Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Lifebuoy

Last weekend I went to Jersey in the Channel Islands ... on the ferry ... in November.  I kept an eye on the weather forecast with trepidation, the few days before we were due to travel saw some interesting wind and rain.  It wasn't that I was concerned the ferry would be cancelled and we wouldn't be able to enjoy a lovely break, more that the sea would be choppy and the ferry wouldn't be cancelled.

Luckily, the worst of the weather cleared and we were left with a 'swell' in the Channel consisting of waves of only two and a half metres.  Ha! that seemed big enough for me (and the many people with green-coloured faces making good use of the plastic-coated paper sick bags).

A ferry, like all other water based vehicles, is governed by many laws relating to safety.  One of these laws is to carry a number of Lifebuoys such as the one in the picture below.


These life preserving devices are designed to be thrown out to a person who has fallen overboard.  The ring is lightweight and floats, this helps the person in the sea to stay buoyant.  The ring, which  is probably made of polyethylene, also has a floating rope attached.  This rope, likely to be made of polypropylene, floats because it does not absorb water as a traditional rope would, this would make it heavy and it would eventually sink, potentially taking the person down with it.  

When used properly the person on the boat throws the ring to the person overboard, whilst holding onto the rope.  The person being rescued can then take hold of the ring, or put it over their shoulders so that it sits around the body under the arms.  The rescuer will then pull on the rope and drag the person back to safety.

The ring is brightly coloured so that it can be easily seen in the water during the day and has reflective tape allowing it to be seen at night.  It is one of those objects which is reassuring to see but you hope never to have to use it or see other people in need of it.

Louise Dennis (Assistant Curator)

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