CREW BRIEFING & SAFETY ON BOARD
any boat it is imperative for all the crew to know how to avoid accidents and
what to do if anything goes wrong. Most may not be as experienced as you in what
can go wrong on a boat. Without knowledge there is no threat, without that
threat we just don't know that we should hold on now as that speed boat passes
Lifejackets & Harnesses
Everyone will have a personal harness & lifejacket allocated. These may be one
item together i.e. the harness may be integrated into the lifejacket. Adjust
yours to fit now and stow it with your gear. These must ALWAYS be worn in the
BUT they can be worn at ANY
TIME that you feel comfortable wearing it - there is nothing soft in being safe
- don't be embarrassed.
if the crew is a non-swimmer
(Check if there are any non-swimmers on board)
in heavy weather including
sometimes just simple wind against tide
in reduced visibility
at the skipper's request
Safety/Life LinesWhen unclipping to clip on a different
point it is best to have a 3-way safety line (clip on before clipping off) but
if not, always follow your safety/life line from your lifejacket to the clip on
point and then unclip. This will prevent you from accidentally unclipping
someone else's. When entering the cabin, unclip your safety/life line from your
harness side only once you safely inside. Remember always to clip on before
leaving the cabin. When on deck, use the D clips, the jackstays or shrouds
(point these out). NEVER use the guardrails or stanchions. Unclip when your
centre of gravity is low and holding on. In heavy weather,
consider putting two lines on if you have to go forward on deck.
Locate all fire extinguishers and read
the instructions to all crew. There will be no time to read them if there is a
fire. How do we get to them from deck?
Flares & EPIRBLocate all flares. Ensure that the
crew know what to use, when and how, even in the dark. Get them to feel for the
shooting end and the holding end. Eyes closed?
Ensure that the crew know how to operate the
EPIRB and the location. How does it unclip? Eyes closed?
Red - used in an emergency situation for position
indicating Orange Smoke - daylight emergency & pinpointing position
White - used to prevent
collision at sea e.g. in a fog
The radio is used to keep in contact
with other vessels, the shore and is the best way to get help. It must be used
by a licensed radio operator or under the supervision of a licensed radio
operator. As long as there is 1 license holder on board, anyone can use the
radio. It is imperative to adhere to the correct radio etiquette. Is there
Digital Selective Calling, if yes what is the system for activating MAYDAY? Is
the GPS connected and switched on?
Ensure that all crew can locate the mayday instructions and remember to change
to CH16, 25 watts full power. Keep on calling until reply or help.
First Aid kit
Ensure that the crew all know where the kit is. Who are the trained first-aiders
Man overboardEnsure that the crew all know where
the MOB gear is located & how to use it, especially lifting strops and how to
connect to halyards/boom etc Ensure the crew all know how to operate
the MOB button on the GPS and SRC Distress button. It is important for
all crew to be able to perform a MOB rescue. Have a bit of fun practising (with
a fender and a bucket or line!) at a convenient time during the day under engine
then progress to under sail.
Know where it is stowed and how to
launch it. Inform all crew if a grab bag has been prepared and stow within easy
reach. Only abandon to the liferaft if the boat is sinking or on fire. THE
LIFERAFT IS A DANGEROUS PLACE TO BE. Step up to the liferaft, not down into it!
Locate the gas bottle stowage
and remember to turn off AT THE BOTTLE after each use
Locate the fire blanket and
use it for ANY stove fire
Use matches to light the
stove - do not use a gas lighter. Remember to light the match first, then
place over hob and turn gas switch on.
Even in calm weather take
care when pouring hot drinks. In bumpy weather, you must ensure your body is
protected by wearing oilskins
Show all crew how to operate. Ensure everyone knows how to operate the seacocks,
holding tanks, environmental laws of emptying tanks (usually 3M off shore) etc.
Usage etiquette - when toilets are available on shore, use them. Use onboard
Only bodily waste to go down. Vomit to go overboard or in a bucket. Any
other items to be disposed of with the garbage.
No garbage is to be disposed of in the sea. Waste food may be discarded usually
3M off shore but poorly degrading skins or peels must be retained for disposal
on shore. Prevent any discharge of oil, fuel or any harmful substance into the
Everyone needs to know how to start the engine BUT. BEFORE STARTING THE ENGINE
check that the engine is in
check that there are no lines
over the stern that may foul the propeller
check cooling water discharge
after the engine has started
The bilge pumps are not only used in an emergency. All crew need to know where
they are positioned on board, how to operate and clear any blockages. Could we
pump for hours on end?
How low is the boom? Watch this for accidental gybing during downwind sailing
particularly, but watch out for it at ALL TIMES. Most times, it is the main
sheet that catches you; beware of the 'arc' of travel of the mainsheet. Fingers
can receive rope burns as a minimum grabbing for the sheet! Can you rig a boom
All crew must know how to operate the sails. Reefing is essential for
comfortable sailing to help prevent excessive heeling but reefing may be
essential for crew and boat safety if the wind and weather conditions
deteriorate. Hove-to is sometimes a stable position to reef the main.
Ensure that all crew know how to operate the roller furling jib and Mainsail
furling, if you have them.
Keep fingers away from winch, 'feed the horse flat hand', always
pull away from the winch when taking turns on it.
This is not often needed, but in a hurry can be a saviour if engine fails at the
wrong moment in shallow water but everyone must know how to release it.
