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Playing safe.


Terry Wise, principal at the Pacific Sailing School, based at the CYCA, says safety has become top of mind for sailors at all levels.

"Safety and the culture of sailing have changed a lot since the 1998 Sydney Hobart," he says, referring to the most disastrous edition in the race's history, with the loss of six lives and five yachts. A record 66 yachts retired from the race and 55 sailors had to be airlifted from their yachts. The rescue effort involved 35 military and civilian aircraft and 27 Royal Australian Navy vessels in what is Australia's largest ever peacetime rescue operation.

"The sea is not our environment," continues Terry, who has been running Safety and Sea Survival courses since 1977. "It's lovely when we're setting out and the sun is shining, you feel the breeze, but for whatever reason, things turn very quickly. People ignore safety requirements altogether or don't think about them until they need them. That's a lot to do with ignorance--just not knowing what's needed--and the assumption that they won't have a problem.

"Thankfully, it seems the message has got through. We all want to enjoy the sport in safety. Buying the necessary safety equipment is a small investment in the big picture."

Crews from various events, such as the Clipper Round the World Race and the Sydney Hobart, book in for the 16-hour (two day) ISAF Yachting Australia Safety and Sea Survival Course.

"This course was developed by Yachting Australia to assist owners to understand their responsibilities, and help skippers and crew develop and practice strategies and procedures to prevent and address emergencies at sea," explains Terry. "It is mandatory for 5 percent of crew in Category 1 Offshore Races and is highly recommended for sailors in Category 2 events. Bluewater cruisers will also benefit greatly from the training."

The course comprises both theory and practical assessment and upon completion, YA issues Certificates of Competence, valid for five years. Accredited crew will have their details added to the YA website database where owners and skippers can search names to validate crew eligibility.

"It's not just for racing sailors though," adds Terry.

"We have noticed that more cruising people are making the course a first priority, often with wives or partners so they're all covered. At least one or two on each course powerboat owners, depending on the time of year. People fly in from all over the world to do the course. They complete the theory online and then come and do the practical."

Mums and dads looking to enter sailing are proving a boon for training courses. "Sailing is a great family pastime and whether they're doing it for fun on the weekends, chartering a yacht or heading off around the world, families, particularly mums, tell us they're very conscious about safety."

Another demographic heeding the safety message and embracing training with gusto is the "Grey Nomads."

"We receive a huge amount of enquiry from people in their mid-50s and older wanting to retire and go sailing. The Grey Nomads have always wanted to explore Australia and go caravanning and sailing. Getting into sailing equates to knowing how their gear works and all the safety precautions."

Dealers too are coming onboard, gradually. "A few dealers refer their clients to us for safety courses, but we actively lobby yacht and powerboat brokers to offer our services as part of their packages. It makes sense."

The main focus of the course is practical training in new liferafts, lifejackets and other gear--how to use them, be familiar with them, and keep them current. "Otherwise it's a case of if," says Terry. "When you're in a panic, you can't be fiddling with reading instructions. You need to respond automatically."


Going without a lifejacket can have serious consequences. Stats from boating authorities show that nine out of 10 people who drown while boating are not wearing a lifejacket.

The rules governing the use of lifejackets on recreational vessels on all NSW navigable waters were strengthened from 1 November 2010.

Lifejackets are a vital piece of safety equipment for all yachties, from dinghies and skiffs to ocean racing yachts and superyachts.

Lifejacket law can vary depending on the type of vessel being used and from state to state. However, you must either carry or wear a lifejacket on board all registered vessels. It should also be the correct size for the wearer, and in good condition. As a vessel owner or skipper, you can attract serious penalties if you're not carrying lifejackets, or if there aren't enough lifejackets for everyone on board. You may also receive penalties if you or your passengers are not wearing lifejackets when required.

Fortunately, the modern generation of lifejacket is not the bulky, cumbersome flotation device of yesteryear.

Better technology and streamlined designs have led to a range that is easy to wear. There's a style of jacket for just about every on-water activity, age and preference.

The NSW Government has a comprehensive section on its site leading novices and seasoned sailors alike through their choice of lifejackets for different usage, location, activity and age bracket on their website.

