# 05 Safety first …

Tony Le ElliottArticles

My theme for this contribution to hotRIBS is … 
do not rush your boating, either in preparation, launching or manoeuvring


‘Safety First’ is a boating ‘must’. When we are well into the season some may be getting a little complacent in their boating techniques. Newspapers are starting to report incidents and although the phrase ‘speedboat accident’ is an eye-catcher, most newspaper hacks don’t know the difference between a RIB and a speedboat.


So, I’ve been checking with local coastguards and getting more details and accuracy from them.  ‘Speedboat tragedy’ off Brixham turns out to be a dory that dumped its two crew into the sea in April when the water is still very cold, and neither was wearing life jackets or kill cords. Usually, when this happens the torque from the prop puts the engine on full lock and the craft circles smartly to bite those in the water. On this occasion, the steering may have been a little stiff as the boat went in a gentle circle but the couple were in the water for over an hour: the woman died of hypothermia and the man just survived. I expect it was all down to a quick test of the dory to see if everything was OK for the next day!


You may rush to get your insurance proposal in the post but don’t tell ‘porkies’ to keep your premium low.  I’ve frequently been asked to do a cheap repair because the boat was insured for a small amount and the repairs were going to cost double its declared value! If the RIB is only rated to 50hp and you are swinging a 60hp, tell the insurers. They don’t want to lose your custom but they will throw a claim out if they discover that your rig is OTT. Usually, a letter from the RIB builder stating that the craft is OK to take the extra power does the trick.


Embarrassing and quite often dangerous situations occur when we rush our launchings: tow hooks are not fully engaged, lighting sets are left attached and then dunked! RIBS are untied too early and slide off the trailer onto the slipway. Bailer bungs are left in when they should be out and vice versa.  If you are in the boat as it’s reversed into the water, work out a procedure and hand signals with the driver beforehand.  Plan for the driver to make for a spot where the trailer can be left attached and locked on to your car after launch, and not be in the way of others. Get clear of the slipway as quickly as possible.


You should also get yourself and your VHF legal. Ship Radio Licences are obtained from OFCOM.  Applicants should register, apply for and print their Ship Radio or Ship Portable Radio licences via the Ofcom licensing portal. This entitles you to a FREE licence. If you apply using a paper application form, you must pay a fee, currently £20. You do not have to have a personal VHF licence but the ship operator does and, if that is you, get weaving!  The RYA will put you on the trail of your nearest test centre, get them on: 023 8060 4100.


Lastly, when you are about to cast off and leave a landing stage, do remember to cast off from all points. More haste, less speed means new handles!..    [email protected]