Stay Safe This Winter

27 Sep 20

As we all know the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) saves lives at sea. Did you also know that they have been operating for nearly 200 years and never take a day off – that’s right - the RNLI is available 365 days of the year.

Lifeboats and volunteer crews are always ready should anyone need help at sea. At any moment they can be called to go out and rescue whoever may need help. Whilst RNLI lifeguard patrol beaches keeping people safe here too.

With safety at sea paramount at any time of the year – and not just during the summer – now is the perfect time to remind OnBoarders about what to do should they become in trouble whilst at sea.

To help with this, we have a great video for OnBoarders which features RYA OnBoard Operations Officer Hannah Cockle and Liam, from the RNLI water safety team as they discuss:

  • Advice on what you should do if you see someone in trouble out on the sea
  • Why you should call 999 immediately
  • Why you should throw the person who is in trouble something that floats like a ball or a bodyboard
  • What you should do if you’re in trouble at sea
  • Learn what the crucial float position is and how to do it
  • Learn all about cold water shock and what you should do
  • Not just for people – the RNLI will also help with animal rescues

Watch the video here.

RYA and RNLI call for safety afloat in new videos

We have also joined forces with the RNLI to produce a new series of ‘How to’ videos with advice and tips on how to safely enjoy being on the water.

The RNLI were called out more than 13,000 times to boaters between 2017 and 2019. The first video, which can be viewed here reveals the top five reasons lifeboat crews were called into action along with tips on how to avoid the need to call for help.

They include human error, sinking, running aground and equipment failure. But the top reason for an emergency call out in the last two years involving a boat was machinery failure, with more than 4,000 incidents. 


Stuart Carruthers, RYA Cruising Manager, said: “Following lockdown the water has been re-established as a fantastic place to exercise, relax and re-charge in the great outdoors. However, it is important to remember the seriousness of safety when going afloat, especially if you have not been on the water for some time or are using new equipment for the first time.”

Samantha Hughes, RNLI Water Safety Partner, said: “We want everyone to enjoy their time on the water whilst staying safe. By highlighting the common call outs our volunteer lifeboat crews attend as well as giving some top tips we hope it will get viewers thinking about what they could do to maximise their time out on the water.

“Before you head out on the water make sure you are prepared and have checked the weather conditions, wear a lifejacket and make sure you have a means of calling for help should you need it.”

The short series of videos will also cover topics including:

  • electronic navigation
  • rules of the road
  • the shipping forecast
  • best practice when riding a Personal Watercraft (PWC).

The RNLI also have a useful guide to help you prepare and can be found here.

Location update added to RYA SafeTrx app

RYA SafeTrx, the mobile phone safety app that allows you to track your journey on your phone has introduced a new feature. ‘Alert and Track’ will allow the app to transmit a location update every five minutes instead of just one singular position following the activation of an Emergency call. 

The location tracker will occur in the following scenarios: 

  • If the user does not have an active trip and an Emergency call is activated.
  • Emergency call activations for Track Only trips set to 10 minute and 30 minute recording intervals.

Where an Emergency or Assistance call is activated in Sail Plan mode or Track Only '5 minute' or 'Continuous’ modes, the app will continue reporting regular position updates to the SafeTrx server.

It is hoped that this update to the app will significantly reduce the necessary search area and will result in finding those who require assistance more quickly. 


Downloading and using the SafeTrx app is free. Once registered, if you find yourself in a distress situation, press the ‘Call for Help’ button to activate an Emergency call. This dials 999 (or 112 if abroad) and activates emergency tracking which sends regular location data to the SafeTrx Monitoring Console, giving Search and Rescue authorities access to the critical information they need. 

To find out more about RYA SafeTrx and how to register, please visit the RYA SafeTrx page on the RYA website. To learn more about how to stay safe afloat, visit the Boat Safety Hub

MCA issue safety bulletin for PLBs and PFDs

The MCA has issued a Safety Bulletin for boaters after being alerted to a potential safety issue surrounding the retrospective fitting of Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs) into Personal Floatation Devices (PFDs). The concerns surround the consequent impact on both of the item’s suitability and functionality.

Evidence has suggested that some users may not be considering the advice and guidance of both the PFD manufacturer and the PLB manufacturer when retrofitting PLBs into PFDs. As a result there is potential that the functionality of both the PFD and the PLB could be compromised. As such, this could have a detrimental effect on the safety benefits of these items during an emergency situation. 


Remember to always check and ensure that the PLB that you are using is approved for compatibility by the PFD’s manufacturer and, when fitting the PLB to the PFD, that you follow the official guidance of the PFD manufacturer.

If you have already fitted a PLB to a PFD, check that you have followed the PFD manufacturer’s official guidance when doing so. When using the devices always ensure that you follow the PLB manufacturer’s user instructions and regularly carry out the self-test regime.

If in any doubt, contact the PFD’s manufacturer or their approved service agent (for both the PFD and PLB) for advice.

More safety news

Remember, for further information on how to look after yourself afloat visit the RYA Safety hub – and also check out all the RYA Youtube listings of #BoatSafety videos where you can find all the RYA safety videos.