Safety at sea

We are now underway. The ship left Tenerife at 9pm last night and we are heading down the west coast of Africa. Fortunately, the weather is good and we were rocked to sleep by a gentle swell as the RRS Discovery steamed towards the equator travelling at 12-13 knots.

Safety is of paramount importance at sea. Fires or flooding take on a whole new meaning when you can’t simply run away from them.

We have had 2 safety and security talks and one practice drill so far, and will have a lockdown drill in a few days’ time. In our case, a lockdown is in the event of pirates boarding the ship. Should this happen, we lock ourselves in the citadel – a secure location on the ship – which is stocked with food, water and other survival equipment. The ship can be navigated to a safe port from this location. I guess parley is not an option.

First aid is important on a ship, as there is no nearby hospital. It is easy to trip or fall on ship – there are steps up and down all over the place, steep stairways, low-hanging beams, and the ship is continually pitching, rolling, heaving and yawing. I have already cut my shin on a door bolt.

In the first drill, we tried on the lifejackets and learned where the survival suits are located. The latter are donned when you are likely to end up in the sea and not a lifeboat or raft.

The ship is equipped with two lifeboats, each of which can carry over 50 people – here is a picture of us sitting in the lifeboat – it felt a bit like the scene in the film Aliens where the crew are about to drop to a planet in a landing craft.

There are a number of liferafts on the ship, which will self-inflate in the event of the life boats being inoperable. In comparison, a lifeboat seems luxurious.

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