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The Sea Survival Manual

By doina — last modified Jul 13, 2010 11:00 AM

Published: 2010-07-13 11:00:55

The Sea Survival Manual

Frances and Michael Howorth

Adlard Coles Nautical

First edition 2005

UK recommended price £15.99

ISBN 0-7136-7052-5

Frances and Michael Howorth have written a comprehensive manual that covers all aspects of survival at sea. The book deals not just with such obvious subjects as liferafts and their contents or survival after abandoning ship but also with a host of related subjects such as explaining GMDSS, giving advice on medical emergencies, and describing the correct procedure in case of a Pan Pan or Mayday. One chapter includes advice on how to deal with specific emergency situations such as collision, fire, grounding, flooding, steering failure, dismasting or man overboard. This chapter also deals with heavy weather, including tropical storms, and what to do under such conditions, with tips on the possible use of sea anchors and drogues. Highlighted throughout the book are tips on how to avoid or minimise certain risks such as closing the valve on the LPG cylinder before leaving the boat unattended, using the inflatable dinghy as a sea anchor in extreme conditions, making sure the engine is in neutral and the propeller is not turning when picking up a man overboard, or staying fully clothed when swimming in shark-infested waters and keeping legs and feet covered. All such advice calls for a good dose of commonsense, and the authors usually prefer to be over-cautious. This is particularly obvious in the list of contents of a grab bag, which are so exhaustive that if all the items were to be taken one would need a second liferaft to stow them all. Some items, such as plastic picnic cutlery, could be safely left behind. One further observation concerns the back-up systems in case of electrical failure and in addition to a spare alternator and wind generators, which are mentioned, one should add solar panels and/or a towing generator as proven sources of electricity in case of engine failure.

The book is illustrated throughout by some very entertaining cartoons, courtesy of the RNLI, but what this reviewer found rather puzzling was that in every instance where a flag was to be seen it was invariable the tricolour which would imply that only silly foreigners from across the Channel ever get themselves into such ridiculous situations. This, however, is a quite unimportant quibble about an excellent book whose usefulness cannot be stressed enough.

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