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Portugal regs and fines Messages in this topic - RSS

Dick
Posts: 330


13 days ago
Dick
Posts: 330
Hi Richard,
Can you give the details of the bad experiences with out of date flares, in particular the serious injury you reported. I would most appreciate a citation of a write up, article, or injury report as well as any details you might remember: what kind of pyrotechnic device, how out of date, manufacturer , was it SOLAS certified at manufacture, how stored, where occurred, etc.
Thanks a lot. Field reports of this type are very valuably.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

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Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy
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Dick
Posts: 330


13 days ago
Dick
Posts: 330
Hi all,
I think at this point, with regard to pyrotechnics, I would suggest that best practice is to only have up to date pyrotechnics on board. For offshore boats, this is onerous financially as the minimum requirement for many countries is way less than I deem necessary to have on board. But like many items in the safety budget, it can’t be helped and we hope it is money spent only “as insurance” like rafts and fire extinguishers.
But I believe that the expiry date could be reasonably extended. I would have us agitate, wherever possible, for there to be storage requirements (basically, kept dry and out of the sun etc.). Were that the case, I suspect that we could double the expiry date. Flare manufacturers will resist this, unfortunately, but it seems that flares are made to absorb the poor storage some skippers subject them to (they do not want to be blamed for a flare that does not go off, even if poorly stored, so they over-build them).
I have seen some skippers pull flares out of sail lockers in canvas bags that are perpetually damp. I have also seen them in ammunition boxes that are rusty and damp. Most “grab bags”/ “abandon ship bags” are not waterproof enough for what I am talking about, but are likely adequate for the few years before expiry of new flares.
Mine are kept in a “river rapids use” dry bag.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

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Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy
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richard.farrington
Posts: 2


13 days ago
We had our fire extinguishers serviced in Vigo in 2017 prior to transiting the Portuguese coast via Porto, Lisbon and Lagos. Alberto Lagos, the excellent POR there, put us in touch with a service agent and the price was very reasonable. We have full certification for extinguishers, liferaft and flares to show any official and the (relative) peace of mind onboard that comes from regular preventative maintenance.
I don’t see that these basic safety requirements are particularly onerous - they are a basis for good seamanship. the sea is a very unforgiving environment and unless you are super-confident in your ability to ward off the combined assault of Ultraviolet and salt, regular servicing seems like the best solution...
I have met people who had bad experiences with out of date flares (maimed for life) and liferafts (failed to inflate). Why risk joining that cadre?
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Dick
Posts: 330


13 days ago
Dick
Posts: 330
Hi Phillip,
I was only really speaking of the Maus “Klein” which is the one I have looked into the most.
I can appreciate being aware of expenses and the Maus products are indeed pricey at the initial outlay. After that, I suspect they are not that out of line. And in the realm of running an offshore cruising boat, I do not believe an initial outlay such as the Maus extinguishers demand is out of line.
That said, my take is that they are superior extinguishers in a smaller package that is easier to use. Most of us are rank amateurs when it comes to fire-fighting, so all those things make a difference. Add that to what might be an initial hesitation to use dry chemical extinguishers because of the impressive mess it makes and potential damage to electronics, computers, radios etc. and the Maus, used immediately, without second thought, makes even more sense to me.
Your reported attention to your raft does not surprise me. Casual conversations I have had seem to reveal that few cruisers have a boat fire-fighting procedure written down nor do they have any sort of “drills” or practice under their belts. More attention is paid to one’s raft which may not reflect the actual occurrence of problems. I know of more people who have put out fires than I do those who have gotten on their raft.
So, I like the Maus, but any of the extinguishers will likely do the job of putting out a fire if used properly and in good time.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

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Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy
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PhilipH2
Posts: 23


13 days ago
PhilipH2
Posts: 23
Dick wrote:
Hi Daria,
I also am upgrading Alchemy’s fire fighting equipment as I believe that there is such a significant advancement in equipment as warrants the expenditure. There is little that scares me more than fire on a boat.
The advancement is the Maus fire extinguisher. It has been well tested and is easy to use, small, non-toxic and does not leave a mess. They are so small as to fit in the glove compartment of your car.
I am installing one next to each extinguisher I presently have on the boat: effectively doubling the capacity to fight fires (I am also upgrading my children’s homes and our car). I do not know if they are USCG approved yet (an over-wieldy and lengthy process, I believe), so keeping the old extinguishers will cover the regulatory requirements if they have not been approved yet.
I plan to use the Maus first and then use the older style extinguishers.
I am also considering an upgrade to the smoke/CO detectors I have on board, but am still thinking this through.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy


