If you are new to boating, you should expect to be given a safety brief. Not only this, but each boat can differ greatly from the one you’re used to piloting, so it’s very important that every time you are on board a new boat, you get a whole new safety briefing. If you are the one welcoming others onto your boat, you need to make sure everyone is up to speed with the rules and what to do in a crisis. If you take an exam in boating, the examiner will want to be reassured that you know what you’re doing, so you should know exactly what needs to be included in your safety briefing.
Firstly, explain the most important equipment on-board. This could be from a safety perspective or simply to show what you will be using to control the boat. Be prepared to elaborate on any of the items, so make sure you know exactly what they are. An examiner may try to ask about a combination of items you’re very familiar with and ones you may use less frequently to identify a broad knowledge, whereas guests on your boat may simply be curious.
Of course, people should know what to do if there is a problem. Lifeboats and life jackets should be shown to guests, and you should explain how to inflate life jackets and whether or not there is a whistle provided to attract attention. You should show everyone where to find flares, and explain how they should be launched. Never let children use flares, and ideally keep them out of their reach.
Remind people of the potential health risks on a boat. It can get very cold out at sea, so make sure everyone is wearing warm clothing and shoes with good grip in case the deck becomes wet and slippery. Alert everyone to the presence of the first aid kit, and see who on board is a trained first aider. Fire blankets and extinguishers should be located somewhere easy to find, and you should inform everyone how to raise the alarm if they discover a fire on-board.
Make sure you find out a little bit about the guests. Whether or not they swim is one of the most important things to find out, followed by whether they have any previous boating experience. If they have any health conditions, check that they have medication or emergency measures in place, and double check that they are safe to be on the boat for an extended period of time if there is a problem that prevents you from returning to shore immediately.
All in all, be sensible and think about what you would want to know if you were using a boat for the first time. The better informed you keep everyone, the more confident and capable they will feel in an emergency, meaning there is less chance of anything going disastrously wrong.
Suzie Arnold is a boating enthusiast who regularly offers her advise on getting the most from being out on the waves