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Old 12-10-2014, 12:56   #1
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Importance of evacuation procedures ..

I am in a state of shock ... I just had a call from my best friend ..
She was helping her bf move his charter boat in the med ... They were about 3 hours from land when the cabin fills up with smoke ...
Within minutes they are abandoning ship on the life raft ... Within 5 mins the rig snaps in half and they watch the boat sink !
It is About the most terrifying thing that could happen to a sailor I'm sure.
They were rescued by helicopter about an hour later .
They are safe which is the main thing ... But it has really scared me !

It's made me think about the importance of having good evacuation procedures ... If the skipper hadn't been so on the ball .. I dread to think what could have happened as my friend is a fairly green sailor.

What can we do to make sure we keep safe when things go wrong ?






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Old 12-10-2014, 13:37   #2
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Re: Importance of evacuation procedures ..

Quote:
Originally Posted by lucyloo730 View Post
I am in a state of shock ... I just had a call from my best friend ..
She was helping her bf move his charter boat in the med ... They were about 3 hours from land when the cabin fills up with smoke ...
Within minutes they are abandoning ship on the life raft ... Within 5 mins the rig snaps in half and they watch the boat sink !
It is About the most terrifying thing that could happen to a sailor I'm sure.
They were rescued by helicopter about an hour later .
They are safe which is the main thing ... But it has really scared me !

It's made me think about the importance of having good evacuation procedures ... If the skipper hadn't been so on the ball .. I dread to think what could have happened as my friend is a fairly green sailor.

What can we do to make sure we keep safe when things go wrong ?
Sent from my iPhone using Cruisers Sailing Forum
Call Zeehag!
She will send an appropriate single guy to look after you.....

ps.. glad all ended well.
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Old 12-10-2014, 13:40   #3
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Re: Importance of evacuation procedures ..

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Call Zeehag!

She will send an appropriate single guy to look after you.....



ps.. glad all ended well.

Safe hands is the key ...

At least my girl was with a good one !


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Old 13-10-2014, 07:15   #4
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Re: Importance of evacuation procedures ..

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Originally Posted by lucyloo730 View Post
What can we do to make sure we keep safe when things go wrong?
There are certain inherent risks to going out to sea. There is no way to always "make sure" (as in, be absolutely certain) that you will be safe. What you can do is reduce the risks through proper planning and preparation. As you mentioned, having a plan in place ahead of time for abandoning ship is very important. There are lots of other things that are probably equally important. You will find lots of good discussion on this forum about all the many and various ways to properly plan and prepare.
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Old 13-10-2014, 07:38   #5
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Re: Importance of evacuation procedures ..

do NOT panic.
ever.
panic kills.
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Old 13-10-2014, 07:48   #6
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Re: Importance of evacuation procedures ..

Very glad everyone is oK! That is a very scary event indeed.

As far as planning for emergency's all you can do is set up SOP (standard operating procedure) drills for scenarios that you can imagine. This can quickly spin out of control but if you set up a few basics. i.e. sinking, fire, medical etc.... Everyone you commonly sail with will know their job and how to react to each.

Nothing is 100% predictable but in times of stress muscle memory and proper training is what keeps people calm and alive.

Glad the skipper was able to keep their head on straight.
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Old 13-10-2014, 09:10   #7
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Re: Importance of evacuation procedures ..

One thing that I have mentioned several times before is to NOT tie the dink over the forward hatch. If you are the off watch ,and your engine burst into flame (yes diesel will burn like hell) you dont want to have to climb thru the flames to get out of the boat. It is hard to find a good spot for a dink on a smallish sailboat, but over the escape hatch is certainly a bad spot. I suspect that many boat fires start with an electrical problem. That may kill your electrics quickly, which means your VHF/SSB will be useless. That makes having an Epirb very important. Fire at sea is truly scary. ________Grant.
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Old 13-10-2014, 12:51   #8
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Re: Importance of evacuation procedures ..

Lucy,
First off, please do NOT be scared!!! Sailing is a EXTREMELY safe endeavor!!!!

Glad they are safe and sound....
(when I read the title of your posting, the first thing I thought of was "medical evacuation", not "evacuation" from the boat...

Your friends' experience reinforces the statistic that the number one cause of liferaft deployment / abandoning ship, for pleasure boats, is FIRE!!! (USCG stats....not sure about EU or the Med, but I assume it is similar...)



Although the odds of ever having a catastrophic problem are very rare.....directly to your question....
Quote:
Originally Posted by lucyloo730 View Post
What can we do to make sure we keep safe when things go wrong ?
1) Of course the number one thing to do is to do as much as practical to avoid serious problems in the first place.....mainly by proper systems/equipment installation, proper maintenance, crew/skipper experience and training, etc. etc....

