As pleasure sailors on the Isle of Wight prepare for another season of ‘messing about in boats’ they are being offered a chance to get free life-saving advice from the RNLI.
Underlining their accident prevention role, the RNLI is staging a free lifejacket ‘clinic’ at East Cowes Marina on Sunday 10 April. People can come along and have their existing lifejackets checked out, or learn how to choose and fit new ones.
The clinic will be led by Dave Wright, Safety Officer with Cowes lifeboat station, and his counterpart at Yarmouth lifeboat station, Andy White.
Research by the RNLI showed that although 98 percent of pleasure sailors carried a lifejacket, only 49 percent wore them all the time they were afloat. In addition a third of lifejackets seen by its Sea Safety volunteers would, in their opinion, fail to work due to poor maintenance.
“People without suitable lifejackets are severely at risk if they should suddenly find themselves in the water,” said Dave. “A grim fact is that of all the bodies that the RNLI have pulled from the water, precious few were wearing lifejackets.
“Just like smoke alarms in the home and seat belts in the car, a properly selected, fitted and maintained lifejacket should be a ‘must’ for all pleasure sailors.”
Choice of lifejacket is also important. Buoyancy is measured in Newtons, and there are typically three classes of lifejacket – one for sheltered waters and/or weak swimmers, one for coastal sailing that will turn an unconscious casualty face-up, and one for offshore use and/or use with lots of clothes.
Dave emphasised that the clinic was just to give free advice on lifejackets brought along by people, or on the type of lifejacket they ought to buy. “We are not in the business of selling lifejackets.”
The clinic on 10 April will be from 10 am to 4 pm.