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Rough weather and storms are not the only causes of distress on the water. Even under ideal conditions, some of the main causes of trouble in open, coastal and offshore waters are fires, collisions, rogue waves and injury.

Yachts big and small require the appropriate safety equipment, and owners and their guests should have a knowledge of how to use it. As the experts urge, it will save your life in an emergency.

According to Maritime Safety Queensland, there are three types of safety equipment: compulsory equipment for all boats operating in certain areas; compulsory equipment for all registrable boats; and equipment that is recommended you carry to meet your general safety obligation.

Whatever the size of your vessel, if you're in the water, you need to prepare for the unexpected. And while accidents and incidents are rare compared with the number of boats on the water, maintenance is key. Some safety equipment includes parts that can deteriorate over time. Safety equipment such as fire extinguishers, EPIRBs, flares, inflatables life jackets and life rafts must be replaced or serviced by the manufacturer (or an authorised agent) by the expiry date, clearly marked on the equipment.


Paul Montgomery, director at Great Circle Life Rafts, says "Any vessel that is to undergo a bluewater (offshore) passage requires a life raft as part of its kit."

Montgomery identifies the major advance in life rafts over the past decade as ISO Certification.

"In the context of life raft design and manufacture, ISO has many criteria covering all types of shipping, both commercial and leisure craft. ISO 9650 for instance, is a new, comprehensive, technical specification detailing all the materials and manufacturing processes used in the construction of life rafts for smaller commercial and recreational vessels. Performance requirements covering inflation, launching, material resistance, buoyancy and interior space are also spelt out in great detail."

As he explains: "Great Circle Life Rafts are manufactured to the highest Australian and international standards and quality assurance systems to ISO 9001:3000 (Bureau Veritas certified) and ISO 9650 (Germanischer Lloyd certified) attest this. We encourage comparisons with our competitor's products. It's always worth asking what specification criteria their life rafts are manufactured under.


"In our opinion. Great Circle are amongst the best life rafts available in Australia. Among other advances, we use 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."

Insulated floors of cellular foam and aluminium foil are also a standard feature on Great Circle Life Rafts, providing greater comfort and lessening the effects of cold, the biggest killer in marine emergencies.

"And 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)," Montgomery adds.

"We should also not forget Great Circle's high quality solid fibreglass canisters. Unlike our competitor's plastic cases, solid fibreglass provides the best in long term protection. Vacuum sealed in its hermetic envelope inside the hard fibreglass canister (or valise carry bag), the life raft is ready for any emergency.

"Great Circle Oceanmaster life rafts 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 the National Marine Safety Committee's (NMSC) requirements so that they can be used on Australian vessels in survey," he explains. "Great Circle Oceanmaster life rafts are listed on the NMSC's Register of Compliant Equipment for Commercial Vessels."

Great Circle Oceanmaster life rafts comply with Yachting Australia Racing Rules of Sailing 3018-3016.

"Our Oceanmaster rafts can be found on racing maxiyachts including a number of Volvo 60s and 70s, as well as race winners in events such as the Rolex Sydney Hobart, Pittwaterto Coffs, Brisbane to Keppel and many more," states Montgomery.

Then there are the Coastmaster[R] range of life rafts, manufactured and certified to standard ISO 9650-3 --the international coastal life raft specification.

Although the Coastmasters are not approved for survey or yacht racing applications, they boast excellent life saving features and represent great value for recreational purposes.

"These rafts are very high quality and use the same materials and manufacturing processes as the Oceanmasters," Montgomery adds. "The differences between Oceanmasters and Coastmasters are occupant space--there is slightly more space in an Oceanmaster compared to a similarly sized Coastmaster and the Oceanmasters are equipped with external boarding platforms to aid entry into the rafts. Coastmasters have traditional webbing and hard rung ladder and entry bridle systems."

