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Thread: The Incident Pit

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Cheshire UK
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    Default The Incident Pit

    Most incidents very often are a combination of small ommisions as an event unfolds. Some are also caused by something least expected and reminds you not to be too lax in checking out safety equipment. This little story will no doubt be sobering for some and hopefully a timely reminder for others.

    My incident starts with an invitation to trial a new demo rib on the market, an exciting prospect at any time. Very bad weather prevented the planned day and a back-up plan was to take the rib (with others) towards more sheltered waters. After several miles some of the RIBs in the group stopped and the crew went ashore for some respite from the wet and windy weather.

    Being a somewhat larger boat my decision was to pick-up a mooring buoy and wait for the RIBs and crews to regroup before continuing with the plan.

    With the RIB being new to me, my first mistake was to pay over the side the painter which we had attached to a mooring buoy. Concerned with the thrashing around in the windy conditions of the little wooden sailing yachts nearby I thought it prudent to shorten the painter by taking up the 'slack' on the bow samson post.

    Firstly it was ascertain by the crew that no mooring hook was to be found onboard. Nevertheless, even though being a cuddy cabined RIB, I thought it would be easy to reach down to the bow eye and lift the painter. As the RIB bobbed about on the mooring I quickly caught and then quickly lost the line. Now confident that I could reach the painter and do this manoeuvre it was going to be a piece of cake. That was it then, Neptune was to have the last word, and on the next wave I bounced unceremoniously into the sea!

    No big deal I thought, although cold and wet, my auto-lifejacket would inflate. As I held tightly on to the painter I was dismayed and a little concerned that it did not work. My initial thought was to pull the manual cord but I chose not too, realising that to clamber onboard would be hard enough let alone with an inflated lifejacket around the torso. Manual inflation would be my action of last resort. I must point out here that I'm often a belt & brace man and in this instance the wearing of my Mustang Survival Floatation Suit proved the rule.

    I could remain floating and warm while other crew threw me a line which I used to get to the stern of a traditional RIB which was alongside. With some effort and assistance I managed to haul myself onboard at the stern using the outboard engine skeg (engine switched off) as a step up to the transom.

    It took a little while to get my breath back and gain my composure in order for me to take the RIB back across the bay in what was now F7 - F8 conditions. All the time with a little 'niggle' as to why my lifejacket never inflated even though it was not my preferred option.

    a) I can only recommend everyone to go on the RYA Sea Survival course. If it had not been for this course my instinct would have been to manually inflate my lifejacket. This would have to be done however if I was not wearing my floatation suit. Climbing into a liferaft carried out on the RYA course does prepare you mentally for the extreme effort required to climb aboard a boat from waterlevel. Many RIBsters I believe would carry some type of folding step ladders in the event of recovering a MOB once they have completed such a course or been overboard.

    b) It was very sobering for me to later learn that even if I had chosen to inflate my lifejacket it would not have done so. I replace my Co2 cartridges as recommended by the lifejacket manufacturers and inspect the external straps and internal sac including, whistle and Co2 cartridge prior to every season. I even fit a strobe light to the harness. For whatever reason, operator error, or vibration from all my travels with my lifejacket by land sea and air, the Co2 cartridge was not fully home and armed.

    c) My procedure in future will check at every use the operating function of the lifejacket and its Co2 cartridge.

    d) There are other numerous lessons to be learn't, least not some of the equipment to be onboard and never ever to be so silly as to put oneself in a perilous situation.

    I hope you find this experience something to think about and certainly something not to be repeated.
    Tell me and I'll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I'll understand!
    Ribs for Sale

  2. Default

    I've heard it's not uncommon for this to happen. To prevent vibration and general handling from loosening the CO2 cartridge some use Loctite.

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