Your boat may pass its vessel safety check – which means it at least meets Federal minimums… But is it as safe as you can make it…? This column is about that…
Safe For What?
Admiral Halsey is famous for many things but one is noting that, for a thousand years, safety starts at the dock. What are you intending to do with this boat, on this passage, with a certain mission or task in mind – and it is properly outfitted for that. Certainly, meeting Federal minimums sounds more than a little short of the mark if you’re intending to head out to the Hudson Canyons for an over-night fishing trip… OK, you’ve got your required number of flares for the size of your boat and a life jacket for everyone… but are you really prepared for what God’s Great Ocean can throw at you..? What are supplemental items that could open up the safety window for you while the USCG comes charging out to get you…?
Cell Phone v VHF Radio
One of the greatest pieces of safety gear that you have on your boat is a simple VHF #radio.
With a #GPS aboard, your #RadioInstall can activate the “Digital Selective Calling” button on the radio (they all come with that button now.) This sends the GPS coordinates directly to USCG rescue personnel. What if they hadn’t had a GPS hooked in to their DSC-equipped radio? Frankly, much the same result would have happened. #Search&Rescue21 would have been able to generate a line of bearing to the boat and the USCG would have had a boat race down that line until they came upon the vessel.
What about a #cellphone1 call? Maybe – “Honey, send help!” How about the fishing vessel that is a half-mile away – but you don’t have his cell phone number.
Getting Back Aboard
If you do manage to have a #ManOverboard, or even yourself, how will you get back aboard? If you don’t have a collapsible boarding ladder attached to your stern or your swim platform, you’ll never get back aboard unless you can pull a “Flipper the Flying Porpoise” and jump into the boat. Get a good one, with at least 3 steps that pull out so you can get your cold and cramped legs onto the bottom step. If you have to pull yourself up to steps that are just too high, you may find it impossible to save yourself.
Money No Object..?
It always strikes me as penny-wise and pound-foolish to skimp on safety equipment – such as a GPS – but the reality is that not everyone is in a position to afford $5/gallon gasoline and a $500 GPS or $900 EPIRB. Of course, we are talking about saving the life most important to you – yours!