Sea Survival. Steve Ashley’s perspective.

I attended a course he held a couple of months ago and was very impressed with his presentation and no nonsense practical approach to each subject covered.

I thought I had a pretty good grasp of the basics having done my time in a number of severe storms, been rescued in one and have been involved with helping Auckland Westpac Rescue in rescuing others and their yachts plus participating in their training exercises.

One never stops learning though and I found that Alan not only taught me a thing or two I’d not known but enhanced my knowledge of other things too.

The intimacy of smaller groups, which he seems to specialise in, makes for a more one on one teaching and the participants get to know each other well enough to open up with their own experiences and don’t hold back asking what might be perceived as a silly, sometimes embarrassing question if they don’t quite understand something completely.

With Alan’s course there’s no boring bits.  It’s full on right from the start to the finish.  He has everyone’s full attention at all times.  He’s able to gauge the experience of each member of his group and will vary the time on each subject matter accordingly to ensure everyone fully understands it or doesn’t drone on endlessly on a topic unnecessarily until people start falling asleep, as I’ve heard happen on other courses.

The practical session at the wave pool was very beneficial.

We all learned how far we could swim in our wet weather gear without a lifejacket before becoming exhausted and sinking.Different styles of swimming as a group.How to use our wet weather gear as buoyancy aids.The pros and cons of different types of lifejackets – seeing how well they worked and didn’t…

Liferaft drill. Why you shouldn’t assume that it will even inflate let alone allow you to climb into it unaided and we found that not all rafts are as easy to right as others.We all spent an hour and a half in the water with the raft alone going over every scenario imaginable, often with Alan distracting us with the fire hose on full .

This is where his teaching that team work and having a simple plan that everyone can remember and act out automatically if things go wrong worked well.Generally he would make us work out solutions to problems we had ourselves, forcing us to think and discuss matters, rather than he just tell us the solutions.  A much better way to learn and remember.

Concluding that some of those that design safety gear, especially life rafts, have obviously never used them in anger and some blatantly obvious simple improvements could be made to have a huge impact on a person’s chances of survival.

I’ve been on sea safety courses in the past but nothing compares to Alan’s full on intensive and exhausting course.  Short of practical training out at sea in a storm his course must be close to the next best thing.

I would highly recommend Alan’s course to anyone who was serious about learning sea survival techniques and I look forward to doing a refresher course in the future.

Kind regards,

Steve Ashley

The Rigging Shop

Marine and Architectural Rigging

PO Box 34465, Birkenhead 0746, Auckland, NZ

Cell: 0274 777969                           Tel:  09 419 6519