What to expect and how to increase your chance of survival if you find yourself in the water

Cold water shock and hypothermia - don't panic

Spring might be on the horizon but water temperatures are at their coldest. Craig Burton, RYA Training Resource Manager, takes a closer look at cold water immersion, what to expect and what you can do to increase your chance of survival should you find yourself in the water…

A British Government report published in 1977 identified that 55% of open water deaths occurred within 3m of safety, and 47% within just 2m of safety. It was clear something much quicker than hypothermia was incapacitating these casualties, and the various stages of the body’s reaction to cold water immersion were identified.

We’ve known about these stages for some time, but it is no less dangerous. There are however, a few simple things you can do to prepare yourself should the worst happen. Here, we revisit the basics.

1. Cold shock

Cold shock, or cold water shock, is the physiological reaction when a person enters cold water. The sudden lowering of skin temperature produces involuntary responses which take effect almost immediately, reach their peak in the first 30 seconds and last for 2 to 3 minutes:

  • Breathing becomes quicker – hyperventilation.
  • This over-breathing can cause dizziness and confusion in the first few minutes.
  • In water below 15°C an initial involuntary gasp of air can result in inhalation of water.
  • The ability to hold breath is greatly reduced to less than 10 seconds.
  • In choppy water where waves wash over the face frequently, this rapid breathing and reduced ability to hold your breath greatly increases the risk of water inhalation and drowning.
  • The blood vessels near the surface of the skin constrict to reduce flow and prevent heat loss, leading to increased blood pressure as the heart pumps against the constrictions. Any exertion at this point can increase the risk of heart attack or stroke

It is easy to see how these responses could cause panic.

Remember, the rapid breathing will settle down in a minute or two. It’s best to focus on protecting your airway and NOT undertaking the swim to perceived safety until your heart rate and breathing settles.

An appropriate personal floatation device (PFD) for the activity (lifejacket or buoyancy aid) will assist in keeping you afloat and able to protect your airway in the first few minutes. The RYA website has detailed advice about choosing an appropriate PFD, but in general terms a buoyancy aid should be worn in activities where it is expected that you will enter the water as a typical part of the activity. For example, dinghy sailing.

Cold water shock and hypothermia - man overboard what to expect

2. Loss of co-ordination and dexterity

As the cold water begins to cool your muscles, dexterity is reduced. This takes place between 3 and 30 minutes. In this time, you may lose your ability to operate a distress beacon, such as a MOB alert.

Your ability to swim will also gradually become more impaired. Deploying or activating equipment should be done as soon as possible, particularly if in open water.

If you have an MOB beacon or strobe light, activate it now. Don’t wait until your hands are too cold.

If you have a lifejacket with a spray hood, deploy it now to protect your airways.

3. Hypothermia leading to unconsciousness

From 30 minutes onwards genuine hypothermia becomes a reality. Uncontrollable shivering will stop as the body continues to cool. Without rescue this may ultimately lead to unconsciousness and loss of life.

Having appropriate clothing will help, and you should also minimise your surface area by adopting the HELP position (Heat Escape Lessening Posture). This will reduce loss of body heat. Avoid excess activity, such as swimming, as it will increase your rate of cooling.

Cold water shock and hypothermia - adopt the HELP position

4. Be prepared

The RYA Sea Survival Handbook (G43) is the official supporting text for the RYA Basic Sea Survival course. It covers everything from understanding weather to calling for help, as well as the importance of the correct safety equipment and how and when to use it.

For more information about RYA courses and to find a training centre near you visit rya.org.uk/training 

This is to advise you that the Carrick Castle Boat Club will have a Beach Clean in Carrick Castle on Saturday 7th May 2022 at 2 pm.

Please meet at the club’s notice board and steps below Morrison’s Park where equipment, bags and gloves will be issued.

The next Beach Clean in Carrick Castle will take place in September 2022.

Staying safe at sea

Picture the scene; you’re on a boat heading along the Largs’ coastline during late Spring. You see boats heading up from the Firth of Clyde and other boats heading back towards Largs’ Yacht Haven – but do you ever give much thought as to who is required to give way to whom?

The International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, more commonly known as the COLREGS, are quite often thought of as the “Highway Code” of the sea. However, both practically and legally they are rules for collision avoidance and the safe operation of all vessels at sea.