For yachts in commercial survey, the Great Circle Oceanmaster[R] life rafts (four to 12 person capacity) are manufactured to ISO 9650 Group 1, the new international life raft standard for blue water, ocean applications. "Plus it has further enhancements that surpass the National Marine Safety Committee's (NMSC) requirements so that they can be used on Australian vessels in survey. Commercial vessels would fit either an Oceanmaster life raft with ISO Over 24-hour pack, plus EPIRB or a SOLAS standard raft."

Great Circle Oceanmaster[R] SOLAS life rafts (10 to 50 person capacity) are SOLAS (74/96) standard and certified by a Classification Organization approved by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), to verify compliance with the following regulations, requirements & standards: SOLAS 74/96, Throw or Roll Overboard Inflatable Life raft and International Life-Saving Appliance (LSA) Code, Resolution MSC 218 (82), and the Testing of Life-Saving Appliances, Resolution MSC 81 (70).

Great Circle Speedmaster[R] Life Rafts are open reversible types (ORILs) for vessels operating in protected waters and range in size from six to 65 person capacity and have been witnessed, inspected and tested by a Classification Society approved by The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), to verify compliance with the following regulations and testing: SOLAS 74 as amended. Regulation III/4, X/3. IMO Resolution MSC.97(73)8.1, 8.58. 6, 8.7 & 8.10 (2000 High Speed Craft Code). IMO Resolution MSC. 97(73). Annex 11 (2000 High Speed Craft Code).

In terms of inspection, life rafts should be checked "every three years for recreational vessels (for the first 12 years of the life raft's life) and two years for commercial vessels (for the first 12 years of the life raft's life)," Montgomery advises.

Deployment training can be undertaken with any Yachting Australia-endorsed safety training organisation


No longer referred to as PFDs, lifejackets are available in various levels, rated for their buoyancy.

Lifejackets are a vital piece of safety equipment for any recreational boater, and they're not the bulky, cumbersome style of jacket you might think.

Better design and technology have led to a range of lifejacket styles that look good, are easy to wear and don't get in the way. In fact, there's a style of jacket for just about every activity and body shape, including rapidly-deployed inflatable models.

According to legislation in all states and territories, a lifejacket must be carried for each person on board all vessels, unless exempt. It must be the correct size for the wearer and in good working condition. Penalties apply to the owners and masters of vessels found not carrying lifejackets, or if there are not enough lifejackets for everyone on board.

When it comes to sailing yachts, children and adults must wear lifejackets when crossing a coastal bar or if they're involved in a licensed aquatic event, or if directed to do so by the skipper.

Australian standards and terms have changed over the past five years. All Australian manufacturers such as Survitec (Crewsaver brand), Stormy, Ultra PFD, Safety Marine Australia (Roaring Forties brand) and Marlin, among others, manufacture to AS4758 (or to International Standard IS012402).

Under this standard, minimum safety and performance of a lifejacket are measured in Newtons (N). The higher the Newton rating the more buoyancy, or lift, the lifejacket has. 10 Newtons is equivalent to 1 kilogram of buoyancy. Adults need about 20 to 30 Newtons of buoyancy to float, thanks to the fact that we're made up of 70 percent water.

The buoyancy of a lifejacket is the overall rating to indicate its performance, but other factors such as conditions and location where the life jacket is used should be taken into consideration when choosing a life jacket.

The statistics reinforce the imperative of lifejackets. According to data gathered over the past decade by the Office of Boating Safety and Maritime Affairs, nine out of 10 people who drowned while boating were not wearing a lifejacket.


"Nobody ever expects to get in to trouble and need a lifejacket," states Ross Spencer from SOS Marine, manufacturers of commercial and professional lifejackets used for more than two decades by the Federal Police, marine rescue, the Royal Australian Navy and Coast Guard. "It always happens to people who thought it would never happen to them. "

The Maritime Management Centre within Transport NSW delivered the largest boating safety program the state has ever seen in 2014-15, working on the initiative in collaboration with the Survitec Group.

General Manager of the Maritime Management Centre Howard Glenn says "By remembering to wear a lifejacket at all times on the water, it might just save your life."

