-------------------------Skills Alerts from Steve Leniston
Last years alerts have been updated and the caution about charts added.
Our charts are correct at the beginning of the season but should always be treated with caution if skippers have not checked for updates. Our chartplotters are generally more accurate because of regular software updates.
The RYA has recently acknowledged that there is no unified single source of chart updates, and is planning to work to rectify this.
In the meantime, links are:
The RNLI initiative about lifejackets – USELESS UNLESS WORN – really sums this up nicely. The water temperature in winter falls below the dangerous water shock level. The lowest sea temperatures around here occur in the Spring as many of us venture out for the first sail of the year. The Topsl lifejackets are currently manual inflation only. Please make sure that you know how to inflate your LJ. Not falling in is the best situation – do you ever use the harness / tether? If you need to be rescued, do you always use the crotch strap? Have you ever practised using the emergency sling? Skippers, do you routinely nominate the 2nd in Command?
Extract from LNTM 8/12 (Local Notice To Mariners issued by QHM , Portsmouth)
While not a legal requirement for certain types of small private recreational craft; the habit of routinely wearing both appropriate (for size and hazard) and suitably tested lifejackets cannot be emphasised sufficiently as a minimum precaution to such exposed personnel (especially children). This characteristic alone can dramatically increase both survival and rescue probability. The Volunteer Harbour Patrol (VHP) in Portsmouth will additionally remind such mariners of the importance of this procedure whenever possible.
LOA: Letter of Authority. As you are aware the Skipper’s Letter of Authority covers both the individual yacht & the area of operation. There are 2 levels of Topsl skipper authorisation: Local & Offshore.
Offshore / Unrestricted skippers can take the yacht anywhere within the area of insurance (Normally Brest to the Elbe but extended by the Board when needed for extended cruises).
Local Skippers are restricted to cruising in sight of land away from shipping channels in benign areas. This precludes local sailing from areas with significant difficulties such as (but not limited to) the Channel Islands & the North Brittany coast. During extended cruises the directors may designate other areas as not suitable for Local skippers. A current list of these restricted areas will be on the website.
If you are currently a local skipper who wishes to sail in the “offshore” areas that look to be involved in cruises, please make the booking now, as if you were qualified. HOWEVER, in good time prior to the event you must make suitable arrangements to get your Local Skipper authorisation upgraded to “Offshore”.
Engine Cooling Seacock
Ensure sufficient attention given to establishing whether water is flowing from the exhaust. The key word here is flowing – a quantity of water always remains in the muffler, it is imperative that you observe a “flow” of water from the exhaust, not just the first splutter or two.
DSC Distress Call:
Radio Medical Advice:
NOTE the Difference between the Emergency & Urgency Format
Extract from MCA information
If your situation is serious, for example someone's life is at risk, send a Mayday voice message. If it's urgent, but not life-threatening, for example your mast snaps, send a Pan- Pan message.
The Format for both types of message is in the “Rescue” section of the Skills area
Radio Medical Advice:
To obtain radio medical advice or assistance in UK waters, Masters and Skippers should first contact HM Coastguard on VHF DSC, VHF 16, MF DSC or INMARSAT. Urgent calls may be preceded by the urgency signal PAN PAN. Callers will be taken to a duplex VHF channel or simplex MF frequency. Users should avoid using mobile telephones for seeking medical advice or assistance or contacting a hospital direct.
The coastguard will then connect the caller's VHF or MF to telephone landline to make contact with a doctor at one of the designated UK centres for radio medical advice. Whilst the link is being established, the following basic information will be requested:
HM Coastguard will monitor the call and on completion, the doctor will brief the Coastguard as to whether the advice was to treat the patient on board, whether the vessel is to return to port with the patient or whether medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) is recommended.
DSC – MMSI:
It would appear from a recent RYA magazine that few sailors use this excellent facility. Each of our yachts has the other yachts MMSI in the DSC directory & also Solent Coastguard. If you call Solent Coastguard using DSC, it will display all our details & they will respond on the correct channel. I checked this out with them over the phone, but haven’t tried it out yet.
If you are not that familiar with each yacht’s radio, find the menu for DSC then READ the SCREEN. It’s pretty intuitive from there on & it won’t send anything unless you confirm you want it to do that. In the process you will undoubtedly find out more about the operation of the radio. Just try calling another Topsl yacht when you are next out sailing, it will help both you & the recipient to become more adept at using the radio. (You can DSC call one of our yachts even it is not being used (hopefully no-one will answer!), just for practice.
A couple of reminders:
On departure, try it out just before casting off & again before entering the lock; returning try it before entering the lock & then again before you enter the pontoon area. There are obviously many other situations that would benefit from this rationale.