DAME Awards

Safety at sea, starts at METSTRADE

Peter Franklin
Thursday, 30 April 2020

A phrase that has come to prominence during the last few months during these unprecedented times is, 'stay safe.' Many of us use it to sign off on e.mails and messages to friends, family and colleagues, it is of course well meant, and very appropriate. 

By the same token, 'staying safe at sea', has always been a clear and necessary requirement for those engaged in any kind of boating activity, and will continue to be, whenever we all get back out on the water; either for leisure or in a professional capacity. A life raft service company I used to deal with had a slogan which said, 'Safety Is No Accident', and I would venture to suggest that METSTRADE could have its own slogan saying, 'Safety Starts Here.' After all, the choice, range and quantity of safety related equipment featured every year at the show is truly impressive.

U Safe - Dame Award Overall Winner

Sitting in the breakfast briefing at last year's show and watching the DAME Award nominees coming up on the screen, I saw the details of the U Safe remote controlled lifebuoy, and turned to my wife saying, "that one is a winner!"

I'm not famous for picking winners, but this time I was right for once, as the benefits of a lifesaving ring, which can be driven to the man overboard, and then auto-propelled back to the vessel bringing the MOB with it, makes for a very convincing safety proposition. One of those concepts which screams, 'why didn't somebody think of this before?' Especially as the original version of the MOB life saving device was invented 300 years ago! 

Trying to recover a MOB with a traditional lifebuoy is a precarious action, fraught with errors and mishaps due to unpredictable weather and tides at sea. The U Safe version is said to be capable of coping with such difficult conditions, and is remotely controlled with a simple joystick, driven at speeds up to 15km/hr, and with 30 minutes operation on a fully charged battery.

Safety products all around the halls.

When it comes to choice and variety of lifesaving and safety equipment, the DAME awards judging panel have plenty to think about every year, and 2019 was no exception. Apart from the overall winner from U Safe, there were several other worthy nominations which were related to man overboard, and potential drowning or sinking incidents.

The ResQLink View is a product from ACR Electronics; A fully buoyant personal locator beacon, which automatically beams your position to the global satellite search and rescue network when activated. Accurate to within 100 metres or less of your position, it also has a built-in strobe light and infrared strobe to facilitate night-time rescue operations. An integrated digital display allows real-time viewing of the beacon status and GPS coordinates.

Then there is the BRS Boat Rescue System, an all-in-one firefighting and anti-sinking instant deployment kit, packaged into one compact container, and designed to protect various sizes of boat from the outbreak of fire, or the threat of sinking. The kits come in six sizes for boats up to 6, 8,11,14, 17 and 20 metres. They include, a 2kg C02 fire extinguisher which doubles as a means of rapidly inflating the buoyancy bags. How is this possible? Well, according to BRS, they have a specially designed patented filling nozzle which sucks in atmospheric air in addition to the C02, at a ratio of 4:1.The bags have an equivalent displaced water weight from 1.7 tons for a 6 metre boat, up to 13.6 tons for the 20 metre version.

Mercury Marine were nominated for another innovative solution designed to make man overboard recovery safer and faster, with their 1st Mate Overboard and proximity based theft deterrent system. As the name implies, the apparatus has three distinct functions being: 1) Man overboard monitoring and warning system. 2) Distress messaging. 3) Theft deterrence. The system is designed to protect the captain and up to seven passengers with wearable devices, so that everyone is alerted (via an app to their mobile devices) if somebody falls overboard. The engine power is cut, and if the captain is the MOB, the passengers receive instructions how to restart the engines, and to steer the boat back to the MOB location.

In the event that the captain is single handed and falls overboard, the system sends a distress message to a list of emergency contacts (pre-entered data) and includes the GPS location and the time and date of the man-overboard event. The theft deterrence functionality varies according to the boats engine specification, but can be protected via an ‘unlock command’ from the captain’s device, when combined with the Mercury SmartCraft technology. And if the motor is removed from the boat, it cannot be started again unless it detects such a restart command.

Disclaimer: This is a review of typical examples of safety and lifesaving equipment which can be found at METSTRADE, and is not intended to be a fully comprehensive listing. Many other manufacturers and agents are exhibiting such products at the show, and of course more are added every year, with new innovations being nominated for the DAME awards, and highlighted via various press / visitor briefings.

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