Try to get sick downwind to prevent it blowing back in your face or on to other
crewmembers. Do not worry too much about getting to the guardrail particularly
in bad weather or if the boat is heeling. Remember that the boat is made of
material that is rather tough and it can be cleaned. A bucket of seawater will
work wonders in washing down. Allocate a crewmember to look after them and if
need be usually against their wishes get them below. Consider clipping them on.
Get them helming.
It is imperative that all crew have a good time and enjoy themselves. We are all
here to have fun.
If you know that you suffer
from seasickness, take preventative measures in plenty of time or inform the
skipper. Seasick tablets e.g. Stugeron need to be taken at least 2 hours before
departure to work effectively. If you do start to feel seasick, please inform
someone and let the skipper know. Try to keep busy and try to stay on deck -
fresh air and a view of the horizon can help and the boat motion often feels
exaggerated below deck. If you are very sea sick you may need to go to your
cabin. Remove your wet weather gear (someone may be helping you at this point!),
dry off, lie down and keep warm. Remember to take a bucket. Don't try to be
brave and try and be sick over the side by leaning out, just turn away. It's
easier to clean up sick than MOB.
Remember to eat and drink at
regular intervals to prevent hunger and dehydration. They can be major
contributors to seasickness. Wind and heat both dehydrate. By the time your
feel thirsty, you are already dehydrating.
Remember to keep warm. Even
on a hot day, a breeze at sea can be quite cooling. Being cold can also
contribute to seasickness.
THREE "WITCHES OF WANT" are cold (wet), tiredness
and hunger. One of the three is OK, but do not allow two to set in.
Three could be a disaster
If you suffer from any medical condition, please inform the skipper. Skippers,
don't forget to inform one of your crew if you are on medication etc.
All crew will muck in and be prepared to assist with all daily chores, deck
work, helming and watches. Chores should be rotated across the crew and may be
allocated each night for the next day. If you are doubtful of anything, ASK.
Don't put yourself or other members of the crew at risk because you THINK you
know what to do. Remember, that there are no stupid questions only stupid
Ensign - hoist at 0800
summer, 0900 winter, lower at sunset or 2100 whichever is earlier, lower when
racing or crew ashore
Lead line / depth checks
Check navigation lights
Weather check and logged
Tidal heights and times
noted. Tidal tables prepared and double checked.
plan checked for favourable winds, tides, weather conditions and adjusted if
necessary. What are the alternative havens?
Brief crew on passage/pilotage
plan. Ensure suitable clothing.
Sufficient food and water for
Refreshments for crew during
passage. Pre-prepare if necessary.
Sufficient fuel for the day?
Open Engine compartment - any oil , water leaks?
Check all belts are sound and tight
Is the seawater inlet valve/seacock open and are
the strainers clear?
Check oil level with dipstick. Do not overfill.
Check freshwater level
Check fuel pre-filter & drain any water
Petrol engine: operate the engine space exhaust
Start engine and run at medium revs to warm up
Check cooling water discharge
Check ahead and astern operation
Prepare the boat for sea:
Heads - empty holding tanks
Hatches and ports tightly secured
Loose gear below decks stowed away, lockers
Galley gear stowed and checked
Close seacocks (if required)
Dinghy - check towing line or lash securely to
deck. Ensure that oars, fenders, warps, outboard and all loose gear stowed on
Check life raft is lashed securely
Check anchor is ready
No lines overboard
Winch handles stowed on deck / in cockpit
Remove sail covers and stow
Brief crew on method of leaving mooring
Prepare the boat for
Initial Check List
Brief crew on mooring
Decide on length of anchor chain/rope and flaked
Prepare lines and fenders. One line, one job.
Secure boat with full complement of correct lines
& springs, leftover line ends on board, not ashore,
Lines tidied away
Cockpit tidy, mainsheet tied & boom moved to the
side of the boat where crew will not catch it when leaving and getting on.
Deck equipment (winch handles, torches) stowed
Sail cover on
Celebrate the end of the days sailing with a
Check radio is operating correctly, pre-planned with
another yacht or harbour master. NOT CH 16. Are there weather messages on VHF?
Are they in English? What times?
Check for charts and navigation equipment. Place charts likely to use in order
in chart table.
Is there a deviation chart? Do I need to include in this passage.
Check working condition of any electronic equipment e.g. log, depth gauge, wind
Check impellor (log) and how to clean/clear it
Check navigation lights are working and if there are spare bulbs
Check for safety equipment and ensure good working condition particularly EPIRB,
liferaft, lifejackets, safety/life lines
Check accuracy of depth gauge with lead line. What is it reading? Water depth or
below the keel!
Power on board i.e. batteries, shore power. Ensure operating instructions are
available and understood.
Check gas bottle stowage and operation. Are the bottles full?
Check boat inventory and note any damage or missing items
Fridge / Cool box
How and when does it operates
How to start
Fuel cut-off switch location and operation
Consumption / distance on tank
Economical cruising speed
Seawater inlet valve / seacock and strainer. Does
the system require priming if you remove filter cover?
Freshwater header tank & check level
Fuel pre-filter and how to drain
Check for tools or any spares
How to operate
How to pump
How far off shore
How to operate
How to operate and reef the mainsail and genoa
Check the split pin that holds the pin that
connects furling genoa foil (under furling drum) to the deck at bow
Is there a boom preventer for down wind sailing
Check rigging for wear
Check the connection of the
jack stays to the bow and stern
Check the Dan buoy light by
removing and turning upside down.
The above is not an
exhaustive list, and does not cater for every boat or every situation. There is
room to add more if you wish but I think it is a good start for the new and old
to go skippering and have fun.
GOOD SAFE SAILING FOR 2005
MPSC, November 2004
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