Safety at Sea – Some Lessons Learned From Yacht Running Aground at Night
A well-prepared yacht with a prudent skipper would have avoided the accident at sea described below. Read the scenario, based on a true story, and think about what should have been done differently.
While traveling under motor at night, the yacht’s engine failed. Efforts to restart it failed. The skipper and crew of two were unable to raise a sail before the yacht struck rocks of an island. Fortunately, they were able to get ashore safely, apart from the skipper injuring his ankle.
What happened next? They were unable to make an emergency call until next morning, when one of the crew climbed up the industrial safety equipments list pdf island and found mobile phone coverage. After the call was made, a helicopter was dispatched to rescue the trio.
What can we learn from this?
When motoring at night the skipper should allow extra sea room around obstacles to avoid the risk of running aground.
As a matter of practice except in very heavy conditions, the main should be hoisted although not necessarily to its full height. Most experienced skippers would agree that this leads to a far more comfortable ride than motoring without a steadying sail.
Skippers delivering yachts usually underpower them by having a reef permanently in the main and by using a headsail smaller than the conditions normally would call for. That way the boat is ready for any sudden increase in wind or the failure of the engine.
In any case – if you don’t want to rig a headsail – one should be ready for use in an emergency. If not on a furler, it should be rigged with its sheets and halyard attached and tied down on the foredeck.
A VHF radio and EPIRB should have been part of the yacht’s basic communication and safety equipment. The skipper would then make a ‘Mayday’ call and set off the EPIRB. Rescuers would have been notified that evening, i.e. 13 hours earlier than was the case.
While they were fortunate to have a mobile phone to make contact, one wonders how long it would have been before they were found if there had been no mobile coverage on that island.
The most disturbing thing about the whole report is the apparent lack of any attempt other aspects of manufacturing to equip the yacht with even the most basic safety gear for going to sea.…