We Turn Private Boat Owners into Private Boat Captains
Vincent Pica Chief of Staff, First District, Southern Region (D1SR) United States Coast Guard Auxiliary
Quick, Honey, Put on a Life Jacket!
A number of years ago, as I was doing a (free) vessel exam for the owner of a very substantial yacht, I got to the part where I ask to see the life jackets.(see SSP, “Life Jackets Save Lives – Maybe Yours”, 2/11/09)He pointed me to a locker, which I opened to find the life jackets, stowed under an anchor, chain and additional rode.This column is about that.
No Good If You Can’t Get To Them
I promptly asked him, “sir, do you have any grandchildren?”“Why, yes, I do.5 of them.Why do you ask?”I replied, “Imagine what forces you will be under when you say these words to your grandchildren, ‘quick! Put on a life jacket!’ and you point to this locker.Which one of your grandchildren will be able to move this anchor to get to the life jackets – which are still in their wrappers, btw.”He blanched.
No safety equipment is of any use if you can’t get to it.Or, no one knows where it is except you, the skipper, who is likely to be mighty busy just when safety equipment is needed.Talk about pressure!
Pre-Underway Check List
By USCG regulations, before we leave the dock on a mission – of any type or any duration – we must, as a crew, go through a check-list akin to a vessel exam.This includes, among many items, where are:
This list is by no means exhaustive but it represents some of the major categories of pending disaster that may befall a skipper.While you are dealing with the boat and how it needs to be used to respond to the emergency, your crew can be dealing with the crew’s response.Whether it be a grounding (see SSP, “Hard Aground – Now What!?”, 7/9/08), or far worse, a vessel sinking being dealt with (see SSP, “We’re Sinking”, 12/13/06), you as the skipper have a lot on your mind and a lot to deal with.Can you imagine yourself also having to stop dealing with the emergency at hand so that you can direct crew to emergency equipment that will protect them and you from the effects of that emergency?
But Everyone Has a Pressure Point…
Beyond which, they start to crack.What do you do if the crew can’t handle the pressure as well as you are handling it?
Well, how about handing them the laminated lay-out of your boat with the location of all the equipment labeled?Seriously, of all the risks that you spend time and money in preparing for and against, have you thought about panic as a risk?What then?
“Honey, hey, enough!Here, look at this – right now – and go get everybody in life jackets.Now!”
It is likely to reduce the panic because now the crew has something to focus on other than the water sloshing on the floor boards…
BTW, if you are interested in being part of USCG Forces, email me at JoinUSCGAux@aol.comor go direct to the D1SR Human Resources department, who are in charge of new members matters, at DSO-HR and we will help you “get in this thing…”
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