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Old 10-31-2016, 12:23 PM   #1
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Boating Safety

How safe are we, as a group?

I thought I knew it all. Well maybe I had forgotten some, but I thought there was nothing I needed to learn or brush up on, concerning boating safety.

Then I joined the local RCM-SAR. Now I know that I don't know it all. I know that I should be constantly brushing up on my knowledge, and that I am not the only one who needs a tune up from time to time.

I see many posts here from some TF members whose commercial activity is directly related to boating safety. I know they are at the top of the scale for knowledge of what makes a safe boat, what habits are safe and which ones not. Those TF members have helped reinforce safe practices with every one of their posts.

The rest of us sometimes expose our ignorance of safe practices, less frequently expose habits that are unsafe, and sometimes expose an attitude of complete indifference to improving the safety of our practices.

How seriously do we take safe practices?

At the top of my list, and what prompted me to post this, is hypothermia.

Years ago I took a Basic First Aid course, when I joined the CCGA. My First Aid certification expired 3 years later, so I needed to take the course again, which I have just completed. The content of the MBFA has changed dramatically in the 19 elapsed years. Very little was left in my memory of that first course,but no matter, very little of the course content in the current course was taught back then. Studies of hypothermia were done then, but even that science has progressed dramatically.

Where we like to cruise, in the warm summer months, the water is comfortably warm for swimming. But before we get there, we live where the water is not comfortably warm, and some times we pass through those warmer waters and choose to cruise where none of us would dream of jumping in for a swim, as the water temperatures are much too cold. Do we also change our habits appropriately when we are in those colder waters? Do we even realize how much the dangers have changed?

How often do we neglect to wear the right clothing when we are running around on deck in cold weather? SOP for my SAR station is to wear no cotton. What? I can't wear blue Jeans? This one item got me thinking about what I wear on my own boat. I didn't have a single pair of pants on my boat that were not made entirely of cotton. I had only a couple of pairs of shorts and a couple of bathing suits made entirely of other materials. Now I will try to wear polyester pants aboard. A small thing, I know, but changing practices that I have been following all of my life are done one small step at a time. Each one brings me one small step towards a safer experience.

How about PFDs. Years ago, spending way more than I thought I should, I bought a mustang Cruiser Class jacket. I was heartened to see that it is exactly the right kind of jacket to wear while outside on my own boat.

On the SAR RIB, I have the choice of a PFD, a cruiser suit or a dry suit with a PFD over it. In hot weather, the PFD over long, polyester shirt and pants, is the minimum. In colder weather, the dry suit over a wool onesey. It hasn't been really cold yet, and I am snowbirding to the south soon, but should there come a time for more, I will be wearing more. Warm is good.

Back to TFers. How many of us wear the right level of warmth and a PFD whenever we are in the conditions that they are designed for? I know my own habits have been to wear too little warm clothing until I am cold, then to layer up. Now I will try to go to the other end, and wear warmth until I am too warm and wear the Cruiser jacket in preference to the inflatable PFD, until it is too warm a choice.

On the subject of hypothermia, there is a You tube that I found particularly valuable. A 30 minute full version was shown to our MBFA class, but the 10 minute version is still valuable.


There are many more aspects to personal safety that I would like to explore, but this is enough for this post.
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Old 10-31-2016, 12:31 PM   #2
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One thing about hypothermia in the water versus on land.

The cotton versus poly thing in the water is a bit of a myth.

In the water, flushing action is a bigger deal than what material as there is no evaporation or added water to compound any body cooling.

The old timers wore lots of bulky wool under oil shins. They carried pieces of twine to tie off their legs, sleeves and waists to prevent flushing.

Some studies have shown that bulky clothes without flushing action can have pretty good thermal retention, much like mustang suits and wetsuits. Even the float coats have drawstrings or internal bands and buckles to prevent flushing under them.

Bottom line with protective gear is wear what is cimfy, or you wont, and wear it with the same mentality of PFDs. All the time is not necessary, but when the threat of entering the water goes up even a tiny but....wear the protection.