Crewsaver Lifejackets by Survitec were chosen for their slim line design allowing them to fit comfortably on the wearer's body and to encourage longer and more frequent use.

"Thankfully, modern lifejackets are designed to help you get the most out of your day on the water, " Glenn continues. "They are available in all shapes and sizes. Because they are less cumbersome to wear than the old-style block of foam jackets, they can be worn in comfort for the duration of a typical day out in a small boat.

"Nearly two million people in NSW alone go boating each year, and accidents happen suddenly, and to anyone. This partnership is about educating people about the benefits of normalising the wearing of life jackets."

Given the importance of such safety equipment, scrimping on life jackets is not the way to go. For a premium product, expect to pay $200 and up. The professional ranges can retail at around $240 and above.

Like all safety gear, regular service is imperative. Most manufacturers recommend you service or check over your inflatable lifejacket once a year, which means inflating them and leaving them overnight to see they're alright. If they're not, they should be disposed of and replaced. Inflatables are designed to be replaced, not repaired. In the case of foam-filled lifejackets, there is no requirement to service them, so people can become complacent and leave lifejackets unchecked in storage where they can rot, rip or become redundant, superseded by newer, slimmer and more buoyant models.

The Crewsaver range approved to ISO12402 standards includes the ErgoFit 290 Ocean and ErgoFit 190 Offshore for offshore racing and sailing, and the ErgoFit 190 Coastal, which boasts the same high level of construction, style and comfort to provide the reassurance of a professional quality jacket for recreational boating.

Representing the culmination of over five decades of development and customer feedback--from single-handed round the world sailors to recreational club racers--this new range of 3D moulded lifejackets provides superior quality and fit along with market-leading safety features and performance.

All three ErgoFit lifejackets have twin crutch straps, an integral deck safety harness and a neoprene pocket for stowing a safety knife. The ErgoFit 290 Ocean and ErgoFit 190 Offshore also feature an integrated hood and SOLAS approved light as standard.

The market-leading lifejackets are all highly durable with soft comfort mesh on the inside, foam padding including at the back of the neck to prevent rubbing and rapid adjusting buckles for perfect fit.

The entire ErgoFit Collection features an exceptionally well-crafted bladder delivering a faster turn speed, and also ensures that the wearer's airway is lifted further above the water when it matters the most.


New to the market is the Daniamant range of Alkaline Lifejacket Lights, available through Drew Marine Signal & Safety Australia. Known as M4,-AandW4,-A, they meet all the testing requirements of SOLAS, lasting 60 hours which exceeds the required eight hours. The main benefits over lithium lights include no transport restrictions and no disposal problems at end of life. The M4-A is a low profile light is a single compact flashing unit that is manually activated by pressing the switch on the front of the light. The light is emitted through an ultra-low profile dome, making the light less susceptible to damage during evacuation.

The W4-A is the automatic version of M4-A. The light activates automatically when in water and can be turned off manually if required.




An Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) is the essential safety product for your boat.

Market leading Emergency Beacon manufacturer GME manufactures the MT 600G, the EPIRB with improved GPS functionality ensuring faster location in an emergency situation. Drawing on 35 years' experience designing and manufacturing EPIRBs for Australian conditions and demands, the MT600G features a 10-year battery life and advanced self-testing capability for greater peace of mind. The GME MT600G comprises a 66-channel GPS receiver which reduces the search area to a 100-metre radius, and a 151.5MHz homing signal to further aid in location and retrieval. Complete with quick-release mounting bracket and automatically deployed antenna, the MT600G is certified by COSPAS SARSAT for worldwide usage and retails for $399 including GST. According to GME Marine Marketing manager, Brad Darch, GME EPIRBs and 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."

Ocean Signal's RescueME range of safety products, distributed by AllSat Communications, provides both recreational and commercial mariners with simple to use, compact and affordable life-saving solutions. RescueME is derived from Ocean Signal's extensive experience in developing world class products for the professional GMDSS and SOLAS deep sea sector (the SafeSea range). RescueME offers rapid deployment in a life threatening situation.

