As the weather slowly begins to warm up, many of us will begin to think about getting our boats and boating equipment ready for the start of the new season. So, if you are hoping to spend the Easter holidays on your boat, please follow this advice from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency:
— Keep in touch. Carry a communication device and detection aids (for example a VHF DSC radio and emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB). Make sure that you know how to use them and who to call in an emergency. An emergency procedures radio sticker is available from the MCA by calling 0845 603 2431 and quoting publication number MCA/102. Tell someone at home where you are going and when you expect to return. If you do not arrive back soon after expected, make sure that they know how to contact the coastguard. The coastguard offers a voluntary safety identification scheme called CG66. It is a database that the coastguard uses to find you more quickly should you need help at sea. You can join on-line by visiting www.mcga.gov.uk/cg66.
— Check the weather and tides before you set out. Speak to your local coastguard station if you need advice.
— Avoid alcohol if you are involved in navigating your boat.
— Check your batteries and all of your fluid levels before heading out. Make sure that your water pump, bilge pumps, fuel system, electrical system and all necessary safety equipment including radio and lights are working too. The RNLI provide a free safety check service called SEA Check. Go to their website www.rnli.org.uk/seasafety for more information.
— Wear a well maintained, correctly fitted lifejacket. Ideally it should have a crotch strap (to stop it from rising up over your head in the water), a spray hood and a light or whistle. Make sure that you check the gas cylinder, the stitching and webbing. Pump it up using a hand pump and leave it for 24 hours to check for leaks. If you wish, you can get your lifejacket serviced through a chandlery or visit the RNLI website for more advice about how to check your own lifejacket.
— Make sure that you and your crew are well trained.
Geoff Matthews, Search and Rescue Operations Officer for HM Coastguard says, “If you’re going out on the water, use the simple advice given here to stay safe at sea.”