LONGREACH Buoyancy Deployment System

>>> LONGREACH Buoyancy Deployment System

A University of New South Wales student submitted this design and won the James Dyson Award this year. Sounds like an idea that might should come to production.

Longreach is a man-portable system that allows for the rapid conveyance of temporary, water-activated buoyancy devices to a drowning victim’s location. It is designed to allow a victim to remain buoyant while rescue personnel prepare the appropriate response to the situation. The rescue package uses hydrophobic or rapidly expanding foam to provide buoyancy once the package contacts the water. This allows the package to be vastly smaller in size than any currently existing buoyancy device. Equipped with a light for attracting attention the Rescue Package can be propelled over 150m. Longreach is also equipped with Para-Flares for night-time Illumination. Longreach is designed to be simple to manufacture and easy to handle. Ideally used by emergency services personnel or a ship’s crew, Longreach has the potential to significantly reduce the number of drownings at sea.

Engine/Engine room access

There has been an interesting thread/discussion over on the Power Catamaran mailing list that hit on engine room access and the safety issues involved. Several points came up that had not always been obvious to me (experienced people often learn things the hard way… lets try to learn from their issues :-)).

Engine room access has trade-offs just like everything on a boat. Interior access can allow smells/dust/dirt/leaks into your living space. On the flip side it allows you to access the engine room out of the weather. Some of the popular "transom" or "cockpit hatch" access methods could leave you in an exposed position if you’re trying to affect repairs in bad weather conditions (when it often seems to happen). That nice big hatch that lets you have full standing room access and plenty of light will let a lot of water in the boat if you are getting a big wave over the side. A combination of a "bolted" hatch for major, at the dock repairs and a less convenient but maybe safer interior access could be great. Other’s argue that having the engine room sealed from the living space means a leak (stuffing box/shaft, etc.) means flooding just the engine room, not the entire boat. That’s a good point, but again, trying to deal with the leak in bad weather and heavy seas strictly through a deck hatch can be an issue. Much of this discussion centered (obviously) around the needs and design constraints of a power catamaran, but much holds true for many other yachts.

Another item is fall hazards. I’ve known people injured falling through openings in the floor/deck. I’ve read of other serious injuries on similar falls. Having a cabin sole hatch removed while you work is something to watch for at all times. Its too easy to get "used to" the hole in the floor and then stepping back into it.

Smaller, coastal and inland boats probably don’t have all of the issues of a blue-water cruiser, but its something to keep in mind. Outboards are fairly reliable, but we’ve probably all had to work on one… usually at an inconvenient time. The people such as the Bartender crowd with outboards in wells where they can tilt them back "over the deck" point out that this design can at least help with the "dropping parts/tools in the water routine". Hanging over the transom trying to get a motor running in bad weather isn’t exactly the safest position to be in.

Welding clothing safety

There has been a recent thread running on Origami Boats discussing the fire retardency of duct tape… huh? Well, it seems that somebody did a quick patch on a hole in their pants with duct tape…worked fine until they were welding and a hot spark dropped there… seems duct tape is rather flammable. They batted at it with their hand and got a ball of hot metal in their palm for their efforts. In the end, no serious injury, but a fair warning.

In the on-going thread there has been discussion of other fireproofing methods. One suggestion was starching the clothing to improve its ability to resist sparks and flying metal globs… might be worth a shot.

Most recently a product called PROBAN was recommended by Colin (below). I haven’t found a source of the chemical itself yet, but many clothing suppliers sell products pre-treated with it.

I bought some not-too-expensive overalls a while back, treated with some stuff called PROBAN. I was a little sceptical at first of how good this stuff was, so I tested ’em with a shower of sparks from a 9" grinder. (with a bucket of water at the ready) Heat under the material very quickly became unbearable, but no signs of burning or deterioration on the surface.

Guys in the race-car business claim that PROBAN-treated coveralls are good for around 75 washes, after which you’re left with cotton. Their preference is for Indura/Nomex suits, which are good for walking into fires with. But for welding and general fabrication, PROBAN appears good enough.

Boating Mishaps

Yes, its a funny video clip that’s been making its way around the net, but it also points out another aspect of boating and boating safety that we really all need to consider. A lot of people are hurt and/or killed falling off boats at dockside. People fall in and drown, people are crushed, etc. Make SURE you are being careful, that you know what you are doing, and that you keep children and pets under tight control.

We also all tend to try to "fend off" a boat with our arms or other body parts… this may work with a john boat, but a larger craft is just too heavy. That doesn’t keep our instincts from saying that we can do it. For whatever reason we are much less likely to shove on a car and expect it to move than a boat. These craft weigh thousands of pounds, and the inertia involved will overcome a human’s strength quite rapidly. A couple preparing to take part in the Nordhavn Atlantic Rally in suffered a tragic accident where the wife lost her life attempting to fend off a boat (as I understand it).

It’s all too easy… I have a friend who really banged herself up and could easily have drowned when she fell between the dock and their boat… her husband was away, no one was around, and she caught herself on the edge of the dock. If she had gone in, trying to get back out of the cold water might not have happened. 

As you enjoy the video, think also about the steps you can take to make sure it doesn’t happen to you and yours.