Argonauta is fitted with a range of safety devices. These fall into three categories:
- To keep the boat safe
- To stay in touch with others
- To keep the crew safe
To keep the boat safe
Navigation - Argonauta is fitted with a range of navigation devices to ensure she stay in safe water.
we have three separate GPS receivers the first is attached to the radios both VHF and SSB. This ensures that the distress messages that can be broadcast by both, carry accurate positional data as to our position. It also means lifeboats can request a position digitally from the radios if they are searching from us. This unit also can be used to display our latitude & Longditude position so we can plot our position on a paper chart.
The second is attached to the navigation PC and is used to allow the plotting software to show where we are and to plan our routes. This also passes the data onto cockpit instruments and autopilot.
The third unit is a portable GPS and charts which can be used independently of boat batteries. With a small 4" screen this can be used in the cockpit or as a emergency back-up system. Navigation instruments are located in the cockpit and display such information such as boat speed, wind speed & direction and most importantly depth. These are all interlinked and any instrument can display any data set.
The boat carries 4 compasses the main unit is located at the wheel whilst a back up is situated down below so it can be referred to at the chart table. This can be re-located to the cockpit should the main unit fail.
Further to this we have two electronic flux gate compasses one linked to the autopilot, whist the second is linked to the instrumentation system.
The final one is a hand bearing compass which we can use to take bearings on headlands, lighthouses & other navigational marks that can be used to give us our position.
Further we have a AIS receiver this allows us to receive digital broadcasts from other ships giving their names, position & speed. This information is then displayed on our chart ploter, so we can avoid hitting them. A alarm will also sound if it predicts a vessel is likely to come within our safety margin which we set. Whist this is a great safety feature it is only any good if the other ships have the transmission equipment & are using it. So additionally we have radar on board,
Though this now mainly gets used at night and in bad visibility. This allows us to 'see' other ships, healands & bouys when we would not dee them due to the conditions. A further feature that the radar provides is that is can tell us if a squall is coming in our direction so allowing us to reef the sails before it arrives and so reduce the risk of tearing our precious canvas.
This is a system where coast stations broadcast text navigational messages. These vary from weather reports, to warnings about bouy light failures and military exercises amongst others. These messages can be received up to 400 miles from the transmitter, much greater than the range of marine VHF broadcasts.
An alternative kinds of weather broadcasts can also be received by our weatherman receiver, which picks up weather forecasts from Germany meaning we can receive them anywhere across europe. The combination of these two should ensure we are aware of bad weather in europe at least.
To avoid others hitting us we have a Radar reflector to enhance our boats signal on other boats receivers.
We also have navigation lights both at the top of the mast (used when sailing to give maximum range) and at deck level for use when motoring. the boat is equiped also with a range of battery and boat powered spotlights some with a very bright beam indeeed. these can be usefull in spotting unlit bouys at night as well as identifying debris in the water. Alternativly it can be usefull just for highlighting our position to other seagoing craft.
Possibly a little last century but If all else fails we have bright white anti-colision flares to pinpoint our position to other craft. There are also red parachute flares and red habdheld flares for signalling our position in an emergency. finally as illuminated flares are no good on a bright sunlit day we have orange smoke flares that can be seen for miles.
The Autopilot and wind vane may not at first glance seem to be safety devices but they do relive the crew from the monotony of steering so ensuring they stay alert for other dangers. They can also maintain a more consistent course than most crew can do, particularly at night and in fog.
Should conditions dictate we can use the sea anchor or drouge to stop or slow the boats progress in strong winds when a distance from land. Whilst it may not be comfortable we can with these retire below to the cabin with all sails furled and wait for a storm to blow over. Prior to reaching this stage we can use our storm sail a heavyweight triple stitched height brightness sail to continue making progress in all but the severest conditions.
Four different Bilge pumps are fitted throughout Argonauta. Some of these are electrical and have automated float sensors so they start pumping as soon as the water reaches a critical level without any input from the crew. We also have hand operated bilge pumps so even with total electrical failure it is possible to get rid of the water inside. One of the Manual bilge pumps is located next to the wheel in the cockpit so the helmsman can pump & steer at the same time.
Argonauta is steered by a wheel in the cockpit connected via a cable and chain linkages to the rudder, should any of this fail we have a Emergency steering tiller that can connect directly to the top of the rudder stock allowing it to be steered like a oversize dinghy. If the rudder is jammed completely we can utilise the hydrovane wind steering unit as a emergency rudder to help us get back into a safe haven.
