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The Efficient Deckhand Course

I was one of the first to give Captain Roger Towner grief at the introduction of the efficient deckhand course into the officer of the watch OOW required courses. I even offered to come and teach the course especially with all the years of yachting and sailing experience that I’ve already accumulated. I think that it is the name of the course that has everyone in the industry back against the wall. It just seems to imply that after 3 or more years the requirement to sit the officer of the watch the Maritime Coastal agency MCA and other maritime organisations still don’t believe that we have the experience and knowledge to be deckhands. The course however I believe is incorrectly worded and should be called elementary shipboard safety. The course mostly covers on board ship safety an overview of the code of safe working practise COSWP. The COSWP manual should be on board all yachts and readily for all crew member to consult regarding all aspects of safety on board.

Safety on board on yachts and ships should be at the fore thought of all on board. From my experience it hasn’t been and either accidents are either being covered up or we have been lucky that there hasn’t been more incidents. Yachts are dangers places when you consider the weight on the lines, winches on board machinery and confined spaces. The course covered in depth risk assessments, identifying possible the dangers of the work that needs to be carried out. In doing so this assists in identifying what PPE personal protective equipment might be needed to complete the work safely on the yacht. This is a big mind changer that the MCA is pushing through both the commercial as well as yachting industry. The more we worked through the manual the more we understood that it is the guide or bible of on board safety. From my experience this book isn’t used enough and was really brought into the light with this course not just for myself but all from deckhands to captains.

Apart from on board ship safety the course does covers splicing 3 strand, 8 stand lines. Splicing of 7 stand wire as well as whipping and seizing. Another point that is covered in depth is the embarkation of the pilot, pilot ladders, docking procedures and knot tying. Even though I had covered most of the topics in my own training either in other courses prior to the superyacht industry and while working on board over the last 11years it was nice to brush up these skills. At the end of the course an independent former master mariner comes to the class to assess everyone on their splicing and knowledge that we have and learnt during the course. A certificate for the EDH isn’t issued until you’ve also complete your 6months sea time or have already completed a yacht master. Thankfully all on the course passed and left them with new insights and ideas to take back to their yachts. The depth of knowledge of instructors at Bluewater down in Palma who were both ex-Royal Navy was insightful. They really made the course a lot of fun with only small bouts of pain with some of the splicing exercises. This course by no means substitute the need for further training on board a particular ships nor does cover in depth training for sailing yachts. It should however give all the knowledge to safe and think twice before starting any work any superyacht.

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