The current rules were adopted in 1972 and came into force in 1977. They set out the conduct of vessels in sight of one another, in restricted visibility, the responsibilities between vessels and the correct actions to be taken by a give-way vessel (rule 16) and a stand on vessel (rule 17) to avoid a collision.

One of the biggest misconceptions about the COLREGS is that when vessels are in sight of one another, a stand on vessel has ‘right of way’ in a potential collision situation. No boat has absolute ‘right of way’ and the 1972 stand-on rule permits a stand on vessel to take avoiding action as soon as it becomes apparent that the give-way vessel is not taking appropriate action. The COLREGS determine who should do what at what point to prevent a collision from occurring.

Rule one of the COLREGS states, ‘These rules shall apply to all vessels upon the high seas and in all waters connected therewith navigable by seagoing vessels.’ Failure to comply with the COLREGS – not necessarily in a collision situation but simply a breach of the rules such as motoring the wrong way in a separation lane – is an offence that, depending on its severity, carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison and/or an unlimited fine. Pleading ignorance in any prosecution case is not going to wash.

Although all the COLREGS are important, the steering and sailing rules set out in Part B (Rules 4-19) are the ones likely to be most significant to small boats operating in daylight, with good weather or restricted visibility.

Part B covers the following rules:

  1. Look out
  2. Safe speed
  3. Risk of collision 
  4. Action to avoid a collision
  5. Narrow channels
  6. Traffic separation schemes
  7. Application
  8. Sailing vessels
  9. Overtaking
  10. Head on situations
  11. Crossing situations
  12. Action by give way vessel
  13. Action by stand on vessel
  14. Responsibilities between vessels
  15. Conduct of vessels in restricted visibility

The RYA Day Skipper Theory course provides a comprehensive introduction to COLREGS. If you are looking for something a little more entry level, the Essential Navigation and Seamanship course is a great supporting course for those new to boating, or as a refresher course, and is available in the classroom or online. RYA practical courses then provide an opportunity to put the theory into practice whilst interacting with other vessels on the water.

Find out more about the RYA’s navigation courses by visiting: rya.org.uk/training/theory

If you are an RYA member and find yourself in need of legal advice relating to the COLREGS, the RYA Legal team can assist with free guidance on the interpretation and scope and application of the rules. Email: legal@rya.org.uk or call: 023 8060 4223.

Find out how the new rules will affect you.
Safety 22 Oct 21
Car towing boat
The Department for Transport (DfT) has this week announced that as from the 15 November 2021 new rules will be introduced for towing a trailer with a car.

The effect of the new rules however, will be dependent on when the driver originally passed their car driving test. If you passed your car driving test from 01 January 1997 onwards, you will be allowed to tow trailers up to 3,500kg Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM) from 15 November 2021.

If you qualify under the new rules, then the DVLA will update your driving licence record automatically to show that you are allowed to tow trailers. You will get category BE added to your driving licence when you get a new photocard driving licence. This will happen automatically, and you do not need to contact DVLA for this to happen.

Until the law changes on 15 November 2021, you must continue to follow the current rules about what you are allowed to tow based on when you passed your car driving test.

Previously, those wishing to tow a trailer would have had to pass a car and trailer test to tow a larger trailer. Car and trailer driving tests have now been stopped by the DVLA. If you had a test booked for yourself, then DfT have confirmed that the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency will have automatically cancelled and refunded it for you.

Different rules remain applicable for towing a trailer in Northern Ireland.

You can find further information about the new rule on the GOV.UK website.

Queen’s Harbour Master Clyde
LOCH GOIL – ESTABLISHMENT & DISCONTINUATION OF QINETIQ TRAFFIC SIGNALS
LNTM No 23/21
British Admiralty Chart 3746

1. Mariners are advised of the establish of two sets of occasional traffic signals which replace the flagstaff at Carrick Castle which is now discontinued, all within Loch Goil. Please  see below details:

Establishment:

Location description      :           Loch Goil. Maytime Barge. Traffic Signal (Occas).

Latitude                              :           56 09.449’         North (WGS-84 datum)

Longitude                           :           004 54.049’       West (WGS-84 datum)

Character                           :            3FR(vert) (Occas)

Range                                  :            12 miles

Structure                            :             Metal post on static moored Signal Raft

Height above MHWS      :            2.6 metres

Height of Structure        :             2 metres

Establishment:

Location description       :            Loch Goil. Signal Raft. Traffic Signal (Occas).

