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Old 18-02-2020, 10:30   #1
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Ideas for safety cheat sheet - maydays, etc

Hi: I'm cleaning up a lot of my paperwork onboard (what else to do on a snowy winter day...), and have started putting thought into what I want onboard for a quick reference guide on safety issues. I'm primarily thinking about a couple laminated pages that could be grabbed in an emergency, such as for making a mayday call, liferaft and ditch bag location and launching, location of seacocks, etc. I have an overflowing binder of boat papers and way too much in the way of manuals and guides. Rather, I'm thinking of having something quick to grab, probably at the nav station, would be good. And easy to follow steps in case it's an inexperienced guest that needs to use it. Do any of you do this and if so what have you put on the check list or procedure list?
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Old 18-02-2020, 14:53   #2
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Re: Ideas for safety cheat sheet - maydays, etc

We've been aboard a number of boats that have posted what amounts to a laminated 3 x 5 card, with all the information even a novice would need to make a Mayday call: The procedure, the call sign of the boat, and its name and location as well as the nature of the distress have to be addressed.

Mayday (x 3), this is the sailing vessel xyz, (x3) can anyone copy me? Begin conversation, or if no one copies, then repeat the nature of the distress and the position of the boat (lat/lon works, but if one is coastal, then a geographical description can really help). Keep broadcasting as long as you don't have to do something else.

You usually know where you are approximately, but you have to get a lat/lon off a chart plotter, or out of an AIS, or point it off a paper chart. Sometimes it might be another cruising boat who is the closest, and the such and such cape or point type of location identification will help them see if they are nearby to you. (think something like "6 n.mi. North of Eddystone Pt." approaching Banks Sts.")

No one will be able to reach you inside one to five minutes unless you're in a very crowded area, and if there is some kind of big problem going on, many boats in strife, you have to wait your turn. You may need to work to help rescue a MOB, or keep a boat from sinking. Calm will help.

Ann
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Old 18-02-2020, 15:04   #3
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Re: Ideas for safety cheat sheet - maydays, etc

Ditto what Ann suggests, include all details of the boat incl crew number, action etc.

I also have a page-long briefing to new crew, not only safety gear but heads operations, seasickness, etc. Key safety equipment, MOB and the more, as well as key behaviours. The latter includes “no initiative without checking with the skipper” etc.

I am planning on writing step by step description of key manœuvres to execute both sails and motor, so crew can learn faster or even operate the boat in case of need. But that will take some time...
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Old 19-02-2020, 07:45   #4
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Re: Ideas for safety cheat sheet - maydays, etc

Thanks for that. I do have a 'crew welcome briefing' document that has worked really well to help friends onboard, especially those new to sailing. It includes safety items like the location of lifejackets and med kit, head operation, etc. We also ask them to bring onboard a medical form including prescriptions and allergies that we have them keep sealed unless of an emergency, and they take home when they leave. And we recently added a section on 'how you can be helpful' which has proven very popular - stuff like launching the dinghy, trash, docking/line management. I've learned to not underestimate (and not let go to waste) the willingness of people to lend a hand!

But the part of making a cheat sheet for an emergency is a hole I need to fill.
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Old 19-02-2020, 10:35   #5
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Re: Ideas for safety cheat sheet - maydays, etc

I think a laminated check list for each of the evolutions discussed would be a nice thing for this site to make available to us. Buyers should cover the cost to produce. The cruiser members would have well thought-out checklists and nothing would be missed, either old hands or newbies. Thought?
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Old 19-02-2020, 10:45   #6
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Re: Ideas for safety cheat sheet - maydays, etc

Great idea. I will follow this thread with interest - then hopefully do something about it.

Bank branches have "tear sheets" that are used in the event of a robbery. It's a pad of paper posted on the wall at a convenient location. Each sheet has a short list of things to do - the most urgent and important being on the top sheets. When it's safe after the robbers have departed, everybody grabs a sheet and does what it says. That way, if the manager or any other key person is "disabled" everything STILL gets done - and in priority sequence.

It might be a little complex to set up for every possible shipboard emergency, but perhaps the idea could be the starting place for something useful.
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Old 19-02-2020, 10:59   #7
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Re: Ideas for safety cheat sheet - maydays, etc

There are free checklist downloads for emergencies, provisioning, guest instructions, etc at theboatgalley.com
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Old 19-02-2020, 11:10   #8
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Re: Ideas for safety cheat sheet - maydays, etc

I like the cards by the radio, along with a pen and notepad. My thinking is that if such a card is not in clear view, it won't be seen when needed, but if it is then there's a small chance it will be seen. I put together an example template here, but it should be modified for each boat as there's lots of extra stuff that in most cases should be omitted.

It was also intended as a reference rather than a how-to for the complete novice. I find attempts at a how-to can easily get out-of-hand in terms of length, and require a second pass to ruthlessly edit for length. Here's a radio guide I tried to put together.

