One of our crew recently fitted a new outboard motor to his own personal sailing boat, and for a deckhand that day, he had with him his eight-year-old grandson. It was one of those perfect Knysna summer sailing days, and when he had the engine running he suggested they take the boat out for a sail. Simply slip away from the jetty, and spend the afternoon lazing in the sun, he thought. They had a picnic on board, they had their swimming costumes – surely it was an idyllic idea?
Definitely not!” said the child. “I’m not going sailing with you without adult supervision!” The fifty-plenty-year-old, grandpa took that as an enormous compliment.
Seriously, though, what supervision do we as a commercial yacht charter company, boat-based whale watching, and marine eco-tour operators have in place to protect you, our guests?
“You have to understand that the safety of anyone on board is our topmost priority and first concern – so we operate well above what the law requires,” said the company’ owner, Evelyn Pepler.
She said that each vessel is hauled out at least once a year for its official SAMSA inspection, but that each skipper also checks each boat before every trip.
SAMSA (the South African Maritime Safety Authority, acting under the SAMSA Act 5 of 1998) is charged with ensuring the safety of life and property at sea, preventing and combatting pollution from ships at sea, promoting South Africa’s maritime interests – and, crucially for us, administering the safety regulations under which companies like ours are allowed to operate.
“Our annual SAMSA inspection ensures that everything is up-to-date and all our equipment is in perfect working order, and covers every aspect of the hull, the motors and gearboxes, and our on-board inventory of safety equipment like flares, radios, anchors and life preservers,” said Evelyn.
“But any boat is only as good as its skipper, so, of course, we employ only the best, most highly-qualified crew who have thousands of hours of experience – and, to back them up, we have the added privilege of operating in the area covered by the NSRI’s Station 12 (Knysna), which has a crew of highly trained volunteers who have top-quality boats and equipment at their disposal.
“So our advice to our crewman’s grandchild would be that he wouldn’t need to worry: there’s plenty of adult supervision when you go to sea with Springtide Sailing Charters’ yacht Outeniqua, or with Ocean Odyssey’s whale watching or marine eco-tour boats,” she said.