The poly would be a good idea once clear of the water, say in a dingy or liferaft. If that's the plan than yes it is superior as it rings out to basically dry. But for strictly a MOB situation....think in terms of wearing a better setup than either cotton or poly.
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Old 10-31-2016, 03:01 PM   #3
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Who has practiced MOB? If you live north and have Gumby (cold water emersion) suits how many times do you practice getting into them in less than 60 seconds?
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Old 10-31-2016, 03:02 PM   #4
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If you have to automatic PFDs have you inspected it lately? Check the date on the bottle? The soda disc is suppose to be replaced annually....
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Old 10-31-2016, 03:16 PM   #5
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Practice with safety gear and procedures is always a good idea. Do keep in mind that for a cruising couple when one of you is in trouble half the crew is down leaving the non-victim to handle everything.

An interesting read 2015 Recreational Boating Statistics
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Old 10-31-2016, 03:43 PM   #6
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Growing up boating in water that is always a hypothermia risk, I think that I have a healthy respect for it. I will usually wear a PFD when working out on deck while under way as I know that it is the only thing that would keep me alive if I went over.

As for clothing, I don't worry about it too much. Being in the water is going to be dangerous regardless of the clothing I am wearing.
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Old 10-31-2016, 05:56 PM   #7
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Some of this was major change for us when we moved from lake to coast. We never wore PFD's on the lake. Perhaps we should have sometimes. However, we respect the greater risks and conditions on the coast and offshore and certainly the colder water when north of home. We spent a lot on Mustang but we knew comfort was such a key to use.

One thing we don't hear often mentioned and perhaps more of an issue with us since we often have more than the two of us. That is to always know where others are. When we're cruising we make sure the captain or whoever is at the helm at that time knows when we step to the back deck or go up to the bridge, or even when we're down in a cabin or head. We also believe in pairs when possible. Don't go wondering off to the bridge alone. I'm probably overly cautious too but on the Sunseeker we have bow lounges. They do not get used when underway. Probably safe in relatively calm conditions and we have nice bow rails, but still one could slide off and overboard.
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Old 10-31-2016, 06:03 PM   #8
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Fifty years ago. my five-year older brother went on a rented rowboat in Clear Lake, Ca during high winds and waves. No PFDs. Children were expendable then.
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Old 10-31-2016, 06:19 PM   #9
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Aboard Slip Aweigh I always wear inflatable when alone, or during early or late months when water is cold. I always wear it at night regardless of season or who else is aboard. (Unless anchored or moored)

I have tried MOB recovery using lifesling and life ring. No matter what My wife can't lift me. Ever. I have to invest in a block and tackle that will be left rigged, ready to go. BUT. I guess the best thing is to NOT fall over. I have been shopping for an 'undermount' 3 or 4 rung ladder so I can climb back aboard if/when she gets the boat close enough to toss a life ring/line.

And Art: That is a great reminder about the water soda tablet. That slipped my mind.

On the other boat I always wear an Inflatable when crossing the gangway in summer, or a sterns float vest in spring and fall and a full sterns waist length coat in winter.

For boarding via pilot ladder in rough weather I have a Full Mustang Ocean model with bladder and Beavertail. Makes me feel MUCH more confident when scurrying like a rat up a ladder.
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Old 10-31-2016, 06:32 PM   #10
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There's no guarantee of tomorrow. This picture taken nearly 60 years ago has the five Pierce cousins. My brother, on the left, died 35 years ago and cousin Tim, second from the right died about three years ago. Cousin Jeff and Michael, with me in the middle, continue to survive somehow.

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Old 10-31-2016, 07:57 PM   #11
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There's no guarantee of tomorrow. This picture taken nearly 60 years ago has the five Pierce cousins. My brother, on the left, died 35 years ago and cousin Tim, second from the right died about three years ago. Cousin Jeff and Michael, with me in the middle, continue to survive somehow.
That's very touching and sad. Mark's word of "disposable" was very harsh, but every time you put others in an unsafe situation that's what you're saying whether you mean to or not. Despite our best efforts and judgment there will be tragedies, but if we haven't done our best to prevent them most of us would carry heavy guilt the rest of our lives.

