The Classe Mini has done a lot to improve safety on board their minis. Sailing and racing on the Atlantic has become less lethal by the year. The list of safety measures on board a mini is quite extensive. Have a look!
Ever since the first boats of Classe Mini have started sailing, quite a few sailors have lost their life. Especially in the early Classe Mini days. No big surprise, really. They are tiny boats racing on and across the Atlantic, only 6,5m long. Over the last years, Classe Mini has introduced many safety measures to make sailing a Mini much safer. Fatal incidents hardly ever occur nowadays.
Good news indeed, not only for Lina Rixgens. Lina has put together an overview of the various safety items on her Mini 732 mini doc. I find it quite amazing how much stuff fits on such a small boat – and I am not even talking about those seven plus sails used for sailing.
This is Lina’s article on safety on a Classe Mini racer
“What will you do in case of an emergency?” This is possibly one of the most frequently asked question. A question which gets neglected quite often, but needs a definite and appropriate answer.
Classe Mini puts a lot of emphasis on the safety of the Minis, and quite a few rules and regulations apply. Before the start of each regatta, a Classe Mini representative uses a very detailed checklist to go through all of the boat’s equipment. What do they do?
- check if one of the three torches has a flashlight function
- check if one person alone can get the life raft in operating mode within 10 seconds
- seal safety containers with distress rockets and emergency water supply
- fully test VHF, lights and AIS.
Now let’s have a closer look at the safety equipment on board my Mini.
- three coloured light: on top of mast
- radar reflector: to increase visibility on radars on passing ships
- keel (incl. 1 sqm on hull around keel) plus rudders painted in fluorescent yellow: orange or pink (so in case of capsizing the boat can be spotted easier)
- boat number: painted on deck towards the front in red or orange, so identification from an aerial perspective is made easier
- lifelines on both sides of the deck: I always use those lifelines (clicking in my lifebelt) when sailing solo, at night or always when I move around the deck
- bilge pump, one each inside and outside: as soon as water is inside the boat, I can pump it outside wherever I am on the boat
- safety buoy: according to Classe Mini rules, the safety buoy on board mini doc needs to have a light, a drift anchor and a whistle
- recovery sling: a 30m, floatable line needs to be solidly fixed and attached to the boat; at its end, a safety or rescue knot/loop will help getting people back on board
- life raft: always just behind the safety hatch; in an emergency, I can either pull the life raft from the outside, or push from the inside; my model is a SeaSafe for four people
- dan buoy: attached to the safety buoy is a dan buoy (for double handed regattas); if a person falls overboard, the dan buoy will (ideally immediately) be thrown overboard to help the search and rescue process
- recovery line: a line at the stern of the boat to help getting on board again (from the water).
Also required on board are:
- survival suit (mine is the TPS from Guy Cotten, which I have received from LENZ Rega-Port)
- one lifejacket per person, plus one backup lifejacket, with a minimum of 150N, blinking light, spray cap, crotch strap
- one lifebelt per person, to be clicked in with the lifejacket (thanks again to Spinlock!)
If I need to raise an alarm due to an emergency at sea, I will use (no surprise here)
- pyrotechnical distress signals
- hand signals (if someone is near)
- distress flags
- and so on.
In addition to those, I can use VHF to call for help, or use my EPIRB or my AIS to send out a distress signal. Here are some details:
range is approximately 20 nm; via a special distress-button I can inform all ships and stations within that range about my position, boat identification and the type of emergency; however, in the middle of the Atlantic not too many boats will be nearby…
EPIRB (emergency position indicating rescue beacon)
manually activated, the EPIRB will send a distress signal on emergency frequency 406 MHz via satellite for at least 48 hours; this distress signal is sent to Rescue Coordination Centres worldwide, the notification will take between five and ninety minutes; the RCCs will initiate a search and rescue operation and contact ships near my last known position; my EPIRB also sends out distress signals on 121,5 MHz, to help rescue helicopters and ships find me in the middle of aquatic nowhere
PLB (personal locator beacon)
this distress system is similar to an EPIRB, the difference is that a PLB is much smaller and easier to handle; it is attached to a lifejacket and is registered in the name of the person carrying it (and not in the name of the boat sailing it around the world); it starts working once the person carrying it falls overboard
AIS (automatic identification system)
lots of boats are equipped with an AIS already, for Minis an AIS is mandatory on regattas starting with category B; a display shows detailed information from AIS signals received, usually from other boats and larger navigation marks; is displays position, distance, speed, direction, so I can navigate a lot safer and stress-less; most of the AIS signals can be followed via internet as well (marinetraffic.com); sending and receiving of all data happens via two radio channels, so the range of an AIS is similar to that of VHF
same as the PLB, a Personal AIS is registered in the name of the person carrying it and not the boat; it is attached to the lifejacket and is activated either manually or automatically; the distress information is sent to all ships within AIS range; however, as the Personal AIS usually operates on sea water level the range hardly ever exceeds 4 nm; the Personal AIS is ideally suited for larger crews or sailing near coastal areas; many thanks to FT-TEC for supplying me with a Personal AIS from Seaangel (first combined PLB / Personal AIS soon to be available – I’ll be happy to test it for you!)
For me, safety on board is one of the most important topics, especially when sailing single-handed. Wearing a lifejacket all the time is absolutely necessary, same as picking in the lifebelt as soon as leaving the sheltered surroundings of beneath deck. Also, I usually sleep in my full sailing gear, so I can get up and out on top of the boat very quickly.
What about your safety on board?
Many thanks, Lina, for a fantastic insight into safety on board a Classe Mini racer (check out Lina’s website).
Lots of things can go wrong. When deprived of sleep, as will happen during almost any regatta, every sailor will make a mistake eventually. Various safety measures have been set up to protect those mostly single handed sailors. Good to know.
What do you think of Lina’s list and the Classe Mini’s safety regulations?
And what does it look like on your boat – similar, or very different?