At Manoel Island Yacht Yard, we specialise in a wide range of services for the superyacht industry, including mechanical engineering, stainless steel fabrication, carpentry and hull painting; but none of these is as important as the purpose-built, fully equipped life-saving equipment service station we provide for yachts from around the globe.
In this article, we’ll do a deep dive into our very own service station and take you through some of the safety equipment that should be found onboard every single yacht – It’s vital that yachts carry these items as they could potentially save lives in an emergency.
When thinking about yacht safety equipment, a life raft is probably one of the first items that comes to mind. In basic terms, a life raft is a buoyant platform used during emergencies at sea when those on board need to evacuate the vessel. Life rafts are a collapsible alternative to a lifeboat; they contain a high-pressure gas which inflates automatically in an emergency situation.
It is not mandatory for private pleasure craft under 13.7 metres (45 feet) in length to carry a life raft. However, if your vessel is larger than 13.7m then you must have enough space to accommodate all crew and passengers in the liferaft. You may be required to have more than one life raft on board to facilitate this.
Commercial life rafts must be thoroughly inspected every year, which includes testing for things such as pressure leaks. This is done by inflating the raft until firm and letting it stand for one hour. When the hour is up the life raft must still be firm. The canopy and battery will also be checked during the test, as will the manual inflation pump.
Partnering with the best in the industry
At Manoel Island Yacht Yard, we have a long-standing partnership with Liferaft Systems Australia which produces high-quality inflatable structures for safety, including self-righting liferafts, mini evacuation systems and much more.
There are several different types of life jackets available via our brand parter Sea Safe, but ultimately they all do the same job: keep you afloat if you enter the water.
Most life jackets will inflate with a gas canister release mechanism, where carbon dioxide is distributed when a cord is pulled. However, there are also life jackets that inflate automatically when they come in contact with salt water. As a result of improving technology, there are now ‘hydrostatic release’ life jackets which inflate depending on the water pressure acting on them.
Life jackets will also go through regular testing to ensure they are fully functional. These tests include things like testing the bladder holds air and an oral inflator check to ensure the jacket can be topped up with air manually.
An Ocean Safety immersion suit or survival suit covers the whole body and is designed to protect the wearer from developing hypothermia if they enter the water after abandoning the yacht. They are commonly found on ships and oil rigs, which operate in cold waters, and rough seas, and the potential for dangerous situations is much higher.
Survival suits are designed to keep heat in and will not necessarily keep all water out. They do this by providing a layer of insulation, typically 5mm of neoprene, and restricting the flow of water next to the body. Immersion suits also have a protective hood to cover the head, so while it provides warmth to the body its inflatable head pillow increases buoyancy.
Fire extinguishers and fire blankets
Any unplanned fire onboard a superyacht is severe and the consequences can be deadly. That’s why it’s important to keep a set of fire extinguishers and fire blankets available at all times.
On a vessel over 11m (36ft), you must have at least three fire extinguishers with a minimum rating of 5A/34B. It’s recommended that you stow fire extinguishers by the door of each cabin and at all exits to control the fire while keeping escape routes clear.
Fire blankets are usually woven fibreglass material, sometimes with a silicone-based fire retardant coating. If your yacht has cooking facilities then a fire blanket must be ready for immediate use, so any pan fire can be dealt with quickly in order to stop it from spreading.
Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRB)
If the worst happens and your vessel sinks, an EPIRB will emit an emergency signal enabling the search and rescue (SAR) agencies to locate you and carry out a rescue – An EPIRB is a way of alerting authorities that you are in distress at sea. It’s an extremely important piece of yacht safety equipment and one which should be present on each and every single vessel.
There are two types of EPIRB: manual and automatic. An automatic EPIRB will transmit an emergency signal as soon as the device makes contact with salt water; whereas a manual EPIRB requires human intervention.
Servicing an EPIRB requires a number of steps including disassembly, a live transmission test, and leak testing. During the service, a replacement battery will also be installed and the label on the device will be updated with the expiry date and service reference code. This way you will know who to contact if anything goes wrong with the device or there is any question about its operation.
As a certified service provider, who also represents many brands in the lifesaving equipment business, we are committed to ensuring the highest levels of safety for our clients.
So, if you have any additional questions or you’d more information about our services, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Our experienced team is always on hand to assist you and offer you expert advice regarding your vessel.