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Preparing for the summer cruise

July and August are the time that many boat owners, with their families and friends, head off for a bit of a cruise. The traditional summer cruise is longer than the average weekend or overnight outing that most sailors undertake and needs quite a bit more planning. Starting with the route and destination and – in as much as weather and sea conditions allow – an outline timetable. Next, the catering, packing and all manner of creature comforts. Finally it’s time to check that everything works, get any last minute servicing done and have spares and tools for all major eventualities. Within this category should be the most important bit of preparation of all – safety planning and safety equipment.

Equipment: Your yacht will most likely be equipped with all the basics already – lifejacketsVHF radioflaresfirst aid kitMOB equipment. Bigger yachts and those doing regular long voyages may well carry liferaftsEPIRBs and personal man overboard location and recovery devices. If you don’t own a liferaft because you don’t often leave coastal waters, but your voyage involves some longer offshore sailing, then you could consider hiring one and this is a service that Ocean Safety provides. So if that’s the only time you need it, it makes complete sense to go down the hire route. Plus you don’t need to worry about servicing. 

Checking all the rest of the equipment is important too. Flares go out of date, as do the canisters that automatically inflate lifejackets. Check them all and get in touch with Ocean Safety if they need servicing.

Planning: It’s all very well having an extensive inventory of operational safety equipment but using it in an emergency is another matter altogether. Start your planning by considering who is going to be on the boat with you. Are you the most experienced person on board? If so and you were to fall overboard , the remaining crew need to have a drill ready to recover you, that they will be able to execute and also have the physical strength for – some of your crew might be youngsters or more elderly.

Before you head offensure you show your crew where everything is stowed and make sure they can access things. Run through how everything works and get them to give you a demo once you’ve explained it. Get everyone fitted for a lifejacket and put their names on a bit of sail tape and attach to each. Carry out an all-important man overboard drill so that everyone is aware of your plan in the event of man overboard situation.

Knowing you are as prepared as you can be means you can keep safe, relax and enjoy the cruise.