RFD Australia has undergone a transition with an alignment to its global leisure brand Crewsaver, which became a part of the Survitec Group complement of brands almost three years ago, after over 80 years in the UK marine safety market.

Crewsaver recognised that a large percentage of the boating world still do not wear lifejackets, and set about to overcome any barriers through the design of "comfortable, stylish lifejackets for the everyday boater, while increasing the key safety features for vital in water performance."

As Luke Cook, key account manager leisure marine for the Survitec Group explains: "The new Crewsaver lifejackets and safety products are at the cutting edge of survival technology. The new Ergofit and Crewfit range have taken thousands of hours of development and testing to achieve what no other manufacturer has been able to achieve to date: 3-Dimensional lifejackets at affordable price points."

The fusion 3D Range of jackets place equal amount of importance on performance as it does overall comfort. The range moulds to the shape of a person's body and sits off the neck giving the user total freedom of movement. "So comfortable, you will forget you are wearing it," affirms Cook.

The Crewfit range begins at $99 for the Crewfit 165 Sport Manual, and the Ergofit range of products begin from $369 with the Ergofit Pro 190 Auto.


Perilous and life-threatening incidents on the water can happen when you least expect them, even in seemingly benign weather conditions. Fires, collisions and vessel malfunctions are common reasons why sailors are compelled to take to liferafts.

The new Crewsaver by RFD liferafts are lightweight and compact, easy to store and take up minimal deck space, whilst offering complete confidence in an emergency, being deployed in less than one minute.

The simple to close canopy is manufactured to the highest SOLAS standards, providing added protection from the elements and its semi-rigid boarding ramp allows for quick, easy and safe boarding. Interior lifelines help occupants stabilise themselves during heavy seas, while exterior pressure relief valves ensure excess CO2 is not released into the liferaft.

ISO-approved, greater than 24-hour liferaft models include a sealed, waterproof and buoyant grab bag, packed inside the liferaft. Two packaging options are available including a weather-resistant valise or a tough, lightweight container.

Lloyds Class ISO-approved and Coastal models come in 4, 6, 8,10, 12-person variations in both sub-24-hour and plus-24-hour packing variations. The new streamlined container design and redeveloped chocks improve on the visual design and flexibility of installation.

Great Circle liferafts meet or exceed the highest specifications set down by Australian marine authorities, International Standards Organisation and boating associations.

"They feature premium components, top quality craftsmanship and meticulous quality control," states Paul Montgomery at Great Circle.

"All Great Circle liferafts are guaranteed for 12 years and the Oceanmaster models are Yachting Australia-compliant and fully-approved to State Marine Authority survey standard.

Great Circle Oceanmaster liferafts are manufactured to ISO 9650--Group 1, the new international life raft standard for blue water, ocean applications and it has further enhancements that surpass national requirements so that they can be used on Australian vessels in survey.

"With the appropriate emergency equipment pack. Great Circle Oceanmaster life rafts are certified Compliant Equipment for Commercial Vessels. "

For coastal recreational use, Great Circle Coastmaster[R] life rafts are manufactured and certified to standard ISO 9650-2--the international coastal life raft specification. "These rafts are very high quality and use the same materials and manufacturing processes as the Oceanmasters," says Montgomery.

Great Circle Life Rafts boast a swage of advances, such as a neoprene/polybutadiene rubber and polyester fabric laminate for the life raft's buoyancy tubes and floor. "This high-tech fabric is purpose-made in our factory, is extremely strong, lightweight and long lasting and superior to PVC used by our competitors," asserts Montgomery.

To help rescuers locate survivors, retro and radar reflective canopy panels are a standard addition to enhance electronic and visual detection (radar panel on Oceanmaster only).

"Great Circle's high quality solid fibreglass canisters provide the best in long term protection. Vacuum sealed in its hermetic envelope inside the hard fibreglass canister (or valise carry bag) the raft is ready for any emergency. "

However, Montgomery emphasises, there is no point having safety equipment if it's not maintained and serviced according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Most rafts are vacuum-sealed in a plastic envelope for extra protection and extended servicing intervals. But liferafts contain many degradable components and to ensure everything is in working order, minimum service schedules are recommended.