RescueME EPIRB1 is the world's most compact Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon. It comes with a 1 o year battery life and its compact size allows it to be easily retained within its manual release bracket or placed in an emergency grab-bag or life raft. A simple protective tab over the operating keys prevents inadvertent activation yet allows for easy single handed activation when required.

The RescueME EPIRB1 also features two high brightness strobes to maximise visibility in low light conditions. The retractable antenna provides maximum protection and a reduced outline for stowage. It's supplied with an integrated 66 channel GPS as standard, providing accurate positional information to the emergency services to assist rapid rescue. When activated, the RescueME EPIRB1 transmits your position and your unique ID to a Rescue Coordination Centre via satellite link. This information is then forwarded to the relevant local Search and Rescue services.

Established 25 years ago, Australian manufacturer, KTI enjoys an international reputation for supplying electronic safety equipment to aviation, marine, military and specialised consumer markets, including EPIRBs and rescue beacons. KTI holds several COSPAS/SARSAT approvals for its range of 406MHz emergency beacons that have replaced the 121.5MHz units since February 2009.

According to Mark Knowles, KTI General Manager, KTI makes the GPS EPIRB, SAiG, the only EPIRB with a 10 year battery life and 10 year warranty. "The SAiG is Australian-designed and manufactured in Victoria, supported by local network and the factory," he says.

The SAiG gives advanced location accuracy and provides up to three days transmission time once activated. Featuring an in-built high intensity strobe light for visual detection especially in poor visibility conditions, the SAiG aids rapid and precise location in an emergency.


GME's AccuSat MT410G is a compact and lightweight PLB with a host of user benefits. The MT410G offers a seven-year battery replacement life and a seven-year warranty. The high intensity LED and 'Non Hazmat' battery pack all contribute to the unique GME AccuSat advantage.

Using the latest cutting-edge microprocessor technology, GME's engineers have been able to provide the outdoor adventurer with a 406 MHz PLB solution that is affordable and easily transportable, providing enhanced peace of mind for sailors, bush walkers, 4WD enthusiasts and aviators should emergency assistance be required.

The MT410G is lightweight, compact, robust and boasts high-visibility with flashing light, plus a 50-search channel GPS receiver for better than 100-metre accuracy. Its unique patented technology means there's no warm up period. It comes with protective carry pouch and retention strap and is fully buoyant.

The KTI Safety Alert PLB is pitched as "the perfect companion".

"While it does not replace a statutory EPIRB, our PLB has the same lifesaving technology in a smaller, lightweight design and is supplied with an impact resistant case, retention lanyard, mirror and whistle and is self-buoyant without any external flotation cover," explains Mark Knowles.

"Following feedback from customers, it now comes in bright yellow, and we have added an OH&S safety upgrade --a break section (weak section) on the lanyard, as many sailors wear them around their neck. We recommend they should be carried in a zip up pocket, not around your neck. But the reality is, people will do that. "

Other features include 66 channel GPS with 3-metre accuracy; uses both the mandatory 406 MHz digital transmission and the 121.5 MHz analogue signal for rapid homing; subscription-free and communicates directly to national SAR authorities worldwide; salt water and corrosion resistant to 3-metres; non hazmat battery, safe for air transport and contains no toxic Sulphur Dioxide (SO2).

The KTI PLB offers a class leading 10 year battery life. Ultra-low current circuitry and low-loss antenna system delivers performance that exceeds the GOSPAS-SARSAT requirements of 34 hours continuous transmission at -20[degrees]C.

For premium performance the KTI Safety-Alert PLB is GPS equipped with a location accuracy of down to 3.0 metres. The GPS receiver is coupled to a chip style antenna which provides high sensitivity together with superior resistance against detuning by nearby objects.