Our boat, s/y MINNIE B, is currently in Portugal and we are in the process of upgrading our fire extinguishers given the level of Police interest in this matter and of course good practice. We bought 2 new 1kg extinguishers and we need to buy a 2kg extinguisher (there is a place in Alubfeira but we ran out of time). I looked on the Maus website and goodness me, the Klein is £68 and the standard size is £198 - clearly the latter is top of the range and includes lights. Then there is shipping as no retail sales in UK. Ouch - we may just have to put up with cleaning up a mess if we are in the unfortunate position to have a fire. Curiously, we have not skimped on the liferaft and have a top of the range self-righting Viking which we had serviced in Trinidad in November 2017 but then we were facing an ocean passage. The closest we have come to a fire has been in the last month in Portugal when we got out the heater (not used since 2011) and failed to clean the pins on the plug. Fortunately we have French sockets and use adapters for UK plugs - the adapter started to melt because of the resistance. It was spotted in time and before we needed to deploy an extinguisher.
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Daria Blackwell
Administrator
Posts: 737


14 days ago
Daria Blackwell
Administrator
Posts: 737
That's very interesting, Dick. Thanks for the advice. I will look up your prior post.

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Daria Blackwell - Rear Commodore, PR Officer, Editor OCC Digital Comms & Port Officer, West of Ireland s/v Aleria http://www.coastalboating.net
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Dick
Posts: 330


18 days ago
Dick
Posts: 330
Hi Daria,
We have a Winslow raft and still consider it a (maybe the) top raft for a number of reasons. When in Europe for our 10 years cruising there, we sent the raft to Belgium (2008 or so and shipping paid for by Winslow) for servicing. The last servicing was by AB in Guernsey who did an excellent job allowing us to be involved as much as we wished and they shared excellent advice.
Alchemy may have done her last significant ocean passage with us aboard, so we considered not carrying a raft as servicing is on the horizon. We will do occasional one- and 2-day overnight runs, but primarily plan coastal cruising. Ours is a 16 yo raft which we have stored in a locker out of the sun, rain and green water and so has a very good chance of continued life. But we are still in very cold waters and we sail the off-season, so we figured a raft was worthwhile.
For about twice what we would spend for a servicing we are buying (boat show price) a Winslow ultra-light offshore raft. It checks all the boxes for us and is about ½ the weight and size of our present raft.
I wrote a broader note on my thoughts on having a raft earlier in this discussion stream. Flag if you have trouble finding it.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

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Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy
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Dick
Posts: 330


18 days ago
Dick
Posts: 330
Hi Daria,
I also am upgrading Alchemy’s fire fighting equipment as I believe that there is such a significant advancement in equipment as warrants the expenditure. There is little that scares me more than fire on a boat.
The advancement is the Maus fire extinguisher. It has been well tested and is easy to use, small, non-toxic and does not leave a mess. They are so small as to fit in the glove compartment of your car.
I am installing one next to each extinguisher I presently have on the boat: effectively doubling the capacity to fight fires (I am also upgrading my children’s homes and our car). I do not know if they are USCG approved yet (an over-wieldy and lengthy process, I believe), so keeping the old extinguishers will cover the regulatory requirements if they have not been approved yet.
I plan to use the Maus first and then use the older style extinguishers.
I am also considering an upgrade to the smoke/CO detectors I have on board, but am still thinking this through.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

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Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy
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Dick
Posts: 330


18 days ago
Dick
Posts: 330
Hi Daria,
I will answer in pieces as you touch on a number of issues.
We do the same with flares: one dry-bag with up to date flares for show and tell and for first use; another dry-bag with reasonably recent out of date flares and the rest of the reasonably out-of-date flares in the Abandon Ship “grab” bag. There are also in-date flares in the raft.
This seems quite reasonable to me. My one worry was that an expired flare might be dangerous to use, but testing sessions I am aware of seem to indicate that old flares just do not work and even that is rare for flares with-in reasonable range of the expiry date.
I do have a pair of leather work gloves in the flare bag.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

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Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy
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Daria Blackwell
Administrator
Posts: 737


18 days ago
Daria Blackwell
Administrator
Posts: 737
Hi Dick,

I do not know the reasoning behind the new enforcement in Portugal. But it did make us rethink a few things.