Sorry if this sounds like I'm not answering the question....but the real number one answer to "what we can do to make sure we keep safe, when things go wrong?", is to keep things from going wrong in the first place...or at least keep things from becoming critical / getting to a crisis point!!!
(see below for specifics on your direct question...)


And, specifically in regards to fire....pleasure boat fires are generally caused by: electrical short; LP/Butane gas leaks; gasoline/petrol leaks.....

And, most sailboat fires are seem to be initially caused electrical issues....


---- So, in that vein, verifying your electrical systems are up to ABS and ABYC standards (unfortunately, many are not), including fusing of the battery cables....and properly maintaining your electrical system (especially the BIG cables/terminals on the house bank, and to/from starter, alternator, etc.)...are a very important part of maintenance!!


---- Although many sailors outside of the US actually curse the US regs regarding LP gas shut-off solenoids, etc.....in my opinion, they are a safety feature that you should verify you have, and that it works properly....
And, of course that you have your LP/Butane tanks isolated from the rest of the boat, etc....
Some also have an LP leak detector, but you can smell it easily so probably not a necessity...


---- If the problem you're concerned about is water ingress / sinking.....a high-water bilge alarm is an easy and cheap thing to install....and I highly recommend it!!
As well as regular inspection of thru-hulls/seacocks and hoses, and ESPECIALLY the hose clamps....(and using good quality all SS clamps on any below-waterline hose connection is always recommended)


2) As for what to after you have a problem....
--- Smoke detector (many times combined with CO detector)...
--- Fire extinguishers (more than the minimum) and training on how to use 'em....
--- Fire blanket...
--- Electrical cut-off switches...

--- Verify exit points from all cabins, in event of fire or sinking....

--- Hi-bilge-water alarm....
{Note, this is a very important thing, as this alerts you to the problem BEFORE it gets to a crisis point, and most importantly allows you to FIND and STOP the water ingress....if you are wading thru knee-deep water in the cabin, the odds of finding the source of the leak is VERY slim to none, and at that point your electrical system is also probably shorted-out, so no pumps, radios, etc...
So, being alerted to a problem BEFORE it gets critical is a vitally important factor to solving the problem (and not having to "evacuate"!!)}

--- Wood plugs at the ready for pounding into open thru-hull/seacock....



3) If all the above fails, then having an evac plan already set (prior to leaving port) will go a long way to preserving life!!
(usually this "evacuation" / abandoning-ship, is the LAST resort, but having a plan of action that EVERYONE on-board knows and follows precisely, can save lives....so work out a plan ahead-of-time!!!)

Having this plan set-up and drilled/rehearsed, can also go a long way in avoiding panic....fact is there are few that won't panic at least to some extent, but having a plan well rehearsed can play a big role in reducing panic...
{Personally I'm a cross between Capt. Sully Sullenberger and Capt. Ron....so panic has never been an issue, but I've seen my share of others who you'd never guess are panic'ers....you just never know 'til they're tested...}


--- Liferaft deployment can be a problem if it is heavy and the smaller/less-physically-able crew is attempting to deploy it (and the more physically-able crew is fighting the fire or plugging the leak)....
So, KNOW your liferaft and how to deploy it!!!
(usually deployed amidships, away from any ladders / accoutrements / clutter....)

--- Know where your EPIRB is and how-to activate it!!
(some have it mounted near the companionway / cockpit, allowing ease-of-access, no matter the circumstances....but whatever your set-up is, KNOW it!!)

--- Know how to use the DSC-Distress buttons on your MF/HF-DSC-SSB and VHF-DSC-FM radios!!!
PLEASE make sure you have your valid MMSI# programmed into them, as they will NOT send out a DSC message without it!!!
And, having them hooked-up to a GPS at all times (I recommend a separate/dedicated GPS for the DSC radios), is also a VERY important part of signaling a Distress....that way EVERYONE will get your distress call and know where you are!!!



Lucy, the list goes on....but until we know where you're sailing/cruising, and what boat and how it's equipped, this is mostly just generic advice....

Fair winds....

John
s/v Annie Laurie
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Old 13-10-2014, 18:55   #9
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Re: Importance of evacuation procedures ..

Lucy,

The most important thing when abandoning ship is to make sure the Captain goes down with it. In most cases, that alone should keep the sharks busy long enough for you to jump in and patch the holes in that crummy second-hand life raft he left you with.

All seriousness aside (and with the possible exception of a good quality Saint Christopher's medal), I really can't think of anything that could save your bacon in all scenarios. Do your best to make sure the boat itself is up to snuff before you leave, and enjoy the ride.

Some sailors get broadsided by a White Squall come out of nowhere on a sunny day, while others get broadsided by a school bus on their drive to work.

**** happens, but worrying about it won't increase your life expectancy.

Jacques
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Old 13-10-2014, 19:14   #10
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Re: Importance of evacuation procedures ..

