DON'T DO THIS
Helm Safety is Security Underway.
I would advise all of Rescue Water Craft crews, teams and operators to never strap anything down on top of the Rescue Water Craft handlebars (helm) that places direct and consistent pressure against the helm station.
Rescue Water Craft helms do not have the structural strength in storage or transport to maintain a weight load placed up against them, let alone any ratchet cargo straps pressing down.
Disregarding the structural strength of the helm and over bearing a significant weight load against it could lead to a catastrophic failure of the helm.
Resulting in a serious mishap, injury or fatality.
Also to note that the rear stern re-boarding handle is also plastic and can suffer damage as well.
A rule of thumb? If you capsize your Rescue Water Craft and it heels over upside down in shallow waters, when you right it, check the re-boarding handle, rear seats and helm, forward cowling, turn the helm and pull back throttle and inspect the steering nozzle before you start the craft.
This typically happens because of a lack of education regarding the care and maintenance of the overall craft itself. A simple solution would be to have every member of your team read the Owner's Manual warnings and cautions of the Make, Model and Year of Production of your Rescue Water Craft.
Sheared off Helm
KNOW YOUR BOAT
Not all of the steering column necks are not metal fabrication unless you have an afermarket one designed for race builds. Construction can be a combination plastic and metal and both can receive stress fractures from objects that produce repetitive movement, such as air pushing against an IRB and creating a bounce affect with a downward force towards the Rescue Water Craft.
This could also be caused by a poorly maintained trailer where the trailer bunks are failing or the axle, tires and wheels are overloaded with more weight than their rating or the tongue weight is incorrect.
1. Protect the helm
2. Protect the handlebar grips to not cause rotation which can result in wrist flexion
3. Protect the throttle lever and clutch lever (port/starboard helm sides)
The only way you can inspect the helm after a transport such as this showed in the header photo is to remove the shroud and inspect the entire steering assembly closely and even then, maybe not.
First care is to protect the helm and the water jet pump because of their relationship values, inspect your throttle lever and don't allow any lines near it, that could be a fatal mistake.
You don't want to be underway and have your helm shear off when hand hold forces are applied and it let's go, loss of steerage and stopping distance to fixed objects or other crews cannot be controlled at this point, and the operator and or crew could be ejected.
This could become a serious situation if ignored due to not understanding the craft, not knowing its construction design and not having enough storage for ancillary gear.
Remember, you are a mariner, not a rescuer!
Don't get it backwards! Repeat after me: I am a mariner.
Know your boat as a prudent mariner and care for them as you care for yourself; rescue is an application of our maritime community. It is one facet of operations. If you consider yourself a rescuer first you are going to experience many mishaps and chronic failures of your Rescue Water Craft Program.
Recommendation: Deflate the hypalon tubes for the IRB and set your gear up on site instead, don't compromise your boats. Don't strap anything above the helm station. Take a RWC maintenance course, check ours out!
Ask me how I know? lol
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Content Creator: Shawn Alladio cares most about her community and the culture surrounding the safety of event service providers and Rescue Water Craft operators, working hard and dedicated towards protecting their reputation, distributing safety information and continuing to train these amazing individuals to the highest standards of care.
Use at your own risk. Please take a qualified Rescue Water Craft training course and maintain proper records and respect all the PWC, RWC, PPE, and gear OEM manufacturer warning labels and cautions.