"As a potentially lifesaving device, liferafts should be serviced regularly to ensure they will meet those expectations, should the worst happen. Most mariners will never have to deploy a raft and many complain about the cost and inconvenience of servicing. But should the unforeseen happen, the last thing you want to worry about is whether your raft is up to the task."

Some state marine authorities and boating organisations require life rafts for commercial vessels under survey and yachts engaged in racing be inspected or serviced annually or at specified regular intervals.


One of the most important pieces of safety equipment available to any outdoor enthusiast, Emergency Positioning Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBS) are often the last line of defence when all other means of self-rescue have failed.

They are compact, buoyant and portable emergency signalling devices specifically designed to transmit a radio distress signal to alert emergency authorities throughout the world of a need for rescue. EPIRB registration is a must as it greatly enhances a rescue and shortens response times.

Australian manufacturer, GME has released the MT600G, a new Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) with improved GPS functionality ensuring faster location in an emergency situation.

Built on the foundation of 35 years of experience designing and manufacturing EPIRBs in Australia, the MT600G features a 10 year battery life and advanced self-testing capability, giving users greater peace of mind.

The GME MT600G boasts a 66 channel GPS receiver that reduces the search area to less than 100--metre radius, and a 121.5MHz homing signal to further aid in location and retrieval in an emergency. Complete with quick release mounting bracket and automatically deployed antenna, the MT600G is certified by COSPAS SARSAT for worldwide usage.

Marine marketing manager at GME, Brad Darch, said "GME EPIRBs and Personal Locator Beacons (PLBS) have led to more rescues in Australian waters than any other brand. The MT600G continues this heritage. It was designed and manufactured in Australia to deliver next generation performance and reliability."

The world's most compact EPIRB, launched in Australia last year at the Sydney International Boat Show. Providing the boat's essential link to emergency services, the rescueME EPIRBi features a ground-breaking 30 percent reduction in size compared to other EPIRBs.

Supplied with integrated GPS, the manually-activated rescueME EPIRB1 measures just 178-millimetres (height with antenna stowed) by 89-millimetres and weighs 422 grams. It meets the Category 3 requirements for the Australian market and has been developed specifically for this market.

Also in the rescueME range are the MOB1 and PLB1. The rescueME MOB1 is the world's smallest man overboard (MOB) device, which its manufacturer states can easily integrate it into your PFD for automatic activation.

"With a seven-year battery life and a 66ch GPS, your position will be displayed on all vessels with an AIS chart plotter within approximately five miles," explains Ian Veitch, manager at All Sat Communications, adding that it is unique in that it also reports to your vessel's VHF radio via DSC.

The rescueME PLB1 is the smallest personal locator beacon on the market. Veitch says the device provides the reassurance that emergency services can be alerted by the press of a button. "It can be operated with a single hand in even the most challenging situations," he explains.

"When activated the rescueME PLB1 transmits your position and your ID to a Rescue Coordination Center via satellite link. Rescue services are promptly notified of your emergency and regularly advised of your current location."

Weighing just 116 grams, the device is light, compact and simple to use, ideal for sailors, anybody getting out on the water, or exploring the great outdoors. It comes with a seven-year battery and seven-year warranty.

Launching in May, the rescueME EDF1 is an electronic red flare with over six-hours' operation time to attract attention in a distress situation.

The latest handheld VHF marine radios from GME, the GX800 and GX850, boast features that make them more than communication tools--they serve as safety devices onboard any boat with features such as Digital Selective Calling, inbuilt GPS and an MOB.

Built to withstand the harsh marine environment, the GX800 and GX850 are waterproof to the IP67 standard.

The GX850 features Digital Selective Calling (DSC) and a 48 channel GPS receiver. With a registered MMSI number, users are able to transmit urgent or important information direct to another radio. In an emergency, DSC can be used to alert all radios within range of the distress, even when a listening watch is not being maintained. This is enhanced by a built-in GPS receiver, meaning a distress call will automatically include current position and time. And as the GX850 features two receivers, one of which is dedicated to DSC, users will never miss a DSC call.

