Nothing can compare to the sense of unbridled freedom you experience when sailing offshore. Blue-water cruising is not just about getting from one port to another, but discovering the majesty of nature with only the wind and the waves for company.
However, any adventure is only thrilling because there is an undercurrent of risk. To ensure your blue-water cruising experiences are always safe and smooth, you have to be extremely vigilant when it comes to safety equipment and protocols. There are a number of items that recreational vessels in Australia must carry according to safety legislation. These include life jackets, an EPIRB device, emergency flares, and fire extinguishers.
These items are mandatory for all leisure cruisers, yet they are not the only objects that can make your journey a safer one. Following is a list of additional equipment that will deliver peace of mind at sea, while also possibly saving your life in the event of an offshore emergency:
Harnesses and Jackstays
Jackstays are highly recommended for offshore cruising because they can give you increased stability and safety in turbulent weather conditions. Out at sea, the weather can change quickly and it is imperative that you are at all times secured tightly to the boat. The rope, wire, or webbing tethers clip onto the harness safety line and ensure that slips, trips, and falls don’t send you overboard. Always stay informed of the impending weather conditions and don harnesses/jackstays before conditions turn nasty. Check out our marine weather page for up to date information on the conditions where you are.
It is essential that you carry some form of navigation equipment that isn’t dependent on the power of the vessel. It is very rare for boats that have been properly maintained to lose their power supply completely, but you do need a backup in the event of a failure. This might be a handheld GPS device or a copy of the navigation charts on a personal computer. We also strongly advise that you carry paper charts and plot your course on passages. It not only helps to pass the time, but it is a great safety net should you lose your electronic devices. Be sure your paper charts are up to date, too.
Spare Fresh Water Pump
A water pump failure is unlikely to lead to an emergency situation unless you are cruising long distances offshore. What it will do is disable your sink, shower, and hot water systems until the pressure is restored or the pump can be replaced. We don’t need to tell you that sailing without the basics can get frustrating fast, but it’s when you are relying on the boat’s tank supply for drinking water that it becomes a safety issue. So, if you don’t already have a second pump plumbed in parallel to the original, we advise packing a spare one.
Spare Engine Parts
Most of us keep spare parts for the car on hand at all times, so the same should go for your cruising vessel. A flooded fuel filter or a snapped engine belt is only a big concern if you’re not carrying suitable spares. There should be a safe place onboard where you store your engine oil belts, primary fuel filters, and raw water impellers.
Spare Water and Diesel
Even if your fresh water pump fails, an emergency supply of spare, clean water should be more than enough to keep you going until you get back to the shore. In fact, even cruisers with integrated water makers are strongly advised to stow a sensible amount of drinking water on the vessel just in case of problems with the primary tank. It is also worth carrying a sensible amount of spare diesel so that you can keep moving in the unlikely event that the tank fails or your main supply becomes contaminated.
Why Preparation Is the Best Safety Feature of All
All of this safety equipment is only useful if it’s in the right place at the right time. We can’t stress this enough. You need to get into a regular loading and inventory routine. You can keep most of these items on the vessel at all times, but things like spare engine parts and oil should be regularly checked for signs of wear and tear. If you need any additional information about preparing your boat for safe blue water cruising, contact the friendly team at Multihull Solutions today.