It’s Safety Drill Time.
Looking forward to a drill onboard is just as exciting as watching paint dry, unless you are the first mate of course. For most stewardesses, it’s an excuse to get outside for a change. For deckhands, it means a whole lot of unloading and reloading gear. In the same sense, being prepared is half the battle when it comes to an incident. No one ever really expects a grease fire to start in the galley while you’re underway and the guests are on board, but if anyone was going to know how to put it out quickly, properly and while caring for the guests’ safety, it’s the crewmembers.
If you’re new to yachting, you should know there are several megayacht safety drills that have to be learned.
You will experience safety drills either when you first start in the yachting industry, when you get a new crewmember on board or on a periodic basis as part of the yacht’s general operations safety plans. All of these drills are taught to you in your STCW course. But, every yacht is different and all gear has a specific place as well as each crewmember a specific role to play. When you first arrive on a new boat you should be given a walk through to show you all the exits, where safety equipment is and an overall feel of the yacht’s layout. You should be given a muster list when you arrive on board that shows you every crewmembers role and where to meet in an emergency situation. To help yourself out as you continue to work onboard, keep a look out for fire extinguishers and life jackets to familiarize yourself with their location in case of an emergency. Before you get underway on a new yacht, you should have also done a safety drill with your new crew – if not, it is your responsibility to speak up so you are educated. It’s your safety too, after all.
Here are the Three Most Practiced Megayacht Safety Drills
Yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like. This drill involves someone falling in the water and another shouting “Man Overboard!” A radio call is made and every crewmember goes into their position as previously indicated or told. Whether you drop a TransPac pole or every member is given a location and told to keep their eyes on look out for the man overboard or to be a spotter, it all depends on the boat’s approach to this drill. This drill seems silly, but it’s one thing to read about it and another to spring into action.
Yacht Fire – On Board or At The Dock
No one likes a fire, but think about having a fire take place on your $80 million yacht while it’s floating at sea. There aren’t many firehouses in the middle of the Atlantic. This is why a fire drill and knowing the proper course of action is so crucial to all crewmembers. Most yachts have specific rolls for each crewmember, but getting the proper equipment in place quickly and efficiently is important. Do you go for the foam or the powder extinguisher? Do you know where they are? Better yet, do you know how to unlatch them quickly and efficiently? Time yourself getting dressed and into the equipment and make sure you know how to fit the hose nozzles. Do you know where the vents are or how to seal the doors off to each compartment so the fire is contained? These things take practice. Before putting the extinguishers back, it’s important to check their expiration date – if they are expired, and you’re nice to the first mate, maybe he’ll even let you get a feel for using one on the swim platform!
Abandon Ship – Yacht Crew Preparation
This is one drill you hope you never have to use, but if you do, you’ll want to know exactly what to do. You could be sinking or unable to control a grease fire. Whatever the case is, this drill is stressful even in the safest of times. Once the radio call has been made and the location has been made of where to meet, aka the muster station, you once again go into your rolls as set up by the muster list. It could be any number of things – retrieve the grab bag, unload the tender, clear and check the cabins for missing guests. Time is of the essence for an abandon ship drill, and while abandoning ship is used as the last resort it is the one drill most vessels suffer with the most. Practice of unloading the tender or dingy is also included in this. If you want to get even more technical, practice your ‘Mayday’ radio calls and personal survival tips.
Practice makes perfect. Most megayacht safety drills are scheduled and you can really learn and get a solid handle of how to approach each situation that could arise. If you really want to test your knowledge, a surprise drill is always a fun idea. It does happen so it’s never a bad idea to be prepared!