Safety at Sea: A must for all boaters

Water Ways
Honolulu Star Bulletin (05/13/00)
By Ray Pendleton

Nearly everyone has heard, and probably agreed with, the old saying, "Experience is the best teacher."

But recently, I came across an opposing view that also made sense: "Experience is the worst teacher; it gives the test before presenting the lesson."

Consider the case of Rick and Tamlyn Shema, a couple who were sailing their boat Charisma from Honolulu to Lahaina last year when suddenly, to their horror, they discovered it rapidly filling with water.

Within moments, Charisma's keel broke free, giving Shema barely enough time to send a mayday signal before the boat turned turtle and he and his wife became two small objects bobbing in the open sea.

Their frightening experience was suddenly a test for survival.

Happily, the Shemas passed the test, and now, so that other boaters may learn from their experience, they intend to share the knowledge they have gained.

On the evening of June 22 and during the day on June 24, the Shemas will be guest lecturers at a must-attend event for all boaters, called the Safety at Sea Seminar.

Although hosted by the Hawaii Yacht Racing Association, the seminar has been developed for anyone who ventures offshore, from racers and cruisers to anglers and paddlers.

The seminar is sponsored by U.S.Sailing, Cruising World magazine and West Marine, and will be held at the Hawaii Yacht Club, located in the Ala Wai marina.

The Shemas will lead off the Thursday evening program with a talk on the importance of proper boat preparation, with personal reference to their life-threatening ordeal. The following presentations will examine subjects such as properly maintained "ditch kits," visibility enhancers called See Rescue devises, state-of-the-art communication equipment, and night time emergency flare demonstrations.

Saturday's Safety at Sea Seminar program will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

It will begin with a demonstration of various items made for personal safety on the water, including personal flotation devices (PFDs), or life vests.

A lesson on medical considerations at sea will be presented that will give directions on provisioning boats with medical supplies for both local and remote cruising activities.

Recognizing and properly reacting to major weather systems and weather changes will be another topic to be examined. That will be followed by a demonstration of inflatable life rafts and a discussion of their proper use.

After lunch, a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter crew will demonstrate a water rescue of a victim floating in the harbor. In another demonstration, the effectiveness of using emergency flares in daylight hours will be evaluated.

The day's program will conclude with a combination of discussions and demonstrations on planning for, and reacting to, man overboard situations.

Various scenarios, on sail as well as power boats, will be analyzed, including a demonstration of an emergency take-down of a spinnaker to effect the rescue of a man overboard, one of sailing's more difficult maneuvers.

Tickets for this extraordinary Safety at Sea Seminar will be available to the general public beginning Monday at West Marine and at the Waikiki, Hawaii and Kaneohe yacht clubs for just $55.

I can't think of a cheaper way for boaters to learn the lessons of experience before they are personally tested.

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