Latitude                               :            56 08.454’         North (WGS-84 datum)

Longitude                           :            004 53.637’       West (WGS-84 datum)

Character                           :             3FR(vert) (Occas)

Range                                  :             12 miles

Structure                            :             Metal post on static moored Signal Raft

Height above MHWS      :             2.6 metres

Height of Structure         :            2 metres

These lights are only illuminated when naval vessels are carrying out trials within the Loch Goil Experimental Area. Vessels wishing to navigate are to contact the QinetiQ Facility Control Room on Tel no: 01301 703474 or VHF Channel 69 (Call Sign X Ray Alpha) when the lights are on.

Discontinuation:

Location description       :             Loch Goil. Carrick Castle. Flagstaff (Occas).

Latitude                              :             56 06.53’           North (WGS-84 datum)

Longitude                          :             004 54.34’         West (WGS-84 datum)

Structure                            :             Flagstaff and occasional Red Flag

2. The associated British Admiralty Charts and Publications will now be updated to reflect these changes.

3. Further Information can be obtained from QHM Harbour Control on VHF CH73 or 01436 674321 Ext 3555/4005.

4. Next CWM 24/21.

View notice online

Queen’s Harbour Master Clyde
LOCH GOIL – LNTM 17 21 CANCELLED
LNTM No 22/21
BA Chart 3746

1. Mariners are advised that Installation work for subsea cables in Loch Goil is now complete.

2. LNTM 17 21 is now cancelled.

3. This LNTM is self-cancelling.

7. Further Information can be obtained from QHM Harbour Control on VHF CH73 or 01436 674321 Ext 3555/4005.

8. Next CWM 23 21

 

 

View notice online

Queen’s Harbour Master Clyde
LOCH LONG – ESTABLISHMENT OF GLENMALLAN JETTY NAVIGATION LIGHTS AND CLOSURE SIGNALS
LNTM No 21/21
British Admiralty Chart 3746

1. Mariners are advised of the establishment of Glenmallan Jetty Navigation Lights and Closure Signals in Loch Long, this change comes into force with a immediate effect, please see below details:

ESTABLISHMENT OF GLENMALLAN JETTY NAVIGATION LIGHTS AND CLOSURE SIGNALS

Location description : Loch Long. Glenmallan South Dolphin.

Latitude : 56 07.753’ North (WGS-84 datum)

Longitude : 004 49.130’ West (WGS-84 datum)

Character : Fl G 5s

Range : 5 nautical miles

Structure : Metal Post, 5 metres in height

Height above MHWS : 7.2 metres

IALA Category : Category 2

Comments : Not shown when Port Closure signal in use

 

Location description : Loch Long. South Port Closure Signal (Glenmallan Restricted Area).

Latitude : 56 07.753’ North (WGS-84 datum)

Longitude : 004 49.130’ West (WGS-84 datum)

Character : 3 FR (vert) (Occas)

Range : 10 nautical miles (night); 1 nautical mile (day)

Structure : Metal Post, 5 metres in height

Height above MHWS : 8.7 metres (top light)

IALA Category : Category 3

Comments : 1.5 metres apart (on South Dolphin), Restricted Area closed

when lights on

 

Location description : Loch Long. Glenmallan Jetty South.

Latitude : 56 07.794’ North (WGS-84 datum)

Longitude : 004 49.125’ West (WGS-84 datum)

Character : 2 FG(vert)

Range : 5 nautical miles

Structure : Metal Post, 6 metres in height

Height above MHWS : 9.7 metres (top light)

IALA Category : Category 2

Comments : 2 metres apart

 

Location description : Loch Long. Glenmallan Jetty North.

Latitude : 56 07.863’ North (WGS-84 datum)

Longitude : 004 49.101’ West (WGS-84 datum)

Character : 2 FG(vert)

Range : 5 nautical miles

Structure : Metal Post, 6 metres in height

Height above MHWS : 9.7 metres (top light)

IALA Category : Category 2

Comments : 2 metres apart

 

Location description : Loch Long. Glenmallan North Dolphin.