The ultra-compact RescueME PLB1 can be easily fitted into your life-jacket or belt. RescueME PLB1 can be operated with a single hand in even the most challenging situations. A simple spring loaded flap covers the activation button preventing inadvertent use. The integrated ultra-bright strobe light ensures maximum visibility. RescueME PLB1 provides the reassurance that emergency services can be alerted by the press of a button. It works with the only officially-recognised, worldwide dedicated search and rescue satellite network (operated by Cospas Sarsat). Funded by governments, there is no charge to use this service. When activated, the rescueME PLB1 transmits your position and your unique ID to a Rescue Coordination Centre via satellite link and the relevant rescue services are promptly notified of your emergency and regularly advised of your current location. To assist with search and rescue, a homing signal is transmitted on 131.5MHz. This is received by equipment fitted to both sea and airborne rescue craft.


The best chance of rapid rescue if you fall overboard comes from your own vessel. Your crew needs to be immediately aware of the incident and keep track of your position whilst recovery is carried out. Even in the most moderate of seas it is alarming how quickly a visual sighting of a man overboard can be lost.

The RescueME MOB1 is made to be installed within the lifejacket and will activate automatically on inflation, sending the first alert within 15 seconds. The integrated strobe light ensures maximum visibility in low light conditions. RescueME MOB1 is compatible with even the most compact inflatable life-jackets. Once activated your MOB1 will transmit an alert to all AIS receivers and AIS enabled plotters in the vicinity.

The integrated GPS ensures precise location is sent to your vessel and any others that may be assisting. An additional feature of the MOB1 is its ability to activate the DSC alarm on your vessels VHF, alerting your crew to the situation.

The Pains Wessex Manoverboard MK9 Compact Lifebuoy Marker is normally attached to a 4kg lifebuoy. It is automatically or manually deployed to mark the position of a person in the water by day or night. It features unique self-activated LED light pods which exceed SOLAS requirements for 2 candela light output and 2 hours duration, plus providing 15 minutes of dense orange smoke.

From SOS Marine comes the first inflatable marker Dan Buoy to have the testing to International Standards (ISO 12402.9.2006). SOS Dan Buoy suits for all boats, from navy patrol and rescue boats to yachts small and large.

Designed, manufactured and patented by SOS Marine, Australia, the SOS Inflatable Marker Dan Buoy is a new life-saving technology in person overboard situations, providing rapid flotation assistance to a person at risk of drowning.

Among its unique design features is its capacity to work in an instant. Just throw it in the water. Once thrown into the water the SOS Dan Buoy inflates using a similar mechanism to an inflatable life jacket. Highly visible up to 1,700 metres away, it has two handles located just above the surface of the water to enable the person to hold onto while awaiting rescue.

It is easily stowed, low maintenance and reusable. Available to two sizes: SOS-6375 33 gram Dan Buoy for leisure boating safety and SOS-6377 60 gram Dan Buoy for Naval Forces and Rescue Operations.


Designed to work in tandem with MOB operations, in retrieval and rescue, the SOS Rescue Ladder was short-listed for the 2015 METS DAME Awards.

According to SOS Marine, its ease of use and comprehensive capability to save a life are the reasons for its global appeal. The two-in-one multifunction design of the ladder enables it to perform two types of recovery using the one product. The rungs can be used as a ladder or the entire shape can be used to lift a victim horizontally.

Unlike typical boarding ladders, the 'soft' design of the mesh boarding ladder with lightweight rungs is designed not to injure the victim when the boat rolls.

The key to the ladder is the four attaching points which provide greater security and stability. It is suitable for both sail and power vessels with up to 6 foot topsides-water to gunwale.

Due to demand from short-handed crews and those who want to prepare well beforehand, the SOS Ladder can now be enclosed in its own Sock and be attached to the toe rail ready at a moment's notice.

Once the ladder is secure to boat, it is then concertina folded into the 'Sock' leaving the release rope protruding downwards. The ladder is now set up and can be pulled or extended out by pulling down on the release rope whilst at sea level.


