I decided to book myself on the RYA sea survival course. It's a one day course with the theory in the morning and the all important practical in the afternoon

I got up really early in order to attend the RYA Sea Survival course at DV Diving in Northern Ireland. In the morning we covered the theory and the main things that came out of that was:-

  • Be Prepared - Have a well stocked grab bag, so that if there is an emergency you have all the stuff you need
  • Look after your life jacket - It is your number one piece of life saving equipment, so make sure you wear it and that it is well maintained
  • Know what to do - Talking about what needs to be done in any given situation means that you already know what to do when trouble occurs

The theory session lasted all morning, we then breaked for lunch and met up at the pool in the afternoon for the all important practical.

I was really apprehensive about the afternoon session, its quite intimidating to think that you are going to jump into a pool of water fully dressed. The life jacket I was wearing I had to blow up myself and I missed a toggle at the the bottom of the life jacket, so I was really happy that our jackets on the lass are always fitted correctly and have a crotch strap, as the jacket I was using on the course didn't have that.

The first guy to jump in used his own life jacket and I was really impressed how quickly it inflated. The other feature that I really liked was the hood, that would be so useful to keep the waves from splashing in your face.

We all had a go jumping in, and we jumped from various heights so having a small diving board to jump from was good. We then went on to practice some basic moves called the huddle and the crocodile. We worked as a team, so as we did each move we had a role call so that you could check that everyone was present.

  • The Huddle is good, as you create a larger shape for people to see, it means that only one person is facing the waves, and you can support someone who is not wearing a life jacket
  • The crocodile is used for swimming to a target like the life raft. You need to wrap your legs around your fellow swimmer and I really need more practice with this move

We then inflated the life raft and I got to pull the cord, as this was a training vessel the painter was quite short. In the 10 man raft we were using it is actually 18m, that is a lot of cord to pull. Of course I inflated the life raft upside down. Our instructor righted the life raft then we practiced getting into the raft from the side. That was fairly easy, the main thing that you need to look out for is all the straps, they could really twist an ankle or worse. We also practiced rolling out, not easy as there was a little mini seat to avoid.

Our next exercise was to get into the raft from the water, I really struggled with this, as I just couldn't find the steps. Working as a team for this is really good, as that gives you the help you need. I tell you it is quite freaky being in the raft, I can understand why the first thing you have to do is take sea sickness tablets. We were in a pool and the life raft was going up and down quite a bit. It is very dark in the raft and it soon warms up.

We then had to right the raft and when I was under the raft, one of my toggles caught on a rope. That was quite scary for a few seconds, so having that clear head and not panicking was an important skill to learn. We then had to fit all the things that we had learnt into one big exercise.

After the course Beverley quized me on the course to find out what I thought. Its really started us thinking about what we should have in the grab bag, first aid equipment, food, fishing gear, water. There's loads that we need to think about. We also need to service our life jackets on a regular basis, when we looked at ours, we found that the gas bottles were loose, so that's something we should look at more frequently. Ours don't have a hood, so maybe that is something worth investing in. Having the right attitude is good too.

So with more to think about and more things we need to upgrade, it back to project work here on the lass.