. The greater the distance from the coast to which you can sail, the more complete the equipment should be.
- Documentation: before sailing, check that all necessary documentation is on board. As it may be required at any time by the authorities, both in port and during navigation. In addition, the registration number and the name of the vessel painted on the hull must be read easily.
- Planning the exit: to plan means to prevent the risks that we can face, to know how to use rescue and safety equipment; To know in advance how to act in the face of every possible emergency; Know the capabilities of the crew and guests and know the weather forecast.
From the moment you leave the moorings, the skipper is responsible for the safety on board your boat. He must impose his authority. He must adopt an attitude of responsible calm in all circumstances to instill confidence between the crew and guests. It must maintain a course and speed adjusted to the circumstances of wind and waves, ensuring the comfort and safety of all. Recreational navigation is a pleasurable activity, not a competition or suffering.
The key is to assess the scope and consequences of the problem, to check for other vessels in the vicinity and to quickly assess whether the situation can be solved by its own means. Pleasure boats have low draft and small capacity bilges that fill up quickly. If you can not stop the water intake it is better to make a distress call and while waiting for help, you can increase buoyancy by emptying the fresh water tank to the minimum necessary and throwing unnecessary weight overboard.