Safety at Sea (Part 1) -OR- Please Dad Don't Worry

6 months 22 days 6 hours and counting…

If you haven’t seen the movie All is Lost starring Robert Redford - don’t.  Read on and rest assured that safety is our number one priority.  It falls under the “Love People” category if you are wondering.  We love our friends and family and we love our lives together.  Protecting ourselves and our floating home has been a guiding principle as we have outfitted Rhea and prepared for this less conventional life.  As a risk management consultant I have made a living encouraging people to engage in safe behavior and to think through common hazards and exposures inherent in their business activities - why would I not practice what I have been preaching for all these years?

Both Riv and I know CPR and FirstAid.  The boat has been outfitted with an off shore medical kit that goes way beyond boo-boo strips (remember those?) and paper tape.  The kit is supplemented by a laundry list of items suggested by my doctor (Mark Drake - not kidding!) and we have instructional books on board.  

The boat has a long list of emergency and personal safety equipment.  We both wear PFDs (Personal Floatation Devices- aka life jackets.)  We researched the hell out of them for efficacy, reliability and comfort.  Spinlock won by a landslide.  The PFDs are hydrostatic -  meaning they automatically inflate when submerged in water.  An excellent feature if you are unconscious.  They are also equipped with a spray hood to keep the waves and spray out of your mouth and nose - secondary drowning is a real thing.  There is a strobe light (also hydrostatic) that extends above the head and blinks to increase visibility.  The part that inflates is bright yellow and has its own super cool light to illuminate the entire bladder for amazeballs visibility day or night.  The vests are meant to work with our jacklines (lines that run the length of the boat) so that we can be clipped onto the boat during harsh weather or if we are alone topsides on watch. Riley has a PFD as well if you were worried about Mr. Einstein.


I personally inspect our PFDs (per manufacturer guidelines) and inflate them annually to check for leaks and certify that the mechanisms are working properly.


Speaking of stuff that floats - we also have a hydrostatic lifeboat that is stored conveniently next to the helm for quick dispatch.  Sending thanks to Sal’s in Alameda for servicing this piece of equipment I hope to never need!  We have read the manual and watched instructional videos on the correct deployment of the life raft and we have an extensive ditch kit that has supplies, water, food, a fishing kit and a water maker to keep us alive until help arrives or we bump into a salty piece of land (parrotheads that was for you.)

The boat is equipped with an EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon) which is registered to the boat and will transmit our location via a coded message on the 406 MHz distress frequency via satellite and earth stations to the nearest rescue center.  In addition we each have our own PLB (Personal Locator Beacon) that attaches to our PFDs and is registered to each of us individually.  


The PLBs come in handy when we are crewing on OPB - other people’s boats(not a real acronym but I love a little Naughty by Nature.)  Both River and I had these along when we did the Baja Bash in 2016 on SV Kia Ora and SV C’est Si Bon respectively.


Additionally we have a VHF radio mounted below at the navigation station and we have an auxiliary hand held VHF (we used to have 2 - I may have inadvertently let gravity have its way with mine while pulling up anchor after the Lady Gaga concert at AT&T park in 2017 but I don’t remember the details).  Just as important as having VHF is that we know how to use the VHF.  Channel 16 is for distress calls (Mayday, Pan Pan, Sécurité) and other channels are used (varies by region) for commercial radio traffic, non commercial radio traffic and sometimes kids messing around.  Aboard Rhea we have a detailed guide on how to make distress calls in the event we have crew aboard that needs to make the call and to help ensure accuracy in the heat of the moment.  I practice distress calls because "I’m a safety girl.”

Standby for Part 2 of the Safety at Sea Series (alternate working title - Seriously, Dad I will be OK - Is This "Worry" More About You Wanting Me to be Close by in Case You Need Tech Support for Your iPhone? )

Don't call me "Sally Sailor,"