Fire at sea is one of the most frightening things to face any sailor. As we take prevention very seriously such as closing gas valves as soon as no longer required, switching off various electrical circuits when not in use. If the worst dose happen the boat is equipped with a smoke detector and four dry powder extinguisher located at key positions around the boat, as well as a fire blanket situated in the galley.
2. To stay in touch with others.
We have multiple communications methods on board.
The most used is the VHF radio this is situated at the chart table but a second remote control unit is located in the cockpit allowing the helm to use the radio without leaving the wheel, this is very useful when entering & leaving harbours.
To back this up we have a second VHF unit whilst this does not use a ariel at the top of the mast so will not have the same range, it will work if we are dismasted as both the other radios rely on the mast for there ariel deployment.
Additionally a third VHF is on board, this time a handheld that can be used from the dinghy or life raft as well if required. VHF transmission range is limited to line of sight as such the best we can expect realistically is 30 miles boat to boat and 50 miles boat to a very high land based transmitter.
As such for longer passages offshore we have a SSB. (Single Side Band) shortwave radio transmitter the range on this much greater and depending on atmospheric conditions could broadcast over a 1000 miles.
Iridum satellite phone
Communication with shore based family or coastguard for technical or medical advice is achieved by the use on board of a Iridum satellite phone, this can also be linked to the PC to send and receive simple text based e-mails and GRIB weather charts whilst at sea, though on or close to land more economical communication methods will be used.
In a emergency we also have a 406MHz Satellite EPIRB (Emergency Positioning indicator Radio Beacon) this is a maritime version of the beacons carried on commercial airlines. Once the Pin is pulled it will broadcast our position and unique ID code to a satellite so the rescue services will know who & where we are.
We also carry conventional mobile phones but don't rely on them for safety, as coverage can never be guaranteed at sea. They can be useful however for talking to harbour masters if you cannot get a response on a VHF channel.
3. To keep the crew safe
Keeping crew warm & Dry is a important aspect of crew safety as such we ensure we have suitable wet weather clothing and insulation layers for all crew on board. Both Jackie and Pete have state of the art breathable offshore sailing waterproofs. Additionally we carry spares for occasional crew to use if they don't have their own.
Life jackets are a must. Argonauta has sufficient for every crew member plus some child sized ones for little crew members. These are all auto inflating so are easy to wear and do not get in the way of moving around the boat, but will inflate automatically if you should fall in the water. Cleverly they don't inflate if you just take a wave over you. All have integral Harness which allows the wearer to clip on a safety line and attach themselves to the boat. There are a number of attachment points in the cockpit and next to the wheel so the crew can steer and winch safely knowing they cannot be separated from the boat.
We also have Jack stays running the length of the boat down the port & starboard side decks. These are safety lines onto which crew can clip then drag the safety line with them all the way to the front of the boat.
Man Over Board 'MOB'
Should someone go overboard we have a horseshoe life raft attached at the back of the boat with a floating light that will automatically light once in the water and a Danbouy. A Danbouy is basically a floating stick with a weight at one end and a light & flag at the other the purpose of this is that it allows crew to see the position of the casualty in the water much clearer as it will be higher above the waves the flag can be seen in daylight and the light at night. Once we get the casualty back to the boat we have a life sling, this is similar to a rescue helicopter strop that fits under the casualties arms and allows us to winch them out of the water.
We carry a fairly comprehensive first-aid supplies on board this is separated into three kits an initial small first aid kit readily located just inside the hatch, this is for all small injury and includes Aspirin, Paracetamol & sea sickness tablets. We have a substantial medicine chest stored in a waterproof container. Not only does this contain regular over the counter medication but also some stronger prescription medication for more serious cases. Finally the main medical chest contains even more first aid equipment including splints for broken limbs and sutures kits for sewing up deep cuts & wounds.
Finally if all else fails we have a six man ocean life raft. This is stored on a canister fitted in a stainless steel cradle to the back of the boat ready for immediate deployment.
To accompany this we keep readily to hand when sailing a day glow Orange 'Grab Bag' into this we have all the necessities we need should we have to abandon ship. High calorie food,bottled water, torches,sea sickness tablets, handheld radio etc as well as a sealed plastic bag containing passports credit cards emergency telephone numbers that we might need when we get to shore.
All key crew members carry whilst sailing a decent knife (no not for repelling borders) but to cut ropes & lines in an emergency.