Also, here's something I had whipped up for some emergency procedures. Looking over it again I see lots of room for improvement, but perhaps you might find it helpful. It might be better if done as separate cards per event; the tear-sheet idea is great.
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Old 19-02-2020, 11:21   #9
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Re: Ideas for safety cheat sheet - maydays, etc

Requiem - I just took a look at the radio cards. Great job.

I have my own version but I'm tossing them and printing yours. Thanks!
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Old 19-02-2020, 12:58   #10
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Re: Ideas for safety cheat sheet - maydays, etc

Here's a mayday / abandon ship sheet I picked up from a class I've taken. Has step by steps for anyone on board to put out a mayday call. Edit it for your boat info (boat name, # onboard, etc). Post it next to the radio.

For abandon ship, crew responsibilities (who's staging the life raft, who's grabbing the ditch bag, etc) discussed and assigned during the safety briefing.

Cheers,
J
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File Type: xls mayday and abandon ship instructions.xls (29.0 KB, 81 views)
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Old 19-02-2020, 13:14   #11
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Re: Ideas for safety cheat sheet - maydays, etc

Reqium,

I like your emergency procedure sheet. Attached is the sheet I have (again from a class I've taken). Same list of emergencies as yours with the addition of steering failure in my sheet while yours has dismasting and mine doesn't. I'd be sure to include steering failure, I've needed it twice :-)

This is a bit long to go over in a safety briefing but fun to go through the first night at anchor - we typically anchored in Richardson Bay (SF) before heading out the gate in the morning.
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Old 19-02-2020, 15:15   #12
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Re: Ideas for safety cheat sheet - maydays, etc

Quote:
Originally Posted by aquadreams View Post
Attached is the sheet I have (again from a class I've taken). Same list of emergencies as yours with the addition of steering failure in my sheet while yours has dismasting and mine doesn't. I'd be sure to include steering failure, I've needed it twice :-)
Thanks!

I think I know what class that was; I'm planning to do the skipper role around April so I need to get all these things in order anyway.
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Old 19-02-2020, 16:32   #13
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Re: Ideas for safety cheat sheet - maydays, etc

Here's a warning we gave my daughter, son-in-law, and kids when we took them out for 10 days in New Caledonia: Never stand astride a loaded block. If it chooses that moment to blow up, you want to be elsewhere, both line and block can do serious damage to you.

The other thing we did was to make each responsible for his/her own life jacket, and to know where it was at all times: it was okay to keep it at the foot of the bunk, just had to be readily accessible.

Remember you're the skipper, sometimes people will try to override your judgment. They have to be taught that they can discuss something later, that the skipper's instructions need to be followed NOW.

Ann
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Old 20-02-2020, 01:56   #14
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Re: Ideas for safety cheat sheet - maydays, etc

I assume crew/guests are reading an emergency checklist because something has happened to me. So I cover four things:

1) Signalling distress by radio. Step-by-step instructions for sending a distress call -- including how to active the DSC distress-call function -- a very important step that eliminates the need to convey lat/lon to the Coast Guard and other DSC-equipped vessels. Why do skippers overlook this? DSC is perfect for non-mariners. If you're only going to teach them one thing, teach them how to push the freakin' red button!
2) How to manually activate the EPIRB. I also have a bulkhead mounted PLB, and I cover how to activate that too. Activating both sends a very emphatic: "this is NOT an accidental activation."
3) How to heave to. My entire coast is usually a lee shore. If they can't sail and can't heave to, they may be in deep trouble before help arrives. My boat tends itself perfectly when hove to. I demonstrate this as soon as possible after getting underway. (OK. I'm also showing off how well-behaved my boat is when hove to.)
4) A stern warning to not use the liferaft until there is absolutely no hope of remaining aboard.

My verbal briefing covers the location of type-1 PFDs and pyrotechnical distress signals. Don't forget to stress that: "These signals are dangerous explosives. You won't help yourself by setting the boat on fire. Follow the printed instructions!"
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Old 20-02-2020, 07:39   #15
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Re: Ideas for safety cheat sheet - maydays, etc

I train lots of new crew on use of VHF (among other things.) I've come to the realization that, in a real emergency, a checklist simply isn't going to be used. Oh, I have one. It's similar to those above. Maybe when things calm down someone might look at it.

Here's I tell everyone during my pre-underway briefing:
- Change to channel 16 (or point out which radio is normally kept on 16.)
- KEY the mic. Doesn't matter what you say, just explain the situation briefly.
- LET GO OF THE KEY!!! People tend to clench their fists when stressed. They need to know nobody can answer until they let go of the mic key
- Someone will come on the radio, tell you what to do and ask you a bunch of questions.

It's even easier if you have your MMSI radio set up and can just tell them to "press and HOLD the red button until the radio starts beeping."

That's it. Any more than that is overload, and won't be done anyway.

The Coast Guard and any other boaters in the area will hear the stress level of the call. It's great if they can "clearly say mayday three times followed by the name of your vessel..." but it's not a requirement.
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