As we approach the season changeover period, yachts will be flocking to Florida from all corners of the globe for planned maintenance and to load up the provisions. With sights set on the next charter season, the stakes are high when it comes to getting the yacht ship shape for going to sea. So, how do you ensure your crew are ready?
With the high possibility of crew turnover in the upcoming period, retraining and refreshers are an important activity to ensure everyone is on the same page. An emergency response team is made up of a number of crew members, all with dedicated tasks, coming together as a single team to protect one another, the yacht and to respond to the emergency in the appropriate manner. Captains and crew are responsible for ensuring they understand their roles for every safety incident that may arise. You may even enjoy doing safety drills!
Safety drills are by far the most important safety training on board and should occur on all sizes of yachts. It’s a chance for crew to come together and to practice their roles in emergency situations including man overboard, fires, collision, flooding and the dreaded, ’abandon ship’. It’s also a chance to operate and to test safety equipment including fire & bilge pumps, engine room valves, fire hoses and of course, putting on fire and immersion suits! Crew can enjoy safety drills, and why not? It’s a team building exercise that could save your life or that of someone else.
Here are a few tips for ensuring your safety drills are successful and are valuable for crew and management:
• Operate your equipment: Don’t just pretend! Running a fire hose out along deck and then calling it a day will only get you half way there. Turn the pump on and test a couple of hoses. Work their valves and test every element as if it was a real-life scenario.
• Response times: These are crucial. Give your crew a goal of what their response times should be and drill your crew until they achieve it.
• Communication: Clear and concise communication is one of the key factors in any emergency. Outline your communication channels and use clear and deliberate words that all crew will understand.
• New crew: Ensure your new crew understand their roles in different emergency situations. Green crew make up a large chunk of this industry so make sure you know if a new crewmember has never been at sea.
• Practice makes perfect: Drill often and don’t be afraid to mix up roles from time to time. What happens if someone is injured during an emergency? You may need to step in and perform their role. All crew should know how to start a fire pump, where the muster station is or where to find the life jackets.
• Drill at sea: There is no use performing all your drills at the dock. Make sure during journeys you take the time to perform some drills in the open ocean. Yes, it will add some extra time to your journey, but there is no compromise when it comes to the safety of crew and guests.
• Record your drills: A simple tick is not enough. Log your drill event and record any specific notes about how the event went or who was missing. The more information the better!
Unfortunately, plenty of yachts out there skip their drills. There is a common misconception that unless you are on a certain sized yacht or unless the yacht is classed, you only need to conduct X drills per period. The reality is, safety drills should be common practice for all sizes of vessels.
Why do you have to be classed or of a certain size? Is there an increased risk of an emergency onboard larger yachts than onboard smaller vessels? I don’t believe so. An emergency could occur on a yacht that is 100ft, just like it could occur on a yacht that is 300ft.
Make drills fun, make them frequent and make them realistic. Once in the open ocean you are the response team and you are the ones who will save each others’ lives.
Article submitted by Matthew Hyde,
Director at Seahubwww.seahub.com.au