Preventing accidents is an important requirement for a successful voyage. Always make sure that nobody goes overboard. If nobody goes overboard, nobody has to be rescued. However, in addition to these requirements, the condition of your on-board equipment is also of the utmost importance!
The safety equipment for each person and for the ship should consist of at least the following items:
Individual life-saving equipment:
- Life jacket, if possible automatic with sufficient buoyancy. If the life jacket is to function properly even while wearing oilskins (heavy weather clothing), a jacket with 275N buoyancy is recommended.
- Lifeline with 2 (or 3) carabiner hooks
- Personal pocket flash / emergency flash device
- If possible personal Nico signal
- Sufficient reflective tape in good condition on oilskins (here too, more is better)
Rescue devices for vessels:
- Lifebuoy / pile collar with automatic lamp
- Buoy with flag and / or light
- Canvas roll with at least 100m floating line
- Life Link Rescue System
- Jackline cover for bad weather
- Liferaft, the size and capacity are variable and depend on the sailing area. Distress signals etc. to a sufficient extent.
- For longer voyages, the following safety equipment should be added: EPIRB, VHF handheld radios, fresh water in canisters, additional distress signals, emergency survival rations, medicine for motion sickness, etc. If possible, in a waterproof container for storage. This list can be modified according to personal experience and individual needs.
The literature on this topic is enormous. Obviously you have to throw a marker buoy, a life ring incl. emergency flash or light with a floating line to the person who went overboard. In this scenario, a simple rule applies, don't lose sight of the person overboard. Numerous studies have shown that once visual contact is lost, the likelihood of recovery decreases dramatically.
A major problem is getting the person who went overboard back onto the ship. For these scenarios, Life Rescue Sling systems are most suitable, because it is difficult to get a bowline or similar connection attached to your body while swimming. An issue that you should never overlook, is the advent of hypothermia. After a relatively short time in the water, even experienced swimmers can no longer swim properly, think clearly, use ladders, communicate, or simply wait patiently. Advise your crew on where to find the different rescue devices and on how to use them.