Rescue Tape was again listed as a proven life-saver for boaters in the newest edition of Boat US, Your Stories from the Edge.
Twelve Lessons That Could Save Your Life:
1. When a hurricane is forming, assume it will change course several times as it approaches landfall. Do not wait; take evasive action immediately to secure your boat, and then get yourself to safety.
2. It’s critical to be able to follow the NOAA marine weather forecasts whenever you’re aboard your boat. You can’t rely on your smart-phone apps. Make sure you have a DSC-enabled permanently installed VHF on your boat, and a backup handheld waterproof VHF.
3. One bilge pump is not sufficient, no matter the size of your boat. You need two electric bilge pumps (one large-bore), and one manual bilge pump. Ithaka had all three. Plus, installing a bilge alarm will alert you to water rising in the bilge before you can see it.
4. When there’s a leak below the waterline, time is of the essence. You must be able to find it by checking the shaft and every seacock and thru-hull fitting, in the dark, by feel (also the keel bolts, if applicable). To ensure that you know exactly where the seacocks and other potential breaches are, so you can find and close them if water already has covered them, practice this to gain confidence. You should have a soft-wood bung (plug) of the correct diameter tied by a string to every thru-hull (you can buy them cheaply at West Marine). If water is flowing in through a failed thru-hull fitting, or especially through a thru-hull impeller, hammer this bung into the hole to staunch the water. Seacocks must be lubricated every year to make sure they open and close easily. (Some lube products work poorly underwater, so check to see what the seacock manufacturer recommends.)
5. It’s more likely that a ruptured hose will be the cause of a leak. Maintain your hoses and regularly check your hose clamps for rust. Use two marine-grade stainless-steel hose clamps at each end of a hose, instead of one. If one corrodes, the other is a backup. A good choice is Awab clamps, which have rounded edges, no holes, and are fully stainless. Rescue tape can temporarily repair most hose leaks, and can be applied while wet or while water is coming in.
6. Keep owner’s manuals for all major systems aboard your boat so you can refer to them immediately when things go wrong. Use common sense; if something feels dangerous, trust your instincts. If you can wait to fix something until you’re safely at a dock or hauled out, that’s often the best approach.
7. Ithaka always had a GPIRB, liferaft, and ditch kit at the ready, and her crew always wears inflatable lifejackets/harnesses while on watch from dusk to dawn. Harnesses have strobe light, whistle, and solid light.
8. While it’s not mandatory, it’s an excellent idea to have radar on your boat if you operate in the dark, or areas prone to fog.
9. According to both inland and international rules, boats operating in close quarters, in restricted visibility, should use horn signals. Motorboats must sound one prolonged blast every two minutes. Sailboats must sound one prolonged blast plus two short blasts every two minutes.
10. When it’s dark, or the fog rolls in, eliminating your visibility in a busy shipping lane, you can use VHF channel 16, which is used only for hailing, to give a safety message, called securite (se–CURE-i-tay) to other boats within close proximity. Here’s how. Speak clearly into the microphone: “Securite, securite, securite. This is the XX-foot (power, sailing, fishing) vessel (boat name) traveling (direction) at XXX degrees, in (zero, limited) visibility at X knots just off (location). My position is XXXXX latitude, XXXXX longitude. Standing by for any concerned vessels on channel 16 and 13.” Then switch to channel 13, and repeat the same message; 13 is the commercial bridge-to-bridge channel. Nearby vessels who follow you to the new channel can answer you. Then you both can determine your courses and headings, and discuss how you’ll pass each other safely. You’ll need a chart of the area, and GPS, to accomplish this.
11. When you have a mechanical problem, as soon as possible issue a securite as described above, and state your problem, so that other boaters, and TowBoatUS, will become aware of it, and learn your location. If you take care of the problem yourself, great. If the problem worsens, however, or if you lose the ability to communicate, you’ve identified your position — a crucial first step in case help is needed.
12. When making a voyage, or taking your boat out of sight of land, give your float plan (your planned route and ETA), to someone responsible who’ll know right away if you’re overdue. Also, make sure your registration information for your EPIRB or GPIRB is up to date.