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The Private, Exclusive Guide for Serious Divers Since 1975
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May 2023    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 49, No. 5   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Are You Safe on a Liveaboard?

Not all liveaboards show adequate concern for your safety.

from the May, 2023 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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The British idiom "Worse things happen at sea" means if things are bad ashore, they could be much worse at sea. It's a sentiment worth bearing in mind before your liveaboard leaves the dock. What may be a simple problem at home that you know to handle has a new meaning when you're on a 90-foot vessel hours from land.

Egyptian liveaboard on the rocksIf you're on a liveaboard and a crisis arises, you can only hope that the craft was constructed with safety in mind. But, if you're properly briefed - or do your homework - you'll know whether it has been outfitted properly, whether the crew will attend to business in an emergency, and what you need to do, from finding your life jacket to knowing where to muster.

In the last few years, a surprising number of liveaboards have caught fire or sunk for a variety of reasons. The tragic Conception, where there was only one viable exit, no fire alarm sounded, and no one was on watch, alerted the liveaboard world to its safety needs. We recently asked our readers for comments about the briefings and safety of liveaboards they've been aboard, and most said that they were given a full safety briefing and felt the crew would be doing their jobs. While there are problematic vessels, some are exemplary.

Mike Ball's Spoilsport is one of those. Terry Cummins, aboard the Spoilsport in January, says they provided a thorough briefing before they left port (it's required by the local dive regulations and the Australian Marine Safety Authority), which outlined all fire procedures and plenty of other items like "man overboard procedures." He was shown the escape paths, which were also displayed on a poster in his cabin. They tested his cabin fire alarm during the safety briefing and gave thorough instructions about what to do in an emergency. He was shown the lifejackets in his cabin and those on the upper deck/muster stations, where the life rafts displayed their last inspection date. If he were to charge batteries in his cabin, he had to remain there. The crew and CCTV monitored battery charging stations on the open deck and lounge area. And a crew member stood watch throughout the night....

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