The Oakcliff All American Offshore Team passed the Safety at Sea certification course with flying colors. The team received marine survival training supplemented by humbling sailing stories from experienced ocean racers.
“It was an amazing course. We attended classroom sessions about survival techniques, tested out what we learned in the pool, practiced firefighting, then heard stories from talented ocean racers. The stories highlighted how necessary training could be in the middle of the Atlantic” said team member Molly Robinson.
Here is a quick outline of what the team learned and some facts they found especially interesting
Survival Systems Inc: a company that trains military personal, airplane pilots and other groups about sea survival, walked AAOT through the signs of hypothermia, and body heat preservation techniques.
All team members will now go to sea with a trash bag in their pocket. A pool experiment showed that cramming yourself into a trash bag can preserve heat and drastically extend your chances of survival. The team also walked through setting off MOMS, Epirbs, survival gear, boarding life rafts, and working as a group to keep moral high in life threatening situations. AAOT proudly crammed 11 people into an 8 person life raft, especially noteworthy since all of the grinders made it in.
Firefighting and Flares: Next the team went down to a large concrete area to practice extinguishing fires and tested a wide variety of flares. AAOT learned how each brand worked and decided what brand they wanted on board for the Atlantic; Solas flares proved superior. The Coast Guard was warned, but when the horizon filled with flares and orange smoke in the middle of a beautiful Sunday afternoon they might have surprised a few Saturday sailors.
AAOT also learned about different types of fires and how to identify each fire by their smoke.
After having classroom sessions and hands on drills, AAOT listened to stories from “Ratty” David Blanchfield, Kaity Pettybone, Dawn Riley and Ralf Steitz. They talked about loosing rudders, breaking rigs, strorm sails, and a variety of survival conditions they had encountered while racing across the oceans in the Whitbread, the Volvo, Sydney Hobart, and other ocean races.