Toms Tips for Preparing Yourself for Trouble at Sea

By Tom Neale, 12/23/2010

1. Carefully store your emergency equipment so that you know where it is and can easily and quickly get it when you need it. This may involve relocating certain equipment to pre-planned spots when you go out. But you dont want to have to take time to think about where something is.

2. Emergency equipment, in addition to the obvious, which would take a book to list, should include flashlights, personal strobe lights, a modern EPIRB which is registered and updated for the trip, hand held VHF with fresh or charged batteries, lines, boat hooks, MOB equipment (which you should know how to use), a large emergency hand manual bilge pump, harnesses, plugs for through hulls, rags or towels for stuffing into leaks, sealant such as LifeCalk that sets up under water, flare guns and flares, fire extinguishers that you have checked and inverted and shaken recently.

3. Always have a bilge alarm that notifies you BEFORE the water gets so high that its too late to find a leak or do anything about it.

4. Always have at least two power driven (usually electric) bilge pumps, one smaller which comes on at low bilge levels and one huge to remove large amounts of water. Dont try to save money on bilge pumps, automatic switches and the wiring.

5. Do not let yourself become fatigued or cold. It robs you of power of thought and ability to do. Dont go out on trips where this is going to happen, and if youre caught out and it does, try to get in or get warm and some rest. This is one good reason for not going solo.

6. Books have been written on this subject. Read them. Take courses. I havent even begun to scratch the surface here. Think of emergencies at sea as an everyday possibility.

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