Raritan Engineering your macerating toilet
suppliers would like to share with you these topics we thought would be of interest to you this month regarding the importance of having a backup plan for emergencies while boating.
Your macerating toilet manufacturers talked about how the plan sounded good. I would cross Chesapeake Bay aboard my 16-foot outboard-powered Dory skiff for a weekend of hanging out with friends during Downrigging Weekend, an annual event held the last weekend of October in Chestertown, Maryland.
The weather report stated wind from the northwest at 17 to 23 mph, gusting to 34, with seas of 2 to 3 feet – borderline conditions for a boat like mine. But I balanced this against my years of experience operating small craft. Besides, my John Dory skiff is seaworthy for its size.
I set out. Halfway across the 10 miles of open water, it became tough to steer. Then the waves steepened considerably. While surfing down a large wave, the outboard motor clicked into the partway-up position, eliminating my ability to control the boat.
It got uglier. I stuffed the bow into a trough and put 8 inches of water into the boat in a second. Noticing a smooth patch of water, I pulled the transom drain – the bilge pump was already working – and sped along at full throttle until the water was out.
Finally, I spotted a pier. Tied up, I lay down on the warm wood. The air was cold, but the shining sun warmed me. I rose, called my friends, and waited for them to pick me up.
From this experience, I learned you cannot fight wind and waves and sometimes must change course for safety’s sake. This makes it important to have a Plan B destination. I also learned that my waterproof VHF radio did not work, not because it shorted out, but because the speaker filled with water and I could not hear it.
I was lucky. I was dressed correctly and wearing a life jacket. But I wouldn’t do it again.
Preparing for All Boating Scenarios
Just like in your home, you should implement an emergency preparedness plan on your boat. Regardless of where you boat you should always identify potential threats. Then evaluate what types of resources you will need if any emergency arises.
You should always check the weather before planning a day on your boat. Conditions on the water can become dangerous during even small weather events. Weather is also quick to change over the water, it is important to stay aware and return to shore before conditions get severe.
Tsunamis are a succession of oversized waves that occur after the displacement of large amounts of water. They can occur with or without warning, however, a common cause of tsunamis are earthquakes. If you are on the water and notice the trees on shore shaking and other telltale signs of an earthquake, you should evaluate your best course of action.
A good skipper always prepares for the worst and hopes for the best. When preparing you should make a list of general items, but also include things that are specific to your family and their needs. The following are less specific items that any good boat emergency kit should contain.
- NOAA Weather Radio- Keeping track of the forecast and any emergency broadcasts can help you avoid severe weather.
- Clean water- Salt or lake water are not going to be sufficient if you are stranded and need to stay hydrated.
- Food and a way to prepare it- Store foods that are high in protein and nutritious. Having a heat source if not only good to keep you warm but also for preparing any foods that need to be warmed.
- Extra clothing- Extra layers and dry clothes to change into from your wet ones are good to keep on board.
- Shelter- Shelter from the sun and rain are both important. Many boats have built in shelters, but a tarp or sheet can easily be used as a makeshift shelter.
- First aid kit- For anything from bumps and bruises to broken bones, bug bites and open wounds.
- Paddle- In case you encounter engine troubles it is good to have an alternate form of propulsion.
- Something to bail out water- If it rains hard enough your boat might not be able to keep up with pumping water out of the boat. Having a bucket or two to help bail it out can save your boat from capsizing.
Not only should you have a plan and the proper emergency items, but you should also take a class or research about emergency procedures. Things like first aid and boat repair techniques can make the difference between life and death.
Don’t forget these important items when making your backup plan for boating emergencies. 1) NOAA weather radio; 2) clean water; 3) food and a way to prepare it; 4) first aid kit; and 5) something to bail out water.
Fully inflated and sitting in the middle of the workshop floor, our life raft looked rather small. This wasn’t the first time I had seen a Viking RescYou four-person life raft in all its glory, but it was the first time ours had been unpacked from its tidy black valise.
I sat in the strange orange glow with my legs fully extended in front of me, imagining three other people sharing the space. It would be cozy, to say the least. Even with only Steve and me, the ditch bag and any other items we might manage to grab, it would be tight. I tried to imagine what the raft would feel like afloat; the floor constantly undulating, the sound of the ocean crashing around us, the slick, sticky feeling of salty skin and damp clothing.
Spending time in a life raft is probably not on anybody’s bucket list, but any sailor who has spent a night or two at sea has no doubt stopped to consider the possibility. Like an EPIRB, a search-and-rescue transponder, a sea anchor and a good medical kit, a life raft is a vital piece of safety equipment that should be on board every boat.
A life raft packed in a valise is lighter than a canister, most weighing in between about 50 and 75 pounds, versus roughly 65 to 90 pounds for a canister. That said, a smaller crew member might not be able to lift that much dead weight up the companionway, especially if the boat is heaving. A canister may weigh more but is usually deployed directly from its storage location.
Canisters often are fitted with a hydro-static release. This automatic device activates when submerged and inflates the raft if the vessel suddenly sinks. A “weak link” in the painter will part under stress, allowing the raft to float to the surface. It’s important to consider what obstructions might hinder the automatic inflation or release of the raft when choosing where to mount the bracket.
What is often overlooked – and is of the utmost importance – is serviceability. After all, what good is carrying a life raft aboard if you cannot get regular safety checks and maintenance done on it?
In a typical service, after breaking the seals on the canister or valise and cutting open the interior vac-pack bag, the technician will remove, inspect and weigh the CO2 cylinder that is included to inflate the raft. This process is similar to dive-tank inspections and is extremely important because a raft might not inflate when the painter is yanked if it has a faulty cylinder.
The cost of servicing a life raft fluctuates from port to port. The bill is usually broken down into a base service charge that includes unpacking, inflating, inspecting and repacking the raft. Any components that are required or supplies that are replaced are priced individually and then added to the base cost.