We, like you, tend to keep expired flares, as it doesn't mean they won't work, only that they are not current within the time limit tested and certified by the manufacturer and required by the authorities. I'd rather have extra ones on board when we need them than not. We tested old flares at our yacht club under the supervision of the USCG and were convinced that a good proportion will still work. So we've separated out the expired flares and keep them in a separate location which we don't have to disclose. As long as we have enough new ones to satisfy the requirement, we should be fine.


We also bought all new fire extinguishers. When we asked about inspecting our existing extinguishers (all in the green zone), we were told the technology had changed and ours were now not serviceable any more. Manufacturers say most extinguishers should work for 5 to 15 years. That's quite a range. Ours were at the 15 year limit.

The more difficult decision involves the life raft, a Winslow, serviceable mostly only in the US and now out of date. It would be more reasonable to buy a new one. But they are not required and, as we are mostly sailing coastal passages now, we are postponing our decision about replacing the most expensive boat we are hoping never to use.

Any thoughts?

Daria

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Daria Blackwell - Rear Commodore, PR Officer, Editor OCC Digital Comms & Port Officer, West of Ireland s/v Aleria http://www.coastalboating.net
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Dick
Posts: 330


26 days ago
Dick
Posts: 330
Hi Daria,
Thanks for sharing. I would venture to say that many, maybe most, long distance cruisers would fail some of the items you specified. I know I would.
Now, much of the concerns expressed by Portugal’s maritime officials are good judgment and good guidelines. Do you know whether the rules and the rule enforcement are in response to some incident: say a boat trying to use out-of-date flares and failing or: out of date extinguishers when there was a fire, or pulling using the right-of-way rights of a vessel under sail when motoring and not having a cone showing? Or variations such as these? Or is this some bureaucrat wading in with his/her judgment?
I ask as for (at least) two-pronged reasoning. One is that I would wish us to oppose (most) any requirements that impose a bureaucratic judgment as to best seamanship practices that interfere with the skipper using his/her best judgement as to seamanship. I would, concomitantly, wish us, as club members (and in our other venues) to use our experience to promote voluntary best practices and to challenge (gently) those of us who are making poor choices on the water. If we do not do so, others may step in to do such things as: demand a “license” for us the do an Atlantic crossing, but only after jumping through hoops of various degrees of relevance.
An example for the latter above is when the SAR people get fed up being called out to rescue (and put their lives in danger, not to mention the expense) those who get into trouble, not because of bad luck, but because of poor judgment and preparedness. I believe skippers such as this are fairly easy to document. In these days where setting off an EPIRB calls for help so easily, I believe a skipper who chooses to carry one is absolutely obligated to ensure that his/her skills and experience are up to the challenge (and all that might be expected to go pear shaped in a passage) and that the vessel is similarly prepared for the extremes it might meet. I suspect that we have all heard someone talk about their intentions and shook our heads in quiet concern.
An example of where I would wish my judgment to prevail over some bureaucrats. I keep my flares (and I buy high quality) in a perfectly waterproof protected container that is still easily accessible. In the US there are flare requirements (age, type and quantity): insufficient in my estimation for a wide-ranging vessel. So, I keep my out-of-date flares for a few extra years as back up to my up-to-date flares that meet the requirements. I am confident that my “old” flares are still good. I have set off flares that were 8-10 years of age (years out-of-date) and they worked perfectly as did many flares of various ages and manufacturers (coincidentally, this was in Lagos, Portugal, when I set up a flares demo/practice session and a fire extinguisher demo/practice session when I wintered over there in 2006). (One suggestion coming out of this session, was to have some work type gloves in the flare bag.)
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

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Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy
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Daria Blackwell
Administrator
Posts: 737


26 days ago
Daria Blackwell
Administrator
Posts: 737
Portugal has begun fining cruisers who upon vessel inspection are discovered to have expired flares, fire extinguishers and life rafts. If you don't have an item that is not required such as a liferaft, you're fine. But if have a liferaft even though it is not required, and it is out of date, you can be fined. Also, they are intensively policing adherence to COLREGS (black ball, white light when anchored, cone underway when sails up and motoring, etc) There is a useful discussion here: http://liveinfo.lagosnavigators.net/httpdocs/bureaucracy/application-to-visiting-yachtsmen/

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Daria Blackwell - Rear Commodore, PR Officer, Editor OCC Digital Comms & Port Officer, West of Ireland s/v Aleria http://www.coastalboating.net
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