On Easter Saturday Jeanette and I, with support from Andrew Lowe, LSSO at Tenby Station, held a Lifejacket Clinic at Neyland Yacht Haven, where the staff have always been very receptive and helpful, putting posters around the marina and information on the marina website to advertise the event. We also had publicity from Radio Pembrokeshire.
Although manufacturers recommend that lifejackets are serviced annually, we acknowledge that may not be the normal practice by many users.
The purpose of the 'Clinic' is to remind people of the need for professional servicing and to show boaters how to check their lifejackets for basic faults, such as loose CO2 cylinders, out of date arming kits and so on. We also demonstrate basic maintenance procedures intended to ensure that lifejackets will function correctly when required. This includes advice on such things as crutch straps, lights and spray hoods.
The table and flags, provided by DSSM Nicola Davies, worked well with the flags highly visible to visitors walking around the marina. Easy to erect and remove at the end.
Our own table was used as a stand for Andrew's Calling for Help display and that provided a very interesting and highly attractive additional feature. Persons attracted to the Calling for Help display then moved across to the lifejackets. With both displays feeding each other in this way we made the best of a very limited passing trade.
For a Bank Holiday, this late in April following good weather, it was disappointingly quiet, and cold! However, good response from the bertholders and lots of faults found.
One very well equipped lifejacket, even having a PLB attached, was found to have a completely detached CO2 cylinder.
A total of 45 lifejackets were checked and a greater percentage had crutch straps fitted than had been evident at previous events. Although there were many minor faults (22) such as out of date inflation bobbins, there were relatively few serious faults (7) and only one potential fatal fault, detailed above.
It was also noticed that there were more automatic lifejackets and fewer older lifejackets than seen in past years at this location, with greater interest being shown in the 'Calling for Help' topics such as EPIRB's, PLB's and flares.
A few non-boating visitors, as well as bertholders, contributed to the service by putting donations (total £37.53p) in our collection box and this raised more per person than at previous events.
I also completed two full 'Sea Checks', the one to one advice visits to boaters on their own boats, prior to the event and have a couple more enquiries to follow up. Sea Checks and club visits are always available throughout the year as required.
It would be nice to think that our 'clinics' and other activities might reduce the number of incidents to which a lifeboat is called, but I am realistic. I do not believe we will greatly influence the number of calls for the services of our lifeboats, but hope that, in the event of their being needed, our crews will arrive on scene to find survivors alive, on the surface, in properly equipped lifejackets and suffering less injury and stress than might otherwise have been the case. Whilst we cannot prove it I am sure we have, in our own way, saved lives.
On the 30th April, I will be at Hazelbeach to help the fundraisers and again offering to check lifejackets. Then it will be the Station Open Day in May, Hazelbeach Regatta 11th June, Milford Haven Marina 2nd July, Stackpole Quay 3rd July, Milford again (just a general safety talk for bertholders) on 5th July, Angle Regatta 13th August and Neyland again (for the boat jumble) on 14th August.
Max Jones . Lifeboat Sea Safety Officer - Angle Station
Aneurin M. Jones