Useless Unless Worn

»«Friday 26th February 2010

'Useless Unless Worn' is the simple legend on the posters pinned up in strategic positions around the clubhouse after the Safety Demonstration on Friday 26th February. They will act as a simple reminder to the members who were not present when David Bowton, a sector Officer from the Coastguard, and Chris Waterman, from Ocean Safety, gave a very good demonstration of modern safety equipment, including features of the latest lifejackets.

The latest design of life jacket is now much more compact, has easily adjustable straps, is fitted with lifting loops and looks "cool". It even has a designer bag to keep it in. Some jackets also have a spray hood to prevent secondary drowning. Regular checking of the gas cylinder and inflation valve was stressed and the jacket should be checked every time before use and regularly by an approved agent. As ever, it is useless if not worn!

Various types of EPIRB's were described, the best types using 406 technology. We were advised to be wary of cheap, obsolete types, often "promoted" at boat jumble sales.

Automatic Identification System (AIS) equipment was highly recommended. An interesting possibility is to use it as a position finding system if the MMSI number of a fixed shore station is known. The bearing and range is obtained, hopefully the SOG should be zero!

Firefighting equipment was surveyed and an often neglected safety point was to have fire retardant hose on water inlets. Several boats have sunk after the fire was extinguished because sea cocks were not turned off after the plastic hose had melted!

The design features of modern liferafts were fully surveyed. Few realise that the food, water, first aid packs and thermal suits could be specified by the user. Two hints were that one should only step up into a life raft and that it is useful to be present when the Approved Agent services one's liferaft.

Finally, David announced that the Coastguard service will be able to receive and arrange disposal of out-dated, damaged or dud flares (TEP's or Time Expired Pyrotechnics) from summer 2010.

In conclusion, we all enjoyed a well presented, thorough demonstration that encouraged sensible and safe sailing.

Derek Corless