The rescueME EDF1 electronic distress flare offers users a safe and long-lasting solution to visual signalling in an emergency. The unique lens design combined with the use of advanced LEDs and highly efficient circuit technology ensures a constant level of light output throughout the life of the user replaceable battery. The light output is a beam of over 30[degrees] throughout the full 360[degrees] azimuth, providing in excess of 6 times more light coverage than other electronic flares. Light is also distributed throughout the hemisphere above the unit to ensure visibility from the air. Unlike single use pyrotechnic flares the rescueME EDF1 can be used repeatedly in any of its four modes, ensuring continued visibility is maintained over a longer period. The unit is both safe to store and operate while also eliminating any worries associated with disposal.

The compact size and rugged design means the rescueME EDF1 is the perfect safety product for a grab bag or life raft.




MedAire is the leading provider of global medical and travel safety solutions for yachts, providing medical kits and medical services tailored to the specific needs of the maritime environment. MedAire can provide offshore cruising kits, yachting Australia keel racing kits and all AM SA scale kits for commercially registered vessels. MedAire also manufactures the only kits that include all required medication, including prescription medication.

To complement their kit offerings, MedAire also offers a 24/7/365 medical assist program connecting Level 1 Trauma Centre doctors with offshore crew and passengers, as well as advanced medical training which can be completed in a classroom or onboard your vessel to ensure that you are best prepared for a medical emergency, whether at sea or shore.


Perhaps the most crucial tool in the safety kit is training. Terry Wise, Principal at the Pacific Sailing School, part of the CYCA, says having a "safety ethos" is vital onboard any boat, as is updating your safety training since techniques and equipment are often superseded, based on learning gained from the analysis of incidents on the water.

Martin Silk YA SSSC Chief Instructor reports Yachting Australia has introduced many changes over the last 13 months including running an update course.

"The update course includes pool and lifejacket practical session, updates on technology, methods, rules and equipment, based on lessons learned from recent incidents. The only pre-requisite is to have previously held a SSS certificate. Regardless of expiry date, it is strongly recommended that all crew members should undertake training as in OSR 6.01 at least once every five years."

For offshore sailors, the World Sailing (previously ISAF) Offshore Special Regulations of 2016-3017 specify the following content within the Update Course: The importance of a 'safety ethos'; responsibility of person in charge for safe conduct of vessel and oversight and direction of crew actions; responsibility of crew members for their own safety and in the discharge of their duties, to contribute to the safety of the vessel and the rest of the crew.

"The main objective of these courses is to provide vital background information and best practice in emergency situations. Instructors are regularly updated with the lasted information on technology, methods, rules and equipment. Lessons learned from recent incidents are passed on to Instructors each year and in turn to students."

Pacific Sailing School conducts ISAF Safety and Sea Survival Courses throughout the year. More at www.


Monitoring and tracking their boats while onshore or remote is a priority for many yachties.

The planned closure of the Telstra GSM network at the end of 2016 led SmartiMarine to develop a suitable device to monitor and track assets across the 3G/4G Telstra Network. The SmartiMarine SiM Tracker combined with its dedicated Telstra plan and access to SmartiMarine online software delivers a one-stop solution for monitoring a fleet of assets.

As Dee Montague-Jones explains; "We offer online access via: mobile, tablet or desktop to see where you boat is now, at an affordable price. We use Google maps and satellite view to track and follow your boat live. You can rewind data for up to three months to see where and when your boat has been with detailed GPS accuracy."

The device not only tracks but also monitors battery disconnect alarm; bilge alarm; Geo Fence, using easy to use map clicks to draw an area where you want to be alerted if entered or exited; hatch sensors to alert of unauthorised entry.

Distributed by AllSat Communications, SPOT Trace allows you to track and view your yacht's GPS coordinates using the online user console. Monitor your assets in near real time using Google Maps[TM]. Satellite technology tracks beyond the reach of normal mobile network coverage. Users receive SMS or email notification when movement is detected. Select from 5 through to 60 minute tracking intervals. Compact and easy to install, SPOT Trace comes with long battery life and plug in power options.
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Title Annotation:SAFETY AT SEA
Author:Bone, Jeni
Publication:Offshore Yachting
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Apr 1, 2016
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