Practice has shown that the best rescue vehicle on a yacht is the yacht itself. For this reason, it is necessary to fight for the survivability of your vessel to the very last opportunity. There is even a special discipline - SLS (safety of life at sea), all professional sailors undergo training. The crew is taught the ability to fight for the survivability of the vessel, and to leave it only in case of visible and inevitable death.
Stories when yachts abandoned by the crew remained afloat even in a severe storm are not uncommon. The strongest, 11-point storm, forced the crews of 24 yachts to hastily leave their boats (1979, Fastnet race). Only 5 yachts sank, the rest remained afloat, without the participation of yachtsmen. You should not look for a more compelling argument confirming the high reliability of the yachts.
However, every yacht going to sea must be equipped with liferafts and personal lifejackets.
Depending on capacity and size, modern inflatable rafts can be quite heavy - from 25 to 75 kilograms. When accepting a yacht, it is imperative to think over the escape routes, and also appoint at least two physically strong crew members responsible for moving the liferaft and launching it. At the same time, it is extremely important to ensure that there is no clutter and interference on the way of delivering the raft to the board. The person in charge of the raft, like the rest of the crew, is obliged to memorize the detailed instructions drawn on the packaging of the raft. Each crew member should know how to operate the carbon dioxide inflator of the raft. To initiate the start of filling the raft with gas, it is enough to select the line before stretching, and pull it sharply - the raft will begin to inflate (inflation time - up to a minute).
The experience of evacuating the crew in emergency situations has shown that the raft should be dropped exclusively from the leeward side. This makes boarding easier and protects the raft from gusts of wind. Otherwise, the collision of the raft with the side of the ship in distress would make the evacuation extremely life-threatening.
The most experienced and massive member of the crew is the first to board the raft, stabilizing the raft on the wave and physically assisting the rest of the crew in loading. Everyone on the raft must wear life jackets over clothing.
The yachtsman must remember that hypothermia is a common cause of death at sea. Having warm clothes and trying not to fall into the water are part of the success of every sailor's salvation.
If a situation arises in which it is possible to use a liferaft, it must be prepared and manned. In a special, waterproof bag (Dry Bag or Grab Bag), a VHF station (manual), EPIRB (emergency radio beacon), SART (transponder beacon), GPS chartplotter, pyrotechnic set for sending distress signals are put together. The liferaft includes a fog horn and a torch, a first aid kit, and a supply of water and food. The selection of food also matters. Food should be carbonaceous, since the breakdown of protein food requires a lot of water, and the lack of water is the second (after hypothermia) reason for the death of people on the high seas.
Personal belongings (mobile phones, personal documents, credit cards and cash), everyone on the raft, must keep with him, having prepared everything in advance.
Immediately after the crew is loaded, the presence of all members is checked, and only then the sling is cut. A special knife (Safety Knife), which is stored in the sheath upon entering the raft, is designed for this very purpose. In order to avoid damage to the raft by fire (in case of fire), or by a spar, it is necessary to scoop away from the yacht with the help of oars to a safe distance. Then they give the floating anchor and close the entrance. The anchor will turn the raft to the leeward side, protecting the entrance from wind and waves. The airing of the raft is carried out every half an hour.
With all the reliability of the life raft, it must be remembered that the salvation of the yacht is the primary task of the crew, because the best raft is a reliable vessel, for the survivability of which must be fought to the end.