It is inevitable that at some point whether it be a stubbed toe or a broken finger, you will most likely injure yourself in yachting. The job involves long hours, dangerous machinery, hazardous materials and not only that – But you are on the water too.
In this blog I wanted to highlight the importance of looking after yourself onboard, not only to avoid being THAT injured crew member but also to avoid being flown home leaving the team a man short!
I saw a fair few accidents in my yachting career and although mostly small injuries, they do cause a fair amount of havoc for the medical officer onboard and the rest of the crew. Recently there have been a number on deaths in the yachting industry – This is incredibly sad to hear about, especially as some of the incidents were very much avoidable had the right precautions been taken and common sense prevailed.
Here are a few stories from my time in yachting that show how easy it can be to be involved in an accident:
- Whilst visiting a secluded beach in Huahine, an island off Tahiti – All 30 crew decided to sit on a palm tree which overhung the water for a crew photo. The palm tree then snapped at the base with all 30 crew sat on it landing on a crew members foot and pinning him to the ground. (This person was me!) A trip to the hospital in Tahiti and several x-rays later luckily nothing was broken just very bruised and crushed. Not ideal a day before a month long owners trip!
- A crew member was detailing a tender and fell onto the hard garage floor breaking his collarbone in several places. A trip to theatre for this one unfortunately and nearly 10 months off work with rehabilitation!
- Two jet ski’s collided at no more than 4knots after losing concentration for a split second. The ski that was T boned didn’t come off too well, with a huge chunk of the fairing missing but also dislocating the riders knee and tearing several muscles – Ouch!
Whilst these are just a few examples, we do get a fair few calls here asking for temporary crew to cover an injured crew member and also a couple of horror stories of people loosing digits!
Here are a few key things to remember to avoid getting injured onboard:
- Keep an eye on your hours of rest, make sure you are getting the rest you are entitled to. When you’re exhausted and tired, accidents will happen.
- Use your brain, slow down and think about what you are doing. A Fast pace is often required on deck however rushing is likely to end in an accident or mistake.
- Be careful when ashore – don’t be the crew member to injure yourself because you are too drunk.
- Use correct PPE – a lot of yachts enforce not wearing shoes on deck. However I disagree. The amount of toes I injured was ridiculous. I once booted a Shurhold pole that had been left out on deck and ripped the toe nail clean off.
- Make sure you have had the correct training before using any equipment on deck – for example use of windlasses/capstans for tying up or lifting anchor. Be aware of where you are stood and where your fingers are! These are one of the main culprits for lost digits and injuries from snapbacks.
- Make sure to report all dangers and hazards!
Safety is the responsibility of everyone onboard. Look out for one another and remember your safety should be the main priority at all times.
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Tom spent 2 years as a deckhand working on Aquila and Infinity, both outstanding yachts, before returning shore side to his home town of Poole. Prior to his career in yachting Tom worked for Jet Ski Surfaris as a Flyboard Instructor. He now looks after Deckhands, Lead Deckhands and various other roles including Carpenters and Water Sports Instructors.