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RYA launches Safety Advisory Notice in Boat Fire Safety Week

by Loretta Spridgeon, RYA 28 May 2018 11:42 BST 28 May - 3 June 2018
RYA Safety Advisory Notice © RYA

To mark this year's Boat Fire Safety Week (28 May to 3 June), the RYA has launched its 2018 Safety Advisory Notice – featuring six key topics to help boaters think in practical terms about their safety afloat.

Compiled for the recreational boating community and first launched in 2014, the RYA Safety Advisory Notice offers a simple digest of critical safety issues including those that have arisen from incidents and tragic accidents in the past year.

These learning points supplement the RYA's key safety messages: look after yourself, have a plan, keep in touch and know your limits. Together they underpin the national governing body's ethos of self-reliance and responsibility for safety on board.

Reviewing the Notice annually enables the RYA Safety Advisory Group to examine safety concerns that have emerged throughout the year and consolidate any lessons learnt. It's intended to complement the advice we provide in the RYA safety hub on our website and promote through our world-renowned training courses.

The newly published fifth edition focuses on six key topics for boaters to think about:

  • The correct stowing of liferafts
  • Preventing lateral loading on safety line hooks
  • DIY boat electrics
  • Fire prevention and fire-fighting equipment
  • Fishing gear entanglements
  • The importance of seeing and being seen at night
The handy safety guide gets underway with a reminder that liferafts must be capable of being launched quickly and easily in an emergency; it stresses the importance of stowing the liferaft correctly, otherwise it might not be accessible if it is needed.

It's vital not to overlook where you stow your liferaft, it should be an important part of any offshore passage preparation and not an afterthought. Whilst there is no single best solution, good practice dictates that wherever that is, it should be capable of being launched in 15 seconds.

Building on the reminder in last year's Safety Advisory Notice of the importance of clipping on intelligently, the next topic advises boaters to prevent lateral loading on safety line hooks. The method used to anchor the end of the safety line to a vessel should be arranged to ensure that the hook cannot become entangled with deck fittings or other equipment.

When loaded longitudinally, the safety line can withstand a load of over 1 tonne. However, when loaded laterally a hook will deform at a significantly lower load. It is important that hooks remain clear of obstructions and are free to rotate to align the load longitudinally.

A common problem that the RYA has come across in older boats is 12V DC electrical systems that have been jury-rigged by the owner, or an electrician who is not experienced in the marine environment. Although 12V DC systems that are common on recreational craft are unlikely to create an electrocution hazard, the 2018 Safety Advisory Notice is reminding boaters that there are dangers that may catch out an amateur DIYer.

As part of the national Fire Kills and Boat Safety Scheme initiative, Boat Fire Safety Week, a number of Fire and Rescue Services across the country visited boaters to offer free safety advice and to offer free smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors to people who live or work on the water. In addition to highlighting the importance of fire prevention in the latest advisory notice, the RYA provides a considerable amount of advice on fire prevention and fire-fighting equipment on its Safe Boating hub at rya.org.uk/go/safety.

Snagging something around your prop, keel or rudder can cause problems ranging from the tiresome to the terrible. The RYA is urging boaters to avoid compounding the situation by jumping in to try and clear it, unless conditions are suitable and you are confident in your abilities.

The Government demands compelling evidence before it will consider a change to the law so that static gear has to be marked for navigation purposes, rather than simply for identification of the owner. The RYA has repeatedly published its online reporting form and urges everyone to use it to report sightings and entanglements to gather that evidence at rya.org.uk/go/entanglements.

The final topic for 2018's safety update focusses on navigation lights. These will tell a look-out what you are doing and which way you are travelling so that the steering and sailing rules can be correctly applied. If your navigation lights are unclear then others will not know what your intentions are. If they cannot be seen then others may not know you are there, particularly if your do not show up on radar.

The International Regulations for the Prevention of Collisions at Sea specify the display of internationally understood lights that shall be complied with from sunset to sunrise. You should ensure that during the hours of darkness, you show the correct navigation lights for your vessel's type and size, as well as maintaining a proper look out for other vessels and hazards.

RYA Cruising Manager, Stuart Carruthers, says: "The RYA continues to work closely with our delivery partners and other UK agencies responsible for safety on the water and with the marine trade to progress our policy of information and education, which we believe is a powerful tool in fostering safe attitudes and behaviour on the water.

"We first launched the Safety Advisory Notice at the London Boat Show in 2014. The purpose was then and is now to raise awareness of particular safety issues, to help to prevent avoidable accidents and in doing so ultimately to protect lives.

"By highlighting the causes of incidents and how they might have been prevented, it encourages us all to think about our own actions in a different light and above all help to make better decisions both before setting off and when out on the water."

Visit the RYA online safety hub at rya.org.uk/go/safety for your FREE copy of the 2018 Safety Advisory Notice, plus the previous four editions, and a wealth of practical advice and safety 'top tips' covering a vast array of boating activities.

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