What I remember most is how safe I felt aboard ISBJORN. How, without any hesitation, I could go out of my comfort zone and be perfectly fine. That feeling of safety made the passage so immensely enjoyable for the newbie that I am, and had a deep impact on the way that I handle my own sailboat, prepare our passages, and most important: how I enjoy sailing.
— Sophie Darsy // Sweden-Scotland Crew 2018

We take safety VERY seriously at sea. Prior to sailing with us, crew receive specifics on all the equipment onboard both boats (as newsletters once they sign-on), and we spend a full day prior to going offshore briefing on safety and importantly how to “think” safe offshore. Here’s a summary of the safety equipment and routines we practice at sea:


MAN OVERBOARD (MOB):

  • Regarding MOBs, I have the very strong attitude that most of the sailing industry spends far too much time talking about MOB recovery and not nearly enough on prevention, and specifically prevention as it relates to fitness and agility. Obviously we need the skills, training and equipment to recover an MOB in a worst-case scenario, but we take the attitude - and preach this to crew - that if you go over the side offshore, you're dead. If we get you back, you're lucky.

  • I want to really emphasize the dead part - it changes the way you think, subconsciously, and will help you avoid doing stupid stuff on deck. The edge of that boat is a 2,000-foot cliff - you go over, the consequences are the same, it just takes a while longer.

  • Crew are paired up on watch, so are never alone in the cockpit. If anybody needs to go on deck, either myself of Mia is awake and aware and usually supervising from the cockpit.

  • Staying onboard starts with fitness, body awareness and decision-making. Don't lean over the lifelines, for example, stay on the high side on deck, etc. The older and less fit our crews are, the harder time they have with balance, and a lot of times the worst examples of crew like this I don't allow on deck, period. It's why we ask the fitness and weight questions in our Sign-On application. YOU, and as John Kretschmer puts it, "thinking like a sailor," are what's going to keep you onboard - the equipment is there to remind you of the precarious situation you're in when you're offshore.

  • To that end, we carry jacklines both sides and have dedicated padeyes for clipping on in the cockpit, places such that you clip in before you're even out of the companionway, and likewise don't unclip until you're safely inside the boat. Crew all wear Helly Hansen inflatable PFDs, which are inspected each year and meet the ISO standards for ocean racing, with spray hood, crotch straps, light, whistle, etc. They attach to the boat with the Kong double-tethers, one short, one long, and the easiest and safest operating carabiner in the business.

  • Each PFD is equipped with an MOB1 AIS transmitter, which are programmed with the boat's MMSI number and are installed so they're meant to auto-deploy if the PFD inflates. Crew are trained on how to manually deploy these if they malfunction. They send an AIS MOB signal to anyone within range. Crew are also briefed that they don't always work - the VOR race lost a MOB last year because the boat's onboard AIS receiver didn't function properly.

  • Mine and Mia's PFD are ALSO equipped with a personal EPIRB, so that in the event one of us goes over, the coast guard and/or other authorities are alerted, not just the AIS onboard.

  • We also carry the standard MOB recovery and marking devices (lifesling, DANbuoy, etc.) which rigged are in the cockpit within reach of the helm.

  • All that said, we do run through MOB scenarios, but we don't always practice them, just depends on the situation.


FIRE:

  • We carry 5 fire extinguishers, one each cabin, PLUS an automatic fire extinguisher in the engine room and a fire blanket opposite the galley. 

  • Installed new propane sniffer last year with alarm and replaced all propane lines.


THRU-HULLS:

  • Each cabin has a thru-hull map, plus one is posted at the nav station and in the head. Crew are briefed on their location.

  • We glassed over 3 un-used thru-hulls last off-season.

  • Each thru-hull has a wooden plug attached to it, and all valves and hose-clamps are inspected annually.


LIFERAFT:

  • If we have to abandon ship, the liferaft is stowed on the transom, in the easiest place to deploy it. It's an 8-man Viking RescYOU Pro and meets ISO-9650 standards for +24 hours.

  • Crew are all briefed on the abandon ship plan, and each is given a role - someone will be specifically responsible for readying the liferaft and will have extra training on how to do this.


DAY-TO-DAY:

  • You're most likely to get injured in the head or in the galley! Crew are briefed on this and taught proper usage of knives, for example, hot water and reminded to pay attention in the head!

  • We practice proper line handling and winch operation, and emphasize that the loads on the 48 are HUGE, and will be even bigger on the 59 next year. 

  • Every maneuver we do is first briefed, summarized and then executed. So if we gybe, for example, each person is given a role, we run through the gybe as a group, each person then summarizes BACK what their role is, then we do it. Finally, once complete, we debrief it.

  • Downwind, we use preventers anytime the wind is abaft the beam, regardless of the sea state or weather conditions.

  • I personally inspect the rig aloft before EVERY passage, and hoisting me up is a crew activity we all do.

  • Speaking of which, all of this stuff is briefed during a full-day orientation we run through prior to each trip, and it's emphasized in newsletters the crew receive in the run-up to the passage.