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Level II – Surviving offshore when things don’t go to plan

Adventure Log | 28.02.2019

Part of the Level II formal Clipper Race training considers what to do when things go south in a big way at sea with the RYA endorsed obligatory official Sea Survival training.

Hope for the best; plan for the worst!

Armed with nothing more than a set of Speedo’s and a towel. The thought of not knowing what to expect loomed large for the 14 of us that showed up from various walks of life to learn about Sea Survival, firsthand.

We needn’t have worried though. The RYA endorsed Sea Survival course is delivered with a practical candidness that busts through any myths or preconceptions any of us may have had before arriving. Half the day is spent on what happens to the physiology in cold-water; the main hazards and what to do in the event that any of us have to experience or deal with an emergency offshore.

The second half of the day is spent putting the theory into practice… a lot! Numerous drills and demonstrations; each time the training staff ramping up stress-levels with buckets of water thrown directly into our faces, as well as other sadistic tricks to help simulate various sea-states.

Floating conga-sessions, ‘bloom’ rafting-up and overcoming hand-dominance when swimming to help stay on-course. Not to mention a mass of drills with the life raft inflated – including seeing if an 8-man life raft can take 14 people packed inside like sardines …

Typical 8-person. 14 in one of these!

… it can btw! The rafts are rating with 100% spare capacity but not without quite a lot of swearing and cursing.

Apparently, getting into an inflated raft is easier at sea rather than a comparatively tame swimming pool. I hope never to have to test this out for real, but apparently, the saltiness (more buoyancy) in combination with the swell of the sea, means you can time your entrance to minimise the scrabbling, huffing, puffing and straining that comes when trying to lift your wet, tired, heavy self up into the sanctuary of the raft.

Overall the course was insightful, useful and delivered in a totally balanced way by guys that really know their stuff.

Always step-up into a liferaft!

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