Advice of the French lifeboats service on ocean sailing
Advice compiled with the help of Jean Maurel, long distance race director
1 / Crew
Take several sailors who have already made this sort of long trip.
- A single experienced person is not enough to take on such a responsibility. Should this person have a health problem, get injured or fall overboard, it is essential, vital even, to have another experienced sailor on board.
Undergo a medical check-up before leaving (fitness test / heart check-up / known or chronic illness, etc.).
2 / Boat
The boat should be in good condition. Any kind of technical problem needs to be checked before leaving:
- Correctly functioning tiller or helm
- Watertight hull and portholes
- Sails and rigging in good condition: mast, booms…, moving steerage parts (halyards, sheets…), stationary steerage (stays, shrouds…)
Finally, having checked the state of the boat, you should also be able to manage on your own on a long distance race, in case of any problems with the tiller, rigging, etc .
3 / Boat equipment
Modern advances mean that there are certain pieces of equipment that you must have in a boat, even if this means you hire it:
- Distress signalling device
- Waterproof satellite phone
- Personal signalling device
- Flashing light
You should also plan a survival kit: depending on the time of your trip, it must give you enough time to hold on until help arrives. In it, you should put a manual desalter, some food, some distress flares, some flashing lights, a self-contained radar system, etc.
4 / One man alone on deck
Should a crew member find himself alone on deck, at night or in poor weather conditions, he must be equipped with:
- a lifejacket or lifevest
- a harness
- a personal signalling device
- a flashing light
5 / At night
At night, remain vigilant even when using modern navigation devices. Even when using an automatic pilot or AIS, switch on the radar and carry out regular checks. If you go out on deck, follow the instructions provided for a man alone on the deck.
6 / Health
Take a complete and up-to-date first-aid kit as well as an essential medical guide for helping you diagnose a problem or carry out emergency treatment.
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