Abandon Ship Preparation

be oriented towards minimizing exposure to the elements and being able to contact outsiders to pass on your message of distress.

On the other hand, if you're voyaging offshore, outside the shipping lanes, the possibility exists that you'll be on your own for weeks or even months. You should be able, in this case, to sustain fluid and food intake while making progress towards a landfall. There are several instances of cruisers surviving for months on end in life rafts.

Another major consideration is the likely air and water temperature. The major factor contributing to loss of life in abandon-ship situations is exposure to the elements. If you're forced to take to a raft in the Gulf Stream or the South Pacific, the elements will be relatively friendly, yet precautions must be taken to keep body temperature at reasonable levels while at the same time being able to provide shade from the sun. In less temperate climates even a few hours of exposure can be fatal.

It's a basic tenet of seamanship that you're almost always better off in your yacht than in a life raft. It's not at all unusual in instances of people abandoning their yachts, apparently in sinking condition, to have the yacht found afloat some time later. In some of these situations loss of life occurred due to exposure which might have been avoided if the crew had stayed with the mother ship.

Carefully review in your mind what sort of circumstances would dictate abandoning ship. Fire is obviously a condition that will drive you towards a life raft. There's a brief amount of time in which a fire may be contained or smothered, but once it really gets going it will be impossible to stop.

Apparent sinking is a little more difficult to gauge. If the leak is of less than monumental proportions you may be able to stop it or at least slow it down enough until help arrives. If sea conditions are rough and you're in danger of swamping as buoyancy is lost, that's another factor to consider. A major breach of the hull, perhaps resulting from a collision or structural failure will leave little time for contemplation.

Far more difficult to estimate is the danger from heavy weather. In the Fastnet Race disaster of 1979, numerous crews took to the apparent safety of their life rafts after suffering capsizes. Of the deaths that resulted from the storm, most were attributed to the problems of coping with exposure in the life rafts. A large percentage of the abandoned yachts were later found afloat. It's almost always better to stay with your yacht in heavy weather if she is reasonably seaworthy.

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How To Have A Perfect Boating Experience

How To Have A Perfect Boating Experience

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