Planning. Preparing. Even practicing. Maritime schools even offer courses for those situations although few take them. It was mentioned "not to panic" and the key to not panicking is preparation and knowing what you're going to do. I was talking to a couple that has two life rafts on board and they don't know how to remove them from the rails, how to inflate them, or how to board them. They looked at me as if I was speaking a foreign language when I asked them. When you know the course of action, you'll be amazed how quickly you can do it without rushing. And if you have guests, your ability to maintain your composure and stay in control is essential to keeping them somewhat calm.

One more word of advice, don't delay. Get out while the going is good. Once a fire starts to spread it moves very quickly. Remember your life is far more valuable than the boat.

A good captain doesn't go down with the ship because he never has to. He has everyone quickly to safety and he's able to join them.
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Old 14-10-2014, 05:05   #11
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Re: Importance of evacuation procedures ..

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One more word of advice, don't delay. Get out while the going is good. Once a fire starts to spread it moves very quickly. Remember your life is far more valuable than the boat.

A good captain doesn't go down with the ship because he never has to. He has everyone quickly to safety and he's able to join them.
While I agree with you 100% in the case of an uncontrollable fire, I wouldn't jump ship too quickly in other circumstances, and especially not in a storm. Some even say that you shouldn't climb into a life raft until you actually have to climb UP to it. I believe that the inquiry into the 1979 Fastnet tragedy concluded that many lives could have been saved if the crews had stayed on board their damaged boats, instead of jumping into their life rafts early on. Granted, up until that time, life rafts were considered "unsinkable", but as it turned out, many of them literally fell apart during the storm, while the abandoned boats were found afloat several days after their crew had drowned.

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Old 14-10-2014, 05:36   #12
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Re: Importance of evacuation procedures ..

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I suspect that many boat fires start with an electrical problem. That may kill your electrics quickly, which means your VHF/SSB will be useless. That makes having an Epirb very important. Fire at sea is truly scary. ________Grant.
Excellent point. We kept a handheld VHF in the grab bag and had a satphone with waterproof bag next to it.

The SSB is useless when the power goes out or the batteries go dead as in saltwater over the batteries.
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Old 14-10-2014, 05:44   #13
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Re: Importance of evacuation procedures ..

Interesting, I've not seen any recommendations for firefighting?
When looking for boats, I noticed on one French brand, a little opening on the engine compartment that was just big enough to put the nozzle of a fire extinguisher in to extinguish an engine fire, without having to open the compartment which could of course make it worse as your now giving the fire air. I added one on my boat as it's real easy and cheap to do so.
Automatic fire extinguishers, I have three, one in the engine compt, one inside the electrical compt and one in the lazarette. Have several handheld fire extinguishers, at least one CO2.

If you can put the fire out, you don't have to evacuate
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Old 14-10-2014, 10:05   #14
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Re: Importance of evacuation procedures ..

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Interesting, I've not seen any recommendations for firefighting?
When looking for boats, I noticed on one French brand, a little opening on the engine compartment that was just big enough to put the nozzle of a fire extinguisher in to extinguish an engine fire, without having to open the compartment which could of course make it worse as your now giving the fire air. I added one on my boat as it's real easy and cheap to do so.
Automatic fire extinguishers, I have three, one in the engine compt, one inside the electrical compt and one in the lazarette. Have several handheld fire extinguishers, at least one CO2.

If you can put the fire out, you don't have to evacuate
Actually we took a course in fire fighting through the maritime school. Trained in a facility where they built real fires. Was by far the least enjoyable of any course we've taken. But was very important in learning what to do and learning how much time you have. The example given here smoke had already engulfed areas beyond where the fire itself was. Once the fire has spread you can't safely even get to the source in many instances.

You mention extinguishers and having many and the right type. Funny, we took this course for the boat but the first thing we did after was look at more extinguishers for our house. You learn to recognize types of fires and what is appropriate for each.

Funny in training we so emphasize learning how to operate the boat, navigate, for some even repair and maintain. But sometimes we fail to learn those life saving things like medical care on board (we took medical person in charge course), firefighting, and rescue at sea (which includes evacuation etc., and determining when to do what).

Someone mentions above not jumping ship too soon and life boats breaking apart. So the step may still be getting the life raft ready while trying to resolve the problem. The other thing that points out is having quality life rafts, not one that just legally passes. I saw rafts on a 1950's boat that were original and had never been checked recently. The owner laughed when saying "I doubt they'd even inflate and if they would probably wouldn't float, so I better be careful out there." Immersion suits have become more common for those crossing oceans too.

I still just think the key is planning. When an emergency happens, being able to focus on the right things, the ones planned, rather than having to figure out what needs to be done.
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Old 14-10-2014, 10:23   #15
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Re: Importance of evacuation procedures ..

Motoring or sailing? If the latter I suppose it was a battery cable issue? Amazing how fast a dead short with big amps can be a fire....
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