It’s a scary subject and one that no one at Professional Yachtmaster Training wishes upon anyone, but that being said, it is a topic that everyone in the yachting industry should have a clear idea about for not only your own safety, but for your crews as well. There is a good reason Personal Survival consists of 1.5 days in all standardized STCW courses , and considering it is mandatory for all yacht staff you should remember this well. But, as time passes and days go by that you don’t end up sinking your ship (thank God for that!) here is a refresher* for you.
*This topic can be very involved and in depth but we have covered a range of things you should be aware of.
Supplies – Yacht Provisioning For Crew Emergencies
Preparing for an emergency is half the battle. All yachts will have safety measures in place and you should be very familiar with these because of all the drills you do on board –right? If not, perhaps another drill should be in the works and fast!
In the case of evacuation from the yacht, you should be equipped with the following:
- Sea worthy life raft/dingy
- PFD’s for everyone and dry suits, if you are in cold climates
- Bottled water – enough for everyone on board for several days
- Radio transmitters, EPIRB [Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon] or SART [Search and Rescue Transponders]
- Sea sickness medication – enough for everyone
- First Aid kit
- Fishing equipment
Most importantly, all of this should be waterproofed (in a plastic or watertight bag) and would be in your ‘grab bag’ or even be in the life raft already.
Surviving the Elements At Sea
Being exposed to all the elements you can on the open at sea is not ideal for your health so it is best if you can take any protection measure you can. Use any extra resources you have to protect yourself from the wind, rain, sun, water and cold – it is a great start to ensure your survival, and health to do the next two points.
Find Water – A Survival at Sea Priority
If for whatever reason you do not have water, which is likely in many scenarios when you are stranded out at sea, then finding water is going to be your biggest concern. It is said you can go four to six-weeks without food if your body is properly hydrated. Dehydration will also be a big concern to you. For one, the elements listed above and two, because our bodies use water for everything (sweat, urine, thinking of how to get rescued, you get the point!). If you are in ideal conditions you may be able to survive for three-five days without any. Making a device to collect rainwater is your best bet, that’s if you don’t have a contraption in your grab bag for this already.
Like we mentioned above, if your body remains properly hydrated we can surprisingly last a long time without any food at all. However unlike the movies, depending on this could kill you so it is always important to think ahead. Depending again on your raft/boat and your grab bag you may have some food rashes. If not, this is why you should have some means of catching fish for eating– sushi, anyone?
If You’re Literally in the Open Sea
Maybe you have terrible luck or your life raft popped, whatever the reason you are now floating in the open sea, it is important to stick together as a group. Floating in a circle in the ocean will ensure a better visual aid if you are being spotted from the air. To ensure you stay warm, float in the HELP (Heat Escape Lessening Position) by wrapping your arms around your body and bringing your knees up to your chest. This situation is not the greatest and definitely has your work cut out for you, but in ideal conditions you could survive for three-five days in the ocean, but dehydration, sharks or drowning (if you do not have a PFD) will likely be your downfall.
Stay Alive – Yacht Crew Survival
If you have these three things, you’ll do just fine.
- You have a great knowledge and use of the available survival equipment
- You have the ability to deal with the hazards you face at sea
- You have a will to live
To make light of such a heavy subject, there is a chance you saw some humor in this topic and just plain considered ‘how does one live onboard a yacht in the open sea’ – and let’s just say that it is people with your insight that make living onboard a yacht so entertaining, or staying alive at open sea doable. Keep up the good work!