The last step of survival at sea in the lifeboat is to reach the nearest land and beach the lifeboat. Beaching a lifeboat in good weather seems doable, although a bit tricky, when it is to be done in bad and inclement weather it may become a situation of life and death.
Here are some basic techniques among several advanced ones to safely beach a lifeboat once the land is sighted.
Selecting your landing point
Once the landing point is selected, take your time to adjust to the situation. Landing onto the leeward side of the main land or island, or on a point projecting out into the water is more favoured than crashing in from the windward side.
Avoid the glare of the sun as far as possible to circumvent from getting baffled when finding the correct landing spot. Choosing a sandy beach for landing is definitely advised. Never beach in the nighttime.
Avoid getting caught in the rip currents or tides as they might carry you further into danger or far away from it. Look for openings in the surf lines and head in for them. A good lookout is important for corals or rocks protruding out from the shallows.
The Beaching Technique
Using the boat’s engine, close into a position that is comfortable for manoeuvring, suitably a point where the swell breaks or a position from where the breakers rise.
Then turn the boat around to face the sea with the boat’s stern towards the shore. Now stream the sea anchor along with a tripping line attached to it. This will help in holding the bow into the sea and swell. Now, after securing the rudder to any side use the boat oars to steer ashore.
The moment breakers hit the bow of the boat, the person handling the sea anchor should then trip the line and at the same time the boat should be oared astern. The person at the bow should watch the next wave and release the tripping line to have the lifeboat stemming the sea; oars should be taken out of the water.
This will take the boat astern slowly and safely while keeping the bow offshore. Once the boat hits the shallow ground, some of the survivors should then get out of the boat and pull it all the way in.
Avoid getting toppled over
With breakers flowing rapidly, it won’t be possible to out-run them and run aground simply by using the lifeboat’s engines. Heaving onto the sea when heading inshore might lead the boat to lose its steerage way causing the boat to get broadside to the sea/swell and keel over. If in case the boat capsizes, remember to swim clear of the boat as soon as possible.
Although the self-righting, fully enclosed lifeboats are much safer to be in than their older cousins, chances are they may just turn out to be worse on a bad day.
Panic, mostly, they say is the culprit to a human catastrophe. So be prepared ‘as knowledge in most cases is always better than imagination’.