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Ev­ery year, RNLI vol­un­teer crews res­cue hun­dreds of peo­ple on yachts and mo­tor­boats. Res­cue crews will al­ways be there to an­swer the call, as­sist­ing you with­out judge­ment and no mat­ter the cause. But today we look at how the RNLI can help you be­fore you get into dif­fi­culty.

“As any­one who en­joys our coastal waters knows, things can change quickly at sea,” says Jon Ox­en­ham, RNLI com­mu­nity safety man­ager. “Even the most ex­pe­ri­enced skip­per or crew can get caught out, and there’s no shame in that. All it takes is a bro­ken down en­gine plus strength­en­ing winds, or a fall from your ten­der with­out a life­jacket, and sud­denly a mi­nor is­sue be­comes very dan­ger­ous. We’d much rather peo­ple call us be­fore sit­u­a­tions be­come se­ri­ous, but it’s even bet­ter to keep your­self safe and know what to do in the first place.”

In 2016 alone, 1,585 RNLI lifeboat call-outs were due to ma­chin­ery fail­ure – the sin­gle biggest cause. A fur­ther

138 launches in­volved a man over­board sit­u­a­tion, and 95 were to peo­ple whose boats had run out of fuel.

“We just ask you to take a few ex­tra steps to think about your safety,” Jon con­tin­ues. “For­tu­nately the RNLI of­fers a range of free ser­vices to help. Thanks to al­most 200 years of search and res­cue ex­pe­ri­ence, we’ve seen most of the things that can catch you out – and can help you avoid them!”

Life­jacket clin­ics

We all know the ben­e­fits of life­jack­ets, but if yours has a se­ri­ous fault you’re wear­ing a dead weight. At one re­cent free clinic, 80 per cent of life­jack­ets checked had faults – many with se­ri­ous de­fects.

Trained RNLI vol­un­teers will show you how to check your life­jacket for wear and tear, re­place ser­vice items (like fir­ing heads and gas bot­tles) and main­tain it to keep it work­ing prop­erly.

To find out clinic dates and lo­ca­tions, email com­mu­ni­ or call the RNLI’S sup­porter care team on 0300 300 9918.

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