Staying Safe on a New Yacht

7 October 2009 By Di Thompson

The day you first step aboard a new yacht, most captains or First Officers will hand you a procedures and safety induction manual and show you to the crew quarters. But how many actually take the time to give you an immediate safety orientation, pointing out where the life rafts are stored, where to find all the firefighting equipment and where the emergency exits are located?

If you don’t feel you have received an adequate interior safety orientation to your new vessel, don’t wait for the next emergency drill. Ask a fellow crewmember to show you around or do your own, self-guided tour. Make sure you determine the location of the life rafts, life rings, firefighting equipment and Muster Stations in case of emergency.

“Start at the bow and work your way aft,” advises Captain Rob Daymond, who has owned and operated charter yachts on the Queensland coast for 27 years. “Know the location and accessibility of life jackets. Check everything out for yourself. Put the STCW 95 learning tools into place and do your own device and equipment inspections.”

Of course, every department on board will have its own safety procedures to follow. The engineer is in charge of the bilge systems, insulation, electronics, air conditioning and electrical equipment throughout the yacht. The captain and First Officer must ensure their communications systems are compliant and fully functioning, and that all crew have a working knowledge of how to use them. But interior crew also have an important role to play in keeping the vessel safe.

On the interior of a superyacht, every design idea has gone into maximizing comfort, functionality, and style. That means many safety features may be completely out of sight in order not to disrupt the looks and feel of the luxurious décor. Take the time to find them– and also to discover where the potential safety hazards lie, in order to prevent emergencies from happening in the first place.

All interior crew should make basic safety awareness be part of their general housekeeping duties. Here are some examples:

Lint Filters. These are one of the main causes of fire on board large vessels. It should be every interior crewmember’s job to ensure that the clothes dryer lint filters are lint-free after each use.

Galley Exhausts. Grease that becomes lodged in the exhaust fans above the stovetop is a potential fire hazard. It is good housekeeping procedure to keep them well maintained and fat free.

Emergency Lighting. Know where you can find a torch when there is a power overload in the circuit breakers. It is a good idea to keep a torch in every crew cabin and guest stateroom – preferably, in a bedside drawer for easy access in the middle of the night if necessary. Accidents happen in the dark.

Remember this rule: Your safety is your responsibility.

Thanks to Ben Morgan from Marine Safety Queensland for his kind assistance with this Hot Topic.

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