Know your boat.
Know your crew.
Know your safety equipment.
And practice, practice, practice.
After 11 hours of lectures, 5 simulations of a rescue at sea (including a helicopter rescue), and a chance to jump in the pool in full foul weather gear and to get into a life raft, the mantra I took home with me after my weekend at the US Naval Academy was...practice.
Know how to use your radio. Know what different cloud formations mean. Know how to fix gear, patch a hole, prevent a hole, put out a fire...how to call for help, when to call for help, how to use a flare- and which type to use and when...and practice those skills.
Practice person overboard drills, practice how to alert container ships of your presence, practice securing gear, providing first aid, making knots, finding all the seacocks, reading weather charts, moving on board, wielding a knife...
Now do all of this in the dark. On a boat rocking and rolling in gale force winds. Did I say in the dark?
What an extraordinary weekend. I am both thankful and overwhelmed by the vast amount of information shared at the 2 day Safety at Sea course. Seasickness- take scopolamine, chew ginger, stabalize neck, do something to distract self...Hypothermia- don't massage extremities as it can force cold blood into the core and result in cardiac arrest...Low pressure coming- winds will move counterclockwise toward the pressure's center...and on and on and on.
Better yet, practice intentionally. Think about what you are doing. Practice it and know it.
Thank you to the US Naval Academy and all the presenters at the seminar. Thank you to the young midshipmen who were there, practicing beside me, and to the retired officers who were there...yes still practicing.