As we continue the run up to casting off the line in May, Karin and I are going over all our to-do list, to-buy lists and our “where the heck are we going to store that” lists. One big to do is “Make Sure You are Safe”. To make sure we do that this weekend we took the ferry over to Bainbridge Island for the “Safety @ Sea” course put on by The Sailing Foundation.
The Sailing Foundation is a Seattle based non-profit that, among other things, invented the “LifeSling”. That’s the thing we have on the back rail of Endless Song that is designed to be tossed off the back of that boat to anyone foolish enough to fall off.
It is both a floatation device that meets a Coast Guard requirement for a throwable device, but it is also a lifting sling. You see getting the person in the water back to the side of the boat can be the easy part. Lifting them into the boat again, that can be the hard part. When you fall in our cold waters you have about 10 minutes where you might be able to help climb back aboard….but after that you’ll loose strength and coordination. If the folks in the boat can’t haul you back aboard, you could be in trouble.
But I digress. We went down to Bainbridge Island for two days of both classroom information sharing and discussion, and some hands on work. Topics covered ranged from flare handling to water rescue.
And from fire fighting onboard to sail repair and jury rigging should the worst happen.
The funny thing for us is that most of it was just review, refresh and reiterate lessons we’ve already learned. But that’s not a waste of time, that’s good. It means that the prep work we’ve been doing really is covering the information and issues that we’re going to need to know out there.
The highlight, of course was jumping in the pool with all our foul weather gear, and our inflatable life jackets.
As long as we’ve been sailing, we really don’t get much practice with this, and it’s nice to give it a try. We also got to work with a life raft and practice turning it over if it were to deploy upside down. Just learning to climb into it is a totally new experience. But that’s what this seminar is all about. Should the worst happen and we need to deploy our new life raft, it won’t be the first time that we’ve seen one and climbed into it.
It gives you confidence that you can do it.
By the way, we’re now standing at 4.5 weeks from cast off for Alaska.