Friday 20 July 2012

Man Over Board practice for Day Skipper Qualification

One of the elements of a Day Skipper practical course is Man Over Board (MOB) practice. 
A real person is not used for such practice, rather a rope tied to a fender or a bucket!  Day Skippers are shown and get to practice how to get to the object in the water and then work out how to get it back on board imagining that it was the size and weight of a person.
If someone falls overboard the first thing that should happen is someone should shout ‘Man Over Board’ and point at the person in the water.  Someone else should make a May Day call on the VHF Radio.  There are various ways of getting back to someone that has fallen over board.  The quickest and easiest way is to do it under power and there are a couple of methods, both of which are practised on a Day Skipper Course, which can be employed to do this.
Typical Fasnet Race conditions where knowing Man Over Board skills is critical
One option is the helm should be placed hard over, as if heaving too, so that the boat heads up into and though the wind.  This stops the boat very quickly.  The sails should be sheeted in and the engine started.  As the yacht comes around close to the person in the water the MOB lifebelts can be thrown to the person and the throttle can be used with short bursts or ahead and astern to position the boat next to the person in the water ideally bringing them alongside the beam.  Care must be taken to ensure no ropes that could get caught around the propeller are trailing in the water and that the propeller is kept a suitable distance from the person in the water’s legs.

An alternative would be to head downwind of the person, turn the engine on, furl the headsail, sheet the main in tight, and position the yacht so that it can be motored from a downwind position up to the person in the water.  An aspiring Day Skipper will get to practice these manoeuvres a number of times on a course until he or she becomes proficient at it.

If use of the engine is not possible then it becomes a sailing exercise.  The yacht can be stopped dead in the water by putting the helm hard up into the wind.  The sails should be sheeted in tight and the helm left hard over.  The resulting effect is for the boat to go round in small circles quite close to the person in the water.  MOB lifebelts can be deployed.  The yacht should head off on a beam to broad reach for a short distance.  The headsail should be furled (assuming conditions will allow the yacht enough power to windward under main alone.)  A tack should then ensue and the boat placed on a fine reach, or rather pointed at the person in the water which should turn out to be a fine reach.  Day Skippers should by now be quite comfortable of placing a yacht on a fine reach.  The reason for a fine reach is that it is a point of sail that allows you to spill all the wind from the main without it being restricted by the shrouds.  At the same time it allows the yacht room to manoeuvre to windward if need be.  So back pointing at the person in the water.  Someone should ease the main sail right out so that it flaps. The main sheet span can then be grabbed as a whole and used to put power in the sail if required, whilst letting go of it allows the sail to very quickly become depowered.  If the sail cannot be let fully out when pointing at the person in the water the yacht should be steered downwind for a very brief period and then bought back up to point at the person in the water.  This can be repeated until the sail can be eased fully.

As the person is approached all way should be taken off the boat by completely releasing the main sheet span and the yacht rounded up so that the person is picked up on the beam of the leeward side.

You then have to work out how to get say an 11 stone man, clothes waterlogged, possibly unconscious, back on board…

This is a Guest Post by First Class Sailing, a leading UK sail training and boat chartering company with on the South Coast, London and more. First Class Sailing offer, amongst other RYA Courses, Day Skipper Practical courses on which you get plenty of Man Over Board practice.

Saturday 7 July 2012

UK Safety Regulations for Pleasure Vessels; Part 1 of 3

For United Kindom flagged boaties, to understand, for your and yours safety, the applicable Regulations is quite an exercise in itself. As we are all equally affected by these Regulations, this article attempts to give an overview of them, what applies and what doesn't, so you can be confident your boat is properly equipped. In essence, the Regulations are the expression of the 'minimums' to adequately ensure safety of life at sea. 

As a sea-goers, we must never forget that the knowledge that has led to the current Regulations, has been in the majority of cases, very hard-won, based on many tragic historic events - in other words, the Regulations have been arrived at a very high human cost. Therefore, while small pleasure vessels may not have a formal need to comply, we suggest it is in your interest to adopt as much of them as you see fit to give confidence that your boat is adequately equipped for the ''black swan'' event at sea.

