Sunday, 26 July 2015

What price Safety?

26 July 2015
When talking about our cruising lifestyle to non-sailing friends, the question we get asked most is “Is it safe?  Our reply is that there is some level of risk in every activity known to man and the key is to minimise that risk by how you do things, what safety precautions you take and what safety equipment you use. We sail very conservatively, avoid leaving port unless the weather forecasts are favourable and have equipped our boat as well as we can.

In addition to now being sailors, we have always been motorcyclists and have lived by the creed “If you have a $10 head, buy a $10 helmet. If you value your life more than that buy the best you can.”

However, every time you open a sailing magazine or walk into a chandlery you seem to come across a new, latest invention or new improved model of something touted as being essential to make cruising safer. If you bought everything on the market your boat may sink under the extra weight and your bank balance would look like Greece’s .  Many of the most expensive items are also those that, with luck, you will probably never actually use. Think life raft, EPIRBs, Personal Locator Beacons, grab bags and other EMERGENCY equipment. So how much should you spend on safety equipment? We wish we could answer that.  What price do you put on your life?

As we make final checks before embarking on a four month shake down cruise it's been interesting reviewing the work we have completed on 'Our Dreamtime' since moving aboard 17 months ago.
Now in the last days of preparing to actually throw the lines off and go cruising again we have started to look back at all the re-equipping and work we have done to Our Dreamtime since purchasing her 17 months ago. Here’s just fifty items on that list.

Coffee Machine (We are both pro-caffeinators and can’t do anything until we’ve had our coffee)

New fire extinguishers (existing were all out of date)

New fire blankets (Supplements existing)

New EPIRB (existing was out of date)

New gas BBQ ( Essential for any cruiser)

Fitted a transom table ( Perfectly complements the BBQ for dining on deck)

Gas Valve fitted in galley (to comply with Australian Standards)

LPG Bottles inspected (overdue for -recertification)

All sails removed and sent to sailmaker for checking and service

Complete masts and chainplates out replacement of all standing rigging (Existing well over ten year mark)

We elected to do a full, masts of re-rig rather than take shortcuts
All new through masts wiring

New tricolour and masts mounted work lights

New DSC VHF radio and aerial (existing old with no DSC and corroded aerial)

New TV Antennae (Rob loves his sport on TV when in reach)

New stereo (Cruisers have to have tunes)

All new running rigging and associated blocks, shackles etc.(Existing mostly over ten year mark)

We wish we'd kept track of just how many meters of new line we put on the boat. It would be big in total.
Haul out –all through hulls and folding prop serviced, hull cleaned and anti-foul touched up where needed

Hull painted (not planned but as result of damage caused by boat yard during a haul out)

Lovely new, shiny blue and ready to splash.
New fridge compressor (not planned but crap happens)

New ocean rated lifejackets and harnesses for Rob & Karen

New inflatable life jackets for guests (Existing were old foam style)

Complete refurb of the tender (See blog ‘Breathing new life into our ageing inflatable dinghy’)

Both outboards serviced

Made fitted sheet sets for forward berth and aft stateroom. (Anyone who has lived on a boat will know why)

Anti-slip treads with glow in the dark strips fitted to both companionways

New 240v inverter (unplanned but crap still happens)

Assemble a comprehensive First Aid and Medications Kit (No existing on board)

Source UP TO DATE First Aid Journal ( See blog ‘Stingray Strike tests our Emergency Plans)

Karen on the way to the ER after suffering a stingray strike
NEW personal AIS man over board beacons for Rob and Karen(our existing PLBs are still in date)

New LED cockpit lighting (White and red night vision)

Fan in cockpit (fitted over galley hatch serves as exhaust fan in use or cooling the cockpit)

Fan in Aft Cabin

Purchased Sailrite sewing machine for canvas and sail making and repair

Made new jackstays (none existing )

Made new mizzen sail bag (existing had broken zippers and UV damaged canvas)

Made bags for folding bikes

Made rope bag for cockpit

Made aft table cover

Made new slings for dinghy on davits (Yes we are getting value out of the sewing machine)

Fitted near-new just serviced life raft (existing was 1980s model not serviced since 2010)

New Chart Plotter with Navionics charts

Binnacle mount for I-Pad which mirrors new nav station mounted B&G Plotter via wifi

Existing PC based plotter updated with new CMaps software

AIS transponder fitted (no existing AIS onboard)

New Autopilot (Existing 1980s Brenmar Cetec wandered up to 20 degrees off heading)

New wind, depth and log instruments.

New Super High Holding Power Sarca Ex-cel Anchor

A new EX-CEL saw our old CQR moved from being our primary to our secondary anchor
Purchased Shuttlechef thermo cooker (Produces fantastic food while greatly reducing gas usage)

110 metres new anchor chain

New fresh water pump (Unplanned but what can we say. It’s a boat and crap always happens)
Cruising Guides obtained for areas we plan to sail

355 Watts of solar panels and monitor fitted

Scuba tank and kit added (In addition to recreation great for cleaning prop, hull and freeing stuck anchors)

So what did the list tell us? Firstly we quickly understood why we haven’t had the time to do anywhere near as much catching up with friends as we’d planned while at home. Next it reminded us why we’d decided we both needed to work a few days a week during the refit so the money flow wasn’t completely one way. Most significantly though, looking at the list demonstrated that the 20% or so non-safety related items on the list only amounted to about 5% of the money we had spent getting ready to cruise.

The VAST majority of the $50k plus we have spent post purchase has been outlaid to make Our Dreamtime as safe to sail in the years to come as we can afford. Minimising the risks of something going wrong creates the peace of mind needed to enjoy the cruising life. There is no fun in being out there worrying the whole time about things you know could have/should have been fixed or improved.

The price of safety may be high but, with the greatly increased peace of mind it provides, the return on investment is worth every penny and much, much more.
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