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How much does safety at sea cost?
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The Publisher

Oct 28, 2012, 12:53 PM

Post #1 of 3 (9394 views)
How much does safety at sea cost? Log-In to Post/Reply

By Elaine Bunting, Yachting World
OK, that's a trick question, but did you know an offshore safety inventory
can cost over 3,500 ($5600+)?

Some argue that safety on a yacht is a state of mind. I don't disagree at
all. You certainly don't buy it in a big yellow plastic package, that's for

But if you are doing a race or a rally, or you're running a coded yacht,
there's a long list of big packages you'd need to buy, and gear you must
carry, service and keep in date. And it all costs. A lot.

Vendee Globe skipper Jean-Pierre Dick has written an interesting blog on
the importance of safety (if your French is up to it) here in which he
discusses the types of gear required for the solo round the world race. The
teams are in the process of being scrutineered in advance of setting off in
a few weeks.

For the ordinary sailor planning an ocean passage, safety gear is also a
major consideration and expense. I've totted up the cost of the equipment
you'd want or need to carry on an ISAF Category 1 event such as the ARC

If you were sailing independently, no-one would force you to carry all this
stuff, but if you look at the list below you'll see it's fairly basic and
there's nothing here that most people would find controversial, or too
frivolous if sailing with friends or family.

By my reckoning, if you started from scratch, you'd need to spend around
3,600 ($5800) on gear. Here's how it breaks down, with approximate costs:

The Publisher

Oct 28, 2012, 12:53 PM

Post #2 of 3 (9388 views)
Re: [The Publisher] How much does safety at sea cost? [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

From D. M. Street Jr:
Regarding Elaine Buntings cost of safety, excellent write up on the subject, she failed to mention bilge pumps. The problem is that the ISAF regulations on bilge pumps (pg 27 35.1 thru .5) are useless!

The regulations do not specify how big the pumps must be, nor does it specify that the pumps must be installed so that they are readily accessible for dismantling and clearing flapper valves that have been lodged open by crud - match sticks are the worst offender - that has made it through the strum box and into the pump.

After 57 years of off shore racing, delivering and cruising, backed up by 49 years in the insurance industry, I know the most easily avoidable claim is flooding and often sinking caused by lack of adequate bilge pumps.

At the Southampton and Annapolis boat shows, I checked the bilge pumping systems on approximately 90 boats. Only three had adequate bilge pumping facilities. What immediately comes to mind with these three boats that would have survived is they had had a 25gpm single acting diaphragm pump with a long handle.

The Mary G hit something in 2011 and sank 20 miles northwest of Saba, with the crew rescued by a passing yacht. The Outter Limits hit something 330 miles east of Bermuda, crew abandoned ship on a passing freighter, but transponder continued to operate for 48 hours. A Swan 48, 50 miles from Cacos, hit something, the rudder stayed on but due to bad leaks around rudder post, the crew abandoned ship 3 1/2 hours.

In contrast to the above, the 46-foot engineless yawl Iolaire (built 1905) was enroute from Bermuda to Horta in 1995 when it popped a stem bolt. The water intake was no problem as we used one of our TWO 25 gpm single acting Edson diaphragm pump, pumping 10 minutes out of 30 minutes, 500 gallons an hour. We sucked the bilge dry every 30 minutes. We continued on to Horta, 500 gallons an hour for 48 hours! Once alongside the dock in Horta, we plugged into shore power, bought an electric pump from Mid Atlantic, and repaired to Cafe Sport for a well deserved piss up.

War Baby, the 12 meter American Eagle raced in the 79 Fastnet. Being narrow, low freeboard, heavy displacement with a high ratio of ballast to displacement, she was in no danger of a roll over but was like a half tide rock at full high water. Tons of water on deck, much of it going below. The double acting below decks 25gpm pump proved to be useless as the small intake and discharge valves kept being fouled by crud that found its way thru the strum box. This required continually opening up the pump clearing the problem, closing the pump and resuming pumping.
They gave up on the below decks pump and relied on the single acting 25gpm Edson diaphragm pump which never clogged and enabled the pumper to get warm while pumping. Warren Brown Jr, who did a lot of the pumping, said they would have been in serious trouble if they had not had the on deck single acting diaphragm pump.

In the light of this, ISAF should alter their rule to read approximately as follows:

Both pumps must be installed so they are readily accessible for opening and cleaning. One pump must be 25 gpm, either permanently mounted or mounted on a board as an emergency pump plus the engine salt water intake should have a T or Y valve with line going into bilge with good strum box on it so that the engine can be used as an emergency bilge pump.

If the above mentioned boats had had the above described pump and T or Y valve, it would have saved the underwriters over one million US dollars.

The Publisher

Oct 28, 2012, 12:55 PM

Post #3 of 3 (9386 views)
Re: [The Publisher] How much does safety at sea cost? [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

From Eric Hopper:
I appreciate Elaine Bunting's blog regarding the cost of safety equipment (Scuttlebutt 3706), but I'd sure like to know her sources for some of that equipment. We've found offshore liferafts and tethers, for example, to far exceed her estimates. You also must have storm sails. You might keep from doubling her estimate if you shop around, buy only items on sale, find used storm sails and only buy the minimums. Offshore racing is very expensive, but somehow worth it.

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