For UK-flagged Pleasure Vessels (i.e. not for commercial gain or reward), these Regulations have applicability:

United Kingdom Government prescribed:
1. Merchant Shipping (Life-Saving Appliances for Ships other than ships of Classes III to VI (A)) Regulations 1999;
2. Merchant Shipping (Life-Saving Appliances for Passenger Ships of Classes III to VI(A)) Regulations 1999;
3. Merchant Shipping (Fire Protection: Small Ships) Regulations 1998;
4. 'Information on the Regulations Applicable to Pleasure Vessels' dated 21 December 2007 (Version 12).

NOTE: If any pleasure vessel carries more than 12 passengers (i.e. excluding the operating crew), the vessel classification moves from "Pleasure Vessel" to "Passenger Ship" and the full Regulations Item 1, 2, 3 and 4 above, apply (limited duration exemptions may be given by the MCA).

International Marine Organisation IMO prescribed:
5. International Convention for the 'Safety of Life at Sea'/SOLAS Chapter V.

Beyond the passenger count, the degree of applicability of the Regulations is fundamentally governed by the Pleasure Vessel size; by [load line] length (then weight for very large pleasure vessels):
- Length less than 13.7 metres (45 feet);
- - there are NO STATUTORY requirements as far as "life saving" or "fire fighting" equipment is concerned;
- Length more than 13.7 to 24 metres (45-78 feet);
- -  a vessel is classified as being a ''Class XII vessel'' and must comply with Items 1 and 3 above.
NOTE: This discussion does not address Pleasure Vessels over 24 metres - we have our limits!

To complicate the understanding of the applicability of the Regulations, the Requirements (or the details on how to properly comply with the Regulations) of Item 1 appear in two Marine Shipping Notices MSN issued by the UK Marine and Coastguard Authority MCA (part of the UK Department of Transport DfT):
- MSN 1676 for Items 1 and 2;
- MSN 1677 for Item 1.

To simplify the application of the above-Itemed regulations, the MCA has issued an un-numbered document, Item 4 above, which details the how to comply with the Regulations, plus it gives Exemptions (after discussion with the British Marine Federation and Royal Yachting Association) from:
- Item 1 Regulations 21, 48, 69, 71, 72, 78 and 84;
- Item 2 Regulations 23, 35 and 36;
This document also addresses the application of Item 5 'SOLAS V'.

So, to take advantage of 'Information on the Regulations Applicable to Pleasure Vessels', in Part 2 and 3 to follow, we examine the two equipment types in some detail:
- Life Saving Appliances;
- Fire Protection Equipment.

Boat and ship wheels - symbol, style, innvovation

A ships wheel is probably the most recognisable symbol of boats or ships around the world

It is therefore understandable as to why the European Union chose to use the symbol of a ships wheel to indicate the compliance of boat equipment with the Marine Equipment Directive (also known as M.E.D. 96/98/EC and often called M.E.D/MED)

While aircraft now use joysticks and "fly by wire" technologies to "steer" them, pleasure boats generally still use the a wheel for primary directional control. With boats from over a hundred years old still in operation and new models appearing every year, the boat wheel manufacturers, between them, have worked to supply boat wheels for all generations of boats.

There are three general styles available: traditional spoke wooden wheels, contemporary round-rimmed wheels and a blend of the traditional and contemporary.
Vetus Traditional Style 6 Spoke Boat or Ships Wheel in Mahogany
Vetus Traditional Style 6 Spoke Boat or Ships Wheel in Mahogany
The traditional wooden (usually mahogany) six-spoke boat wheel is still very much sought after. Where the new versions excel in in their underlying strength provided by a steel frame to which the wooden parts are attached. The steel frame of the traditional style boat wheel also provides a strong mount hub to ensure that the wheel and the steering input shaft remain intact even under the worst conditions.

The contemporary style boat wheels, often made of polished stainless steel, are both affordable and very durable - virtually indestructible one could say. A variation of the contemporary style are the powerboat steering wheels made of modern reinforced plastics.

The blended style, combining stainless steel of contemporary boat wheels with the smooth polished spokes borrowed from traditional boat wheels and mahogany rims, really look sophisticated and would grace many a boat - whether a sailboat, yacht, motorboat or powerboat.

One special version of the contemporary boat wheels is the Goiot Steer'n Go™ range for sailboats/yachts. These are a really great idea, as they are designed to be removed and mounted on the safety railing when the boat is moored, giving freedom of access from the cabin to the stern. This is of course really useful for Mediterranean sailing when mooring stern-in is close to the norm.