Latitude : 56 07.941’ North (WGS-84 datum)

Longitude : 004 49.069’ West (WGS-84 datum)

Character : Fl G 5s

Range : 5 nautical miles

Structure : Metal Post, 5 metres in height

Height above MHWS : 7.2 metres

IALA Category : Category 2

Comments : Not shown when Port Closure signal in use

 

Location description : Loch Long. North Port Closure Signal (Glenmallan Restricted Area).

Latitude : 56 07.941’ North (WGS-84 datum)

Longitude : 004 49.069’ West (WGS-84 datum)

Character : 3 FR (vert) (Occas)

Range : 10 nautical miles (night); 1 nautical mile (day)

Structure : Metal Post, 5 metres in height

Height above MHWS : 8.7 metres (top light)

IALA Category : Category 3

Comments : 1.5 metres apart (on North Dolphin), Restricted Area closed

when lights on.

 

2. The associated British Admiralty Charts and Publications will be updated to reflect these changes.

3. Further Information can be obtained from QHM Harbour Control on VHF CH73 or 01436 674321 Ext 3555/4005.

4. Next CWM 22/21.

View notice online

Please sign the Petition by 31st October 2021 – Thank you!

Calling on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to recognize the crisis at the Rest and Be Thankful as an emergency due to the economic and environmental impacts, and high risk of 100k of debris ready to fall which is a risk to life. Deliver a robust 2-way temporary alternative to the A83 by 2022 – the current mitigation works of planting trees and digging pits does not stop landslides or stop the road from being closed every time it rains. Stop wasting time on lengthy consultation and deliver a permanent solution by 2023.

Previous action taken

The ‘Crisis at The Rest’ Campaign Group has engaged with local councillors and MSPs to raise valuable support. This lead to a meeting with Transport Scotland and the Minister for Transport, Graeme Dey, who will not alter their current plans to continue closing when it rains, without a suitable temporary solution, and will not rethink the lengthy project to decide on a permanent solution.

Background information

The A83 from Tarbet to the Rest and Be Thankful provides essential road access to and from Argyll. Landslides and subsequent road closures are not a new problem here. Ten years ago the Scottish Government set out option for a permanent solution, yet since then over £80million of taxpayers money has been wasted on temporary mitigation.

The road is used by 1.3 million vehicles annually yet was closed for 200 days last year, creating an unnecessary barrier to our region.

Furthermore, we know that 100,000 tonnes of debris is ready to fall. This is a risk to life and should therefore be treated as an emergency and addressed with the urgency that it deserves, yet Transport Scotland are now proposing a further 10 years to deliver a permanent solution.

 

Thanks to your support this petition has a chance at winning! We only need more signatures to reach the next goal – can you help?

Take the next step!

Top Tips from The Green Blue

How you choose to anchor your boat during a break from exploring can have a huge impact on the condition of the seabed you leave behind. Here are The Green Blue’s top five tips for environmentally friendly anchoring…

Do your research

Before your voyage find out if there are any protected seabed habitats where you’re intending to anchor. If possible, use an existing mooring. You can search for protected seabed habitats by visiting the ‘Anchoring with Care’ page on The Green Blue’s website.

Use the right anchor

When an anchor is lowered it becomes embedded in the seabed and can be dragged by the tide, uprooting plants in the seabed. Choosing the correct anchor for the type of seabed can help minimise drag. Even if you think the anchor is holding well, check it periodically to ensure it’s not dragging. If it is, raise it and re-anchor.

Don’t use too much chain

Flake out the correct amount of chain (four times the maximum depth at high water, or six times the maximum depth if using a chain and warp) to keep the length of chain to a minimum and minimise abrasion on the seabed.

Look for clear ground

When anchoring, try to target bare sand away from seagrass beds. Also consider the pivot area of your anchor chain to ensure it’s clear of the protected habitat. Check the anchor occasionally to make sure it hasn’t moved.

Avoid dragging the anchor

When leaving an anchoring site, pull the chain in slowly and by moving your bow over the anchor. Use a trip line to help pull up the anchor. If the boat is pulling back from the anchor, you may need to slowly motor towards it as the crew raise it.

Learn more about responsible anchoring

Download The Green Guide to Anchoring and Moorings, produced by The Green Blue or request a hard copy by emailing info@thegreenblue.org.uk