Safer Boat­ing with Coast­guard

Boating NZ - - Contents -

Boat­ing should be a fun, fam­ily ac­tiv­ity – but it can be­come a source of anx­i­ety and frayed nerves. A visit to a busy boat ramp or ma­rina often pro­vides clues to how the day might pan out. It’s hard to have fun when ar­gu­ing about launch­ing tech­niques or who was re­spon­si­ble for buy­ing ice.

Alot of pre-plan­ning goes into a boat­ing trip and at the start of the sea­son, or when pre­par­ing for the Christ­mas cruise, your fo­cus should be on check­ing that ev­ery­thing’s ship-shape. As the skip­per, you ob­vi­ously need to en­sure that your boat’s ap­pro­pri­ately equipped and ready for any even­tu­al­ity. What’s also im­por­tant is that you in­clude your crew in the process of get­ting the boat ready: you shouldn’t be the only one who knows how to op­er­ate the boat. It might be un­rea­son­able to ex­pect some­one else to pro­fi­ciently berth the boat back at the ma­rina or winch it on to the trailer, but should some­thing hap­pen to you, it’s a good idea that other crew mem­bers know how to call for as­sis­tance and how to keep the boat safe.

En­sur­ing that your crew is aware of the plan-for-the-day makes sense – if they know where they are go­ing and what the con­di­tions are

likely to be, they’re more likely to take ap­pro­pri­ate cloth­ing and food/wa­ter.

Most im­por­tantly, they’ll be more re­laxed and will have a bet­ter day out. Keep­ing peo­ple in the dark about what’s hap­pen­ing might be a good plot for a re­al­ity TV pro­gramme but it cer­tainly doesn’t help peo­ple feel in­cluded and part of the ‘team’. It’s also a good idea to show crew the ba­sics of op­er­at­ing the boat – think about what is im­por­tant for them to know.

Don’t ex­pect crew to re­mem­ber too much in­for­ma­tion de­liv­ered in one go. Think about a few sim­ple flow di­a­grams or a draw­ing of the lo­ca­tion of the safety equip­ment on the boat. A good ex­am­ple of this is the Ra­dio Dis­tress sticker that guides you through the pro­ce­dure for mak­ing a call.

In­formed and in­volved crew can help you in the un­likely event of an in­ci­dent, pro­vid­ing greater re­sources and per­haps pre­vent­ing a sit­u­a­tion es­ca­lat­ing. There’s also a mea­sure of plain old self-in­ter­est here: what would you like them to do if you be­came in­ca­pac­i­tated?

Do they know where the fire ex­tin­guish­ers are? Could they put out a call on the VHF ra­dio and give the boat’s po­si­tion? What ac­tions would you want them to take if you fell over­board?

Th­ese valu­able skills will help crew feel more in­volved, in­crease their con­fi­dence, and hope­fully lead to many more en­joy­able days out on the wa­ter. As a skip­per it’s also re­ward­ing to see peo­ple pick up new skills and gain com­pe­tence. Not all of us are born teach­ers – if you’re not con­fi­dent your­self or strug­gle to ex­plain things, think about do­ing a boat­ing ed­u­ca­tion course or seek­ing ad­vice from a more ex­pe­ri­enced and knowl­edge­able boatie.

Go­ing out on the wa­ter can be stress­ful for the skip­per, so any­thing you do to make life eas­ier is a win­ner for both you and your crew. One of the great things about boat­ing is that there’s al­ways some­thing new to learn.

Com­mu­ni­ca­tion with your crew is a great aid to safety – be pre­pared, know the plan and have fun. BNZ

Don’t ex­pect crew to re­mem­ber too much in­for­ma­tion de­liv­ered in one go.

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