In order to sail on an Irish research vessel, one must obtain training and certification in personal survival skills. We were unable to find an appropriate course in the US so we had to get the certification here in Ireland before departing on the expedition. We found ourselves at the Leisure Park in Westport, Ireland bright and early to take this one-day course. The course was quite interesting as we learned about all kinds of tools and skills for surviving an emergency at sea. We also watched footage of real sea disasters, not the best idea for the day before a sea voyage. Basically we learned about how easy it is to die in cold water but that it all comes down to the proper gear. Isn’t that the case for nearly everything? Your “window of opportunity” for survival is increased dramatically if you have the proper gear and know how to use it.
While the first part of the course was in the lecture hall, the second half of the day was in the pool. Yes, the pool. We donned our swimsuits and performed all the skills talked about in the morning. With our life jackets on, yes the uncomfortable orange ones, we paddled around in the pool and learned how to stay warm by huddling together, how to swim together and how to pile into a lifeboat with seven complete strangers. We became close quickly. Needless to say, it was an interesting afternoon but nice to know all of these skills.
With certifications in hand and a new knowledge of how difficult it is to get into a lifeboat in the calm water of a pool, we set off for Killybegs to meet the ship arriving just at sunset.
The RV Celtic Explorer at Sunset in Killybegs, Ireland