11 May 2015

Safety First

We passed our 120 point safety inspection last week, which basically aligns us with the Category 1 offshore racing regulations that are pretty much standard across the globe. It was a good and interesting exercise that definitely gets one thinking about safety, especially prior to a major offshore passage.  Our trip to Bali will be about 1500 nautical miles, so a fair distance.

Eric securing the base of the mast with
1/2" dyneema line with a  Kevlar cover.
You could lift the whole 51' boat with that!
We improved a few things on Katmai, and upgraded some personal safety gear. On Katmai, we tied down the mast where it steps on to the keel of the boat.  The thinking here is that if there is catastrophic mast failure, having the base secured will prevent the base of the mast from coming loose in the boat and causing more.  Really an unlikely event, but just in case, it does hurt to have it secured.

Locking mechanisms were added to the hatch boards, and safety orange sailcloth sewn on to our storm sails and large sail numbers to all sails.  Our sail number 43560 is now prominently displayed everywhere, including on big lee cloths on the side of the cockpit.  The purpose for both of these sail modifications is to make the boat more visible, primarily from the air.  It can be difficult to pick out a sailboat with white sails and white hull from the white caps of the waves and through the white of the clouds from an airplane.  In addition, we are traveling through a part of Australia that is heavily patrolled from airplanes by the Australian government. It is good they can identify us easily.  We also had an emergency rudder built that can be added to our Monitor wind steering system, if needed.

On the personal safety equipment side, we have made several enhancements. Our inflatable life jackets were about 15 years old, and while they are well made and still passed the 24 hour inflation test, technology certainly has come a long way.  We upgraded to new life jackets which have many new features, and added personal Automatic Identification System AIS beacons (Kannad R10 units) that deploy if the life jacket inflates.  A unique emergency alert is transmitted to all AIS receivers, which all commercial vessels and many pleasure yachts now have installed.  AIS is basically like air traffic control on the water.  Boats can send/receive unique signals that broadcast their name, position, speed and direction of travel and can be plotted on a real time map.  Basically AIS is a collision avoidance tool, but also can act as an tool for emergency notification to near by vessels.  To see more about AIS, check out https://www.marinetraffic.com/ and zoom in on your favorite part of the world’s oceans.

We have also added significantly to our medical kit on board.  It has been an interesting journey through various classes and lectures to learn how to the use the medications.  In Australia, sailing vessels participating in sponsored races are able to purchase a set list of medicines and medical supplies directly from a pharmacy.

Katmai is well prepared for the upcoming journey and well equipped from a safety standpoint. 

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