Jose Fernandez. Friends don't let friends drive drunk. Some tried to stop him. He lost not only his life but two others. All on the water. Not to get everyone wound up but we can't talk safety on a boat without mentioning alcohol. We should also mention sleep and alertness.
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Old 10-31-2016, 08:02 PM   #12
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Keith, Hypothermia is important and I'm glad you brought it up. I'm also curious as to what other issues were mentioned in your course that you think that either you, or some of the rest of us may have become lax with over time? So, if hypothermia is at the top of your list, what are some of the other safe practices on that list?
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Old 10-31-2016, 08:03 PM   #13
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Ever see the the show a 1000 ways to kill yourself....


That explains it all...


on the water it is pretty much the same.


One specific reason is just one of a 1000...if the stats try to prove otherwise...I bet I can slant the facts to prove otherwise.


The media is happy to be PC.
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Old 10-31-2016, 08:30 PM   #14
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Most drownings could be avoided if the person was wearing a PFD. Hard to argue with that.
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Old 10-31-2016, 08:54 PM   #15
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I sort of question the hypothermia statistics. Many years ago I had to go under the boat to cut some lines off both props and one rudder. At the time it was....


October
at night
the water was 53*
I had no wetsuit or mask/goggles


I spent 35 minutes under the boat with a Maglite between my legs for light and a steak knife to cut the lines free.


After spending that time under the boat I felt no hypothermia, no feelings of anything out of the ordinary. I got on the boat, fired up the engines, pulled the anchor and drove the boat back to our slip.


Now I'm not a skinny dude, but according to the stats I should have felt SOMETHING.
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Old 10-31-2016, 10:05 PM   #16
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Keith - great thread. I just took the Small Vessel Operators Permit (SVOP) course and learned a huge amount, including watching the Cold Water Boot Camp video, which is REALLY good.

After the course, I came home and updated our "procedures" sheets for man-overboard, fire and abandoning ship. Have not done drills yet but intend to the next time we are out. It makes you think about what gear you need for each emergency. For example as mentioned above, a block and tackle to haul my fat carcass into the boat would be nice . . .

Another example is for an electrical fire, I want to shut off my battery switches - but then I wouldn't have power for the VHF. That prompted me to install a UPS for the VHF.

I signed up for the local RCMSAR also.
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Old 10-31-2016, 10:46 PM   #17
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Keith - great thread. I just took the Small Vessel Operators Permit (SVOP) course and learned a huge amount, including watching the Cold Water Boot Camp video, which is REALLY good.

After the course, I came home and updated our "procedures" sheets for man-overboard, fire and abandoning ship. Have not done drills yet but intend to the next time we are out. It makes you think about what gear you need for each emergency. For example as mentioned above, a block and tackle to haul my fat carcass into the boat would be nice . . .

Another example is for an electrical fire, I want to shut off my battery switches - but then I wouldn't have power for the VHF. That prompted me to install a UPS for the VHF.

I signed up for the local RCMSAR also.
John
It was your local Brentwood Bay RCMSAR unit's Candace who taught the MBFA that prompted me to post.
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Old 11-01-2016, 05:24 AM   #18
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The suit that can save the hypotrmialta. Not the celebration of fashion.




https://www.ursuit.com/en/5001-abandonment-suit




A suitable outfit for winter boating




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Old 11-01-2016, 06:08 AM   #19
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One class I've attended multiple times is the Safety at Sea seminar that is mandatory before competing in a Newport to Bermuda sailboat race. The subject matter is important and the course sobering.
You might walk into that weekend long class believing that safety is a casual endeavor but you will not walk out with that notion!
The subject matter is geared more to offshore sailing but it is all applicable to all boating.
Be careful out there people!
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Old 11-01-2016, 06:40 AM   #20
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I happen to be taking the STCW basic safety training class this week - something that is now required of all commercial crew on international voyages. A lot of it is very basic, but always a good reminder. And there are always new tips that you pick up. Today is practical training in a pool, donning survival suits, jumping into life rafts, getting into a liferaft when in a flooded gumby suit, righting a flipped over life raft, etc. Then a full day of First Aid and CPR, then two days of fire fighting, including suiting up and going into burning buildings. It's good stuff, and has to be refreshed with a 3 day course every 5 years. Now if there were a tiny bit more training required for recreational boaters......
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