Crew members on smaller vessels face a unique set of challenges when navigating rough seas. The combination of high winds, rolling waves and a shifting deck can create dangerous conditions that require specific safety measures to protect both the crew and the vessel.
In rough seas, the deck of a small vessel becomes a dangerous place. Understanding the dangers of this environment is critical for all crew.
Hazards on the deck
The deck is where the most immediate dangers are found during rough weather. High winds can cause ropes and other equipment to move unpredictably, posing a risk of entanglement or being struck. Waves washing over the deck make it slippery and can also sweep crew members overboard.
Securing interior spaces
Inside the boat, the motion from rough seas can turn unsecured objects into hazards. Drawers, cabinets and doors should have latches that prevent them from swinging open. Crew members must secure all items within the interior spaces, ensuring nothing can move around and cause injury or damage. This also involves securing the galley area to prevent accidents with cooking equipment and hot surfaces.
Every crew member should be familiar with the emergency procedures, including the location and use of emergency equipment such as life rafts, flares and fire extinguishers. Drills should be conducted regularly so that everyone knows what to do. In rough seas, disorientation and stress may force the crew to rely heavily on the actions from drills..
Personal safety equipment
Individual safety gear, such as a life jacket, is a must in rough conditions. All crew members should carry personal locator beacons and waterproof hand-held VHF radios so they can call for help if they find themselves in the water or separated from the vessel.
Injured boat workers should immediately get the medical care they need. They should also learn about their rights to receive compensation.