• Heather Taylor

Safety first!

One of the critical parts of the row is ensuring that I make it to Hawaii intact. Despite many advances in sea safety, lives are still lost at sea each year. Unfortunately the main reason for this is because simple safety measures are not used. A life jacket only saves your life if you wear it.

To make sure that I'm safe as possible travelling across the Pacific, I took a Sea Safety course at Fremantle Sailing Club in Perth this weekend. It was me and nine gentlemen sailors for the weekend.

Our instructor Chris Kelly took us through the theory side of things on Saturday. We went over the different types of communications equipment and distress signals that can be used in an emergency - emergency position-indicating radiobeacon (EPIRB), personal locator beacons, Automatic Identification Systems (AIS), VHF radio, satellite phones, and flares. I'll have all of these on board the boat.

We also discussed the common emergencies that can happen at sea: flooding, crew overboard, grounding, fire, gear failure, critical injury/illness and capsizing. While the sea state can contribute to these events happening , many of them can be avoided or the damage minimised with proper planning, sticking to agreed safety measures and staying alert. It's impossible to eliminate all risk, but a lot can be done to make sure that I'm as safe as possible.

Arguably the best part of the weekend (and coldest!) was to trial out the equipment in the water. After blowing up the life raft, we did a throw-back to swimming lessons and practiced the heat escape lessening position and various group formations.

Then we climbed in and out of the life raft and learned how recover it from a capsize.

The last part of the day was spent lighting fires and then putting them out. We tested orange flares - used in the day due to the smoke and then the red ones for night time signalling. I think it might have been the first time I've actually used a fire extinguisher, as you're really not supposed to play with them!

All in all, a great weekend to match the stunning September days. I've got some plans to make for the boat and trip, but feeling as though as least I've covered off on the important things and shouldn't get too surprised by issues that crop up on the boat.