In the event of an MOB incident, simply press and hold the MOB key to gain an accurate location of the point at which the incident occurred, making search and retrieval faster.

Both models feature a large backlit LCD display, making it easy to read all displayed information, even on a bright sunny day. Ideal for use at the marina or onboard, if either model is accidentally dropped overboard, it will float to the surface with the bright LCD flashing to make location and retrieval easy.

5/1W switchable transmission power enables users to reduce battery consumption by selecting the low power setting when using the radio at close range, ideal for communications between the mother ship and tender, or at full 5W power for communicating over longer distances.

Both the GX800 and GX850 feature the full range of all International, US and Canadian Marine VHF Channel Sets, and can be used worldwide.

For 25 years, Australian-made Kinetic Technology International (KTI) SafetyAlert EPIRBs and PBLs have been relied upon by sailors in the commercial and leisure marine spheres, along with jetskiers, anglers. 4-wheel drivers and hikers. KTI is also the brand of choice for the Australian Department of Defence.

The KTI Safety Alert PBL provides five independent means of alert: 406MHz transmission, 66 channel GPS locator (3-metre accuracy), 121.57 MHZ homing signal, high-intensity LED visual strobe and whistle. It also boasts a 10-year battery and 20-year life span before replacement is due. At only 88-millimetres, weighing 140 grams and buoyant, it is compact and lightweight.

The GPS location is updated and transmitted directly to the worldwide satellite distress network every five minutes. The GPS receiver is coupled to a chip style, marine-grade antenna that provides high sensitivity together with superior resistance against detuning by nearby objects.

KTI states that its Safet Alert EPIRB "receives a faster and more accurate response from search and rescue authorities" thanks to its GPS accuracy to 3-metres. The SafetyAlert SA1 and SA1G EPIRBs transmit a distress signal for over 72 hours after activation and incorporate a powerful strobe light for detection at night or in poor visibility.

The device has no warm-up time--imperative in an emergency for both safety and morale--and operates over 66 GPS channels, compared to the typical 16 of competitor products. Like the KTI SafetyAlert PBL, the SafetyAlert EPIRB has a 10-year battery and 20-year replacement interval.

An amalgamation of the sMRT V100 Alerting Unit and the SOS Dan Buoy, the sMRT SOS Dan Buoy was devised for use in the event of a sighted man overboard incident. The sMRT SOS Dan Buoy is ready for instant deployment and is ideal for professional seafarers and workers in marine environments, as well as every day sailors.

"The sMRT SOS Dan Buoy is provided in an all-weather case which can be mounted anywhere on your vessel," says Helen Mansour of SOS Marine. "It is an extremely easy to use solution that helps in the eventuality of a man overboard situation and more importantly can be used by anyone without any training."

Within seconds of immersion it inflates and stands 2-metres above the water line. It has webbing loops which allow the person to put their arms around the buoy to help support them when fatigued. "This gives extra support and security while awaiting rescue and the unit is highly visible from 1,700 metres and can be tracked by AIS up to 150 miles away," says Mansour.

"Within seconds the internationally approved sMRT V100 Locator Beacon automatically transmits GPS coordinates to your chart plotter via AIS. Additionally an alarm will immediately be sent to your VHF DSC radio so your captain will be alerted to the MOB incident."

The sMRT SOS Dan Buoy also has a highly visible strobe light for night rescue giving the MOB their best chance of being noticed, whatever the conditions.

From Drew Marine, the Pains Wessex MOB MK9 is the new man overboard marker, a compact day and night signal that can be attached to a lifebuoy. It boasts unique, individual LED light pods that are easily installed and tested and a single-piece stainless steel bracket that ftts existing installation. Its new retaining clip prevents accidental deployment in rough seas.

The smaller, lighter, more streamlined MOB MK9 has a host of benefits, including a drop height of 56-metres, double the height required by SOLAS regulations.
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Title Annotation:SAFETY AT SEA
Author:Bone, Jeni
Publication:Offshore Yachting
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Apr 1, 2015
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