Practice makes perfect: Skipper training for emergency services

Practice makes perfect - a wisdom that of course also applies to SeaHelp operators. At the beginning of each water sports season, Operations Manager Marko Orlic gathers his staff in Punat, Croatia, for skipper training.

Only when all the actions necessary for an effective relief operation have become “in the flesh”, so to speak, does the boss of the “Yellow Angels” on the water show his satisfaction.

“Manoeuvring with a boat in a package, i.e. a self-manoeuvring ship tied up at the side of the rescue boat, which has to be brought into the harbour, is one of the supreme disciplines of every rescue operation. You can’t practice such standards often enough,” he explains. In fact, it takes a special skill to manoeuvre a foreign ship flawlessly in port in storms and waves. Currents, wind, weight, keel shape and the different response behaviour vary greatly depending on the boat and external conditions, so it takes a great deal of practice and experience to dock “as a package” without making mistakes.

Before the time comes to enter the port with a ship in tow, other procedures must first be internalized. For example, the emergency services repeatedly practise certain activities such as operating the pumps, external starting or sealing leaks. Marko Orlic is fully aware of the importance of this special kind of skipper training: “In an emergency, things have to move quickly. Sometimes minutes can make all the difference.” That’s why the annual training at the start of the season is especially important to the “old hands” among the SeaHelp staff.

After three days at sea, the SeaHelp team was certain: This year, the large-scale SeaHelp exercise off Punat was again worthwhile. The SeaHelp team members, who had travelled from Germany, Austria, Italy and Spain especially for the exercise, were able to start their journey home with the reassuring feeling that the 2018 water sports season can finally begin.

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