Putting safety in perspective AND then top of mind
Point of fact – there’s no room for complacency. That’s why, from conception, we’ve placed safety in such high regard – an emphasis on safe passage and navigation at all times, a clear mandate and understanding that the completion of the challenge relies on solid decision making and the overarching principles of risk assessment and safety preparation.
Ready for action
Safety isn’t just the responsibility of the RNLI, the coastguard or any other agencies tasked with sea survival and support. Putting a plan in place, to help prevent and manage unexpected events on route, for everybody’s safety, is everyone’s responsibility. That means as a team we’re collectively:
- Identifying potential emergency scenarios and preventable accidents before we set off on the challenge
- Mitigating any risks to prevent them taking place AND preparing the team for action if they do happen
There are the obvious examples of course – making sure everyone on the water has the right safety equipment and knows how to use it. Fundamentally however, crisis management will stress test all potential outcomes – where’s the nearest hospital, doctor, pharmacy based on each stage of the journey? How long will it take to get there? What emergency services are available? Do such services know where I am and how can they be reached? What happens if we have no phone coverage? … and on it goes.
Getting the basics right
By building a support team that leverages expertise for each aspect of the journey including passage planning, meteorology, navigation, nutrition and safety, we’ve maintained that focus on end-to-end planning. At the heart of our plans are the sea and shore support teams that will safeguard Gary along each stretch of the coast. First Aid and powerboat trained they’ll ensure our safety plan is observed and where required, actioned.
- Support Boat – crewed by two people at all times, the support boat will follow Gary along the sailing route providing real-time safety, communications and support as applicable. Although they’ll rely on GPS and charts for navigation, roadmaps and bespoke electronic mapping will also be utilized, allowing them to easily identify landing spots and proximity to roads and villages.
- Support Vehicles – these will provide the necessary land-based support to the whole team, carrying trailers, equipment spares, food, clothing and related kit. While sailing is underway the shore support team will also provide real-time updates on weather or sea conditions and act as emergency response vehicles and coordination if required.
Testing, Testing, 1,2,3.
A key component of the overall safety plan are a couple of test runs. The first was successfully completed in late March – a 50km run that tested the boat set up, VHF communications, tracking, nutrition and clothing requirements. The intention is to run a second test prior to the start provisionally scheduled for the 14 May 2016.